Posts Tagged ‘ David Bowie ’

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just An Observation

And on and on it rolls and rolls and…
The election campaign stepped up a notch with Labour’s manifesto pledges leaked a day before they were supposed to be raising the question of how can a party stand any chance of election with such blatant skullduggery within its own ranks? Surely an electorate needs to have some semblance of trust in those they are voting for- total trust is a tall order I am sure you will agree- but if there is obvious dissent and lack of unity within a party then how is anyone else supposed to put their faith in them?
One thing the Tories have always done is stand united- apart from the small matter of Europe obviously and we all know where that led- no matter how despicable their policies or mandate. Even though the party was split over Europe they have somehow managed to form some kind of united front which is pulling the wool over the public’s eyes until they gain total power with a majority then begin their petty squabbles all over again, allowing the rest of us to pay the price. Again!
Hell they even managed to be cleared of any wrongdoing over the election expenses scandal and not content with this their bold leader Theresa May (Tresemme) felt the need to try and accuse others of deploying the same tactics without any evidence or proof. I am thinking here of her assertion that the SNP also had been fined over these malpractices but there is no record whatsoever that there is any truth to this malicious claim.
However having the media on your side is a positive tool and not being answerable to the electorate, opposing parties or anyone at all apart from sycophantic supporters obviously is giving her the smug, arrogant confidence to make such statements. That and reinstating fox-hunting obviously.
It is becoming more and more glaringly apparent that this election is being mainly fought by the media.
One thing that struck me recently is that the SNP who are by far and large the main party in Scotland do not have an ally within the media; at least not one that can make any real difference. In fact if the media were to be believed- which they are not- you would think the Tories had won the council elections here rather than it being a landslide victory for the SNP. The fact that despite all this negativity in the press they have made such a large impression here in Scotland shows that they are appealing to people at a grass-roots level most other parties feel they are actually above, hence the decimation of Labour north of the border.
The media situation is something I witnessed first hand when looking for media jobs and found myself up against young graduates who were prepared to work an internship for free as their parents could afford to support them. This led to the media being saturated by young kids who had merely bought their way into their positions espousing the Tory values they now support in print. I recall bemoaning the fact that every press office I entered during the Edinburgh Fringe as being like an audition casting for Made In Chelsea –vacuous , vapid types who were self-serving, arrogant, entitled and conceited beyond belief- and predicting that this was the future of media in this country. I was right!
On a lighter note it would seem that Joanna Lumley thinks that Idris Elba is ‘not right’ to play the next James Bond. Much as I love Joanna Lumley I must disagree as Idris Elba is very right for just about everything!
Even more ridiculous is the claim that Harry Styles is the new David Bowie-see what I mean about these new media types- which has to be the most absurd thing I have heard in years. Really? Harry Styles? David Bowie? I just don’t see any connection. Whatsoever!
He doesn’t even cut it as an average pop star and surely wearing every haircut rejected by any sensible person in the eighties proves he doesn’t even belong in the same universe as Bowie never mind the same sentence.
If you want to hear some perfect contemporary pop then I suggest you listen to the new Blondie album Pollinator proving that even when approaching her 71st birthday Deborah Harry is still the coolest person in rock and roll. Of the two Harrys it is the blonde one who wins out as the one to watch in 2017!

STARMAN

Starman
Starman-Landscape
Eight months on since the shocking news of David Bowie’s death and somehow it still doesn’t seem real. More than a rock star Bowie’s influence and presence are so ingrained in our cultural DNA that his spectral presence still hovers over us informing our thoughts and his music is as potent, poignant and essential as ever.
This show by Sven Ratzke places some of these songs in a cabaret setting and accompanying narrative. It is not such a shock to hear some of Bowie’s greatest works given the cabaret treatment as Bowie himself was as influenced by cabaret as any other genre.
I mean what are Five Years and Rock and Roll Suicide –the opening and closing tracks of his classic Ziggy Stardust album- if not cabaret informed by the currency of rock and roll and even this show’s title song Starman leans so heavily on Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow that it could be considered grand theft. That was always Bowie’s genius though, being able to steal all the right elements and put them together in a totally new and imaginative way.
The songs that Ratzke features in this show include a jazz tinged Rebel Rebel, a beautiful Lady Grinning Soul, a Weimar influenced Time, Space Oddity and a strident Heroes.
I wasn’t quite as keen on the inter-song banter however and found it overplayed and on occasion meandering. It was never quite as funny as it aimed to be and often felt added on and unnecessary.
The songs however speak for themselves and who cares if Ratzke is no David Bowie as there never was and never will be another like him, so trying to compete is pointless. The show has its moments and when it shines it really does sparkle in stardust. It is a shame that the dialogue in-between doesn’t match these moments as if this wasimproved upon it would make the difference between merely a good show and a great one!
***
Starman is at The Assembly Spiegletent at 20.45 until the 28th August

