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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Dolly Parton Concert at the Metro Radio Arena

Dolly Parton ConcertLet me start by saying I have no interest in Dolly Parton – I’m a Rush/Yes/Pink Floyd kind of person myself, BUT she’s one of Maureen’s favourites to I agreed to go along, quite prepared to be bored silly all night.

I’m not about to go out and buy her records as I think she sounds like a chipmunk, but I do have to hand it to her – first grade professional show – and I was rather amazed at the range of instruments she can handle – and the range of music styles she’s written for. Before the show, as the hoards came rushing in, vendors were selling “Dolly” hats with LED lighting so lots of people were done up like Christmas trees which was quite good. The stage lighting throughout the show was superb (the only down-side being the ONLY two large video displays, which, for those of us at the back, were frankly rubbish. That and a small number of feral teenagers who felt the need to scream like baboons from time to time preventing others from hearing the lyrics, only slightly detracted from what was otherwise a first class show).

Dolly Parton ConcertWe left the Arena approaching 11pm, hungry as hell, on a Saturday night – no problem you might thing… I don’t go to Newcastle much these days having lived there for a decade and not being particularly impressed then – but it’s getting worse – thousands of people looking for food and what do the takeaways do at 11pm – CLOSE.  One by one as we were driving up through Westgate Road – they were closing down. What?  A decade ago when we lived there I remember having a kitchen drawer full of price lists with opening times as late as 12.30pm – today by 11.30pm the place is a ghost town – granted Westgate was never the highlight of Newcastle – but it’s gotten a lot worse by the look of it – and it looks distinctly like you’re somewhere other than Britain. We eventually found a Chinese open just off the A69 – the girl at the counter had the most rotten teeth you can imagine and the food was, well, crap! So much for rounding off a great show.

I guess it’ll be another decade before I bother to venture back to town on a Saturday night. Awful.

But back to the superb concert – check out the photos – sorry they’re not better – I didn’t think they’d be keen on large cameras so just too the iPhone – which can’t really do something like this justice. You can click to enlarge them but don’t expect miracles.

Dolly Parton ConcertDolly Parton ConcertDolly Parton Concert

Dolly Parton Concert

Finally a Decent Media Centre

Amplifier, Sky box and laptop as media centreI’ve been playing around with media centres for years… I’ve always kept my music, pictures and more recently videos on the the computer and was using this for providing music to our parties LONG before the idea hit the general public.

We used to have a TIVO – marvellous device, let you record video onto it then via a Linux network you could offload to your PC – of course the Americans took Tivo to the next level while we went Media Centre showing music selectiondown the crappy SKY route  – which is STILL crappy – despite having a network connector and even USB – none of which have ever been pressed into service because Sky are control freaks, you can’t offload video and you can’t even KEEP videos for more than a few days in the case of some of the premium stuff – and their player – well, compared to the iPlayer there IS no comparison – I’ve always wanted a PC version of TIVO but improved to cover the rest of my media including my music, photos and of COURSE Shoutcast radio… what other radio is there?  Well, as the original Microsoft Media Centre was SO BAD I tried everything going Media Centre playing musicincluding the excellent  I’ve tried all manner of media centres including the excellent MEDIAPORTAL but this weekend I sat down with new hardware and Windows 7, determined to install the latest Mediaportal – and to be honest, they’ve really not moved on at all, I found it bombed out at times and was just not very good..

So I took the plunge, revisited Microsoft’s Media Centre for Windows 7 – and then went looking for plug-ins. I’m pleased to report that it all works a TREAT and given Shoutcast and Weather plug-ins – it’s also MARVELOUS.  Add to that the free TVERSITY Media Centre displaying Shoutcast stationsand AIR VIDEO programs so I can access my media when on the road on the mobile phone… and what I now have is a very nice setup!

If anyone is interesting in the same facilities, drop me a line with any questions. I’ve wasted a lot of time getting here and I’m happy to advise others to save them wasting the same amount of time… if ONLY the MUSIC 2 people hadn’t retracted their iPhone product…


Joe McElderry – is he good enough?

We both watched the finale of the X-Factor – and both contestants were excellent, with Joe McElderry winning in the end. No doubt about it, he’s good… and it’s great to see a Northern lad win – especially if that means seeing more screenshots of Cheryl Cole…..  but… his debut track, though put together nicely and with good singing from Joe – simply isn’t that great a song. The other track he sang was a “Journey” number which Simon Cowell thought was “not a well known number” – I’m not sure who he was kidding but it was very popular in it’s time and Journey are a fabulous band several leagues up from anything we’ve seen on the X-Factor… BBC played it on the radio this morning –the original is WAY better than last night’s version.

I suspect young Joe will be the darling of the TV for a few weeks and then fade into the crowd. Nice singer, but not terribly special.

Current favourites

Here, in case anyone is even remotely interested are my current favourite music videos…



(re: above, this track is STREETS ahead of anything else I’ve heard them do – and in the middle of the track, there’s a guy called Rudi who does a short Emminen-like piece – absolutely excellent – play loud and several times)


Lily Allen – the Root of All Evil?

Maybe I’m just getting TOO OLD for this – or maybe I can see something that the pathetically out of date BBC and others just can’t handle in their golden years.
Here’s an example: Lily Allen has produced, as anyone who has not been in a cave in Spain for the last year knows, an INCREDIBLY catchy record called “The Fear”
For those of you who have not yet discovered mankind’s best-kept secret, SPOTIFY (I know – great service, pity about the name) in which FOR FREE you can listen to most songs as long as you don’t mind an advert every 30 minutes… lets you listen to various versions of many songs – including the delusionary edited versions, the BBC versions, the originals – you name it…

Here is “The Fear” by Lily Allen

Try listening to it, say 3 times by which time you should be totally hooked or you are perhaps DEAF… OH and did you notice she happens to SWEAR a couple of times??
Well the BBC have and so have others because in their completely out of touch state, various publishers have ALTERED the music so it misses the swearing out or even CHANGES them DESPITE the fact that it is completely in context, humorous and musical.

So it’s ok to broadcast 24 and a TON of other UK and AMERICAN shows in which people are shot, dismembered, tortured, reduced to an animal state and otherwise treated to personal ARMAGEDDON – but FRACK-ME as they say on Galactica – don’t let our children hear a pop-star swear!!!

So these kids who are to be protected from this onslaught of immoral words – they don’t go to school? They don’t watch YouTube?.. they never see SKY channels that are all about SEX late at night and yet which are NOT password-protected and they have CERTAINLY not heard of Google?

Let’s get our priorities right – killing people is BAD, damaging people is BAD, stealing is BAD, vandalism is BAD… but using a few colourful words in context…. please!

Britain really DOES have Talent

If the names Paul Potts and Connie Talbot are old hat to you – stop reading. I couldn’t help but share this however…

Well, to cut a long story short, I must’ve been living on an alternative universe for the last year, because despite watching X-Factor occasionally, I’ve missed the “Britain’s got Talent” series which culminated in a variety show performance in front of the Queen.

The winner was a guy called Paul Potts… a mobile phone salesman who’d always wanted to do opera… stumbled on it this morning. When you see the video for the first minute you’ll think I’m barking mad for suggesting it might just reduce you to a knot in your throat– until you hear him and watch him perform. Watch the faces of the audience and the judges – absolutely blew me away. Here’s his first shot at the show…

Well, as happens – once you look at something in YouTube you have to have a look at the rest… and the runner up in 2007 next to this staggeringly talented gentleman – is a 6 year old called Connie Talbot. I didn’t think it was possible to get excited about TWO artists in one day… but amazingly – well, judge for yourself – and remember SIX years old…