Friday 30 March 2012

Four go mad in Dorset

In an interruption to our usual packed schedule of blogging here at The Glass Walking-Stick ( who am I kidding? ) I'm announcing a short hiatus ( great word! ) as we're heading down to Dorset for a week. We hope to check out Lyme Regis ( see above ) and drink lashings of ginger beer and maybe foil some dastardly plans ( see below ) - Cheerio!

( I've never said "Cheerio" before and hope I never have to again... )

Monday 26 March 2012

A word from our sponsor

"And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow."

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Spring landscapes

Spring has well and truly sprung! We've been out and about over the last couple of weekends to enjoy the lovely weather and the beautiful Gloucestershire landscapes.

From the lakes and gardens of Pittville Park in Cheltenham... the snowdrops carpeting the slopes of Painswick's world-famous Rococo Gardens... a random field of sheep and lambs in the small village of Standish...

And, as a matter of interest, there's a link here describing the parish church of Standish, where Sarah and I were married way back in 1992.

Saturday 17 March 2012

The Selecter

On Thursday night those legendary Three Minute Heroes - The Selecter - brought the party to Gloucester's Guildhall. One of the original 2 Tone bands who mixed politics and good times with a punked-up version of '60s Ska, The Selecter were and are a powerful argument for multiculturalism and unity. And a damn good live band too...

Original Rude Girl Pauline Black and toaster/MC "Gaps" Hendrickson led a smokin' hot band through such Ska classics as Three Minute Hero, Missing Words, James Bond and On My Radio. And the Guildhall audience responded with their feet! Everybody got up and danced and sang along to the infectious "riddims" and soulful lyrics.

Although The Selecter may not have as many classic songs as contemporaries The Beat or The Specials they have two singers with great voices, stage presence and charisma, and an ability to pump out the good vibes on a par with any other band you could mention.

Pauline is warm, passionate and outspoken ( and, it has to be said, pretty foxey for a woman in her '50s ) and possesses what Rolling Stone magazine calls "the best voice that ever graced a 2 Tone release."

And Gaps is a ball of energy, working the crowd, enchanting the ladies, and somehow still looking stylish and cool, even when he's so hot that sweat is dripping off the end of his tie :-)

After a fantastic set of familiar oldies and plenty of fine new songs from the band's Made In Britain album they encored with an ecstatic, crowd-pleasing version of Too Much Pressure / Pressure Drop, the perfect end to a great night. Definitely a band I'll have to see again...

...and Rob, Sam and Helen all agree! Cheers!!

Also in the audience, my mate Ruth, getting down with her bad self ;-)

Sunday 11 March 2012


There are many, many tributes to the late, great Jean "Moebius" Giraud doing the rounds today, mostly from people who knew the artist's work far better than I ever did. I'd just like to say that Moebius was one of the first European comic artists I ever came across ( outside of the mostly uncredited Euro-artists working on British comics of the '70s ) and his surreal, beautiful artwork really blew my mind. Moebius was one of the very few comic creators who could reasonably be called a genius...

The above spread from Arzach/Harzak is not only my favourite piece of Moebius art but also one of my most favourite examples of comics artwork, full stop. I first discovered it in the wonderful Masters Of Comic Book Art by PR Garriock and it just seemed to symbolise the potential of the unfettered imagination, soaring off the page...

There are a few more examples of the great man's work below, including the cover of my first issue of Metal Hurlant and a very European take on a Marvel hero. Oh, and the... er, bottom image is what's known as NSFW. Handle with care...

For some far more informed pieces on Moebius, check out posts by Kid Robson, Booksteve, Jimmy Palmiotti and Sean Witzke...

Update: and more from Sean Witzke ( a wonderful post! )

RIP Moebius ( 8th May 1938 - 10th March 2012 )

Thursday 8 March 2012

Florence + The Machine at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

"It's hard to dance with a Devil on your back
So shake him off..."

Actually, it's not that hard to dance at a Florence + The Machine gig: she just gets the whole audience to jump up and down when she shouts the word "Cardiff!", until it feels like all of South Wales will break off and sink into the Bristol Channel. Luckily that didn't happen last Monday night although, if it had, a few hundred people under Florence's spell might not have noticed...

After an interesting journey around Cardiff's one-way system we arrived at the Motorpoint Arena to be greeted by the sounds of Spector who were... bloody awful. I'd heard their song Chevy Thunder a few times on the radio and quite liked its sub-Vaccines energy, but as a live band they were embarrassingly poor, a bunch of indie pub-singers. We took the opportunity to buy some ridiculously overpriced Cokes and hot dogs, before heading back into the arena to watch The Horrors who were... infinitely better.

