Posted by: martinworster | December 5, 2019

Midnight Hour @ Lodge Room, Highland Park Los Angeles, Nov 21 2019

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This ten piece ensemble – complete with horn and string section (including a harp) – were mesmerising on a Thursday night in Highland Park, LA. Midnight Hour founder members are Gary Young and Ali Shaheed Muhammed – from Tribe Called Quest – and they put on the excellent Jazz is Dead series bringing jazz players from around the world to LA.

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Classic soul and funk, sophisticated arrangements, stand out playing – overall just total quality. Sampled by Kendrick Lamarr. Big up to Gilles Peterson – like a lot of music I listen to, first discovered on his BBC6 Music show. I’m over generic geezers with guitars – this is the music I am all about.

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Midnight Hour @ Lodge Room, Highland Park Los Angeles

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Posted by: martinworster | November 23, 2019

Claude Fontaine, Santa Ana, November 16 2019

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Claude Fontaine, Santa Ana, November 16 2019

Posted by: martinworster | November 22, 2019

Geezers With Guitars

I’m over geezers with guitars. I’m definitely 100% specifically over shouty middle aged blokes with tattoos AND guitars – something you see a lot of here in Southern California. I often feel the musical difference – in terms of taste – from my youth in London to people of the same age I know who are from here. Still to this day in So Cal there is a big music hangover from the advent of punk and 80s hardcore, which had a stranglehold from the early 80s onwards. And they never moved on. Social Distortion, Adolescents, Agent Orange, The Vandals, The Offspring etc etc. I mean maybe they had their time and place but angry white male guitar noise never really did it for me.

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In ‘London Calling’ The Clash’s Joe Strummer sang ‘Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust’ as a clarion call to abandon everything musically that went previously. That was one of punk’s original manifestos – rip up the rule book, disown the past, start afresh and do it yourself. Kill the hippies. Anyone can play – just pick up your guitar. Which kind of worked for some bands like the Clash. Although the musical longevity of many other bands – tainted by bad songwriting, bad musicianship and a general lack of musical sophistication – meant that a lot of their music did not date well.

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I can honestly say growing up in London I didn’t listen to any guitar music from the late 80s to the late 90s. My head was firmly stuck in a bass bin – my music was electronic and beamed from another planet. I remember going to my first ‘rave’ in 1989 which was an infamous Energy party in Suffolk – this was acid house and it was the second summer of love. I was a mere 17 and didn’t know what I was witnessing. I wish I had taken photographs. I just knew musically Detroit techno and house music sounded completely fresh and like nothing before – which remember in the late 80s it was fresh and like nothing before as they were both new genres. I recall walking into the massive aircraft hanger as the spacey sounds of Transmat, 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald and Adamski changed the particles in the air. A man was dancing in front of a 40 foot stack of speakers and it looked like he was beamed from another planet. Retrospectivly, I now realise he was off his nut and was indeed on another planet.

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Prior to this, from say 1987, I used to go to Camden Palace for the Twist and Shout night which gave me a taste for James Brown, RnB and funk. Simultaneously the rare groove scene spilt over to parties we would go to so you’d hear funky breaks, rare groove, cooler disco, boogie, breaks and Northern Soul – basically urban black music. Hip hop – Eric B, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Public Enemy, EPMD, Big Daddy Kane etc – was also a major influence on me back then. It’s these experiences as a youth that set the template for my enduring musical tastes later on in life.

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Fast forward slightly to the early 90s and then I had a first row seat to the emergence of drum and bass – and all it’s sub genres, mainly jungle – in London. This was the classic UK thing of fusing lots of disparate elements into something new. Hence you had all the Jamican sound system and reggae influences – basslines, dancehall samples, dub studio techniques, DJ culture, rewinds and ganja. Mixed with the funk and hip hop of the speeded up breaks that became increasingly complex and chopped up. Then you had the electronic sounds of techno and house filtering into the mix. Oh, and don’t forget the vital ingredient of ecstacy to fuel all this creativity and mayhem. Voila. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive. It really was a golden age – you only have to read the YouTube comments from anthems back in the day to see that nostalgia in people of my generation in conjunction with the sense that it will never be replicated. You had to be there. It explains the popularity of the nostalgia circuit in music – middle aged people paying top dollar to see the big bands of their youth, as if musical taste gets frozen from the formative years 16-20 in your youth.

I am still a music fanatic and see many shows. I avoid shouty geezers with guitars. There’s still so much amazing music being made. In fact there’s too much – everyone’s in a band or making music, a lot of it very good. I’d say – mainly due to technology – standards of production are much higher. It’s so competitive it takes that much more to stand out and make it – except no one buys digital music anymore so the rewards, financially, are probably a lot less. I pay attention to the seams between the obvious. There’s a very healthy resurgence in jazz coming from the UK – again, mashing up genres so it’s definitely not traditional jazz but often drawing influences from techno, Afrobeat, ambient, funk and soul to create something fresh and new. The Clash were right back in the late 70s – what room is the left for white dudes playing the same three chords? It was true 40 years ago. It’s even more true now. Shouty geezers with guitars are out!

