Now That’s What I Call Music To My Ears

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Occasionally, my commute to the office involves bus travel. Now, I don’t mind sharing my journey to work with strangers, but what I do object to is being forced to listen to the inane conversations some people don’t seem to mind sharing with the rest of us. Even worse than being forced to listen to the thought-provoking debate as to whether nail wraps are better than acrylics, before my caffeine levels have peaked, are those travellers who can’t bear to be be alone with their own thoughts for five minutes, and spend their whole journey shouting down their mobile ‘phone. These one-sided conversations are even worse than the non-stop chatter, as the gaps in conversation lull you into a false sense of security that you may actually be about to zone out of the vocal dross. Therefore, it will come as no surprise when I tell you that my MP3 player and I have become inseparable, when I have a bus journey to face.

Recently, I got on the bus and began what has become my little ritual: rucksack on the inside seat, me on the outside (people think twice about asking to share your seat if they have to climb over you!); sunglasses on, to avoid making eye contact with my fellow travellers; earphones in, ready for Duran Duran to take me back to the summer of ’84. However, the opening bars of The Reflex were nowhere to be heard. When I looked closer at my earphones, I realised the reason why – my cat had chewed through the wire, effectively leaving me with an expensive pair of earplugs!

My journey was every bit as bad as it had always been pre-earphones, so at lunchtime I set out to buy a replacement pair. Being pushed for time, and not wanting to fight through the crowds of tourists in Canterbury, I popped into the nearest pound shop, for a makeshift pair. On my journey home, I discovered why the earphones were only a pound. In order to be able to hear anything through them, the volume had to be on full, and the quality reminded me of listening to my old Casio personal cassette player (I couldn’t afford a Sony Walkman). I loved it! As I travelled home, I travelled back to the Eighties, listening to Freddie singing about wanting to break free. It took all my self-restraint not to sing along, and become the loony on the bus who everyone tries to avoid. Now there’s an idea, to ensure some personal space on my next journey…

 

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A Tribute With Attributes

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In general, I’m not a big fan of tribute acts. Often, in an attempt to pay homage to the act they admire, they actually end up verging on the wrong side of parody. Beware the 80’s tributes with “Bootleg” in their name. There’s a good reason why the word has negative connotations! One band that has changed my complete dismissal of all tribute acts is Complete Madness, a Madness and Ska tribute band.

I saw the Yorkshire nutty boys perform at Pontins, Camber Sands last Friday. The venue may not have been too impressive, but that didn’t stop Mark Keegan and Co. creating a Ska party to remember. From the minute they set foot on stage to final note of their encore, there wasn’t a still foot in the place. As well as Madness favourites like “It Must Be Love”, “Baggy Trousers”and “Night Boat To Cairo”, the band also performed Ska classics such as “Too Much, Too Young”, “Lip Up Fatty” and my personal favourite, “Monkey Man”.

Saxophonist, Dan Johnson displayed not only talented musicianship, but a sense of balance most ice-skaters would envy, spinning round in circles whilst continuing to play, à la Lee Thompson.

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Frontman Mark Keegan exhibited an incredible energy as well an incredible voice, which adapted apparently effortlessy to the vocal demands of the set. Here is a man who clearly loves what he does, and the audience love him for it.

ImageIn fact, it is the synergy between the band members, under Mark’s lead, that sets Complete Madness above the rest. Individually, they are all talented musicians who would give their Madness counterparts a run for their money – Derek Wood on guitar and backing vocals, Dave Potter on keyboards and Jeff Thompson on drums. However, together they make for an exceptional act, with which even the most ardent Madness fan would struggle to find fault (although, for me, Jeff would have to wear a Woody mask to properly emulate to my favourite member of Madness!).

You don’t have to take my word for it. With a busy schedule of gigs running through to next year, there is bound to be one near you. If there isn’t, it’s worth going that extra mile to see one – you won’t be disappointed. Details of Complete Madness gigs for 2014 are available at: http://completemadness.net/gigs/2014-2/

 

A Night To Remember

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1888446_604748819594337_1831894231_nA quick follow-up to Saturday’s blog, in which I eagerly anticipated Owen Paul’s Acoustic 80’s gig. The group selfie Owen took at the end of the night (that’s me peering over his right shoulder!) really says it all… a good time was had by all!

The addition of new material, including a couple of numbers released by Paul Young in the Eighties (although not Paul Young songs, as rightly noted by Owen!)  made for a memorable evening, which highlighted the vocal range of this talented Scotsman. Today may be St. Patrick’s day, but Saturday belonged to a different Celt, singing A Different Corner.

Return To My Favourite Waste Of Time

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Anyone who remembers the summer of 1986, will be familiar with the lyrics “You’re my-y-y-y-y-y, you’re my favourite waste of time.” Sung by Glasgow-born Owen Paul, a man whose stature belies his powerful voice, the song became the theme tune to my teenage summer. Sometimes underrated, and written off as a one hit wonder, Owen has not sat idle since his stint at the forefront of pop. Following over a decade of behind-the-scenes involvement in the entertainment industry, Owen returned to the music scene in 2002 with the launch of his album, About Time. Appearances with Mike & The Mechanics, Four Good Men and XSM (ex-Simple Minds, alongside his brother Brian McGee) followed, culminating in the re-launch of his solo career in 2013.

Having been fortunate enough to experience one of Owen’s Acoustic 80s nights last summer, to say I was excited to learn he was performing another tonight is an understatement! As well as his own material (including his other ’86 release Pleased To Meet You), Owen mastered 80’s classics such as Propaganda’s “Duel”, George Michael’s “A Different Corner”, and my personal favourite, Whitesnake’s “Is This Love”. If tonight’s performance comes anywhere close to last year’s one, I will be in Eighties’ bliss! Don’t take my word for it, come along and see for yourself:

http://www.wegottickets.com/event/251858#.UyQVGPl_vxE

Hope to see you there!