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Norman Lovett’s slideshow

I’d never been to a stand-up comedy gig and quite fancied giving it a go. I saw that Normal Lovett, famous for his role as Holly in Red Dwarf, was doing a gig in Luxembourg City last Monday night and the reviews were pretty good, so I got a few mates and we went along.

I’m a fan of deadpan deliveries, so when I read in the review that he made Jack Dee look like Ken Dodd, I was all for it.

It was rather a strange gig as it happens. It really was a slideshow. Norman brought along two carousels of slides and just talked his way through them. The images themselves were rather dull and not particularly well taken either, but with Norman’s deadpan narration, they came to life. It was mostly shots of different towns and “landmarks” across the the UK. I put landmarks in quotation marks as they were not landmarks in the traditional sense, but rather those things that were Landmarks to nobody but Norman (chewing gum on pavements, inconsiderately parked sports cars, a Volvo estate with funny stickers on it, that sort of thing).

All in all it was a fun night but nobody was rolling around the aisles.

Pierre Bensusan, L’Inoui, 26 June 2007

I’ve been listening to Pierre’s music for a few years now and find him to be utterly incomparable. The first CD of his that I bought was Intuite. Little did I know at that time that it was the first completely solo fingerstyle CD he had released. I listened to it over and over and finally got a chance to go and see him play at a little theatre in the Scottish borders. It was a great gig: quite small and reasonably intimate. I was surprised to hear him singing though. Not only did he sing some songs in his native French and English, but he also did some really cool scat singing.

Thereafter I started going back through his earlier works and discovered that he’s evolved quite a bit to get to where he is today. He started out playing bluegrass and traditional Scots/Irish.

I then went to see him at a festival in northern France where he did an 8-hour workshop over the course of two days. That was a real eye-opener and I got a lot out of it. Some of the stretching exercises he showed us are REALLY tough but well worthwhile.

My favourite concert venue is L’Inoui, a little café in the north of Luxembourg. It seats around 50 I would guess. It’s good to arrive a little early and have a candlelit meal before the performance begins. The food there is really good, too. Since I’m pretty much a regular there, I don’t feel so cheeky requesting a table at the front. This time it worked our perfectly. I was right in front of Pierre and could watch his fingers intently.

Falafel À Montségur
Pierre Bensusan

He was playing with a stand-up bass player whose name I can’t remember and who didn’t add a great deal to the gig in my humble opinion. He began with Hymn 11, one of my firm favourites of his. I plan to learn it at some point as it is one of the two pieces that he requests that potential students learn for his 7-day residential seminar (the other is the equally beautiful L’Alchimiste).

Pierre Bensusan

The highlights for me were the two north-African tunes, Intuite and Falafel À Montségur. He began the second set with these and played them solo. I didn’t really get these tunes at the beginning, but, the more I listened to them, the more they got under my skin. I’ve recently come really to enjoy the music of Anouar Brahem and it’s in a similar vein. It was a real pleasure to watch him play these from such a short distance; truly mesmerising. He didn’t play any traditional Scots or Irish tunes during the set but more than made up for it in the encore; he played a medley of marches, jigs and reels that lasted about 15 minutes!

Celtic Suite
Pierre Bensusan

I spoke to him during the break and he remembered me from the workshop in France! That was cool. He then said at the end that he was thinking of me when he played the encore. Thanks Pierre!

All in all, it was the gig to surpass all gigs that I’ve seen so far at L’Inoui (including Don Ross, Beppe Gambetta, Dan Crary and Peter Finger). It has me thinking that I really ought to sign up for one of his residential seminars this year. The August one is too soon, so maybe I’ll try for the next one, probably in May.

I recorded the gig onto my iPod using a Belkin TuneTalk mic. I forgot to switch on the autogain, but still it hasn’t come out too badly.

Genesis gig – Brussels, 24 June 2007

Genesis – Dress Rehersal, originally uploaded by vacationland.

20 years after my first ever concert, which was Genesis Invisible Touch tour at Hampden park, Glasgow, in 1987, I get to go and see them again at another stadium, this time the Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels.

It was really very civilised around the stadium, not at all what I’m used to at big gigs. There were no crowds hanging around outside, and there were loads of seats in the bar. Not like a Glasgow gig at all, really!

The gig itself was really good. We had reasonably good seats off to the right of the stage, but even from that relatively short distance, the band wasn’t really visible and we watched a lot of it on the oval screen off to the side. We couldn’t see the main screen due to its being in a sort of wave shape. A bit annoying really.

