The habit has been broken…

Last year as we wandered towards summer I was looking forward the my 10th Isle of Wight Festival. The Boomtown Rats were a highlight as you probably know if you hang out here. They were brilliant.


But this year my annual trip to the Island won’t be happening.

It’s all about the music. The line up is I think as weak as I’ve seen. This is a festival at which I’ve seen Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Killers, The Police, The WHO, R.E.M, Paul McArtney, Neil Young (who was crap), Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. Quality acts.

But this year – Biffy Clyro, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Kings Of Leon are headline acts. I’ve seen them all. And whilst they are ‘ok’ I can’t say I would rush to see any of them.

The only band worth seeing are The Specials and The Selector (who are relegated to graveyard spot). I last saw both of them in 1979 at The Kimberley Leisure Centre as part of a bill with another small band from the time – Madness…

I’m going to miss the tent and the whole ‘not washing’ experience. But my back to nature expedition is on hold this year. I’m going to have to settle for Splendour at Wollaton Park. Good reasons for this – it’s a mile from home so the tent stays firmly down. Oh – and Geldof and the Boomtown Rats are coming. Result. Who needs the Isle of Wight?

The trouble with God is that he think’s he’s Bob Geldof

Last night – for the second time this year I relived my (wasted?) youth. Rock City played host the best rock and roll band on the planet – as announced by “Sir” Bob Geldof to an audience with an average age to qualify for a bus pass (me excepted of course).

Saint Bob?

Saint Bob?

If you weren’t there in the late 1970′s and early 19080′s it is hard to describe the influence the Boomtown Rats had. Geldof was a loud mouthed (and at times foul mouthed – he uttered the F-word for the first time on live TV during Live Aid) and opinionated. The songs resonated with a disenchanted youth. Me included. It was rebellion personified. We were pissed off. Still am it seems.

But the tunes were good too. And the lyrics were sublime. This is proper rock and roll – requiring to be played loud even if the pensioners were struggling with their hearing aids!

The set-list was impressive (I knew every word of every song here – such was the mis-spent youth):

(I Never Loved) Eva Braun
Like Clockwork
Neon Heart
Do you In
Someone’s Looking At You
Banana Republic
She’s So Modern
I Don’t Like Mondays
CLose As You’ll Ever Be
When The Night Comes
Mary of the 4th form
Lookin’ After Number One
Rat Trap
Never Bite The Hand That Feeds
Diamond Smiles
Boomtown Rats

Geldof was irreverent, funny and serious at times – reminding us that nothing has really changed since he wrote this stuff. What the voice lacks – the enthusiasm and energy make up for.

This was as good as a gig gets for me. 10/10.

Isle of Wight Festival 2013

My last blog was about the truly excellent Boomtown Rats appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival 2013. But it wasn’t just The Rats’ who were there – although they were the best by a Country mile!

I thought I might share some images and memories…

Firstly, it takes all sorts at Festivals. Often there are people in fancy dress, other times you might just assume that some people just dress oddly?

Nice arse?

Nice arse?

Although you can stay in a normal tent if you like you can gamble on something a little different…

The tents disguised as dice

The tents disguised as dice

There was a retro feel this year – with the appearance of Hugh Cornwell from The Stranglers, Steve Harley, Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople), T’Pau and Blondie. All superb!

Blondie aka Debbie Harry

Blondie aka Debbie Harry

Then there were The Killers – as good as ever…

The Killers lead-man Brandon Flowers

The Killers lead-man Brandon Flowers

And when you win a big cuddly toy, there is only one thing you should do with it…

Where am I?

Where am I?

Finally, there was clearly a bit of a wardrobe disaster for a number of people? And I love that they had their own flag…

Where's Wally and the matching flag

Where’s Wally and the matching flag

All in all, a great festival…

The Greatest Rock n Roll band on the planet – OFFICIAL

After a break of a few days I’m back with news of a band who have been away for 27 years! I have been on the Isle of Wight at the festival – It was my 10th year. The first year I went really to see Bowie – but this year there was a special surprise.


The Boomtown Rats had re-formed. ALthough it was a relatively short set (which Geldof over-ran as you might expect), they played as well as any of the previous dozen or so times I have seen them. The first time was back in 1979 a few weeks after ‘Mondays’ had been at No.1. Geldof was resplendent in a snakeskin suit – the material for which came from Nottingham!

