Music: The principal of pleasure (1978-1980)

A guy that I’ve met wrote a list on Facebook which has been running ’round my head for the last few hours. Quite a simple idea really – the albums he was listening to in his teenage years. It sparked something within me and took me back to another time and so I’m up in the night writing a list of my own but also exploring things that in some ways I’d rather not think about it – a very different time – and some things I guess I’d rather forget.

But in the midst of it there was always music.

Continue reading

The Strangest Living Boy You Could Ever Wish To See

Who: Gary Numan

What: Convergence 2015

Where: Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London

When: 20th March 2015

In 1981, after an exhausting two years, two number one singles and three number one albums, Gary Numan retired from touring with a lavish set of final shows at Wembley Arena in London. On Friday night, at Convergence in the Royal Festival Hall, London, for Numan it is now thirty-four years since he returned from retiring from live shows and he has a one-off special concert to mark his influence as a pioneer of electronica. The poster outside the venue doors described him as having “a ever-growing fanbase”. Apparently despite this, his records no longer trouble the top of the charts. Numan’s career has been a regular conundrum and a game of snakes-and-ladders and tonight was just the latest twist.

Continue reading

Evidence of …….Disappointment

What: Evidence of Time Travel

Who: John Foxx & Steve D’Agostino

Where: BFI, Southbank, London

When: 21st November 2014

Over the last few weeks a staple on my cd player has been “Evidence of Time Travel” by John Foxx & Steve D’Agostino. It is an eclectic, tight, set of instrumentals which creates a mysterious air. It has echoes of Foxx’s early instrumentals like “Film One” but also traces of John’s more recent albums like “Tiny Colour Movies” and “My Lost City”. It also brings some new things to the table that are not present in any of those recordings. It is a very good release in a sequence of top drawer releases that Foxx and his cohorts have made in recent years. It is not his best but it stands up very well amongst his recent body of work.

Continue reading

What’s coming up in 2014?

Thank you to everyone who visits and supports this site. We now get more visitors per day than ever before. We get twice as many visitors per day just reading old stuff as we used to get on the old site on a day when a new article went up.

So a couple of weeks into the New Year, what seems to be likely to appear here in 2014 and what else will I be involved in?

Continue reading

Doin’ the Maths

Where: Xoyo Club, London
When: 25th October 2011
Who: John Foxx and the Maths, Gazelle Twin, Tara Busch

30 years after the beginning of his solo career John Foxx is at the peak of his powers – and for the first time since Ultravox!, he is in a regular band context.

Continue reading

Where is he is?……. What’s he doing?

I haven’t had chance to post  anything on here recently but I promise to keep the journal busy over the next few weeks. What’s been happening?

1. I have a new website. The writing side of my work has become busy enough to encourage me to promote it further and one of my publishers were happy to help me do it as they get more work too if I’m busy. If you’re inclined to take a look, it’s here: www.darrenhirst.com

2. One of the bands that I have been working with have attracted interest from Sony/BMG which has meant some high flown meetings which seem to have gone well.

3. You can read all about my work with Sad Cafe on the new version of their website which I believe is going live today. I’m impressed with the design of this one. It was done by a company called project42 who are very talented and very efficient. You can see the site here: www.sadcafe.co.uk

4. The new issue of Natural Progressions which I edit will go to the printers on Monday. That looks good too.

5. The RSC has a new group of productions. The first is King Lear and a review of this excellent performance should be on this site in a few days time.

6. Some of my favourite artists are doing gigs in the next few weeks and I’ll do reviews which will eventually find their way here. I’ll be writing about Panic Room, Timothy B. Schmit, John Foxx and Swarf.

7. I’ve been involved in negotiations with John Foxx’s manager, Steve Malins, with a view to staging an exhibition of John’s art in Stratford-Upon-Avon. This has been frustrating and may come to nothing.

8. Baseball Spring Training has begun and I’m going to be writing an analysis of the Yankees’ Spring squad which will also eventually find it’s way here.

Busy, busy, busy………..

A Quiet Man and his Tiny Colour Movies

Thursday 29th of October
Leeds College of Music
John Foxx

Reviewing John Foxx, I have to declare a bias. There are very few musicians I would travel from London to Leeds to see whether I was writing a review or not. With Mr Foxx, I would comfortably travel twice that distance just for my own enjoyment.

Thursday night was not a concert but rather a film show with music. A few years ago, John began to develop a movie called "Tiny Colour Movies" from a selection of old Super8 films that he had gathered together from markets and attics. He added an evocative soundtrack and it became an hours fascinating experience. He has been playing it occasionally around the UK whilst tweaking it slightly before each showing to make it closer to the artistic vision that he had in mind.

Film of skyscrapers in New York, old Hollywood actors using keys to open doors, a naked 19 year old swimming around a car dumped at the bottom of a lake, members of families waving to their relatives…… it’s all here. It is not the stuff of today’s Hollywood Blockbusters and it is all the better for it. I suspect that the back story that Foxx has created of the various film makers and collectors is a lot of hokum but it creates a modern fiction from old inconsequential factual footage which is quite, quite charming.

After a twenty minute break, we return to the audiotorium to hear a section of the recent spoken word album "The Quiet Man". Foxx plays piano whilst the voice of an actor pre-recorded for radio is heard reading Foxx’s short story. We’re told a story of London gone wild for unknown reasons where the buildings are empty but intact except for the trees and flowers growing up the walls and through the carpets. The music is thoughtful and sparse, the accompanying film is provocative and interesting and the RP reading of the story keeps your attention.

Finally, VJ Karborn is invited to the stage to mix and sample images whilst John Foxx improvises a piano piece full of echo and resonance. The music is interesting but needs to be developed. It is difficult to see the theme in the images and no real narrative is established and this is the least satisfying of tonight’s performance.

The affable Mr Foxx then fields questions for twenty minutes talking about his inspirations, his plans for the future, slightly nerdy questions about synthesisers used 30 years ago and the sci-fi film Robot Monster.

A relaxed and thoughtful and quite beautiful evening’s activities. I’d travel to Leeds again for more of the same.

Up-to-date

After my piece arguing that Mariano Rivera is the best relief pitcher in baseball, he blew his very next save opportunity. C’est la vie

So what’s happening with me?

I’m heading to New York to catch the end of the regular season in the Bronx.

Negotiations for two albums of new Sad Cafe material are on-going and dragging……… Waiting to see if it all works out.

October will see a visit to Elland Road and two John Foxx performances.

Considering writing an essay on the first books authored by Malcolm Muggeridge. These have been out of print since before the Second World War so I’m guessing this might be difficult to place but, hey…., when did that ever stop me.

Recommended Listening?

Son Volt – American Central Dust
Radio Silence – Whose Skin are You under Now
Sad Cafe – Ole (particularly like the remastering job on this one, you should use that guy on your back catalogue)
John Foxx – The Quiet Man (Spoken Word)
A Camp – Colonia