Tuesday, 25 October 2011

In years to come...

I can see myself heavily regretting the fact that I didn't have my camera at this gig.

Yann Tiersen is an incredibly famous individual. Not a household name in Scotland, but absolutely revered in France, he's responsible for one of the most memorable scores in cinema. 

He played in Glasgow on Sunday night, and I am totally devastated to say that the only camera I had was my 5mp phone camera. The video I managed to snap is a lot more impressive than the photos I took, so you can see what that says about the photos from the quality of this video!

So, the audio is very, very out of place there but, the point is, the man is a genius, and I spent most of the time feeling completely hypnotised by the sheer musical talent on display. The stage was filled by Yann Tiersen and five other individuals playing synthesizers, drums, keyboards, guitars, bass guitar, a ukulele, a bass clarinet and a violin. Harmonic vocals came from Tiersen and many of the other lovely gents on stage.

It was the most chilled out gig I've ever been to in my life. We arrived to find the crowd sitting on the floor and totally mesmerised by the support act - Lanterns On The Lake - who played beautifully.

He's playing in Paris on Friday, and I'd absolutely kill to see this show there. I can only hope he comes back to Scotland soon, where I'll be patiently waiting, camera in hand.

The man, the legend!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Never believe the title.

So, after 'The Final Destination' (when was it?) just last year, which was meant to be the last Final Destination movie, lo and behold, I went to see Final Destination 5 yesterday!

The Final Destination was pretty hilarious, it was a showcase of 3D tricks and silliness; Final Destination 5, however, managed to have some brilliantly funny and, yes, twisted deaths but without going too overboard - although the gymnastics death may contest this, as far as the Final Destination franchise is concerned, it's not that bad. It's one of the few movies I've seen recently that really merits the 3D and trust me, they do make good use of it. It's fantastic what anxiety this movie can inspire at the sight of a little sailing boat.

Also, despite the fact that I whispered every plot twist to my friend a considerable time before it'd happened, there is a clever little revelation at the end which is quite enjoyable, and it is surprisingly clever for such a ridiculous gore-fest of a movie.

It's definitely worth going to see for a laugh with an afternoon off work, although the laser eye surgery death is a bit much before dinner.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Can you still feel the butterflies?

Jimmy Eat World are one of those live bands who are just absolutely perfect. On top of having written some of my most favourite songs of all time, they execute these fantastically energetic gigs that everyone from those jumping around in the pit to those nodding along at the back of the hall leave completely buzzing with happiness from hearing their music. Or at least that's how it looks to me. 

I know I've written about them before, but they're just the kind of band that you want to tell people about.

I'm always really surprised when someone hasn't heard of them, or even heard of any of their more popular songs. They're one of the few bands that I can listen to their songs at any time at all, and over and over again. 

Cheers for the photo-bomb security man.

Tonight's gig was no different from their usual greatness. They opened with the newer releases of My Best Theory and Coffee and Cigarettes (my personal favourite from their latest album) and blew the place away with hits from Bleed American and fan favourites from Clarity. The slightly predictable but nonetheless exciting encore was made up of Invented, The Middle, and Sweetness.

As for the venue, it was a first for me, Corn Exchange in Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Festival. It's easy enough to get to (pretty much a straight line from the train station, lots of buses to it to!). It reminded me a lot of Barrowlands, maybe slightly bigger. The atmosphere was quite different from a Glasgow gig too, we were at the barrier and didn't experience any pushing at all, which was odd but quite refreshing. 

Support tonight was actually also worth noting. It came from a band who hail from Edinburgh themselves - We Were Promised Jetpacks.

The few notes wafting out as I was having my bag searched had me intrigued and they did not disappoint. Some heavy bass-ey riffs and a singer with a wicked set of lungs. I can't speak for any of their studio work having not listened to it yet but after tonight's performance I'll be getting it straight on the download, and in the meantime... well I've been listening to the Jimmy discography from the moment I stepped in the door.

There's a cinematic end.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie

One thing I've never actually read for leisure before is poetry. In fact, I've barely read any poetry ever. We kind of missed out the poetry section in my Higher English class in school. We should have studied To A Mouse by Robert Burns, but that never happened since we spent so much time on The Great Gatsby and Macbeth.

Now besides Rabbie Burns - who is obviously a national treasure - and maybe Shakespeare, I don't know of many other poets. So here's a little story:

When my brother and I were younger, if our parents told us to do something we didn't want to do we'd go "oh what? Man..." but because of how we said it it came out "aw whitman" and my mum used to say "who's Whitman?" and eventually told us that Whitman was an American poet at the turn of the century (she was studying English Literature at the time), so over the years I became pretty familiar with the name (apparently we must've said it quite a lot because that line describing him is pretty drummed into my head.

So because of this, naturally I took an interest when I saw that none other than Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass is on one of my lists of books.

I've downloaded it from Amazon, for the grand cost of absolutely nothing, onto my PC and phone and I've been reading little bits and pieces every so often whilst studying, and I actually think it's really great. You get the satisfaction of having read something without having to take the time out of doing work or the staying up all night to do so, and some of the lines are really amazing.

One which I picked up on, which has also been highlighted by a few other people is in a small poem "To the States" and goes something like this:

To the States or any one of them, or any city of the States, Resist
much, obey little,
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty.

