Today's soundtrack: James Brown - Live at the Apollo
A busy few days, what with Son No 2 staying over, cat and tree issues and a host of other stuff going on.
So where to start?
Well, let's start with the football. No, not the professional stuff, the real grass roots stuff. Matt and I went along to see my nephew, Ross (11) playing for his team, Vauxhall, against Heswall. Now Ross has always been a good little footballer, but it's been a while since I've seen him play and I have to say that he and his team have come on in leaps and bounds as they've grown up. Quite a few of the kids are on the books of some professional clubs as well as playing for Vauxhall, and it shows. Their ball control is superb, as is their ability to spot (if not always find) a decent pass. After a cagey first fifteen minutes or so, they gradually got a grip on the game, eventually winning 5-0 with Ross scoring the fourth.
On Saturday, Matt and I went into Manchester for a bit of shopping and eating, and then to the Academy to see the John Butler Trio. A full review will appear soon on The Really Hip Art Scene (now here), when Matt gets round to it, and I'll add my two pennorth on the Word website later today (also now up and running). In brief, however, it was a great, lengthy (two and a half hours!) set from a band who are totally in control of their instruments and who have a decent set of tunes to work from. A lot rockier than last time I saw them, reflecting the style of the new album, they still found time for two (count 'em!) drum solos, a (slightly reluctant) bass solo and a lot of audience singingalonging.
Here's a clip of John performing 'Ocean' - one of the most beautiful - and technically challenging - guitar pieces you are ever likely to hear.
I struggle to work out just what sort of audience John Butler has in the UK. They are massive in his native Australia, of course, but in the UK is profile - on the face of it - seems quite low. I don't recall the band getting any measurable coverage in the music press, for example. And yet - both times I've seen them in concert - they've had a sell-out audience that has been, if not fanatical, very vocal in its appreciation of the band and its music.
As for Saturday's audience, well I suspect Matt will have his own views on this, but I thought they were for the most part, engaged, good-natured and high-spirited. I did have the misfortune to be stood behind Mister Floppy Head, however - possibly the most ill-coordinated and arrhythmic dancer I have ever come across. Dancing to whatever he was hearing in his own head, it bore no relationship to the beats being generated on stage at all. In fact, I would hazard that it was actually harder for him to dance the way he was than to actually follow the beats of the songs. Sadly, I also think there was no chemical enhancement involved either - perhaps there needed to be.
Still, a great night out. If you get the chance to see (or hear) the John Butler Trio - you should. Special mention for support act 'The Boy Who Trapped The Sun' as well - one man, two guitars, a lady cellist and a bottle of red wine. And some lovely songs (that you can find on iTunes). Well worthy of your attention.
In other news, we took in a few films over the last few days as well. Pride of place goes to Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds, which we enjoyed hugely. I am told that Law Abiding Citizen was also most entertaining, although I wouldn't know as I fell asleep halfway through, victim of my nocturnal adventures trying to rescue the cat. Finally 2012 was highly enjoyable tosh, mainly through seeing the special effects on the Big Telly rather than through any particular depth in the plot.
James Brown on the soundtrack today. We've not done 'ten best live albums' on the blog yet, but if and when we do, Live at the Apollo will surely be there or thereabouts. A great album that catches James at his most vibrant and soulful - the funk would come later.
Please Please Please - with the cape and the histrionics - Yeeeeou!