BURDEN

Burden
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Immortalised on David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ album in the track ‘Joe The Lion’, performance artist Chris Burden caused quite a media splash with his wayward attitude to what passed for art in the heady and inventive nineteen-seventies. Whether it was being shot, electrocuted or crucified on the back of a Volkswagen Beetle- the inspiration for the aforementioned Bowie track- his attitude and daring made him simultaneously notorious and ridiculed.
Directed by Tim Marriman and Richard Dewey the film covers the whole transition of Burden’s varied and fascinating career: from its outrageous beginnings to mainstream acceptance and recognition from the art world’ Later in his career he revisited his original sculpture beginnings to create exceptional works and installations with exquisite precision which entrance and intrigue even today.
Sadly Burden passed away five days before his last work went on public display but lived long enough to see it was properly installed and in full working order capturing what he loved to refer to as ‘The Moment’.
His personal life was no less colourful as he moved from the stability and encouragement of his first wife and her calming influence to the erratic, sex and drug fuelled relationship with the young assistant he cheated on her with. As the drugs took more and more of a hold on him his behaviour became wilder and wilder until those around him feared not only for his sanity but their safety.
This film will be of interest to anyone who appreciates the changing art scene of the late twentieth century which Burden became a pivotal figure in. Amusing moments come from the elderly plummy-vowelled art traditionalist who rejects Burden’s work as a scam to simply gain notoriety. Burden himself emerges as a fascinating character who was always willing to take things to extremes and not only present his art but immerse himself so far into it that in his later career became almost invisible as the art gained the attention he had once sought for himself.
Burden is showing at Cineworld on Thursday 16th June at 20.40 and again on Friday at 18.15.