Monday, 2 May 2011

You win this one, Brookmyre.

Right there's a few posts in editing at the moment. I have a nice habit of starting posts and never ending them and then they just sit there because it seems like so much hassle to pick up my train of thought. I never was all that great at conclusions.

But tonight I am (still in the process of) reading a book that was loaned to me right about when I spectacularly crushed my mobile phone - a vehicle was involved, not a moving one but there was still quite a bit of perfect timing involved.

But, no smartphone = no Kindle app.
Therefore, no digital books (so no attempt to begin David Copperfield!)

So tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I write regarding a book that sits snugly into a Crime Fiction shelf; a book written "for Richard Dawkins"; a book that won an award in the past ten years... essentially a book that I can safely say I would never have chosen for myself: Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks by Christopher Brookmyre.

This will be quite summative of all my ignorance for most modern writing and will give some reasons as to why I'm a bit of a snob for the Classics.

Firstly, writer: never heard of him. Apparently he's pretty well known; he did win the 2007 Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for Writing, and yeah, the book's got a fine story in it. I think I like the writing myself, I've not quite decided yet, although I did laugh out loud at one line in particular.

And yes it is weird that I'm writing this when I've yet to reach the concluding pages, but put it this way: I'm not really "into it" in the sense of "oh I just couldn't put it down!", but even at that, it's 2.30am and I'm definitely staying up to find out how this story ends.

The story itself is quite an odd one. I don't know how it fares in the realm of Crime Fiction, the closest I've read to that genre is possibly Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, and I could only vaguely count that because a crime occurred in it at one point... yeah not really sure about that one. I think it's safe to say I've never read a crime novel before, but this is quite cool, kind of weird ideas, subjects are pretty ridiculous but still kind of relevant to the real world, the topic is something that everybody has a half-baked opinion on, but the book plays on the fact that most people's opinions will be half-baked so it does lead you to question how you feel about the whole "speaking to the dead" thing (over and over and over). There was a "big reveal" that was glaringly obvious, so that got some minus points but apart from that the story's quite interesting.

I think the characters are the part that gets me down though. They are engaging, most definitely, and they are perfect for their own stories but I can't really get swallowed up by the characters with this one. I know not every book can be a Tolstoyan masterpiece but is it too much to ask that I fall in love with at least one of the characters? (Probably?)

And I don't mean in a romantic sense.

I mean I want my main character to incite some real emotion for their cause. I want their every revelation to be my own. I want their fear to be the thing I get tense when I see written on the page. I want to cry genuine tears when their world falls apart. I want to not want the story to finish but be desperate for the happy ending.

So yes, I've been spoiled by masterful writing. I can definitely tick that box. But if the only failing of a book is that it doesn't match Dickens then there's naught much wrong with it.

I'll edit this post with my full verdict once I'm finished but I'm pretty sure it'll be along the lines of: if you like crime novels, definitely read this, it's really funny and it's a seemingly original story. If the last book you read was thicker than your bicep, however, then maybe give it a miss and hop onto Treasure Island for some light reading.

Final verdict: The ending of that book saves that book. That was a damn good ending to a book. Small dislikes follow but I give them much less weight given how damn damn damn good that ending was.

I do still agree with my first verdict though. Crime novel lovers will love it because it ends so well. Avid readers of classic tomes are less likely to stick it out.

Here are the small dislikes: some might find it funny but I thought it was cheap. The narrator lies. Like actually flat out lies. It's like a cheating way of getting out of writing a more complex story. Too much mind-changing; I wasn't a fan.

Secondly, I settled that the first three quarters were a bit too wishy washy now that I know what the author's capable of; like I said, the last section was pretty exciting to read, some parts were still pretty obvious but it was the only time I read the main narrator's "get it up ye" and I was really thinking it myself.

Clearly Broomkyre succeeds where I fail. The guy can write good conclusions.


Sunday, 6 March 2011

Crime and Punishment

So I figured I'd bash this one out since I promised three posts and have delivered, well, NONE.

I got stuck into Crime and Punishment way back before the Christmas holidays I think, or thereabouts, and it took me until about two weeks ago to read 48% of it; then in one fell swoop (which consisted of a night and a half a day), I finished it!

Which leads me to my sole recommendation regarding how to read this book: clear a week out of your schedule, just don't do anything else, don't watch any movies, don't read any magazines, don't even take any transport anywhere or do anything with your friends. This book needs to be read quite quickly for it to be enjoyable, it's not a book to pick up a chapter here and there because then it just gets monotonous. Since so much of it is describing Raskolnkov's emotions and inner thoughts it felt a little bit like nothing was happening in the story, but then I realised that it had taken me about two weeks to read less than one chapter, and that was the reason it felt like that.

The story is actually pretty fantastic and I'm glad I read it the way round that I did (i.e. I didn't read the first half really fast then spread out the second half), I actually wish I'd just read it all in a few days, and I think I might do that for most of the other books that I have. Pull a few all-nighters to read them and NOT read them on trains or buses! I know it's an obvious thing to say, but these classics aren't like trashy novels that you can pick up whenever, wherever and you don't really need to remember what's happened before because you already know the ending. You do really need to enjoy these books. So write off three days and three lovely sleepless nights and get stuck right into Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.