Friday Music


I haven’t listened to much music recently: too much GCSE marking, moving house and all my cds still unpacked. However, I came across this on a free CD.

I had heard it before as my youngest son owns this album (I am getting to that age where my children’s tastes are no longer purely those of children). I like it- I have a soft spot for Madness and the last 2 albums they have made have been pretty good.

This song moves me; it is advice from a father/grandfather as a child grows. I feel this right now: my youngest is 3 weeks off finishing primary school and a 10year chapter of our lives draws to a close….

Friday Music

A special for Valentine’s Day. Actually, I loathe what Valentine’s Day has become: excessive commercialism, the ‘need’ to display love by spending, spending, spending and overpriced meals. Although, I like the idea: making space for someone special….but not in a way that makes those who are not ‘partnered’ somehow 2nd class or excluded…

…d’oh- I think too much. Watch this: a fantastic earwig’ of a song . Memories of being in the last year at Soar Valley Comprehensive school in Leicester:-


Friday Music


It has happened: I have crossed the rubicon- I have started borrowing music from my children. It must now be but a short step until the moment that I get asked to be Father Christmas.

Youngest Son got this CD from his friend: Madness ‘Oui, oui,si, si, ja, ja,da,da’ and it is very good.

Madness are a British institution and yet their last two ‘proper’ albums, recorded after many years hiatus, are suprisingly great. They still sound obviously like Madness, but a little older- they are not pretending to be 30 years younger. So a lot of songs on this new CD talk about aging, death and relationship with their children (and grandchildren?). This particular song has advice that I would love to be as concise about to my own children. What advice- from a non faith source- to teach your child to love unconditionally.

And the bass, the beat and the tight playing are a joy. There is also a song that has challenged my mantra that there are no great ‘happy’ songs; something that got even me smiling- a song called ‘Misery’:-


Sometimes all you need are simple songs played well…

Friday Music

Ok…if anything, I am a passive republican. I think Elizabeth has done well into trying to do the role that she has been givenwith integrity and skill. I also believe that she has put her Christian faith into practice. But…don’t get me started on ‘royal blood’, monarchy and obeisance to inherited wealth….

Having said that, I watched the whole of the Jubilee concert on Monday. Vast swathes of it were cheesy, although well organised. This was my favourite part; mostly because I have always had a soft spot for Madness, but also as the light show was immense:-


But why were they reduced to singing only part of ‘Our House’?

Friday Music: London

I am still thinking about having been to London this week…

This is the best song I know about ‘imagined’ London meets ‘real’ London. It is my 7 year old son’s current favourite song: he doesn’t understand all the lyrics but appreciates the wordplay. I like this staged live version, with actors and film mixing with a real audience.

I saw Madness in concert nearly 2 years ago. Disappointingly they didn’t play this. I think it is one of the most impressively complex and musically interesting songs from a ‘pop’ band (although Madness always had an ‘edge’ to them); serious, menacing, wry, ironic and honest.



It’s Madness in Newcastle…

Saturday: Newcastle to see Madness. My 8 year old son’s first ever gig. I was 18 before I managed that (I think it may have been Suzanne Vega- also in Newcastle).


Gigs- something I have taken for granted; I know the routines, I know the rituals. Trying to explain to my son things I love and which are part of me and I just assume people know (Guess many life long church goers struggle in the same way; or at least I have noticed that it is so. Gig going for many gig goers is like church). I think I managed it….. teaching an 8 year old that the wait is part of the enjoyment and anticipation (I think I feel an Advent parallel coming on) was not as hard as I imagined.

I could not have chosen a better introduction to a new world. When you love music, you fear that your children will be seduced by ersatz Cowell-esqe pastiche in some plastic enormodome; it sounds like music, but it is in fact ‘music-lite’. Even the venue was great for that: the O2 Academy in Newcastle- the kind of music venue that I thought had long gone…. a bit scuzzy, not small, but not huge and (apart from the name) corporate free.

There are particular songs, by particular groups that make the hairs rise on the back of my neck. A concert opener, when you have been waiting, watching roadies move across the stage, hearing the crowd whoop and roar as they anticipate arrival….. ‘One Step Beyond’ is such a song. I looked at my son’s face as the words rang out ‘Hey you, don’t watch that, watch this; this is the heavy heavy monster song…’ and I was deleriously happy and proud: ‘The Force is strong in this one.’ It just got better and better and better; an endless succesion of crowd pleasers.


