Category Archives: Music

Fair Fairweather

Eight years isn’t too late to review a concert, is it?

Daughter says it isn’t, but she seems to have forgotten the whole evening, which is surprising for someone who remembers everything, especially when I don’t.

So, Dennis Locorriere came to the Lowry back in 2010 (although the rate at which he tours, I’m sure he’s been back several times since). I’d been looking forward to it, as the time I saw him before that, was one of those magical evenings. But this time – eight years ago – he half lost his shine.

Though that’s not what I want to tell you about.

Dennis had someone there to play first, and I hate that! This was someone I’d never heard of; Andy Fairweather Low. Yes, I realise I was unusual in this. But anyway. There was Andy, looking like a middle-aged bank manager, singing unexpected songs in a most unexpected voice. I hoped he wouldn’t take too long over it.

But you just never know when you’ll fall in love, do you? No, not that way. Just the music.

By the second song I was enjoying this bank manager in his brown suit. I was more than pleased that he sang for about 45 minutes, which is a thought that would have shocked me when he started.

In the interval before Dennis came on, I rushed out to beat the queue to buy Andy’s CDs and have them signed. I was second, but had the bad luck to be second after a really big fan. But that was enlightening in itself, as I realised some people had actually come to hear Andy, rather than Dennis. So I listened in on the conversation, and eventually got my CDs signed, and went back in.

That’s when I experienced a certain level of disappointment. But I have already written about that here, and been told off by a fan, so there’s no need to go into that again.

I have listened a lot to Andy Fairweather Low since then, always enjoying his singing. I have also, slightly fruitlessly, looked online every now and then in the hopes he’d be coming to a stage near me, but somehow the time or the place never seemed right.

(In my current situation, I can heartily recommend coming to the Stirling Albert Halls. If they’re good enough for Jimmy Osmond…)

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Tidings of Comfort and Joy

I was lacking the Christmas peace I craved. When not even the three tenors helped, I resorted to Roger Whittaker and his Tidings of Comfort and Joy. The 22-track selection, which came on LP and cassette. Not the short measure of the CD.

When I’ve not listened to music for a while, such as during the gap from one Christmas to the next, I fear that something won’t be as good as I remember it. But Tidings of Comfort and Joy is every bit as excellent as I discovered that first January after I’d bought it, more than 25 years ago. It was so wonderful that I gave myself special dispensation to listen to it even after the tree had been taken out, and for a couple of weeks mid-January I listened intensively.

Now I’m back doing the same thing, only at the ‘permitted’ time, as it’s still before Christmas. I find that a half hour or so last thing before bed sets me up feeling nice and calm.

It’s not only Roger’s voice. It’s the songs. Some are the same songs ‘everyone’ records, but others are less clichéd, giving me that little bit extra.

Advent Roger

I have a crazy friend. Crazy is generally the best. But even so, I didn’t expect this.

This year for Advent, my friend is giving away gifts to her Facebook friends. You know, if money was no object, kind of thing. So after a safe start of a holiday in Florida and a £2,000,000 house in Devon, this morning it was my turn.

I had had my doubts. I am a notoriously difficult person, and I was mainly settling down to see what inappropriate gift ‘her money’ would provide. I take it all back! This is what I woke up to:

‘If I had money, I would offer so much of it to Roger Whittaker that he would agree to come and sing one last time, especially for you. As one of his signature songs is The Last Farewell, I would hire a tall ship and crew from Topsail to bring Roger over from the nearest port in France, where he now lives, to Leith. You and Roger would have a fine meal on board in the harbour, and Roger would sing The Last Farewell to you, before sailing away into the sunset.’

Roger Whittaker and CultureWitch

What a lucky witch I am, to have a friend like that!

She’s right. It is what I’d want. Well, maybe I’d whisper into Roger’s ear that he could pick a different song, if he felt up to it, but my goodness, what a spectacular gift!

(And for anyone who wants to help my friend get rich, do buy her books. I thoroughly recommend her Belgian trilogy for a good scare. It’s so scary I have recently learned that her husband couldn’t quite finish the last one… Here is a list of all Helen Grant’s books. They are very good. And very scary.)

75 years of Sir Billy

What can I say? There is a lot of stuff about Billy Connolly wherever you look. I started reading his Wikipedia page and it seemed to go on, if not forever, then for quite some time.

There’s obviously even more in his wife Pamela’s book about him. It’s one of the best biographies I’ve read. It would have been interesting even if I’d never heard of Billy.

Although, it’s difficult not to have heard of Billy. He’s done so much and for so long. And what’s amazing is that he turned out so decent, after all that happened to him during his childhood.

