Bloc 2012 Festival Review


Bloc Festival Review or why you shouldn’t try to have a good festival in a paranoid London devoid of all common sense.

Hello Good People who might read this blog….


Postscript July 10th 2012: When I wrote this post, it was from a confused punter’s perspective, I’d just experienced the festival ,left early and the next day was trying to make sense of it ( and also review the music in my own daft way). I start off blaming health and safety rules being over the top then get very worried as I leave, due to angry crowds outside and  people being cramped and prevented from going where they wanted inside . Since then I heard a totally different story from the  festival crew, which I wrote on July 7th. I now feel totally differently about the whole thing. If the information which was told to me was correct, then I think that some people  were neglectful of public safety to different degrees and maybe when large sums of money and major investments are involved, we really do need health and safety rules.


It’s been a long time, sorry about that, I did start writing this blog under my real name but it didn’t really work, so here I am back briefly as Born2rant, to write about a festival I went to yesterday that could have been great, but which I decided to leave before it all went to pieces.

This will only be a review of my limited experiences. I guess I arrived at the Bloc festival site at London’s Pleasure Gardens around 4.30pm by 10pm I decided it was sensible to leave but had a lot of difficulty getting out.

I was due to hang out on the ship MS Stubnitz, which has successfully been sailing around Germany as a mobile art installation and general chilling out party place for some time. It takes coming to crazy Britain for the Germans to realise they are far better off back home where things are more liberal, the state has less control, and the general public has not lost its ability to make individual sensible decisions without external legislation. Forget gloating about how great and wonderful the British are when I was trying to leave the Bloc festival, it was like trying to escape from a “psychedelic concentration camp” and that was entirely due to Great Union-Jack waving, right Royal Diamond Jubilee, aren’t we proud to be having the Olympics in London, paranoid British madness.

I arrived at Pontoon Dock around 4.15pm. There seemed to be a lot of stressed out people in orange jackets obstructing the oyster card bleeping machines, so people got confused where to “touch out”. They ushered me to a bridge to cross over the road and immediately my bag was searched, then further on more people in orange jackets asking me for a ticket. Other punters were clutching tickets printed out from the internet, I thought that strange to start with, it might be OK for using a budget airline, but without computers, scanners, ID and a whole big security system how can you tell if a computer print-out is genuine? I asked where the guest entrance was after some confusion I was directed to a gate a few minutes walk away.

At the guest entrance I had my bag searched again, then a sniffer dog climbed up the back of my legs, then my bag was searched AGAIN!!!! I complained politely but complied. They couldn’t find my name on the guest list but gave me a wristband anyway because I was saying all the right names. I had to put the wristband on myself, also a bit strange.

It took me a few minutes to chill out after all the security measures, and dealing with stressed out people, lots of security guards on the site, and mobile CCTV units, but the security man I spoke to was friendly enough and to be fair all the police people I spoke to during the course of the day were polite, but then all the paying public I met at the festival were also extremely patient and polite considering we were treated like dangerous animals throughout the festival, and the people who payed £125 per weekend ticket must have been peeved.

At first I went on the ship, the MS Stubnitz where I had a great time. In Germany they do not have many health and safety regulations, and do not scream announcements to passengers on the tube to say that due to a little drizzle that people are bound to fall over and kill themselves on the potentially slippery floor. Therefore I think the general public were probably quite shocked to be on an actual fishing ship with many steps, some damp from rain, and bits of metal to step over, no warning signs and generally to be in a place where you actually had to take responsibility for yourself and keep yourself sober enough to watch what you did. Also there was a big central hole leading from one deck to another, this had some fencing and chains around it to stop people falling in.  From the all dancing deck below, I could see many punters going to the edge of the hole and testing to see if the fence was secure. I felt like saying “You are at a festival, you are free to enjoy yourselves now, so forget the fences, forget health and security rules and just enjoy the lack of them for once”. I feel that the British public and especially Londoners, are brainwashed at all times to seek fences and rules in order to feel safe. Of course bad things could and do happen, but life is dangerous, you can’t control everything, get over it and try to enjoy life!

People on the ship were having a good time, somehow in spite of sniffer dogs and CCTV everywhere, the odd person was skinning up on the top deck, most sat drinking beer, smiling beneath the warm sun bouncing off their sunglasses. Below many moved to the music whilst taking copious pictures of the ship on their phones. Downstairs there were at least two bars and padded “seating bars” around tables where they used to freeze and chop fish. The ship was an awesome place to have different party rooms, the angular industrial music bounced off the ship’s hull in a suitably sheet metal way.

