Sunday, June 10, 2007

Old Friends Vol 2 and other Miscellany

Following on from Vol 1 of my adventures rediscovering old musical friends here, its time to briefly complete my odyssey and talk about some randomness as well. Having revisited Delirious I have also re-found two bands who both have a certain folk flavour. Firstly, the Levellers and then Iona.

While I was at university, like many others, I got into the Levellers with their brand of folk-tinged rock. There are three main reasons that I liked them: their level of energy, an insane catchiness and the left wing politics that informed a great deal of their music. I have spent quite a lot of time listening to what is probably their best album, Levelling the Land. Its not the greatest album in the world, but it is incredibly catchy and you find yourself helplessly singing along. Even though I hadn't listened to it for a good 5 years or so, I still remembered most of the words and found myself singing along with just about every song. Very enjoyable. Not as immediately catchy, but still a lot of fun are their LP debut A Weapon Called the Word and Zeitgeist.

The second band, Iona, have a special place in my musical heart. They are a rather unique mix of prog rock and folk music. I first saw them live in 1990 at Band on the Wall in Manchester and they made me realise that music could be more than just something you had in the background; that it could be something extraordinary. Two of the most amazing moments I've experienced at gigs have been at Iona concerts. I saw them in the mid nineties and as one of their encores they played a piece called Reels which started slowly and just built faster and faster to a dazzling display of musical virtuosity that got the entire audience dancing like idiots, myself included (if you know me, you know I never dance).

The other was at their 1999 Royal Festival Hall Woven Cord concert. They performed backed by a full orchestra and it was amazing. But the most incredible moment was during a song called Beyond these Shores. It's a very simple song and it was so beautiful that as it faded away at the end, you could hear a pin drop and it took a few moments for people to come to themselves and start applauding. Listening to their music has reminded me all over again, just how good they were and still are.

Other Miscellany, of which there are two items because two is the oddest prime number.

1) I have been catching up with real-life old friends on Facebook which has been cool. Facebook is ridiculously addictive and I find it very easy to waste an hour or two fiddling about on there reviewing movies, exchanging wall posts with friends and playing the iLike music game. It feels satisfyingly sociable without any of the pesky actual in-person socialising or 'meatspace' interaction if you like. (hat tip to Patroclus for the meatspace term)

2) Dr Who. The latest series of Dr Who has finally hit its stride ,with the past 4 episodes being excellent. The Lazarus Experiment, the Family of Blood two parter and this week's episode Blink were all very good. Blink had the most genuinely creepy monsters of the whole series in the Weeping Angels (if you watched, how cool were they?!!) and although the Doctor wasn't in the episode much, it was a cracker.


Sarah said...

Oh, I love the Levellers! I have probably been to see them more times than any other band - though I'm not really a big gig-goer, so it's only about 4 times. The first gig I ever went to was to see the Levellers and I managed to get jumped up and down on by the crowd and carried off by the first aid people.

Maybe that's why I don't go to so many gigs.

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

I would love to see the Levellers lives, I reckon they'd be brilliant...

Targaff said...

Hi Lee, Graham Penny here (hope you remember who I am? ;), I saw your comment on FR and decided to pay a quick visit. You may be interested to know (or may already know) that the Levs are playing a special gig at the Apollo on 07/03/08 and tickets went on sale TODAY, but they're only available to subscribers of their mailing list so if you are interested you might want to get there fast!

I'm in Manc also, if you want to drop me a line my e-mail's targaff(symbol)vtxmail(dot)ch. Don't have much free time, though :(

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

Hello and welcome Graham.
I do indeed remember you, age has not yet robbed me of too much memory ;)

Hope you are well and thanks for the Levs info!