Since his health problems in recent years, there’s been fewer opportunities to see Billy. I reckon my last ‘encounter’ was in the film What We Did On Our Holiday, where he died in the most dignified manner.

What we did on our holidays

What to say?

Happy 75th Birthday, Sir William!

And then what?

When do you give up on the work by someone you’ve liked and admired?

I’m thinking – again – of the latest film producer to have caused a public storm and upset. But – again – it could be anyone discovered to have seriously misbehaved and sometimes not getting found out. These [usually] men have often done great work, in film, music, theatre, literature.

And when the news breaks, some of us find that we have been fans of a monster. If it’s really bad, it’s not too hard to stop watching their films or listening to their music.

But if it’s a bit more borderline? Or they have been involved with so much on the cultural scene, that it can be hard to draw a line, or even to know where that line is.

I was relieved to learn I didn’t have to ‘respect’ Jimmy Savile, so that was no hardship. Likewise OJ Simpson. But it took me a while to know what to do about Rolf Harris. It’s not that I didn’t believe the accusations. I just couldn’t tell how it would affect my fondness for his work. It was gradual, but not slow, and I knew when it was time to delete his albums from iTunes. The books went to the local charity shop, where quite possibly they languished until pulped.

Speaking of books, I have a friend who meets famous people through her work. Luckily I’ve never read anything by the very well known, older male writer she mentioned once. I can’t unsee that unwanted kiss in my mind, and I’m just grateful he wasn’t someone I liked. But whenever I see a photo of this author, it’s all I can think of. No literary merit whatsoever.

And I know what I said in my other post, about being too polite. I was far too polite about the last Rolf Harris concert I went to. It was lacklustre. He was clearly under pressure already, except we didn’t know it.

This Weinstein business is awkward. I have no hesitation blaming the man for anything that’s being said. But he’s been involved in so many films. Good films. Do they need boycotting from now on, or was he too far removed from them, for it not to matter? I mean, I generally don’t even know who produced a film.

To go back to iTunes, I have a couple of albums on there, sung by someone I used to know. Someone who behaved in an unacceptable manner to me about a year ago. I have no problem skipping past the new album, which I didn’t like much. But the really old one; I have always loved it. It’s just when one of those tracks comes on, it’s difficult to forget what she said. It takes the edge off my enjoyment.

So I don’t know.

Dame Vera Lynn: Happy 100th Birthday!

Dame Vera Lynn: Happy 100th Birthday!

It was the old soldiers who made the programme. No matter how much fun it is to hear famous people say lovely things about our Vera Lynn on the occasion of her 100th birthday (Wow!), it was the men who fought in WWII, and who are still with us, like Vera, who started the waterworks, both on me and on themselves.

Hearing Vera discuss the past with her daughter was almost like hearing any mother and daughter pair hark back in time. And that’s good in itself, as it proves how normal she still manages to be. Dame and the forces’ sweetheart she may be, but deep down Vera Lynn comes across like that aunt from east London I never had.

The music specialists had much nice to say, as did those famous people dug up to talk. Odd in a way to have Paul McCartney sit there as though he personally remembered listening to Vera on the radio during the war. Maybe he did.

But as I said, the old soldiers, reminiscing about hearing Vera live somewhere in Burma, or on the radio, and crying at the memories; that’s what made this programme. Telling their own stories, and singing along to We’ll Meet Again, before finally wishing their star a happy 100th. There’s not many of them left.

(Photo © BBC)

Rogue or La La

We disgraced ourselves over Rogue One, the Resident IT Consultant and I. Don’t know whether he liked it, but neither of us understood what was going on. This is partly because neither of us are Star Wars fans. And when I saw the original back in the olden days, I didn’t get what it was about; nor even who was good or who was bad.

But it’s not important. We can’t all like the same things, and no one can be a fan of everything. This time we went with Daughter, who is a fan and who wanted company. Although we might not be asked – allowed – again.

If you don’t have to know who is fighting, or why, it was OK as an action film of sorts.

I had more or less decided against seeing La La land, for some reason. And then ‘everyone’ was going on about it and how wonderful it was and how they don’t even like musicals but they’d even bought the soundtrack afterwards.

Which would be why, when I really needed cheering up one day last week, we went to see it. Didn’t even consider any of the other films on, since a musical, praised by all, ought to be what I needed.

And OK, after that first song and dance thing on the motorway slip road (yes, they are probably called something else), I almost felt like applause would be the right response.

But after that, it was downhill all the way. It was boring. I didn’t like the characters, or the actors. The music did nothing for me, and the setting was not my kind of place at all. And the plot? I kept thinking that surely something sensible would happen to it soon?

It seems the Resident IT Consultant was slightly more tolerant than I was, but even so.

Comparing the two films, Rogue One wins comfortably.