I last saw The Horrors supporting the mighty Primal Scream at the Eden Project and, as good as they were there in the sunlight, they were even better here in the darkness where they seemed more at home. Playing all the best songs from Primary Colours and Skying they created an immense wave of psychedelic noise and Goth atmospherics, with Faris far more ( re- ) animated than last time, a striking and commanding frontman, stalking the stage, scaring the little girls in the front row. I was half hoping that Florence might have joined them to duet on Still Life like she did at the NME Awards, but sadly it didn't happen. Never mind, after a fantastic set they left us with an awesome version of Sea Within A Sea - worth the price of admission by itself.

Finally, Florence and her machine appeared to mass hysteria from the crowd. Florence cut a Batgirl-like figure in her black leotard and cape... which isn't surprising when you consider the fact that she's sold her soul to the Devil and is a member of the Illuminati. It's true, I read it on YouTube only tonight :-(
Fair play, there are some nutters out there on t'internet...

Florence is a captivating, mesmerising performer - running from one side of the stage to the other, spinning like a top, raising her arms to the sky as if in pagan supplication. ( Hmm, maybe there's something in that Devil-worship idea... ) If anyone was crazy enough to stage a musical version of The Wicker Man Florence would be first choice for the Britt Ekland role...

...which wouldn't mean much if her voice wasn't up to scratch. Luckily, it was. In fact, she's one of the best vocalists I've ever seen/heard , easily replicating the strength and range of the singing on her albums, while - amazingly - giving it even more passion and energy on stage. Literally ranging from a whisper to a scream, Flo leaves most other pretenders to her crown standing. In particular that looooong note in the middle of No Light No Light was just jaw-dropping. The only problem with her vocal gymnastics is that a large percentage of the crowd felt they had to scream and whoop like they were in the bloody X-Factor audience every time she flexed the old throat muscles. This is obviously the way a lot of mainstream fans think they are expected to act at gigs after years of TV talent show conditioning, but it just made me want to shout "Shut up and just let her sing!" Grumpy old git ;-)

Top moments: that first, shiver-inducing organ note of Shake It Out; Flo beating a drum for Drumming Song ( what else? ); the
a cappella intro to You've Got The Love; the kick-ass combo of Shake It Out segueing into Dog Days Are Over; the exquisite vocals and tribal drumming of Heartlines; everyone going absolutely nuts for Rabbit Heart ( Raise It Up ); the previously-mentioned No Light No Light... it really was something special...

She left us "in the arms of the ocean" with the beautiful Never Let Me Go. We'll have to let you go for now, Florence, but we'll be back...
( Sorry, that sounds a bit creepy, really... )

And, in the audience, these two lovely Florence fans. Sarah's had a few health issues ( and a few teenage daughter issues! ) recently, so this gig was definitely some good therapy. I'm always trying to convince her to come out and see more bands, because I know what a positive thing that can be, so hopefully this will do the trick.

And this gig was Sophie's first big concert after only seeing a couple of local bands before. And she loved it, as the pic below demonstrates...

And here's some surprisingly good footage from the gig, which should give a better impression of the show than my feeble scribblings or blurry photos...

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Classic Comics: Terrific no.1

A big shout out to blogger
par excellence "Kid" Robson who is currently posting loads of wonderful scans from old Power Comics over at his blog. After mentioning to him that I had a knackered, coverless copy of Terrific no. 1 in my collection, Kid very kindly sent me scans of the missing pages.

This is in fact the only Power Comic I've ever owned ( apart from a Fantastic Annual ) and was passed down to me by my cousin Paul, along with some long-gone issues of Lion and Thunder. I missed out on the Power Comics experience, as I was only four months old when this mag came out, so I didn't get my first hit of British Marvel reprints until Mighty World Of Marvel debuted in 1972.

Above is an example of my awesome childhood colouring skills :-) Who knew Namor had blond highlights? I also managed to colour Iron Man a sickly pink and green but I'll spare you that horror...

Yep, those two yellowed pages are from my dog-eared copy, while the nice, pristine pages are Kid's. I can't remember if my copy ever had covers whilst in my possession, but it's good to know that I can now assemble a complete Fantastic no.1 for the first time in too many years.

Thanks again, Kid! You're Terrific!!

Soundtrack: Rabbit Heart ( Raise It Up ) by Florence + The Machine
Still Life by The Horrors
( Both awesome live in Cardiff the other night! Review to follow... )

Sunday 4 March 2012

Florence Welch

We're going to see Florence + The Machine ( and The Horrors ) in Cardiff tomorrow night - can't wait!
For now, here are a few pics of the lovely, statuesque Ms. Walsh and one of the great songs from her new album, Ceremonials.


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