My only gripe about the ship was the music, I would have preferred dancing to Led Zep’s Immigrant Song, that would have been perfect or some kind of heavy metal version of  the Ride of the Valkyries would have been great.Here is some Led Zeppelin with  The Song Remains the Same just for effect,old fart I am!

But the DJ I heard on the Stubnitz was mixing French café style accordion music with deafening heart-stopping bass and drum music, note I did not write “drum ‘n’ bass”. I am too old and psychedelic to know what type of dance music I was listening to but it was experi and mental. I left the relaxed atmosphere of the MS Stubnitz to go and see Steve Reich around 6pm.

This was another “odd thing” , I noticed that they put some of the biggest crowd-pullers on early on both evenings even though the music ended at 6 a.m. Gary Numan was due to be on at 6pm the following day (today). I started to realise that maybe there were “problems” with the festival. Well to be fair all festivals have problems, they are always a headache to run for the organisers but some are worse than others. You really need to know what you are doing when you run a festival, especially if you plan to run it in a dock full of water and then place barriers so people can’t get out.

I found the hugest biggest queue  zigzagging its way round a small bit of the site, but people were patient and well-behaved, I hardly saw anyone attempt to push in. I must have queued for over 20 minutes, everyone was saying they’d never seen anything like this and we could hear Mr. Reich playing from outside, we could not understand why security did not seem to be letting anyone in.

Once we got in the tent was only a third full and yet he had been playing for over 30 minutes. The sound quality was not good, the audience was pretty thin, so this did not help the general feel of the gig. Many people were waiting for their friends to be allowed in.

While watching Steve Reich there were times when I wanted to sit down or leave, but both options were difficult from where I was standing, once people were allowed in from their long queuing they tended to head into the crowd and stand and the only way out I could see was through the entrance with hundreds and hundreds of people blocking the way. I looked around and saw there was a zip in the side of the tent, if I’d been feeling trapped I thought I could always use it to get the hell out.

As people slowly and steadily dribbled into the tent, while many left, the music livened up a bit. This was when a full rock band ensemble in the form of Bang on a Can, complete with sheet music,  started to play. It was enjoyable but stilted at first. They sounded like ‘Yes’ doing a version of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, in fact I was beginning to wonder if Steve Reich had been listening to the final few minutes of Tubular Bells when he wrote it. I’m sure others must have thought the same as me! But then I decided that perhaps Steve Reich  wrote it first and Mike Oldfield and Yes who copied his style. Playing repeated patterns in unusual time signatures is the link. Steve Reich must be far more influential than I realised and I must listen to more of his stuff.

Here is Bang on a Can playing Steve Reich’s  2x 5 (2008)

( turn the volume up first, sorry about any ads that come up, try AdBlock)

But although Steve Reich is no doubt a genius and influenced Yes,

I’m afraid I much prefer the following clip which sounds remarkably similar,

compare the two introductions!

Perpetual Change by Yes  (1971)

OK I digress but it’s my blog so I can, and hopefully not bore the pants off you

After Steve Reich I couldn’t get back onto the ship because by now there were long queues and barriers preventing people from going on board, this made good sense to me because it was quite crowded and there was only one way on or off, unless you jumped into the water, but I still think that if people were left to their own devices that they could have managed to see it was too crowded before boarding instead of being restrained like stupid sheep.

I went for a walk about but there wasn’t a whole lot else going on, the cheapest Amber Leaf rolling tobacco on site was a staggering £7, so I decided to go to the local shop. I couldn’t find the way out as described on the map, so I went to the main way in. There were by now already hundreds of people stuck outside the entrance, and the security process was slow and they were clearly not in a hurry to let anyone in, I have never seen anything like it before, they allowed just a handful of people in then would let them wait a few minutes before letting in another few people, meanwhile crowds were building up outside.

I asked one security guard if I could go out and come back in again. He said “NO” sternly. I explained that I had a weekend ticket. He just said “You can’t leave till later and when you do leave, you can’t come back in again”. Since there were no camping facilities, I decided he was stressed out and uninformed and I continued to look for the exit but couldn’t find one, I asked another security guard but he didn’t seem to know anything.

Then I looked for the queue to go and watch Amon Tobin on the main stage. Another very long queue, at one point that queue got muddled into the ship queue and no one knew what they were queuing for or where the queues ended. After queuing for 20 minutes in the crowded area outside, I found the main tent almost empty once I got in.

It made no bloody sense at all.

This was a joke, why was everyone queuing outside virtually empty tents in a limited area surrounded by deep water, since the whole festival was in fact at an old dock?

