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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The Only Way Is Nub

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Tonight sees the launch of Nub TV, an hour long show “aimed at the 40 plus audience who are being starved of the music they love”. Hosted by TV veteran Steve Blacknell, it airs at 10pm on Sky 212, Freesat 161, Freeview 254 and globally online at Showcase TV. Joining Steve in the Millbank studios over the next few weeks will be an array of familiar faces from the Seventies and Eighties, including Joan Armatrading,  Leee John, Rick Buckler and the first show’s special guests John Otway and John Altman. Add to that the lovably eccentric house band The Pocket Gods, a selection of the latest video releases and a small but perfectly formed studio audience, and you have the ideal way to round off your weekend’s television viewing.

I was invited to appear as a guest on the programme, alongside Eighties’ favourites Owen Paul and Junior Giscombe. Our show, which airs on 27th November, was fantastic fun to record as you can see from the photos below. Knowing the music, chat and laughs that are in our show, I can’t wait to see tonight’s debut broadcast.

Photos: cjansenphotography.com

 

 

 

 

Launch Time

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A London launch party at the Vinyl Bar, hosted by TV presenter Steve Blacknell, celebrated the release of The 80’s Annual on 1st November. Guests including Jona Lewie, John Otway, Owen Paul, Modern Romance’s Andy Kyriacou and Department S joined me in an evening of nostalgia, as features from the annual were shared against a backdrop of some of the decade’s best music videos.

Huge thanks to everyone who came to the event and made it such a success.

 

Buy your copy of The 80’s Annual from the Book Depository, Amazon, Waterstones and independent book stores.

The Vinyl Word In Fashion

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My love of vinyl means I have sometimes held onto to records out of sentimentality, simply because I cannot bear to be parted from the shiny, black discs, even though they are far beyond ever being able to produce a coherent tune again. Scratched copies of Steve Walsh’s ‘I Found Lovin” and ‘Now Those Days Are Gone’ by Bucks Fizz nestle beside albums such as Ultravox’s ‘Quartet’, an LP I played so much in my early teens that the grooves wore down to almost nothing. Yet these prized possessions remain in their rightful place in the collection I have built up over the last 35 years.IMG_20151225_184213.jpg

Some have mustered up more strength than I have been able to, and put their old vinyl to good use. Artists, like those exhibiting at the Vinyl Resting Place on 16th September, use the records as a support for their artwork. This piece I have by the late Terry Sue-Patt beautifully illustrates how music can be come art in more than one way. For your chance to purchase some similarly fantastic vinyl art, head on down to Monty’s in London’s Brick Lane, from 6pm.

There are also a number of people creating clocks from their redundant vinyl collections, and then there is always the option of going completely retro, warming and shaping them into dishes and bowls. However, I recently came across a wonderfully innovative use for these precious pieces of plastic which I think is amazing.

Wendy Norris of Forever Vinyl uses albums (handbags), 7″singles  (purses and bags) and 12″ singles (clutch bags) to create an eye-catching range of original fashion accessories.Vinyl 1

The sumptuously padded interiors are lined with various fun and patterned fabrics, and some of the bags incorporate the record sleeve into the design.

Based on the Isle of Wight, Wendy had a stall at this year’s Jack Up The 80s festival on the island. Her bespoke creations were first brought to my attention by Kim Bailey, whose partner Russell Hastings was performing there with From The Jam. Kim had purchased a beautiful shoulder bag, fashioned from an Ella Fitzgerald album. Unfortunately, by the time I made my way to the stall the following day, those designs had sold out, but I shall be first in the queue next year!

Wendy regularly updates her stock and produces new styles. To find out more, take a look at the Forever Vinyl Facebook page.

 

Back To Blacknell

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Some memories remain as clear as the day they were made. One such recollection I have dates back to 13th July, 1985. A blistering hot, sunny day, one which I would have normally spent topping up my tan, was spent sat in front  of the television, watching the musical extravaganza that was Live Aid. You can imagine my excitement last week, when I got to interview someone who had been an integral part of that historical occasion.

Steve Blacknell, TV presenter of the BBC’s “Riverside” and  “Breakfast Time” during the Eighties, was the man who got to interview Phil Collins during his transatlantic flight on Concorde. The flight enabled CollinsMusicBoxSteveBlacknell to perform on both Live Aid stages, Wembley Stadium in London, and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Although the live radio broadcast of the interview was barely audible in parts, as a 14 year old girl, obsessed with the music industry, I was mesmerised by the apparent glamour of the event. Steve recalls the reality of his trip across the pond as being in stark contrast to my imaginings. You will have to wait until the full interview is published in my next book, “Your Eighties”, for the details. However, with a view on everything from Mike Score’s haircut (Steve was responsible for signing A Flock of Seagulls to Jive Records in 1981) to Bruce Springsteen: “a pub singer”, I can assure you that Steve’s candour in all his responses, means the wait will be well worth it.

Steve is currently working on his autobiography which, from the snippets I gleaned during our interview, promises to be a revelation in more ways than one. Having enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle in the Eighties, alongside some of the biggest names in entertainment, the expectation will be for some celebrity gossip. What most may not expect is the vulnerability of the man who, despite being surrounded by excess, won his battle with bulimia, and now uses his own experiences to help fellow sufferers. If the book offers only a fraction of Steve’s roller coaster life, I want a ticket to ride!

In the meantime, I will leave you with this little gem I found of Steve and Phil, as the pair are about to board the plane. Click Here to watch.