Musically it was pretty much as I expected. There were some weak points (Hold on my Heart, Follow You Follow Me) but generally speaking it was really good. The highlights for me were Home By the Sea and Domino
— parts 2 of both of these were really good. I enjoyed all the Invisible Touch tunes, as that was my era. And I Can’t Dance was surprisingly good – that song stands out on that album. It was good to hear Ripples live too — the only tune that isn’t on any other live album of theirs.

The statutory drum duet was really good, too. They began that by playing on chairs before moving on to the drums.

Here’s the set list:

Behind The Lines / Duke’s End
Turn It On Again
No Son Of Mine
Land Of Confusion
In The Cage / The Cinema Show / Duke’s Travels
Hold On My Heart
Home By The Sea / Second Home By The Sea
Follow You Follow Me
Firth Of Fifth / I Know What I Like
Throwing It All Away
Drum Duet
Los Endos
Tonight Tonight Tonight
Invisible Touch

I Can’t Dance

The Carpet Crawlers

All in all it was a great gig and well worth the long drive to and from Brussels (even including the nightmare that was the Brussels ring road after the gig). Was tucked up in bed by 3.30 am.

My Concert Tickets — a Collection

Albums of the week and a bit about my history with Genesis

The Muse research I did for a week prior to the gig last month has changed the way I listen to music. A week before I decided to go to the Muse gig, I knew only one of their albums, and that one not very well. So I got hold of their other three and spent an entire week listening to all four albums as much as I could. It paid off big time and the gig was one of the best I’ve been to. I knew every song they played and now I’m listening to them a lot (twice through Absolution today — awesome album!)

The thing with the Muse albums was that I only had a week and so the albums weren’t really distinct in my mind. It was more like one big album really and, being an album kind of guy, I like to listen to entire albums from start to finish.

So, what I’ve decided to do is, when I get a new album, I’ll listen to it through several times during the course of a week so that I can become familiar with it.

The girl I went to see Muse with is a U2 fanatic and so I thought I would listen to U2’s albums, starting from the beginning. I’m also going to see Genesis in Brussels on the 24th so have been filling up the holes in my Genesis collection with iTunes Plus (DRM-free at last!).

I got a pile of freelance translation work through from an agency a couple of weeks ago and our almost-one-year-old likes to fall asleep to music in the afternoon. So it’s a perfect time to put on an album on repeat and get as much work done as I can. I can also listen to music in the evenings when I’m translating. After a few listens in the background as I work, I become familiar with the music, but it’s still not enough. So, after the familiarisation process, it’s time to start listening a bit more intently and seeking out some lyrics. Wikipedia also gets a visit (both U2 and Genesis have fairly comprehensive Wikipedia entries).

So, this week’s albums are U2’s first album, Boy, released in 1980, and Genesis’ album from 1976, A Trick of the Tail.

From the very start of Boy, it’s apparent that you’re listening to U2 and couldn’t be anyone else. It’s got a raw, sort of unpolished sound to it, but for a début album from a bunch of kids, which they pretty much were at the time, it’s really quite astonishing. I did have a passing familiarity with U2, having had the Joshua Tree on cassette back in the day and had a taped copy of Achtung Baby. For some reason, I never really followed up, even though I liked what I’d heard. So I guess in some ways, there was a large U2-sized hole in my musical knowledge. Boy sounds very much of its time, and to that end, a bit dated. So it’s fun to come at it as a newcomer almost 30 years later. It was well worth spending a week on this album and it’s whetted my appetite for the following albums.

I’ve been a Genesis fan since Invisible Touch back in 1987. In fact, the first concert I ever went to was the Invisible Touch tour at Hampden Park in Glasgow. At the time, all I had was Invisible Touch, but the concert was played on Radio 1 soon afterwards, so I taped it and listened to it over and over for years.

After that, I got Genesis (1983) and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1975). I loved both and used to listen to them on my Walkman. I grew to love the Lamb a lot and used to try and force it on whomever I happened to be with after a few bevvies. It’s not for everyone of course. It’s a journey into the mind of Peter Gabriel, which is a weird and wonderful place. The next album I bought, and the last one until recently, was Selling England by the Pound (1973), which I also loved.

So, that’s my history with Genesis pretty much.

Not too long ago, I reclaimed Invisible Touch from my brother and was in seventh heaven belting out all those songs and being caught up in a flood of memories. Then I found out, after blogging about my first ever concert, that they’re touring again with Phil Collins. Long story short, I scored some premium tickets on eBay for half-price for the gig in Brussels on 24 June.