They romped through stuff, mostly drawn from the early years – the set list was:

I Never Loved (Eva Braun)
Like Clockwork
Neon Heart
Do You In
Someone’s Looking at You
Looking after number one
I Don’t Like Mondays
Mary of the 4th Form
She’s So Modern
Rat Trap

Geldof was suitably ‘adult like’ in language terms. We all needed to go and do something to change the world. But the real message in here was an interesting one. He wrote Mondays and Someone’s Looking at You 35 years ago. Mondays was famously about 16 year old Brenda Ann Spencer who shot at Schoolchildren in California. Geldof recounted a recent story of a similar shooting in Ohio recently. In the introduction to “Someone’s Looking At You” – he suggested that matters may now be worse – if you go to London you have your photo taken around 3,000 times in a day! His song was a bout him being photographed at a protest march for GreenPeace!

I was never going to dislike the gig – they played stuff I grew up with. Geldof sounded great – irreverent as ever! Le Frondeuse? Don’t take my word for it – the Telegraph review is here.

And great news – they will tour in October. I can confirm I’ll be there!

Is it really a year? The Isle Of Wight Festival beckons…

The mud has long since been forgotten. The persistent rain is a distant memory. The tent is in tent heaven…


I posted my top tips at the end of the show last year – you can read them here.

Today I head south to that little Island in the Solent – where I get to spend the next four days in the sunshine watching a number of bands. without doubt the highlight will be The Boomtown Rats on Sunday!

But there’s a few others as well – Stone Roses, Ian Hunter, Laura Mvula, Happy Mondays, T’Pau (!!), The Killers, The Script, Bon Jovi and Blondie…

The blog may go quiet for a few days, but I’ll be back next week – probably with some news on who was good and who was bad…

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!

The Boss – aka Springsteen

It doesn’t seem a week since I was playing in a muddy field on the Isle of Wight. The festival this year will be remembered for the rain and the mud – it was epic.

But as I blogged in the week there were also a few bands on too. And some good ones at that.

I was interested to see that the NME published their list of the best acts of the festival in the week by listeners and they suggested:

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Pearl Jam
Biffy Clyro
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Miles Kane
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
The Vaccines

Well, I’m with them on Bruce. He was amazing – belting out (literally) hit after hit interspersed with some new stuff from “Wrecking Ball’ for nearly three hours. This is a showman at his best – with an incredible stamina for a 62 year old. I last saw Springsteen (with the E Street Band) in 1993 – a period when I think he was at his best, or so we thought. They were the days of Born in The USA and Dancing in the Dark.

But last year ‘The Promise’ was released – music he wrote in the late 70′s but never recorded after a dispute with his record company. I love that stuff. It still sounds like 1978.

But the highlight of the set for me was ‘Because the Night’. A song he gifted to Patti Smith which gave her the springboard into the UK. This song is in my top ten soungs of all time, so playing it was a real bonus.

I have been asked by several people whether he is worth seeing, my response, he was worth the price of the ticket – £175….

Without doubt ‘The Boss’.

PS I don’t agree with the NME on all of their list – Pearl Jam were rubbish!

Festival – Top Gear To Tips

I am sure you weren’t worried about me; I survived, Ray Mears like, the Isle oF wight Festival 2012. I was going to write a rant-y sort of blog about the inability of the organisers to spot the unfolding car-crash, but thought I would try to share some tips and observations for any festival- goers for the future. A sort of Public Service announcement – but in my pictures …

1. FOOD – don’t bother carrying it. It’s heavy and when you can have Jamie Oliver cook for you, it seems pointless. And anyway £7.50 for a salted beed sandwich is a bargain in anyones book? Wash it down with a £4 bottle of Bulmers. (TGTT – take a handful of wonga)

2. MARKER PENS – Beware the marker pen. And if your friends think it is funny drawing a penis on you need to think about some new friends. If you think it’s funny make sure it is not on your forehead – as Vim on Monday for back to work day isn’t so good. (TGTT – look up Vim – your granny used to use it).

3. SHOES – sensible footwear is optional. But your white disco dancing shoes may well have looked good on Mr Travolta when he was ‘Staying Alive’, but trust me this is not a cool look. TGTT – Rigger Boots. Essential.

4. TROLLEYS – The supermarkets are so kind, they only charge the first person £1 to ‘borrow’ their trolleys. So useful for carrying Beer and / or friends. TGTT – make sure you’re not the first to borrow – you don’t get to keep your pound.

