We've only sold six tickets so far...

Not exactly what you want to hear whilst queuing up for a concert. Our fears of being all alone in the venue were quickly overcome by the fear of the drunken blad guy wandering down the street, yelling at us about "South Sex" and AIDS and holding a pint glass in a menacing manner. And Oxford is supposed to be a cultured town…

Luckily, there was something of a run on the tickets, or else the Zodiac grabbed passers-by and gave them free entry, because the hall was fairly well-packed by the time Stellastarr* came on. Support came from Audiothief, a local band from Banbury, and The Subways (who won a chance to appear on the New Band Stage at Glastonbury this year); nothing earth-shattering, but a pleasant enough diversion for two hours.

Stellastarr** then came on, playing most of their album plus a few new songs. I still have trouble defining exactly what they sound like; today I'm going with "Aztec Camera as filtered through 90s grunge projected on a cinema screen", which makes no sense to me, so don't worry if that sounds like gibberish. Anyway, they were good; lots of yelping, a topless drummer wearing Elton John-style glasses (and a black tape star across his right nipple), and lots of rock star poses. I have no idea why they thought it would be a good idea to come to Oxford, but I'm glad they did. A big boo to the girl who stole all the set lists, though. Especially since she stole the Stellastarr* one from under the nose from two girls who had positioned themselves in just the right spot to get it at the end of the set, only to be denied when the other girl swooped in at the end, while everybody else was clapping. If you see someone in green fishnet tights, socks, and handbag, ask her to share next time…

* There should be a moratorium placed on American bands using punctuation marks other than apostrophes. It's all fun and games to begin with, but then you end up with a band like !!!, who are just asking to be taken round back and beaten senseless by members of Compulsive Copy Editors Anonymous. With big, stompy hobnail boots, obviously.

currently playing: Oasis — Stay Young

Somewhere Across Forever

Blue eyes, blue hair, not going to leave here without you Blew my chances, chances, chances Ooh Let’s go When I finally find the words I’ll be coming back for you If I decide to rule the world I’m still coming back for you…For you

Bench Time

This bench cost 30,000GBP, and is specially designed to be uncomfortable to sit on. Yes, we’re not entirely sure, either…

*ringring*

There's nothing like a bout of tinnitus to prove just how good a concert was, is there?

currently playing: my ears, funnily enough

Tyger, Tyger, Burning Links

Hmm, Apple.

The best US opening for a documentary in the history of cinema.

The Supreme Court finally gets around to deciding that Enemy Combatants have access to the US court system.

You're free, Iraq! Your new unelected leaders are thinking about imposing martial law, but they can tell us to go home whenever they want. Except they won't. Still, you must feel a warm glow now that we've given you your sovereignty back, eh?

The Guardian's coverage of Glastonbury 2004. (my short review, gleaned from the BBC: Oasis stood for an hour and ten minutes - nice one, lads. Perhaps next time, Liam could speak? Scissor Sisters - so cool. Goldfrapp - erm, nice tail. Basement Jaxx - lots of costume changes. That was all I saw)

currently playing: Belle & Sebastian — If She Wants Me

We live double lives. We deal in sex and beautiful women

Kelly's Heroes Single CoverKelly’s Heroes Black Grape Radioactive Released: December 1995 Highest UK Chart Position: #17 Available on: It’s Great When You’re Straight…Yeah!

There are no second acts in American lives.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
This is Manchester. We do things differently here. This is the second act
— Tony Wilson, 24 Hour Party People

After the break-up of the Happy Mondays in the early nineties, most people expected Shaun Ryder to descend deeper into substance addiction. What nobody foresaw was Ryder getting his act together, forming a new band and becoming part of the Britpop movement. Black Grape was formed in 1994, comprising Shaun, Kermit (a rapper from the group Ruthless Rap Assassins, and one of the few non-white faces to be found in this genre), Paul Wagstaff (a former member of Paris Angels), and of course Bez on dancing duties. The first album, It's Great When You're Straight…Yeah!, was released in 1995 to critical acclaim and chart success. It also spawned three Top Twenty singles, of which Kelly's Heroes was the last.

As a song which seems to be about warning about heroes and their feet of clay, it's no surprise that the song opens with a guitar jangle that sounds almost identical to the opening of Blur's Parklife, followed by a guitar effect that recreates the start of Oasis's Supersonic. Having got that subtle dig out of the way, the song gets going, sounding very similar to the Happy Mondays, but with Kermit and Shaun sharing vocal duties. Ryder's lyrical talent was still evident, as shown by this exchange, almost undoubtedly the best opening to any song in 1995:

Don't talk to me about heroes
Most of these men sink like subs
Jesus was a black man
No, Jesus was Batman
No. that was Bruce Wayne!
Like many songs of the period, Kelly's Heroes references the past moreso than being concerned with the present. The title comes from the classic 1972 film of the same name, it sounds like a Happy Mondays song, and the "Christ almighty!" sample in the breakdown felt dated then, let alone now. Today, the whole song feels a little tired, as unlike Saint Etienne's Who Do You Think You Are, it doesn't do anything with its influences except were them on its sleeve.

Shaun Ryder is now on his third act. Black Grape went the way of the Happy Mondays with an acrimonious break-up in 1997, but he’s reformed the Mondays for a tour starting August 2004.

Michel Gondry Is Cool

Click on the video link (the second one down)

currently playing: The Polyphonic Spree — When The Fool Becomes The King

"A Frank Exchange of Views"

To celebrate today's release of Fahrenheit 9/11, today's music is all about protest.

Because those no-down dirty liberals are debasing America's morals.

A slightly re-mixed version of an advert currently showing here:

The PoguesBirmingham Six

A spokesman for the IBA said the song, from the album 'If I Should Fall From Grace With God' , contains "lyrics alleging that some convicted terrorists are not guilty and that Irish people in general are at a disadvantage in British courts of law. "We think these allegations might support, solicit or invite support for an organisation provided by the Home Secretary's notice.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, the British Government imposed a broadcast ban preventing the voices of terrorists or people who might represent them from being broadcast on radio or TV. The media got around this ban by hiring voice artists to lip-sync to interviews (if that sounds ridiculous, well it was. I still don't understand why the Government thought that we'd lend the terrorists support if we could hear their voices), but some songs, like this one, fell afoul of the Ban. Incidentally, the convicted terrorists mentioned above were all found not guilty after it was revealed that police fabricated the evidence that led to their convictions.

Bob DylanMasters of War

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

currently playing: Kelis — Get Along With You

The Fight of The 21st Century!

currently playing: R.E.M. — Be Mine

The Doctor Is VP

And to be fair, it would be a great choice! Pro-gun, in favour of small government, and just who wouldn't want a mescaline-taking Vice-President?

currently playing: Blink 182 — I Miss You