Tag Archives: The Smiths

SHAKESPEARE’S SISTER – A CULTURAL REVIEW

SHAKESPEARE’S SISTER – A CULTURAL REVIEW

Pretty bloody busy for me during October with all manner of cultural exploits. I cannot take full credit for the invites to three of these events though as my wonderful girlfriend Melissa obtained the tickets for the theatre, Gala cinema screening and French Jazz master’s performance. So, a big thanks to her for that. Anyway, here’s some stuff I’ve been up to which may be of interest or may not.

ARCELORMITTAL ORBIT – OLYMPIC PARK

Apropos of just fancying a look about the old East End of London I, Melissa and my son Rhys went to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford and went up and then went down the ArcelorMittal Orbit. It’s a big, metal monster-tower made out of scrap and designed by Anish Kapoor. It’s an incredible engineering feat and the view was breathtaking. Walking down the caged-in metal spiral was pretty good exercise too so a cultural and physically stimulating afternoon was had by all.

OLYMPIC_PARK_3

HAMLET – BARBICAN THEATRE

Sherlock Holmes does Hamlet!  How cool is that!  And yes he does solve the murders!  I really enjoyed this atmospheric production of Shakespeare’s classic existentialist tale of the young Prince seeking revenge for the death of his father. Obviously, the marquee signing of Benedict Cumberbatch raises expectations and he delivers a manic and thoughtful and polished performance. There’s some fine sarcastic bite in his delivery as his Prince veers from confident young clown to depressed and self-destructive lunatic.  At times the pace was breath-taking as the dialogue was spun out a furious velocity while on occasions – not enough for me – the cast slowed to allow the drama to breathe. The set and lighting design was incredible and Cumberbatch is supported by a terrific cast including Ciaran Hinds, Jim Norton, Sian Brooke and Anastasia Hille. I don’t know much about theatre really but this was really rather good I reckon.

JOHNNY MARR AT THE LONDON FORUM

What a great gig at the Forum by Johnny Marr. The former Smiths’ maestro is one of the best guitarists I have ever seen live. Not the strongest of voices but suitable for the style of indie-Dad-rock he performs. There are moments of transcendent genius in his guitar playing which careered across the venue. His solo stuff is musically formidable but of course The Smiths renditions tore the roof off notably: How Soon Is Now and There is a Light That Never Goes Out. He even did a burst cover of Crash by The Primitives. Life is a fleeting affair so one must grasp and grip the rail when greatness comes along. I felt privileged tonight as it was a fine time spent in the presence of a musical genius.

MICHEL LE GRAND – RONNIE SCOTT’S

It was my first time at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club and I was very pleased to hear legendary French composer and lyricist Michel Legrand live before he shuffles off to the great orchestra in the sky. Le Grand composed music from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and Yentl (1983); while perhaps his most famous composition was The Windmills of Your Mind. I’ve never liked Jazz yet after Michel Legrand’s incredible musical performance I fully appreciate the tour de force expertise of his creativity and musical brilliance. I still don’t like Jazz but appreciate I was in the presence of a master of that particular art! Even at the age of 83 he was magnifique.

SUFFRAGETTE WORLD PREMIERE GALA – THE LONDON FILM FESTIVAL

Melissa won us the “red carpet” treatment for this Gala screening of Suffragette (2015) and it was a starry affair with the likes of Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham-Carter and Meryl Streep onstage to present their powerful film to the world.  I didn’t feel that comfortable walking in amongst the West End throng into the cinema as I’m not someone who likes a fuss and I always feel these affairs are pretentious, ostentatious and very much against my hypocritical “socialist” roots. Am I a working class traitor – who knows?  I still enjoyed the free Green and Black’s chocolate which was in the arm of the Odeon Leicester Square chair where I sat.

