Hedders' Ramblings

Gaming, home tech, politics, music, whatever really

Category: Music

NiN

Name a better live band. Go on.

Martin Gore

It’s become a tradition of Depeche Mode’s shows that somewhere near the midway point, Martin takes the mic and he and Peter do stripped-down, piano-led renditions of one or two of their older songs. Martin has rather modestly said that they do this “to give Dave a bit of a rest”, which is no doubt at least part of it; Dave Gahan is an energetic frontman with a powerful voice, and now he’s north of 50 it must take its toll. But the results are also gorgeous in their own right. Here’s an example, where they take the poppy, electronics-heavy album closer “But Not Tonight” from 1986 and turn it into a showstopping, mournful ballad.

I’ve always loved Martin’s voice – he and Dave harmonising is one of the best sounds the human throat has ever produced – and this is a stellar performance. His obvious awkwardness at being out front just adds to the charm. And Peter is a wonderful piano player. Apparently they don’t really rehearse these too much – they want to give this section of the show a late night piano bar feel, so it’s sometimes a little ragged and organic, and it’s a lovely counterpoint to the precision of “full fat” Depeche.

Last of the Mohicans on an Oud

I’m a sucker for a clever cover version, and this one of the cleverest I’ve seen in a while:

Really like this a lot.

Child Psychology

Fabulous, informal acoustic version of one of my all time favourite bands, the mighty Black Box Recorder, playing what might be their signature song.

Tell me this isn’t awesome. Go on. Come at me.

Eurovision

Is it just me or has Eurovision got really dull in recent years? It always used to be a bastion of tongue-in-cheek camp, but over the last few years it’s become more and more po-faced and earnest.

Take last night, for instance: a cluster of tired four-on-the-floor Europud, wholesome kitsch, bloated balladry and sub-Gloria Gaynor me-against-the-world humourless bleh. Absolutely no fun anywhere, not a single drumming granny to be seen, and to top it all off we were subjected to the heartbreaking spectacle of Madonna grimly murdering Like A Prayer despite it being very obvious that a) her range has dropped over the years to the point where she actually can’t consistently hit those notes and b) she was painfully aware of that fact but felt duty bound to give it the good old college try anyway.

Losing the high notes happens to all singers, of course – it’s a fundamental unfairness of being a vocalist rather than an instrumentalist that you don’t get better with age, no matter how much you practice – and to be fair to Madonna she sounded fine on the new material that followed, presumably because she wrote it for her vocal range as it is now, rather than as it was 30 years ago. I think she should have stuck with the newer stuff to be honest; her voice may not be what it once was but she is a skilled and clever songwriter, and her newer songs are strong enough not to need bolstering with old hits that she can’t reliably perform any more.

Oh well. I don’t think I’ll bother with Eurovision next year. Another bright spot in the world reduced to dullness.

Manson and Mayberry

This is sooooo worth a watch:

Obviously anything involving Shirley Manson is going to be interesting at the very least, and she’s on fine form here. But Lauren Mayberry too is a revelation; I’ve not seen her interviewed before and so I had no idea quite what a powerful intellect was behind those wonderful Chvrches songs.

Also, Shirley Manson tells a Debbie Harry story. I mean, come on.

Lemmy. Slash. Grohl.

Jesus fucking Christ this is good.

What creative chemistry looks like

Despite being a massive AFP fan I’ve only recently started delving into The Dresden Dolls. I came across this, which amazed me. If ever you need a working definition of creative chemistry, look to Brian Viglione and Amanda Palmer.