5. JUST WRONG. Nuff said. TGTT – No.

6. LONELINESS – sometimes Festivals can seem a lonely place – with only around 55,000 other people it’s easy to seem isolated. If this does happen, there are usually lots of trees, who don’t want to get you pregnant or seek a long term relationship. TGTT – If in doubt hug a tree … aaaah. Oh and yellow moustaches are not cool – especially on girls

7. TRACTOR – If you can, remember to bring your own tractor. This helps immensely and saves you waiting for one of the hired hands to drag you out. TGTT – if you are towed onto the car park, treat this as a very bad sign.

8. ELF & SAFETY – no matter where you go, you must beware of the dangers around you. Here an impromptu pond has been turned into a potential death trap – so the fences have been ‘placed’ to show how you must beware. Stay away from the water children, you can drown in 3″ of water TGTT – That’s an urban myth, if you drowned in 3″ of water, you must have been trollied.

9. COMPETITIONS – don’t take on bets where they suggest that they have a bigger frying pan than you, they probably do. TGTT – Betting the locals is foolish.

10. WATCH OUT FOR EACH OTHER – especially if you have friends who are a bit smaller than you, some easily can disappear. The signs are tragic when it happens, a shoe here, a brolly there. TGTT – look after the small people.

11. MEN FOLK – should keep some dignity. It’s not big and it’s not clever. TGTT – mud wrestling is not for the UK.

12. MUSIC – It is why you go, so please don’t spend all of your time talking – listen, there are some talented people who have come a long way. Here Suzanne Vega performs in the rare bit of sunshine. TGTT – if you don’t want to listen to music, go and watch the football.

And finally… The students generally stick together. You can see them, they tend not to have a bag, but bring the all-important quilt and pillow – over their shoulder. When it rains this is not a good start. Also bright young things – a Gazebo is NOT a tent.

Just trying to be helpful….

Its music month…

I can’t believe that we are in June already. June is my Festival Month!

I get to be a responsible adult – living like Ray Mears (well nearly). Living off the land, sleeping under the stars and generally fending for myself. Yes, It’s the Isle of Wight Festival again. It’s my 9th year in succession.

This year they’ve moved it back a few weeks (something to do with some Royal Celebrations or something?) So we start on the 21st – and I can’t wait. The line up this year is pretty good – generally.

I’m looking forward to:

Bruce Springsteen
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Noel Gallagher
The Darkness
Primal Scream
The Stranglers
Big Country

And the one’s to miss…

Professor Green
Katy B
Tiny Tempah
Jessie J….

Thats why there’s a bar!

The other thing we need to arrange is the weather, as last year’s efforts were not good. The picture is of my mate Jeremy donning his rather fetching all-weather gear! With luck we won’t do that again! Roll on the Isle of Wight!

Music – the power of three…

For the second time in two weeks I got wet watching live music. It was a sort of wet wet wet moment at the Isle of Wight festival. Then at Hard Rock Calling on Friday in Hyde Park it rained again. perhaps not as much as IOW!

Feel the rain!

On Friday it was the third time I had seen all three headlining bands – James, Kaiser Chiefs and The Killers. Apparently Prince Harry was there. 59,999 other people were…

James are a great live band to see – the first time I saw them they refused to play ‘Sit Down’, but the last two times they have done – and it is a great crowd pleaser. They are great live.

Kaiser Chiefs are a boys band – and the predictive Riot anthems are really good – if a little boisterous! They have a new album out where you choose ten tracks for 20 – and they played a few tracks…

But the stars of the show were The Killers. There’s no-nonsense about playing stuff you don’t know. They just play hit after hit after hit. They were absolutely brilliant – even if the rain was relentless. I have now seen them in London, Nottingham and in New York. On the spur of the moment I bought tickets for Madison Square Garden (even though we weren’t actually booked to go to the Big Apple!) They were fantastic….

My next live music is back in Nottingham – at Splendour - where Scissor Scissors, Blondie and Feeder play. For the first time in a while I will see someone who I haven’t seen before – Scissor Scissors. I have seen Blondie a few times and Feeder I have seen lots. Blondie gets a mixed review from me; I guess she didn’t quite live up to my 1979 memories of her! Feeder are just brilliant.

But I do know something – the sun will shine in Nottingham at Splendour. Guaranteed.

PS The set list for the Killers was…

Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll
Somebody Told Me
For Reasons Unknown
Smile Like You Mean It
Losing Touch
Spaceman Reprise
Bling (Confessions of a King)
Moon River
Read My Mind
Mr Brightside
All These Things I’ve Done
This Is Your Life
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
When You Were Young