Posted by: martinworster | November 14, 2019

Peter Hook, The Wiltern, Los Angeles 09.11.19

Peter Hook, The Wiltern, Los Angeles 09.11.19

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Posted by: martinworster | November 14, 2019

Post Millenial Tension

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I just saw Massive Attack perform Mezzanine at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. They – and it – were amazing. Mezzanine came out in 1998 and I remember at the time there was a slew of albums – Radiohead’s OK Computer, Tricky’s Pre-Millenial Tension – etc which reflected the mood at the time which was one of a sense of anxiety about the impending dawn of the year 2000. Hence, the music was self-reflective and moody, a brooding unease and anxiety to what the future might bring. Gosh, I miss the 90s. Things seemed all a bit simpler then. Flash forward to the vantage point of today – considering the the world seems in a more perilous state than ever – and all that pre-millenial worry seems retrospectively benign and innocent. I’d swap 1998 for 2019 any day – or year – of the week.

Does anyone else get the sense the world has slightly shifted of it’s axis in the last 5 years? Namely Trump and Brexit spring to mind, but other imminent issues and worries rise up: climate change, Bolsonaro in Brazil – those Amazon forest fires (every tree huggers worst nightmare), Putin (the ever dependable pantomime villain), ever expanding refugee hotspots and crisis, the expanding chasm of the rich poor divide and the lonlieness and divisions that social media is increasingly generating. I realise that each one of these issues is an essay in it’s own right, but collectively they seem to point to a world teetering on the brink of, well, something.

In my native country of England I’ve never seen it so divided over Brexit. Families split down the middle, such a complicated issue that no single individual or political party can ever succesfully navigate as we are so intrinsically linked to Europe, right down to the very core and fabric of our society.

Brexit is a stupid idea. A short four years ago, it wasn’t even really a big issue, it was an afterthough of Cameron’s to appease the long suffering internal wranglings of the Conservative party. At the time there were much more pressing issues – austerity, the economy, education, climate change – that demanded greater political attention and action. No one ever thought Brexit would happen. Just like Trump being voted in it was a total shock. Now almost three years later we are still no closer to an issue and I for one think ‘where is this all headed’? How exactly will we be better off outside Europe?’

After watching the excellent ‘The Great Hack’ you also wonder at the shady goings on – via Cambridge Analytica in both the Brexit and Trump campaigns. How easily it is to manipulate the public now via online digital trickery and swing devisive votes with small margins by focusing lazer like on the small sector of a demographic who can alter the outcome. The Trump election manipulative drill down focused on just 70,000 people in three states. You also wonder at the interferences of countries like Russia who can easily and almost openly, maniuplate situations, votes and democracies by similar means. All this disquiet and division in both countries makes them both weaker entities. Putin must be rubbing his hands in glee from the sidelines. Britain leaving Europe and a subsequently weaker Europe plays right into Putin’s geo-political agenda. Take me back to 1998.

Posted by: martinworster | September 21, 2019

Massive Attack @ Hollywood Palladium September 4 2019

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I remember when ‘Mezzanine’ came out in 1998. Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ had came out the year before, as part of the whole ‘Pre Millenial Tension’ (thanks Tricky) musical atmosphere of anxiety about the imminent new century (which all seems slightly benign and innocent when compared to the current state of world affairs). Massive Attack are for me are one of – it not the – most imporant bands of the last few decades. ‘Blue Lines’ hearalded a new musical paradigm: melancholic yet soulful, dubby and weed infused, funky and slightly menacing, all done within the sound system framework, ie rotating guest vocalists and members. It was – and is – a game changer.
You forget how many great tracks are on ‘Mezzanine’ and thankfully tonight all key figures – Horace Andy and Elizabeth Frazer – are in the building to sing them. They also did lots of tasteful and relevant covers – The Cure, Bauhaus, Ultravox – which really shine a light on their sonic influences influencing the album. The visuals are also amazing. I’m genuinely moved. Big up the Bristol massiv.

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Set List:
I Found a Reason (The Velvet Underground cover)
Risingson
10:15 Saturday Night (The Cure cover)
Man Next Door (with Horace Andy)
Black Milk (with Elizabeth Fraser)
Mezzanine
Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Bauhaus cover)
Exchange
See a Man’s Face (Horace Andy cover with Horace Andy)
Dissolved Girl
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? (Pete Seeger cover with Elizabeth Fraser)
Inertia Creeps
Rockwrok (Ultravox cover)
Angel (with Horace Andy)
Teardrop (with Elizabeth Fraser)
Levels (Avicii cover)
Group Four (with Elizabeth Fraser)

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Posted by: martinworster | August 23, 2019

Tuxedo @ Globe Theatre, August 23 2019

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DSC_8063Tuxedo @ Globe Theatre, August 23 2019

Posted by: martinworster | July 26, 2019

Bodega @ Constellation Room, OC Observatory July 25 2018

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Bodega / Santa Ana / July 25 2019 (Note: poor lighting affected photo quality :)) I first saw Bodega at the Dome in Tuffnel Park London in July 2018. It was sell out show. BBC6 Music indie DJ geezer Steve Lamac was in attendance –  he had been bigging them up on his show. They’re from NYC and I loved their dynamic – very visual, performance orientated art rock style. Female lead vocalist and drummer, shouty choruses and a post punk Talking Heads sound made for a great energy. Again they didn’t disappoint – just surprised to see them in the smaller room at the Observatory, it seems like they still have their work cut out cracking the US market.  Interesting and refreshing, catch them if you can.

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Posted by: martinworster | July 23, 2019

Ziggy Marley @ Pacific Amphiteatre

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Ziggy Marley @ Pacific Amphiteatre / OC Fair / Costa Mesa

Posted by: martinworster | July 23, 2019

Toots and the Maytals / Pacific Amphitheatre

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Toots and the Maytals / Pacific Amphitheatre / Costa Mesa July 19 2019

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