Amon Tobin  came on. The 3D projections were fantastic. They had a big installation of a kind of cube shaped wall, I’d seen similar things at multi-media art installations, but this was huge and exciting to start with. Amon Tobin was inside one of the cubes which was see-through, it was a bit “Spinal Tap” but I’d rather have seen Spinal Tap.  I was bored, maybe if the sound had been better I would have enjoyed it. Like so much music in 2012, the visual element seems to be more creative and interesting than the sound itself. Maybe you disagree, here is a clip, it sounds better than I remember , it was visually stunning but after a while it was repetitive ( sorry Amon,I’m sure you are a nice guy, it’s just not my kind of thing)

While I was watching the show, all around me a load of very drunk vertically challenged girls wearing too much fake tan, too much make-up, with silly hats and no clothing but a few bits of white fur and denim, were hugging each other violently and squealing. They took millions of photos of each other to put online, they disregarded the music which was very loud and hard to ignore. On the side of the stage there was  a guy pointing a camera on the audience in a type of steering-wheel shaped frame, which I thought might be a CCTV camera scanning the few people that were allowed in. I decided it was not worth sacrificing my hearing for this, and being sober and not having a set of friends to hug, I decided to go outside to look for something else to do.

By this time there were a lot more people just hanging around outside trying to get into the various venues, queues here and queues there, it was ridiculous. Then when I walked past the main gate even more people were even more tightly packed and waiting to get in and being processed at a snail’s pace as if they didn’t actually want to let them in. Those waiting outside seemed remarkably patient, I am sure some of them had maybe shelled out £55 just to see Amon Tobin , the festival was sold out, but they were unable to get in, others may have paid £125 for the two days and the last DLR train back home would not leave that late.  I felt very sorry for these people waiting, thinking that they might not get in for more than a hour or two before they’d have to go home again. I went for a walk around the dock like others who got fed up with the queues. Thirty minutes later the crowds trying to get in were chanting and then someone let off a flare, the exiled crowd cheered, I wandered off for a bit enjoying the sunset and beautiful clouds, the weather was fantastic and there were some nice walks around the dock away from everyone.

But when I came back to the entrance the people waiting to get in had disappeared, something had happened. Inside the festival the crowds were growing a bit and all this queuing was taking up a lot of space, although walking around was no problem, but it was a pain to queue up all the time, I decided since it was dark to go home and come back the following afternoon. I still could not find the exit and a security guard suggested I went out through the main gate. Since there were no crowds left on the other side of the main gate, I thought that maybe they had all got in, but I could hear “booing” not far away. There were many metal barriers, in my way and I had to climb and crawl here and there, there were many security people thinking of not letting me out, and then telling me it was OK to leave, none of them directed me to the proper exit, if indeed there was one.

I got to stairs that led into the main road and then I was quite surprised at what I saw. A double police line at the top of the stairs, plus many more security guards and on the steps a huge crowd, well-behaved, but angry and a few shouting. Well wouldn’t you be, if two of the main acts had already been on, and you’d paid £125 for a ticket to get in?

The police were very calm at that point, some stood with their arms crossed smiling, they seemed surprised that I wanted to leave, they also could not tell me of another exit and they were very polite, and helped me to get out. As I went down the steps some man grabbed me and asked me a question and I pulled away and ignored him, then this other woman shouted to me and asked me if there was trouble inside, if it was safe to go in. I said “Yes it’s fine. It’s great!” but afterwards I thought maybe I should have told her about the amount of pointless queuing you had to do to get to see any act.

After I crossed the road to get into the station I turned around and then I realised that things were seriously wrong. I hadn’t realised just how many people were queuing to get in, there were in my rough estimation at least two thousand, booing. It occurred to me then  that either they had sold far too many tickets and had hoped to stagger the crowds by putting the main acts on at 6pm, or perhaps that having a computer print-out had allowed a lot of people to forge tickets. What I couldn’t believe is that there were ticket touts still trying to buy tickets off the queuing punters, it was clearly a nightmare situation by the large crowds unable to get in.

I worried then for my son who was working there and for all the people there because if everyone had got on the site and they continued to deny people access to all the stages, then it would be overcrowded and tempers would flare especially by 6 a.m. The thing is, the tickets were expensive, most people who were going there were well-dressed, calm, extremely patient and mostly seemed  sober and compliant with the law, but we were treated like we were criminals before we even got in. It was a disgrace. It was like being kettled and herded the whole time but at a paying gig. We were not  going to a riot, it wasn’t a political demo, in fact there were no politics in evidence of any kind, not even an Amnesty International stall.

After an anxious night I got a call from my son this morning to say he was fine.

It did get overcrowded and they had to get all the stages and DJs to shut down  the music at midnight, then the police cleared the whole area. There was another big stand-off with the police and a bit of trouble, nothing major that he knew of, none at all on the ship where the good vibe remained throughout.