Then Apple announced the DRM-free iTunes and it was time to get some more Genesis albums. I got Duke, Foxtrot, We Can’t Dance and A Trick of the Tail. I’ve listened to them all, but I decided to spend the week with A Trick of the Tail.

It was released in 1976 and was the first album after the departure of Peter Gabriel following The Lamb. It still sounds quite Gabriel-esque; it’s quirky as ever with weird lyrics, and ever-changing time signatures. All in all, I love it. I knew Los Endos from the 87 gig but what I didn’t know was that they used a lot of bits and pieces from this (and other) albums in the medleys they played in 87. It was a pleasant surprise!

So, all in all, it’s been a good week. Next week I’ll be working on U2’s second album, October, and need to figure out what Genesis one to work on. In fact, I’ll probably work on two Genesis albums as I only have two weeks until the gig. So I’ll do something old and something new, so that they don’t meld in my mind. I’ll keep the U2 one to add some balance.

This is fun!

Feeling Good – Muse Live

Muse do a pretty good cover of Feeling Good on their Origin of Symmetry album and I was treated to a live version of it at the gig last Saturday night.

They had some good visuals during the song — bees on flowers, that kind of thing.

Here’s a video some kind soul shot and YouTubed:

Muse – Feeling Good at the Rockhal

Not too shabby, huh?


Muse gig, Luxembourg (26 May 2007)

Some time ago, a friend of mine lent me the first Muse album, Showbiz. I listened a couple of times and liked it, thinking that it reminded me of Jeff Buckley. For some reason, I never followed up and remained oblivious to the rest of Muse’s albums.

Then I heard that they were playing in Luxembourg, but I still wasn’t that bothered. The girl that loaned me the first CD asked me at work if I had ripped that CD to my iTunes at work, which I had, so I stuck it on and was bopping away and thought to myself, why not go and see them? The gig is only about 15 minutes away from my house, so why the hell not?

That was when I discovered that it was sold out.

I borrowed and listened to the other three albums from someone else at work and really started to want to go and see them. So ensued a long search on eBay for tickets. To my dismay, they were going for silly amounts of money, up to double the face value. Thankfully, Lorraine is rather clever at finding stuff on eBay and she found a pair of tickets on Being a Brit, I normally search on and click the box for European Union. But the seller in France had agreed to ship only in France, which meant that they didn’t show up on eBay UK or Long story short, I got the tickets for face value and the seller was only 12 kms from my house so I went that night and picked them up from her house.

Then commenced a week-long research period of listening to all four Muse albums. The more I listened, the more excited I became. I have not been so pumped about a band for many a year. I listened at work with headphones on, I listened in the car, I listened in the kitchen, I listened when sat working at my PC at home. I loaded up the Muse website and began reading lyrics along to the songs and watching the videos. I read reviews of the US concerts. I read Wikipedia articles and even wrote notes as I was listening to list the influences I could discern. In short, I became a fan in that short week.

Then came the night of the concert. I went with a girl from work and she also had spent the week researching! We got soaked on the way in from the car park; the rain was coming down in sheets.

Montevideo were the support band. The were pretty good, even closing with a cover of London Calling. I was surprised when they started speaking French and said they were from Brussels. The lead singer sounded as English as toasted tea-cakes. They did a half-hour set and were gone.

The Rockhal is rather a good venue. I read on a blog that it has a capacity of 5,400, but the Rockhal site says up to 6500. Either way, it ain’t Wembley! It reminded me very much of the Glasgow Barrowlands, with which I am rather familiar. In fact the whole gig had a Barrowlands feel to it. The crowd was pretty damn good, which was a very pleasant surprise as I’ve been to a lot of concerts in Luxembourg and find the crowd usually to be rather dull and inhibited. Not so this time.

Muse came on about 8.40 and they rocked.

The research had paid off in spades.It’s hard to pick a highlight as the whole gig was a highlight. I had found the setlist from the US leg of the tour and so had been listening to that a lot on iTunes as a playlist. I didn’t really expect them to have the same setlist for Europe, and indeed they didn’t.

Set List

I had expected them to open with Take a Bow and finish with Knights of Cydonia. They did the reverse. Cool. Starlight rocked; Feelin’ Good sounded a lot better live than I would have expected; Stockholm Syndrome flat out rocked the house; New Born was superb. And a really pleasant surprise for me was Unintended to start the encore. I can really relate to that song and plan on learning to play it just as soon as I get off the computer. And the juxtaposition of Unintended and Plug in Baby was great, aided by the big balloons that came down during Plug in Baby.

