Nottingham – great stuff #3

Rock City. Period.


Although it isn’t the biggest venue on the planet – it still attracts some of the best live music in the UK. It seems that the artists from around the world see this as a must-do gig.

I saw Bowie there in 1997 – on his Earthing tour. But I have also seen some other favourites – Squeeze, Stranglers and last year The Boomtown Rats. The place isn’t intended to be a 4* hotel bar. It is grungy. The ceiling is stained with beer (or at least I assume it is beer). The carpets are ground into the floor boards. The music is embedded in the walls. Decorations are minimal.

The first band to play there were The Undertones, led by Feargal Sharkey, finishing the first ever Rock City gig with a rendition of Teenage Kicks – officially the best song ever according to the late John Peel. The lyrics are even on his gravestone!

It suited the punk revolution – it is slightly subversive and edgy.

I’m not sure what else it is that makes this place so important – perhaps it’s the intimacy. The stairs provide a slightly different view. The mixing desk is surrounded by fans – if you’re nice they may even drop you the setlist!It is loud – and hot. ‘Red Stripe‘ is the beverage of choice – in a tinny of course.

It is a key part of the Nottingham story and I guess fits at the end of the ‘creative’ element – the pinnacle of a career creating musical stuff can be found here.

Deserves a place in Nottingham’s collective heart!

A real Space Oddity…

This is utterly brilliant!!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged , Cmdr Hadfield, Space, Space Oddity

The Bowie Renaissance

It seems that Mr Bowie is back.


After surprising us all with a single released on his 66th Birthday the new album followed a couple of weeks ago. In fairness it was unlikely I would hate it – I have been listening to it since it came out. You don’t need to take my word for it – it has reached number one in the album chart and has received critical acclaim.

I love the album – it is a complete mix of material – reaching back through the back catalogue and taking influences from all manner of his earlier work. It is unmistakably Bowie.

Bowie famously got an O Level – in Art. But his artistic and musical influences are widespread. Some of his work was clearly done under the influence of various compounds! There was a brilliant quote from Bowie a while ago which suggested he couldn’t remember making Station to Station (another great album!) I have seen Bowie 14 times and the last time he played in the UK, he played the title track – which is brilliant.

Then there is the show at the V&A in London – looking back over his life in artefacts – costumes, posters and the like. The show has been sold out since it started. It seems we are desperate to see some of this stuff from his archive. There are over 300 items which demonstrate Bowies influence over the last four decades.

I haven’t been to the exhibition yet – but will do so before it finishes.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged , new album, Station to Station, The Next Day, V&A

It’s a Rat Trap…

There was the best news of the decade this week (ignoring the HS2 announcement). It seems that The Boomotwn Rats have decided to re-form – and play the Isle of Wight Festival. This is good on two counts. Firstly that this is my all-time favourite band – just in front of Squeeze and alongside David Bowie. Secondly, I have tickets to the Isle of Wight Festival!

johnny fingers

I have been wondering for some time why the Rats hadn’t re-formed. Lots of bands from that era (and later) have captured a listening audience of a certain age trying to re-live their earlier life!

26 years after they last played Bob and his band of merry men are back together.

Who can forget the hits – Rat Trap and Monday’s. But there’s some great stuff on earlier albums. The Tonic for the Troops album remains one of my all-time favourites. “(I never loved) Eva Braun” was once described as the most cheerful song about Hitler ever written!

The album takes it’s name from the great lyric, “And Charlie ain’t no Nazi, she likes to wear her leather boots, ‘cos it’s exciting for the veterans and … it’s a tonic for the troops.“.

The great news is that I know every word to every Rats song, so if Geldof needs a hand I am ready for this. I did once ‘help’ Johnny Fingers play Banana Republic – but that’s another story!

So the only questions are… will Johnny Fingers wear his pyjamas and will Gerry Cott wear those sunglasses?

Rock on June – and the Isle of Wight Festival!

Bowie is back

As I touched upon last week Mr Bowie is back. Just two days after my blog post about him he turns up. It was his 66th birthday after all – so as a present to us – he released a single.


Where are We Now has shot to the top of the download charts. The true position will be known tomorrow. If he does make No.1 that will be the first time since 1983 – when Let’s Dance made the top spot!

I don’t do downloads generally, but this was an exception. This was important. I have to wait until March for the whole new album, but we have the single now. And a video which is slightly ‘off the wall’ as you can expect with Bowie. The video has been removed from You Tube in the UK.

But what of the single. Well, I was never going to hate it. I really do like it – it has grown on me. It reflects a time when Bowie lived in Berlin, so there are lots of references to that period and place. It reminds me very much of the Low album.

I can’t wait for the new album to download (I have it on pre-order). If he then wants to come to the UK to sing to us, that would be just splendid. I’m not holding my breath, but life is full of surprises….

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged 66, Birthday, , David Bowie, single, Where are we now

Bowie – back in 2013

Sadly this is not news of a tour. The last tour here was back in June 2004 when that icon of pop played the Isle of Wight festival. I know because I was there!


But there is a part of Bowie coming to the UK in March, when the V&A put on a special show. Between 23 March and 23 July over 300 ‘objects’ have been assembled for the first time.