The film itself is a cracking drama which has fine direction by Sarah Gavron with a simple, yet effective screenplay by Abi Morgan.  It is a worthy cause celebre to film and stands a fine testament to the brave women who fought for the right to vote.  Ironically, there was a protest there from Sisters Uncut about the important issues of this bastard Government’s austerity cuts and here’s to them for making their protest. I would have joined them but was too busy eating chocolate and watching the movie.

TOP TRUMPS #1 – THE BEST ROCK BAND NEVER!

TOP TRUMPS #1 – THE BEST ROCK BAND NEVER!

I was on holiday with my son playing Top Trumps.  Well, we
didn’t take a holiday to play Top Trumps but we were on the plane
playing DC Superheroes and SpongeBob Squarepants Top Trumps and I had the idea of doing a Rock ‘N’ Roll supergroup top trumpy kind of thing.  Who’s my favourite drummer, singer/front-person, bassist, keyboardist, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist?  And why?  Well here are my picks for what could be the greatest rock band that never existed. Of course, it’s highly subjective and on any given day I may go another way on some of these choices.  If you agree or disagree let me know.  Or don’t.

THE DRUMMER – KEITH MOON

The Who’s wild man of rock and roll was an all or nothing legendary figure that beat living hell out of the drums on some of the great rock tunes of our time. A sweaty, ferocious and fiery figure he lived by the booze and by god he died by it too. It was his attitude as much as his technical ability (not that I’m an expert on this) as he played with the Devil in his eyes and the sticks. Read the book Dear Boy – it’s a great read about a man who didn’t just raise hell but lowered heaven for us mere mortals too.

THE BASSIST – GARY “MANI” MOUNFIELD

Mani wasn’t just in ONE of my favouritest ever bands – he was in TWO:  Mancunian baggy geniuses The Stone Roses and Scottish junkie rock ‘n’ rollas Primal Scream. He transformed both bands with a Cheshire Cat grin, Northern wit, all-round charisma and powerful playing.  The Roses really took off after Mani joined them and their first album is one of the greatest debuts ever in my opinion.  For the Scream he brought a dominant, driving energy to their punky-post-industrial-wasteland-blues.  Fookin’ legend man!

RHYTHM GUITAR – JOHNNY MARR

Marr was the musical hurricane behind probably my favouritest band ever The SmithsWhile Morrissey got the majority of the publicity with his daffodil-sway-dancing, provocative and poetic lyrics and barbed media-jousting tongue but Marr’s guitar sung like an angel on a series of classic albums notably:  The Queen is Dead and Meat is Murder. He would go onto be a guitar-for-hire for bands such as: The The and The Cribs and recently released his debut solo album; which wasn’t that bad actually.

LEAD GUITAR – JIMI HENDRIX

Would anyone argue that Johnny Allen “Jimi” Hendrix was the greatest guitarist that ever lived and breathed?  Perhaps fans of Slash?  Or Jimmy Page?  Or Clapton?  Or many more?  Anyway,  he made the guitar sing like demon, and anyone who saw him live was very lucky as he died at such a young age.  Hendrix bridged the gap between blues, psychedelia and rock fusing them in a thunderous mesh.  And within a few short years he went from backing the Isley Brothers to headlining Woodstock. As well as creating some of the greatest rock and roll songs ever he was a pioneer, mastering feedback and popularizing the wah-wah pedal. Hendrix would be an incredible influence during his life and after he was gone.  That’s why he’s my choice for lead guitar.

KEYBOARDIST – RAY MANZAREK

Maybe he does and maybe he doesn’t but I don’t think Manzarek gets the credit he deserves for his playing in 60s rock superstars The Doors.   Of course, Jim Morrison was so charismatic that it’s often impossible to take your eyes off his performances, deep growling vocals and magnetic rock star looks. Indeed, it’s so easy to forget the bookish man sitting behind the organ providing the wall of sound in support of the drug-fuelled hell-raiser at The Door’s front of house. However, his rhythm (he also supplied bass), funky, sprawling, rock, pop, classical keyboard-tinkling spanned many different styles, genres and sounds giving the band their originality for the time.  Morrison may have provided the cheekbones but Manzarek provided the backbone.

