Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rokk i Reykjavik

The Cortney Tidwell musical experience was an unabashed success. She wowed audiences in Europa, and even the sullen, cool crowds in Holland and London were forced to shut their jabberings and listen to her voice spin fantastical musical webs around their ears.The band backing her are excellent too. They complement the songs perfectly, and are very much clued in to the subtleties of the songs, and keep the dynamics movin´. And a nicer bunch of people you could not meet....touring with them was a true pleasure.
The shows in Groningen and Rotterdam were with Tuung (excellent folkie-dolkie-tronica) and in Brussels with Grizzly Bear (or should that be Grizzly Bore?). Grizzly Bear had all their guitars, laptops and all the tour money stolen from their van that night........the latest in a spate of robberies of band gear and DJ records in the last 5 weeks at the AB club.....don´t leave your stuff in the van if you play there next time.
The London show was the record label showcase (even though the label is based in Berlin now).
Record label people flit around like they have attention deficit syndrome. The press corps lap it all up, oozing sweet nothings into the ears of said label honchos. The other band on the label who open proceedings are from France and are tediously boring. When will the French finally get to grips with music and unleash a decent band on the world? Tracey and Ben from "Everything But The Girl" prop up the bar and I am nearly forced to tell them that nothing either of them has done was better than the "Marine Girls". London brings out the worst in everyone.
I drove back from Paris to Holland straight after the last Cortney show. Picked up a hitch-hiker on his way back to Holland after he had spent a month in Israel. Travelling around Israel was a nightmare he stated, as security checks were in full effect everywhere. The people were very aggressive in their manners when questioned about the Palestinian situation and always on the the defence. There's a surprise! He visited the West bank and told how hard life was there for the Palestinians. The Israelis had created an impossible situation for the Palestinians to live there, cutting off electricity and water at a whim. Marvellous! Did you know that Israel was a nation hatched from the brains of the Nazis who had cultivated the idea of moving Jews en masse out of Germany in the 1930s, and hit upon the idea of buying Palestine from the British (as it was a Brit colony). and that is what they did. They exchanged moolah for land so that the Jews would be moved there.
People, if you have not heard Cortney's music before, I strongly suggest that you do. In years to come, when ruthless producers and remixers have stuck their paw prints all over her fine music, you would do best to return to her original songs which show off her natural talent. She will continue to grow into a tour de force.

I hit the trail up to Reykjavik where Mum were special guests of the Sugarcubes at their 20th anniversary, one-off reunion show. It was great to see the Mum kids again and meet up with new band members. The twin sister dynamic is gone for good and in its place comes a whole new fresh and fruity combination : Hildur and Silla....2 ladies who contribute full-blown vocals and multi-instrumentation. 5000 kids packed into a sports hall in Reykjavik to witness the show (almost a quarter of the audience came from abroad) and were first treated to a new look Mum with brand new songs from their next album. The band themselves put on a fab fun show....I've never seen the band members so lively onstage. The new songs are just sumptuous....beautiful melodies, interesting electronica (I say that without wanting to sound pretentious, but I have heard so much crap that passes for "electronica" these days that it doesn't move me...same old cliches in the sounds), fantastic scoring by the brass/string sections, and vocals that slay ya at a hundred paces. It's great to hear Orvar singing too...that boy can belt out the choons.
The Sugarcubes set was a reminder of what fantastic songs that band wrote and the strange, wonderful, kooky Icelandic energy they brought to the world in the mid-80s, at a time when heaven knows everyone was miserable then. Siggi is a fantastic drummer and still makes music with the most obscure musicians. Not for him the trappings of rock fame, but he is a music fan. He will only make music that moves him, and will play music with anybody who approaches music with a similar ethos.
This goes for Einar too, who has not compromised his stance on making music and has not taken the easy route out, but has maintained an integrity in what he has done since the 'cubes. He has recently collaborated with Mark E. Smith and made the wonderful "In Cod We Trust" record.
Whilst the rest of Europa bathed in global warming temperatures of 18 degrees plus (hallo folks it's half November), Iceland got clattered with temperatures of minus 8 degrees, and on saturday night got dumped with lots and lots of snow. The warmth and generosity afforded by my icelandic friends was so overwhelming, that I missed my flight home on Sunday morning. But the kind people of Icelandair put me on a flight back on Tuesday morning for no extra charge. Damn! I had to spend an extra 2 days in Reykjavik!!! Bliss! Bless!


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