GARY NUMAN; ANDROID IN LA LA LAND

Gary Numan: Android in La La Land
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Admittedly I have never been a huge Gary Numan fan; the sub Bowie posturing always felt second-hand and dated while his music, although electronic, seemed to be one-dimensional, clunky and droning as opposed to the liquid fluidity, crisp conciseness and melodically organic works of Kraftwerk.
Some of my disdain may have come from the universally and unrelenting awful press he received at his peak- let’s not forget how huge he was at this time- where he was slated almost on a daily basis but Numan did little in interviews to change my views coming across as arrogant, stiff, overly serious and lacking in humour with conservative- and Conservative- views. The fact that he married his number one fan did little to endear him any further merely confirming him as a little sad and desperate.
It transpires that this aloofness was in fact due to him being a lifelong Asperger’s Syndrome sufferer prone to bouts of panic and extended periods of depression and within the opening minutes of this film I am surprised to find myself warming to him as he presents a far more human, warm and compassionate person than I could ever have imagined.
This film by Steve Read and Rob Alexander finds him in a period of transition about to release a new album while also negotiating a move to Los Angeles with his wife and three daughters. It is also a period where him and Gemma have both recovered from extended bouts of depression and are piecing their lives and relationship back together again.
There is not much focus on Numan’s past successes and instead the film deals with the present day and how Numan needs to make a mark on the current scene in order to survive.
In this instance a move to America is a canny move as he always had more acceptance there as his music , not dragged down by his android image, found a new audience too young to catch Bowie and a hip hop crowd who found his robotic beats and sounds perfect for sampling; providing the perfect soundscapes for their futuristic ideals. Fans such as Trent Reznor also played a part in his resurrection, making him more acceptable to a younger audience.
Both Numan and Gemma come across as warm and comfortable with each other and it is this which makes the film watchable even if they overplay the depression angle a little too repeatedly. At the end of it I would even openly admit to liking such Numan tracks as ‘Cars’ ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric’ and ‘Me, I Disconnect From You’ –which I would never have conceded back in the day- and found myself wanting to check out his new album.
Gary Numan: Android in La La Land is on at Cineworld on Tuesday 21st June at 20.50.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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The news of the tragic death of David Bowie has overshadowed all other news this week and whilst the after effects of his demise have yet to sink in properly it would seem that even in handling his own death he has been an inspiration to his legions of fans and everyone else for that matter.
Here was a man who eighteen months ago was diagnosed with cancer and instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself and wallowing in self pity he set out to work on a final album as well as involving himself in a stage show based on his music; a relentless work schedule for any artist but for one with terminal cancer it shows a drive which sets him apart from mere mortals. Ultimately he presented his death as art, a final swansong in an unpredictable and always fascinating career.
Even his cremation was handled with characteristic dignity; away from the glare of the media with no fuss, friends or even family present. How the current generation of superstars could learn from him as he was classy, private and possessed dignity until the end.
Dignity is certainly a word which would appear to be anathema to the current collection of rabid scum who currently inhabit the Big Brother House. I stopped watching this programme years ago as it was degenerating into a Saturday night street brawl set up by its producers but my curiosity was piqued by the fact Angie Bowie was on it this year.
At this point I must admit I was morbidly tempted to watch it to see her reaction to her former husband’s death but somehow I missed this episode. I did however tune into watch it the next night and was quite horrified by what I saw.
What confuses me more is that some people I know- in some cases people I consider as possessing some intelligence and integrity- consider this to be entertainment. I am totally unclear what is entertaining about watching people of limited intelligence squabbling and screeching about essentially nothing!
Surely there are other options to entertaining yourself other than encouraging this kind of moronic behaviour by boosting its viewing figures. I was so disgusted and infuriated by what I saw that about three quarters of the way through the programme I switched the TV off and then unplugged it completely and put it in a box in the corner of my living room where it will stay until I decide I can watch TV again.
Admittedly it has only been two days since I did this but already I feel a sense of liberation and have spent the last two evenings doing far more constructive things than watching a bunch of non-entities screaming abuse at each other. I mean I would cross the road to avoid these people so why on earth would I have them in my living room?
Of course I will watch TV again but it will probably take the return of either ‘The Fall’, ‘Peaky Blinders’ or ‘Line of Duty’ before I give it a permanent place in my living space again.
January is actually quite a good month to forfeit watching TV as there it coincides with the release of a few new movies. Already this year Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is well worth catching and out today is the Leonardo Decaprio and Tom Hardy vehicle The Revenant which has garnered favourable early reports.
There is also the option of listening to music. I mean really listening not just putting it on in the background, or listening to it on the bus or in the street as a minor distraction but actually sitting down and listening to the work which has gone into it. Surely this has to be better than watching a trouble-making reject from TOWIE arguing with some squawking American you have never heard of before or some tattooed ‘model’ flirting’ with some sacked Hollyoaks scrubber who then acts all contrite about her behaviour when she realises, or remembers, it is all on camera. Maybe it is time to remember that as long as you keep tuning into this garbage then you are feeding the viewing figures which guarantee its continuing rather than forcing the schedulers to replace it with something more worthwhile. Just a thought!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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I am not sure what has concerned me more this week; the constant and incessant rain or whether David Cameron’s children will struggle, like so many others, to get on the property ladder.
Actually I lied there is only one of these things which concerns me and that is the former-the latter just makes me angry- as the rain and accompanying darkness which has turned our lives into some kind of repetitive and frustrating outtake of ‘Bladerunner’. These however are the luckier ones. The less fortunate are victims of consequential floods which is a very grave concern especially considering the fact the government is refusing to apply for EU funding to help those poor people whose homes and businesses have been ruined lest it shed the EU in a favourable light ahead of the referendum to decide Britain’s future within it. It is good to see a government taking care of its people and not making decisions on a politically beneficial basis. Unfortunately I don’t see that here at the moment.
Anyway I suppose that David Cameron has more to worry about at the moment, what with his concerns that his two children may never make it onto the property ladder. This just makes me concerned just exactly how much he and his repulsive cohort Gideon Osborne intend to fuck up the economy if a multi-millionaire with an impressive property portfolio is worried about his offspring’s future.
Then again his much heralded starter plans project for first time home owners does still put buying a home out of the vast majority of Briton’s reach so maybe his concerns are genuine. However it could all just be big fat lie like everything else that comes out of his mouth. The latter option is probably the most likely.
Elsewhere it is David Bowie’s 69th birthday today and he is celebrating by releasing his 28th album Blackstar. I have only listened to it a couple of times so far but can reveal that it is a truly impressively fascinating work and a worthy addition to a great canon.
A more cohesive and less sprawling effort than his 2013 ‘comeback’ opus The Next Day the new work seems to inhabit a world all of its own with an impressive array of sonically enhanced soundscapes from a new collection of musicians and long-standing trusty collaborator Tony Visconti.
I think one of the most impressive things about this album is that it proves that even this far into his career Bowie is not resting on his laurels or relying on his past legacy, even if he does self-reference it occasionally, but still striving to make something new.
The same cannot be said for his ex-wife Angie however who has been reduced to appearing on the low rent freak-show Celebrity Big Brother. The fact she is still using the name Bowie is interesting as it wasn’t even his real name to begin with and she has been married several times since they divorced.
Mind you I suppose the name is about the only thing she has left to sell as she did very badly out of their divorce and their son, film director Duncan Jones, will have absolutely nothing to do with her. It is sad circumstances for a woman who contributed so much to one of the all time great rock and roll success stories but one senses she has brought most of it on herself,
Bowie once memorably referred to her as ‘like living with a blowtorch’ and my curiosity piqued me into watching about fifteen minutes of CBB-as those in the know refer to it- where she allowed her robust and highly strung confrontational aggression to emerge without too much provocation thus giving his remark some credence. Then again those circumstances and those housemates would probably induce me to kill someone so maybe I am being overly judgemental.
Anyway Happy Birthday David!
Out at the cinema today is the new Quentin Tarantino film The Hateful Eight starring the wonderful Samuel L. Jackson in a western themed extravaganza. Whether you love or hate Tarantino his movies always feel like an event and are usually worth seeing even if only out of curiosity. I am on my way to see it this afternoon so will post a review soon after.
Ending on a positive note Spring is round the corner and although it is likely to get colder in the next few weeks this hopefully will usher in some drier weather thus taking us out of this dank, gloomy permanence the constant rain has imposed on us!

