You have been U2’d

Full disclosure – I am not a big U2 fan, or even a moderately sized one at that. So when I got tickets to see the Dublin shows for my wife and her brother (as they are big fans) I’ll admit I wasn’t full of joy at the prospect of spending a night in their company and not being able to reach for the off button.

They do have some great songs, and I had grudgingly come to admire them but I had never seen them live. So what was it like? All I can say is – wow.

The light show was fantastic and the band gave it loads. It was truly a spectacle on a scale that I had never seen before. If Nero were alive today he wouldn’t need to feed Christians to the lions, just get Bono and the lads in and they would wow the crowd. If the support acts were a little dodgy they could always throw a few to the lions on the side.

As U2 have been around for so many years, are a big gobal brand etc you kind of take them for granted. To see them live with 80,000 other people was just spectacular. I felt proud of them, and proud to be Irish.

Primal Scream vs. Spiritualized

This record saved my life
This record saved my life

Myself and Lorraine went to the Galway Arts Fest last week and we saw Primal Scream and Spritualized. It is a treat to see either, but to see both was just amazing.

Stoner drones with Gospel undertones were delivered with aplomb by Spiritualized. Fantastic. My only criticism would be 1) I hate strobes (they make me feel funny) and there was a /lot/ of strobe action. They did however add to the general sense of euphoric disintegration that ensued, 2) I hate to see people smash up expensive Amps and Guitars.

It was exciting when Pete Townsend did it (though it nearly bankrupted the Who) but I don’t like it. As the proud owner of a Fender Jaguar (and a nice Marshal AS100D amp) I think I would rather tear out a finger nail than smash up either.

The kicking over of amps and impaling with guitars that ensued was unnecessary. Down with this sort of thing.

Primal Scream – fantastic. I hoped to relive one of the best live gigs of my life (Glastonbury ’92) and while it wasn’t the same (things change don’t ya know) we had a deadly night and bopped like maniacs. Shouts out to the many lone mentalists we encountered, especially the guy who insisted on touching himself very publicly while dancing. Hats off to the freaks lol.

Stress is Shite

Yes, its official. Stress is shite. Does your dinner somehow taste stale? Even when you make a spicy Arrabiata, does it seem like there is no zing? Do you feel either always ‘on’ or like you can’t get out of bed? Do re-runs of Fawlty Towers fail to make you chuckle? Well, you are probably stressed out. The last symptom is particularly worrying.

There is a cure. Personally, after having a totally busy year in my day job as a consultant, I have started to take the power back. It’s the little things that save you. After a couple of hectic years where I got involved in HTML 5 and the W3C Protocols and Formats Working Groups, which meant that I was often working evenings and weekends, started an MSc, I recently started to take my lunch hour at work. Yes, it may not match the more popular historical revolutions, or even the velvet one, but for me it was a revelation.

Another shock to the system was not staring at my computer during lunch, or opening Thunderbird to check mails from time to time during the evening, ‘cos I just /had/ to. I also have decided to finish work at 6! Revelation!! No more catching up on nerd techie lists when I could be watering my plants or cutting up sine waves in my recording studio, or improving my Jazz guitar chops.

It is “mea maxima chillin’ in rancho relaxo” from now on. You don’t get any extra love for working weekends, and the macho bullshit of being always working and being always ‘on’ in our over connected society is no longer cutting any ice with me. Stress makes /everything/ seem over important while slowly bleaching your heart. It creeps under your skin to slowly steal away your sense of peace and balance. You end up cranky, unfulfilled and always chasing your tail and that’s /before/ you get to work. The lines become blurred.. where does your work life end, where does your private life begin? So turn off the phone! Abandon all forms of Information and Communication Technologies! It’s your life really, your employer just rents you for the best bits.

Spark of Life

I found this excellent video on a Hare Krishna Video file sharing website. It is a little dated but deals with the big questions (‘Who are we?’, “What is life really?’ “Why is Ryan Tubridy so popular?”) in a very accessible way. Tired of talking about ‘The Apprentice’ or ‘Americas got talent’? Try this subject matter out on your work colleagues and see how it works out. Quicker than you can say ‘You’re Fired!’ they will start to look at you in a totally different way – and probably start not returning your calls. I say ‘That’s ok, I never liked you anyway!’, so hey lets struggle with the big questions around the water cooler.

My Favourite Weirdo EP

My Favourite Weirdo EP Cover
My Favourite Weirdo EP Cover

I’ve just finished a new record. It’s a four track EP recorded under the nomenclature “My Favourite Weirdo”. Lovely fuzzy bleeps, squeaks, layered guitars, loops, squalks, rhythms, beats and blues for the Weird Age we find ourselves in. Layers of ambient sounds, repetitive beats from a time when they were considered illegal makes the “My Favourite Weirdo EP” electronica with a heart and well – a bit of a beard also.

Taking inspiration from sources as diverse as the works of G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and Aphex Twin the new EP brings thoughtfulness to evolving ambient soundscapes and beats that capture the spirit of retro electronica.

It is available as a free download from my record label website Technica Curiosa Records.