Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Fri, 17 Nov 2006

The Flaming Lips, Hammersmith Apollo 20061113

I've been wanting to see the Lips for a while. I missed out when they played the Albert Hall earlier in the year, but I made sure I got tickets for this one. We started the evening with dinner at a small Japanese rstaurant off Leicester Square, followed by too much icecream at Hagen Daas.

I've only been to the Apollo once before when we saw Björk 3 years ago. It's a proper old-fashioned rock venue. An old theatre that's looking a bit tatty with a grand foyer. We were up on the circle, but not too far back.

Support was from Midlake, who I'd not heard of. They were okay, but, as usual, the support band sound was lacking. I'd probably enjoy them more on CD. They remind me a lot of Grandaddy. I actually have a free copy of one Midlake track that was being handed out as we went in.

The Flaming Lips were another matter altogether. They started with giant balloons and massive confetti cannons. I thought the aliens and santas were a bit pointless, but dressing the crew as superheroes was neat. They played a lot of the new album plus some Yoshimi, Soft Bulletin and a couple of old tracks. There was lots of audience participation, culminating in a Bohemian Rhapsody karaoke in one of the encores (better than it sounds).

By some coincidence the gig was also attended by the Israeli instructor on a programming course I am taking at work.

This review is adapted from the one I posted earlier to

I'm currently listening to Radiohead's National Anthem to restore my faith in music after seeing this.

I've been giving some thought lately to reorganising my digital music collection. I have loads of CDs, but do most of my listening on the PC. Over many years I've converted my collection to MP3 and, more recently, Ogg Vorbis. Some of it was done in 128kb/s CBR MP3 and sounds a bit flat these days, especially on my Grado headphones. I've thought of re-ripping it all to Ogg, but there may be a better alternative. Now that I have a much bigger hard drive I could to it in a lossless form, probably FLAC, so that there is no loss of quality. Then I just need to find a way to convert it to a more compact form for portable use. I could try writing something that would automatically transcode any new music. I just want to avoid ever having to rip it again. I shall have to look into keeping a backup copy in case of catastrophic disk failure.

Last night I was at a birthday party for someone I drum with. She lives in Ridge, which is a small village a stone's throw from South Mimms. She works there at a research centre for Cancer Research. I had an interesting chat with one of her colleagues about the usefulness of protein folding.

[13:36] | [] | Comments | G

Mon, 15 May 2006

Strawjam 20060514

I really enjoyed the last jam for Malcolm's birthday. This one was preceded by a walk though the local bluebell wood. Then it was down to business. A different combination of instruments this time. Malcolm had brought his bowls again and also a selection of flowerpots, kitchen bowls and other noisemakers. Tony had some drums and an accordian. Another Ian was there with a very nice old Gibson SG and his Marshall, but had forgotten his cables so ended up sharing my Peavey. The rest were on assorted percussion. There was some straight african drumming, but the rest was a series of extended jams. My favourite had accordian, flowerpot and minimal guitar in D. I made a couple of recordings on our iRiver. These will not be as good as Malcolm's DAT, but give a flavour of the vibe. I haven't done any editing and there is some talking over the start plus ambient noise of birds and small children.

When I'm improvising on the guitar I generally stick to simple chords and scales. There is rarely time to work out anything complex and I lack the musical knowledge to do it on the fly.

There are a few pictures on my Multiply. Much as I'd like to run my own gallery and audio archive they offer a simple service with enough capacity for my needs.

[14:37] | [] | Comments | G

Mon, 03 Apr 2006

Strawbale Jam

In honour of Malcolm's birthday this week's session at Secret Bass was expanded to include just about any sort of musical instrument. As well as the usual djembes and dun duns we had my electric guitar, a drum kit, Malcolm's synth and Tibetan singing bownls, didgeridoo, arabic drum and assorted shakers, bells and other noise makers.

Thus ensued several hours of jamming around such diverse styles as reggae, jazz, blues, prog rock (?) and arabic rhythms. I have not had much experience of improvising in a group, but I managed to play some basic chords and even solo a bit. Considering how little I have played lately I am amazed that my finger are not more sore.

We had a break for food in Fabrizia's cozy loft before heading back to the studio for another session.

I would really like to do more group work apart from the drum circle. If anyone is interested in some informal jamming then give me a shout.

[09:09] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 12 Jan 2005


Strange coincidence on the radio coming home last night. I got in the car and Classic FM was on playing Verdi's Anvil Chorus in it's traditional form. Tuned over the Radio 4 and listened to the amusing The Consultants, then flicked around for something else. A show was just starting on Radio 2 and kicked off with.... the Anvil Chorus, but this time as performed by Glenn Miller. Slightly different style.

A couple of times in the past I would be flicking around the channels in the morning and find the same song playing on both Virgin and Xfm.

[13:04] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 08 Sep 2004

Personal Radio

Although I've been using Audioscrobbler for a while, I hadn't tried their sister site until last Friday. This site uses their calculation of your musical 'neighbours' to choose other music you might like. This can then be streamed to you at a reasonable 128kb, giving similar quality to most MP3 files. In my case it through in a few new artists to me, e.g. Mogwai, but also old favourites like ELO. Had a good sing along to that :)

If I eventually sort out my Paypal account I'll gift them some money.

[21:49] | [] | Comments | G

Fri, 25 Jun 2004

New Bjork album coming soon

It's to be called Medulla and will be purely vocal, i.e. no instruments. There's a brief quote from her on Rolling Stone. Simon and John may be interested that it features Mike Patton of Faith No More.

I'll be watching

[09:36] | [] | Comments | G

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