David Bowie is” will be a must-do show! The list of goodies put together includes the Ziggy Stardust bodysuit designed by Freddie Burretti. There will be some Duffy photos and the set designs created for the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974.

But the curators have also managed to get hold of some personal items including never-before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics as well as some sketches, musical scores and diary entries from the man himself.

Wonder if they’d like to borrow my original 1976 promotional poster for the Young Americans album…


Who would have thought that 2 days after this blog post that Bowie would surprise everyone with a new single? Brilliant stuff…. More later I suspect!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged 2013, , exhibition, V&A, Young Americans

The Rise and Rise of Ziggy Stardust

I had meant to blog about Ziggy a couple of weeks ago, but completely forgot!

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars remains one of the greatest albums ever made. And it was 40 years old on the 6th June. Although I was a bit young to buy it when it first came out I have listened to it time and time again over the last 30 years or so!

There are lots of theories about the album, but the suggestion is that it is a loose story of an alien who drops by the planet with messages of peace and love for ‘our’ last five years of existence. But sadly Ziggy gets too much of that rock n’ roll diet of sex and drugs and dies on stage…

I can listen to this album over and over again. The starting track of Five Years is just brilliant. But Starman remains a classic. I love Suffragette City (and the brilliant line of wham bam thank you mam!) But Ziggy Stardust is my favourite track.

I have seen Bowie 14 times – and latterly he played Ziggy at the end of the shows – after a period of refusing to do so (I think when he had killed Ziggy in 1973 he thought he couldn’t raise him a again!)

This week I travel to the Isle of Wight Festival – with memories of my first trip their in 2004 – when Bowie headlined … and finished the show with suffragette City and Ziggy…

He’s not played in the UK since, he is welcome back anytime!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged 1972, , Five Years, Starman, Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

Bowie to tour in 2011

You may have noticed that I am quite a music fan; and at the top of the pile is David Bowie in my humble opinion. He has doen it all – hard rock, soft rock, punk, new wave, story-telling and everything between. He was the inventor of some of the most enduring characters in Rock – The Thin White Duke, Alladinsane, Ziggy Stardust et al.

I have seen him 14 times – including the last time he played in the UK (as a headline act) – which was at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2004. He was ill almost immediately afterwards and there have been suggestions ever since that he’ll never tour again.

As with most musicians of this stature there will always be rumours – and the one floating around the internet at the moment is that a new album is now in the bag and will be released on 1st May 2011. And as sure as night follows day, he will tour to promote the album…

Well, not quite – as I have a fear that these are all just rumours. I hope not, as I would travel anywhere (yes anywhere) to see him again. And I will pre-order the album if it exists. I have all of the others – all 23 studio albums and some of the extra live stuff too. It is estimated he has sold 136 million albums worldwide.

Bowie has produced some brilliant stuff over five decades. And I am convinced he could still make relevant music today. Young Americans remains my favourite track of all time.

I can only hope he dusts off the tour bus and hits the road… but I’m not holding my breath!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged , Bowie to tour, David Bowie, , Thin White Duke, Tour 2011, Ziggy Stardust, Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

Bowie (song) murdered

I am a huge fan of David Bowie – and have seen him 14 times – the last time in the Isle of Wight in 2004. He has not played here since.

Bowie has collaborated with lots of artists over the years. His songs have been covered by numerous people. He remains one of the most influential artists of all time.

But Carla Brunei, France’s First Lady has murdered one of his songs. Bowie’s original version of ‘Absolute Beginners’ reached number two in the UK singles chart in 1986. It was written as the theme tune for Julien Temple’s film version of the cult novel by Colin MacInnes. It may not be my favourite Bowie track, but Carla’s version is quite something.

If you can listen to the whole song from Carla, you have done well. It is quite appalling! I could have done better… and that really is saying something! You have been warned…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Absolute Beginners, , Carla Brunei, Cover songs

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be?

Looking forward is great…but looking back can be fun too?

When on holiday a few weeks ago, I came across that drink of my childhood – dandelion & burdock. The taste is wonderful, but the smell is better! No one else in my house likes it and I can’t fathom that at all! I have no idea what it is really – dandelions? And what is burdock? According to wiki – they are weedy things and the drink dates back to 1265…nostalgic indeed!

Then I bought a new ipod a few weeks ago – the others can’t cope with the enormity of the library – just around 140gB now – so the 160gB gives me a bit of headroom. I have been listening to the ipod on random – using the rather excellent genius results. Bowie, The Jam, The Rats and others. But reminiscing at its best! There were some dodgy songs too – including Dollar…. not cool. And quickly skipped (honest).

My youngest son, Jack, is learning to drive and he has been looking at cars. He is thinking about having a Ford Capri when he passes his test. Now that was a great car in its day. I never had one, until my boss went on holiday and lent me his (conditionally I dropped him at the airport and picked him up two weeks later!).

And then I sat down to watch the Women’s Golf – and the British Open last Sunday. It was at Royal Birkdale. This is close to where I lived for nearly three years – as I blogged about last month. I have very happy memories of this place; not that I ever got to play golf there! I do remember cross country running in those sand dunes – painful!

I am beginning to sound – and feel old.

Right, back to the here and now. Plugged in the new Coral album. Brilliant.