(forgive me- it is the first time I have tried to take photos at a gig….)

It is refreshing to watch a band that tight live. Refreshing too to watch a group of people who have not just become a tribute act, but are still trying new things and acknowledging that they are ageing and not denying it. Plus lots of top quality banter and story between the songs. Memo to live acts-learn from Madness: look like you are enjoying it and that it is a privilege to be there.

I am not good at concert reviews, but there were so many highlights…’Embarrasment’, ‘Night Boat to Cairo’ (complete with karaoke), ‘My girl’, ‘Baggy Trousers’- but not ‘that’ dance- the knees are not the same, ‘House of Fun’ (I’ll leave explaining that till he is older) ‘Forever Young’ and ‘My Girl’. I so wished I was in the moshpit and not sat in the balcony: I had a rare urge to pogo….maybe next time my son will be up to that…

And then into Newcastle with my friend and his son and me and my son to find something to eat. Saying as we left the restaurant: ‘You are going to see something you have never seen or experienced in your life: Newcastle City Centre on a Saturday night’. It was only 7.30pm- the city centre had not yet become, as one of my old friends said ‘Like Sodom and Gomorrah without the flames’.

A great day in a city where 4 generations (now) of my family have either grown up in or know from childhood….

Once again, as Van Morrison intoned ‘You must remember there will be days like this’.

Saturday album review for you sir…


You know that moment when a band you have liked for years release an album? That slight fluttering feeling that you get: will it be any good or will it be a ‘conservatory album’ (album released for no other reason than the singer/group want to build a new conservatory)?

If you have read this blog in the last two weeks you will know that I am going to a gig in December: I’m going to see Madness. It will be my son’s first ever gig. As part of my extensive research/education programme I have been trying to source a cheap ‘Madness Greatest’ (Done….£2 since you ask) so he can catch up….a father’s love knows no bounds… I must have heard ‘One Step Beyond’ and ‘Baggy Trousers’ in excess of fifty times in 2 weeks.

I thought I better try and find the latest CD: ‘The Liberty of Norton Folgate’. I felt it had a chance of being a ‘conservatory album’. I thought wrong. You put the CD on, expecting what you liked to be 30 years older, except bloated and less interesting. This is completely brilliant: recognisably Madness, but facing up to advancing years. It is what a witty, lyrical, British, pop album should be. I can’t stop singing the tunes or being amused and sometimes moved by the lyrics.

Sometimes, I will be staggeringly honest, I buy a CD cheap and half listen to it as it doesn’t hit me. I have been really suprised and delighted by this. I have revised my opinion: you can write happy and good pop songs.

‘I’m sliding down rainbows

Out into the wild uncultivated child’

Wow…what a lyric to sing when you are late 40s/early 50s….. I can see a link about receiving the Kingdom as a child all over again. I think I have a new anthem and a new desire…and a new problem in devising my all time top 10. I’m not writing anymore: you have to discover it- especially if you ever liked Madness, Ian Dury, The Kinks…even Blur.

Finding something new to say, yet being comfortable with your past and honest about aging/mortality. When I discover something like this and when it is so well done I am a happy man…

They call it Madness.

Continuing my current theme of no theme at all and delighting in the utter randomness of it all….


A few weeks ago I noticed that Madness were playing at Newcastle. Not only were they doing an evening, but an afternoon matinee with children’s price tickets. In the rock/pop sphere, or at least the kind I mix in, this is unheard of.

So I thought: it is time that I took my 8 year old son to see his first concert. So I asked him: ‘No thanks, dad’- replying to me in the tone that a parent might use on an immature teenager (I do have a lot in common with an immature teenager though…). I tried wheedling…. no luck.

Eventually, he ‘discovered’ ‘One Step Beyond’ and with the help of his brother (aged 5 and already has signs of being a rock wild child) liked it. Then he discovered that a friend and his dad would go…. then he wanted to go.

…I’ve just discovered that said friend has got us tickets. I’m so excited…. I’m also prepared to be told off by said 8 year old for behaving immaturely…. but also some father-son bonding and a sign that someone who I remember being born is entering a new stage.

Hand me that pork-pie hat and those drain pipes…. But I’m not doing ‘that’ dance: it’s the knees- not what they used to be…and the music- it’s so loud…don’t they make any proper tunes anymore?