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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The gunfire and explosions of last Friday’s tragic events in Paris had hardly quieted down before there was a massive outpouring of grief, anger, accusations and opinions all over social media. I spent most of Saturday avoiding Facebook due to this but on Sunday when I logged in again I was faced with some genuinely moving tributes, intelligent observations and researched information.
However there was even more accusations that people showing support by using the French tricolour on their profile pictures were somehow not being supportive enough to issues elsewhere in the world alongside the unfortunately inevitable arguments about migration being the root of all evil- most of the latter escaped my news feed as I try not to knowingly harbour such sentiments among my friends, even the cyber ones- which was swiftly followed by unfriendings, deletions and blockings.
Knee jerk reactions yes, but also the root of even more festering wounds and divisions.
This is exactly what the perpetrators and organisers of these atrocities were wanting; alongside instilling fear, hatred, mistrust and anger into everyone of course. Surely turning on people for actively showing their support for France is unfair and if they are unaware of other atrocities in the world surely then surely this is the time to make them aware of them instead of hurling accusations and un-friending them.
Certainly Donald Trump’s suggestions that all Muslims carry identity cards so they can be clearly identified is one of the most preposterous and genuinely frightening suggestions I have heard from anyone never mind a supposedly serious political figure who is running for office. A return to World War Two values is no step forward and neither is laying the blame at large percentage of the world’s population simply because of their religious beliefs.
Mind you such ridiculous suggestions can only be made by a man who advertises the fact he is a dickhead by appearing in public looking like low flying squirrel has landed on his head.
Anyway in some good news it would appear that the X-Factor’s reign of terror for about one quarter of the year’s viewing schedules is coming to a close. Personally I thought it was well past its sell by date nearly five years ago-I am being kind here- and has been limping along to its faltering demise ever since. The news that Simon Cowell’s franchise is not being renewed for another series after this one was strangely inevitable but the fact that it is to be replaced by the BBC’s attempts to replicate it, ‘The Voice’, is also inevitable but not quite so welcome.
Anyway who cares about such trivialities when a new season of ‘The Bridge’ starts this Saturday at 9pm on BBC4. Its leading character Saga Noren, a well chilled icy blonde in leather trousers excellently portrayed by Sofia Helin, is definitely the most interesting detective character developed in years- she is up against stiff competition such as Sara Lund from ‘The Killing’- and one of my favourite TV characters ever! If you haven’t seen this series so far then I seriously recommend you do.
Elsewhere David Bowie has this week released a taster for his new album’ Blackstar’ due out in January-his 68th birthday to be precise- with an enigmatic if slightly disturbing new video to accompany it. After a couple of missteps last year- sticking his nose into the Scottish Referendum debate where it was neither wanted nor relevant then releasing an almost unlistenable single of some weird drum and bass hybrid you immediately wanted to unhear- he seems to have regained his footing on the album’s title track. Whatever anyone’s opinion of it there is no denying the man still stretches himself visually and musically when so many of his contemporaries have settled into complacency and predictability. What is more just about everything he does is still newsworthy to some degree and still gets people talking. This is perhaps his greatest art of all!Check it out below.

Photo at top: Sofia Helin as Saga Noren