Everything You Can Imagine Is Real

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Imagine a world where the works and words of Picasso are brought to life through music, performance, dance and poetry, against a backdrop of art representing some of the most recognisable faces in British history. That is exactly what happened last Friday evening at London’s National Portrait Gallery. In a scene reminiscent of the film Night At The Museum, where the past is brought to life in full technicolour and stereo, historical heritage played host to the Picasso-inspired Everything You Can Imagine Is Real. Curated and produced by Martyn Ware for Illustrious, the late shift event drew in an vast and diverse crowd, as eclectic as those performing.

Whilst I did manage to catch some of the other 28 acts from the packed programme, such as brilliantly astute poet Luke Wright, I was there for Peter Coyle’s performance at the end of IMG_20170121_005214.jpgthe evening. Those of you who read last week’s blog will know that Peter’s next single, to be released on 3rd February, uses one of my poems as its lyrics. I have been privileged to hear both the first recording and the final master of that track, so I know how beautiful and pure Peter’s voice sounds even when it has been untampered. I couldn’t wait to hear him perform live the songs he had written to incorporate Picasso’s poetry. I wasn’t alone.

An impressive bunch of 80’s artists had gathered for the former Lotus Eaters’ contribution to the evening, including Brian Nash (Frankie Goes To Hollywood), David Ball (Soft Cell) and Nick Van Eede (Cutting Crew). A short time into Peter’s performance, I saw him glance over and smile at the person who had just stood come and next to me, Holly Johnson.

I don’t know if I can do justice in describing not only what I heard but saw, as an exquisitely delightful interpretation of the work of one of Spain’s greatest exports was delivered by one of Liverpool’s finest. Sublime. Immersive. Emotive. All of the above, yet so much more.

At some point in the future, I believe footage from Peter’s performance will be available via his website. In the meantime, here is a recording I took of him during soundcheck earlier in the day. Enjoy…

 

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Rock ‘n’ Rain

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Late Saturday morning saw me doing my best Girl Guide impression as, fully prepared for what the elements might throw at us, I trekked across fields, laden with everything I might need for the day. Okay, so the fields were Sandwell Country Park in West Bromwich, and my ‘load’ was a festival chair, umbrella, waterproof jacket and several layers of clothing, but as a fairweather festival-goer, and with rain forecast  throughout the day, this was me out of my comfort zone.

I was undeterred by the prospect of a downpour, as the main reason I had chosen Let’s Rock Birmingham as my first festival of the year, was the opportunity to see Tiffany live, and she didn’t disappoint. Hearing her sing live was worth getting a soaking. Besides which, the sporadic showers meant my normally straightened hair reverted to its natural curly/frizzy state. I achieved an authentic Eighties look without even trying!

From the moment Tiffany came on stage, singing the chart-topping “I Think We’re Alone Now”, she gave a first class performance. Including “Right Here” from her new album “A Million Miles”, and a superb rendition of “Sweet Child of Mine” in her set, my personal favourite was “Could’ve Been”, a beautiful track I’ve loved since its release in ’88. Standing a few feet away from the singer, as Ms Darwish delivered the song note perfect, was one of the day’s highlights for me.

I say one because, with so many fantastic acts performing, it was an impossible task to choose an outright favourite. Jimmy Somerville was outstanding; Five Star gave a flawless, polished song and dance set. Go West’s Peter Cox was gorgeous and gravelly-voiced, as always; Martin Fry stylish and classy, treating us to ABC’s 80’s hits, as well as “Viva Love” from the “Lexicon of Love II” album. Dr & The Medics kicked the day off to a great start, and had the crowd singing along and dancing within seconds of playing; Holly Johnson provided a fabulous finale, performing Frankie Goes To Hollywood classics and solo tracks, including this year’s earlier release “Ascension”. As I said, impossible to choose.

If you were there, let me know what you thought about the day’s performances. Likewise to those of you attending any of this summer’s forthcoming retro festivals. Looking forward to hearing from you…

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Born To Run – Frankie Goes To Hollywood

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BBC Music recently announced the results of their “Greatest Covers” poll, the winner of which was Pet Shop Boys’ “Always On My Mind”. The usual suspects, such as Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You” and Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” were featured towards the top of the list of 50, with tracks like the rather superb “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” by Urge Overkill edging into the bottom half of the list.

Although the list was an unusual mix of predictability and surprises (I never realised Elvis Costello’s “Good Year For The Roses” was a cover), there was one glaring omission. That was one of my favourite covers, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Born To Run”, from their “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” album. Not only does the track perfectly capture the raw energy and attitude of the band, Holly Johnson actually sings the lyrics rather than slurring and mumbling his way through the song (cue the Springsteen fans’ complaints!).

I am sure many of you will look at the list, only to find your own favourite cover is missing:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4ybj81pWlfzqTSJfRh1x4K7/bbc-music-asked-you-to-vote-for-your-favourite-cover-versions-ever-now-here-are-the-results

Let me know which tracks you think should have been included. In the meantime, to show how a cover should be done, here is the best version of “Born To Run”…