Category Archives: Music

Eurovision 2018

Strobe lighting. Eurovision was better without it. I can close my eyes as well as the next witch. But when I do, and especially at this time of night, the inevitable becomes, well, inevitable, and I fall asleep.

Daughter was saying she liked the German entry, and I was puzzled, not having noticed it. I dozed off with Serbia and completely missed Germany.

So what do I think? I liked Ireland. Norway wasn’t bad, and Spain got better for each short repeat. I liked Slovenia’s hair, and Finland’s outfit. France was OK, and that’s something I don’t often say. The vampire needed an interpreter. Or did he?

Didn’t mind who won out of Cyprus and Israel. I disliked both. And Daughter was somewhat scandalised at my negative view of the Swedish entry. Well, it did nothing for me. And if the singer is who Daughter reported him to be, then he’s part of a dynasty, and as such is successful enough as it is.

It was fun to see Daniela Ruah not wrestling people to the ground, or shooting them, even if her first dress was rather ghastly. Although, where was Kensi when ‘our’ SuRie was attacked? A good wrestling to the floor would have been useful.

And Graham Norton is tiresomely not Terry Wogan.

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Bye bye, Lill-Babs

Lill-Babs, aka Barbro Svensson, died this morning. She was 80 and had been one of the most popular singers in Sweden during all of my life, and she was still performing. I read an article about her only last year, about her and Lill Lindfors, another ‘old’ singer, and how they were still going strong. But even strong has to come to an end.

What I discovered in that article, was that in the 1950s as she was a rising star, she could finally afford a new better place to live; a two bedroom flat in Stockholm. She shared it with her mother, her daughter and her three brothers, because that’s how things were in those days. I was interested to read it, though, as it was the same street I lived in during my first year.

Maybe people were scandalised that Lill-Babs was a single mother at sixteen. Maybe not. I never was, as it seemed natural from my point of view.

She was a good performer with a good voice, very versatile, and she worked hard all her life. I believe we all thought of her as the girl next door.

Tack, och hej då!

He rocked on the left

And now he’s left us. Jerry Williams was – if not one of a kind – then definitely one of few. He might not have been Sweden’s answer to Elvis. Jerry – really Erik Fernström – who died on Sunday at the age of 75, rocked. But perhaps not that way. He was cooler. He was more your leather jacket and motorbike kind of man.

We have had a few of those. What made Jerry stand out was his political convictions, starting out as a communist, and remaining a communist all his life. Some people forget where they came from, once success finds them. From what I hear, Jerry stayed true and relatively unspoilt all his life.

Jerry Williams, Varberg

I only saw him in concert once, about twelve years ago, when he came to Societetsparken in Varberg. He was as great as I’d expected him to be, the children liked him, and everyone else I spoke to seemed to be big fans. Usually when you chat to people, you find some who don’t share your taste. Young and old, they all loved him.

Roger’s 82nd

Roger Whittaker 1

I hope there will be some cake for Roger Whittaker to enjoy with his tea today. No need to put all 82 candles on, or there might not be room for the actual cake.

We don’t hear anything from Roger these days, and that’s really the way it should be. If you’ve retired, then you have the right to stay quiet and to rest and to enjoy life.

Happy Birthday, Roger!

Fare thee well, Joan Baez – for now

She’s still got a long way to go with this, her ‘final’ big tour. I believe Scandinavia and now parts of Britain are just the beginning for Joan Baez. We caught her in Glasgow on Friday night, and it took me a few songs to work out why I felt different.

I simply don’t know when I was last surrounded by so many people of mostly the right political persuasion. And they sing so well! There’s a special feeling when an audience joins in and many voices sing together. Anyone not fluent in Spanish, was still able to lalala along with Gracias a la vida.

Although Joan has a new album out – Whistle down the wind – she knew to dish the new songs out sparingly to keep the fans happy. Some of the songs, like House of the rising sun, are only new to her, which makes life easier. There’s no mistaking that songs like Farewell Angelina and Joe Hill go down best. We like what we like.

It was good to hear that all the names of the formerly unknown victims of the plane crash in Deportee have now been discovered, and that Joan has sung to their surviving families. It’s been far too long.

Joan paid tribute to the teenagers in Florida, saying it’s the first positive anti-gun movement she has known in her life. Joan also sang a beautiful song about how President Obama sang Amazing Grace to the members of the church in Charleston, after another mass shooting. Sometimes songs like that are worthier than they are beautiful, but this one was just right.

When Joan was sixteen, her family feared she was going nowhere, only playing the banjo, so an aunt took her to hear Pete Seeger, and that seems to have done the trick. She mentioned Dylan, and she sang Me and Bobby McGee, which really brought back memories. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp that Joan was a fully functioning and famous adult when I was still a child. (I’ve caught up pretty good now.)

As usual there was no interval, and Joan was on stage for the duration, accompanied by Dirk Powell on ‘all’ instruments and her son Gabe on drums, with her assistant Grace running in with a freshly tuned guitar after each song. Joan had a tray with her drinks on, which were put to good use when a fan insisted on giving her a flower. I’d like to think it was a tulip. I hope she remembered not to accidentally drink the tulip.

The local ‘polite’ song was a [to me] unknown Scottish ballad; the only one Joan required sheet music for. Understandable if there is a new one for every part of the world.

Gracias a la vida was the last official song, but Joan said not to worry. We promptly got Dixie and Imagine as extras, followed by that famous road song, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, with plenty of hints that it was time to go home. When that didn’t work, she resorted to Homeward Bound.

So we went home. But for anyone wanting to catch Joan, there is plenty of her Fare Thee Well tour left, all the way through to 2019.

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…)

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.