WORDS – MORRISSEY

I used to listen to The Smiths all the time when I was a teenager. Still do. People used to say to me that Morrissey was miserable, moaning and tuneless.  Well, to me it was the complete opposite: uplifting, angry and poetic. He disliked much of life around him and gave short shrift to people who got him down.  In my little room he spoke directly to my confused young mind providing a wonderful intelligence, dour Northern humour sprinkled with mordant wit and crafty word play.  He wrote from the heart and the gut and most importantly the brain. His words often echo around my mind when I’m in certain situations and in my mind the greatest poet/lyricist ever.

SINGER – RICHARD ASHCROFT

This is the most interchangeable of choices.  For a long time the front-of-the-band was held by Lizard King Jim Morrison. Then I considered Morrissey or even Freddie Mercury but the latter’s arguably too theatrical for me. Then I thought hmmm… Blondie would be a cracking choice or even Zak De La Rocha of Rage against the Machine; just to give the band something a bit different. Even Dolly Parton, who has a lot of front and sass was a consideration but I just couldn’t hear her singing Morrissey’s words. Bono, Bobby Gillespie, Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye, Liam Gallager, Robert Smith, Axel Rose and many more went through my mind and then just at time of writing I decided that Wigan-born-ecstasy-driven-poet-come-wizard Richard Ashcroft would be the man to bring this bastard home.

In The Verve Ashcroft’s angular looks and thousand-yard stare are just magnetic as he just throws every emotion into the ring when belting out a tune.  Probably not the most gifted technically, yet, within that voice there is pain and sorrow. Plus a world-weary emotiveness within his visage; like a starving vampire desperate to die in the light. I went for him for emotion, feeling, energy and attitude. On any other day, as I say, it could’ve been another singer.  But today it’s him.

MOVIN ON UP; Music to play at my funeral by Paul Laight

MOVIN ON UP; Music to play at my Funeral by Paul Laight

When I shuffle off this coil thingy and my strange life has come to an end I would like these songs played at my funeral please. I’m not dying by the way but I just thought I’d write this down now while it’s on my mind.

1. Con te partirò (Time to say goodbye) – Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

I first heard this song in an episode of The Sopranos and it is truly incredible. It just has a very simple hook and is beautifully sung by Bocelli and Brightman. Perhaps it’s too grand for a basic bloke who grew up in Battersea but I like its simplicity and wonder.

2. There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths

The Smiths are probably my favourite band ever and I would like to pay tribute to them. I love this song as the lyrics are both poignant and morbidly funny to me. If buried I would also like the phrase “Here lies the late Paul Laight who Started Something He Couldn’t Finish!” Another nod to Morrissey and Marr and quite fitting I think.

3. Light My Fire by The Doors

I’m a massive fan of The Doors psychedelic 60s rock blues and I’d like this song played if I am cremated. I considered The Doors’ song The End but that’s a bit depressing so this song works better for humorous and uplifting purposes.

4. Intermezzo – Pietro Mascagni (opening theme from Raging Bull)

As a film geek I wanted some classical music to play as I am sent from and into the Earth. I thought about using something by Ennio Morricone or even The Terminator theme song and maybe I still will. I like the idea of The Terminator theme playing and Sarah Connor uttering those infamous words, “You’re terminated, f*cker!” as I’m laid to rest but thought that may upset people in the audience so Intermezzo offers a more suitable piece for peaceful contemplation.

5. Moving On Up – Primal Scream

I’d like to end on an upbeat track and this classic pop song has lyrics and a killer tune which are perfect to send the grieving away with a spring in their step. I don’t believe in God but if there is a heaven hopefully this will be the song playing when I go through the Pearly Gates or am plunged into the Fires of Hell. Either one is fine by me. Got to be the Scream’s original classic too!