The only downside was that I found it pretty short. They played for only 1h45m minutes. Although to be fair there was minimal banter between songs and they played 17 tracks in all. I just didn’t want it to stop.

Matt Bellamy

It was interesting to be at a raucous gig like that now that I’m in my mid-30s. I used to go to gigs like that in my late teens and 20s and would be pogo-ing throughout with my long hair bouncing around. I did do some pogo-ing at the Muse gig, but I was done in after a couple of songs and I have now have my hair cropped really short. It felt strangely odd pogo-ing with no hair! And now the mobile phone crowd are all busy holding up their phones taking video and photos. And I’m hardly home an hour before someone has posted the set list and a review on the Internet. Cool.

It reminded me a bit of some of the gigs I used to go to in the Grebo era. Bands like the Wonderstuff and Pop Will Eat Itself seemed to craft their songs in a such a way so as deliberately to make people pogo up and down, going from slow, building up and up and then BOOM – you break into the good stuff and are pogo-ing up and down without having intended to.

And a message to the DRM police — I ripped all four CDs from someone else to get to know Muse*. Then I paid 40 euros for a ticket, 25 euros for a T-shirt and will be first in line when the next CD is released or they tour again near me. Surely that must say something about your pointless and unwinnable war against copyright theft.

*I’ve since ordered them all on Amazon

Amazon Order

mp3eme VOX: Your 1st Time



Post a song from the band/artist that played the first concert you ever attended.

It could be your first real concert as an young adult/adult or one your parent(s) dragged you to …whatever you consider to be your first.

The more background info…the more interesting. (Date? Location? Seating?Did it suck? Rock? Don’t Remember?)

If you don’t have a tune from the actual album said concert was promoting…you can post a favorite song from the band/artist.

Time to ‘fess up!


Genesis, 26 June 1987, Hampden Park, Glasgow. Support artist: Paul Young.

Genesis drum duet Wembley concert

Here’s my diary entry:

I didn’t do milk this morning. I went for Claire at 12 and got the 12.50 train to Glasgow. I asked Claire if she knew her way about Glasgow and she took it sarcastically. Then we got on a train to Mount Florida and wandered about. Claire bought a Genesis T-shirt for £5 off a guy in the street then I bought one but Claire said she will give me the money for it. She was dead bitchy to me. It was dead warm and sunny. Just perfect. I met Youngy and co. we got in about 4 and then I saw the stage. It was amazing. It had big canvas things with dominoes on it. We were in stand L. The food was extortionate so I only had a hot dog. People started coming into the middle but we couldn’t get to the middle. We had a good view anyway. There were 2 big TV screens. Princess Anne came about 7. They just played music from 4 till 7. Then Paul Young came on. He was great. I like Paul Young and he sounded 10 times better live. It is so loud. He went off and they just played music again until Genesis came on. It started with a video of Anything She Does. It was brilliant. Then Genesis came on. They were just so… There are no words to describe how good they were. The feeling you get is intense. Unexplainable. It was dead loud and you just can’t believe what is really happening. At one point I was crying with emotion. Phil Collins is a magic laugh. He talks to the crowd but he talks just as if he was only talking to you. Whenever he played a song I knew, I went wild inside. The lights were amazing as well. Smoke was rising an the lights were all the colours you can imagine. When they put the floodlights on the crowds, you really saw how many people were there; roughly 40,000. It was truly unbelievable. He sang Throwing it all Away and he sang wee tunes through it and everyone copied him. Magical Then he got the crowd to hold their hands up and hum to contact the other world. They went off but we all chanted “we want more” and they came back on better than ever.

It finished at half 11 and we went out. The streets were packed and there were big queues for the train back to Central station. The trains were chocabloc standing room. We got back to Central and had missed the last train so Claire phoned her dad and told him to come for us. Then she goes to me, “don’t come near me” and started going on about when I asked if she knew her way about Glasgow so she moved away and sat on her own. Then her dad came and I got home about 2, had something to eat and then went straight out on the milk, but that’s a different story.

So that was my first concert, first of many. Not sure how long Claire and I stayed together after that, but I think it was quite a while.

Land of Confusion – 21 years later

I was a big Genesis fan in my day and remember very well the Land of Confusion video with the Spitting Image puppets in 1986. The first concert I ever went to was the Invisible Touch tour at Hampden park in Glasgow. I must’ve been 14.

I just found a cover version of the song by a band called the Disturbed. Never heard of them but the video and song are still as relevant now as then. Judge for yourself.

Land Of Confusion – Genesis
Disturbed – Land Of Confusion