I wonder now how people managed to get home from the middle of nowhere at Midnight or 1 a.m.. My son stayed there overnight. He seemed to think only one person got hurt with concussion but this whole queuing/kettling technique to deal with the crowds caused a lot of the trouble and people were very angry that they were not allowed to see the artists they had paid to go and see.

I hope there were no further injuries. The rest of the festival is cancelled. I wonder if they’d had no barriers at all,  if  just maybe people would be sensible enough to come and go as they pleased.

In less paranoid times, with an atmosphere of caring for one another and looking where you tread, could a few roadies and stewards, a St. John’s Ambulance, a fire  engine and maybe a few lifebuoys, be more than enough to keep this festival safe?

Will the police be kettling people all through the Olympic games for their own safety?

I need a musical interval, this next song was ringing through my head as I took the DLR home, very worried about my son and everyone left at the festival. In spite of my ranting about health and safety regulations, given the situation and the fact that people couldn’t leave easily, I am glad they stopped everyone from getting in, it could have been a dangerous situation, due to the tensions building up over a number of hours as well as the size of the crowd outside.

The Clash – London Calling (1979)

They should just have removed the barriers so people could leave at least!

The festival was sold out, did they sell too many tickets ? I can’t see that several thousand people would forge tickets.

 If you were there and want to say something please leave a comment.

Gary Numan who was due to play today, Down In the Park

Love and Peace

Born2rant

 

Guilfest 2009 delayed review of a mishmash festival


Hello Good People who read this blog…

I’ve been away some more and then was ill and then was in hospital with pipes up my nose and much more horrible places, but I am making it all sound far more dramatic and less conventional than it is…

However it provides a bloody good excuse for not having promptly written a review of Guilfest 2009 .

Why write a review of Guilfest anyway? After all it’s not a hippie festival! I hear you cry ( in my imagination that imagines that someone out there in cyberspace apart from MI5 and MI6 reads this).

Well two reasons:

1. I was there ( see previous entry for reason I was there)

2. I talked to Alice Armstrong ( see end of this entry for some footage in “The Laundry”..not a club but really in laundry) to ask her for her name for  a review. Both her and her guitarist were very enthusiastic and wanted the address of my blog , so now for them,because I like to keep to my word, rather than to gratify Lemmy or anyone else, I will write a review of my impressions of the festival and intersperse it with some of the music.

On the first evening, I missed Eat Static as I couldn’t find the dance tent hidden away in a corner of the festival, but I heard The Stranglers from my tent. I was resting preparing myself for Motorhead .I had a headache followed by a cough. There was a bloke at the gate,selling T-shirts saying “ I’ve got swine flu” with a big pink pig on it. I thought of buying one but didn’t.

By then I had realised that the festival was basically a gig in a field complete with modern Britain’s  fascist rules and regulations . To go into the main site, you had to endure young people randomly grabbing and tugging  at your wristband without warning , followed by the “customs” inspection, having everything in your bag, opened, sniffed, even tasted. I’m surprised they stopped short of a cavity search.But the British public, like apathetic sheep, just seemed to succumb to this kind of treatment without fuss. I don’t think ID cards will be hard to bring in, that’s nothing!

The reason for this behaviour was to stop people bringing in alcohol, drugs, and re-selling tickets and wristbands. However within sight and earshot of this procedure about ten ticket touts were relentlessly buying and selling tickets and wristbands. In the camping field several hundred under 16s and their “flu friends” were drinking hundreds of cans of beer , bottles of spirits and taking nitrous oxide, in full view of the same stewards so anxious to check everything in your bag. What a farce!

Entering into the main festival site was always a bit like going into a  strange concentration camp with no human rights or freedoms but with lots of good music and where  you could still smoke at a live gig.


Friday night :Motorhead as viewed from the position of adoring fans “Ace of Spades” Guilfest 2009

some Motorhead  choreography

Motorhead did a blinding gig, sometimes their energy waned for a minute or two but then they were back on form. Lemmy threatened to stop at one point because so many things ( mainly frisbees) were being thrown on stage . There was even a spectacular stage invasion. There was some excellent lead guitar playing, though I can never hear Lemmy’s lyrics and I got bored during the drum solo ( time to get a beer). Lemmy’s son, Paul ,came and played guitar on some songs with Lemmy on harmonica ,they did some acoustic blues. All in all a great gig with lots of energy and variety.

Motorhead with Fire-eaters on stage Guilfest

After Motorhead my second favourite gig came as a surprise to me . It was these guys , The Charlatans, far more psychedelic than I expected, also very dynamic and energetic.I liked all of their songs and they were “in the zone” performance-wise.
Saturday night:The Charlatans at Guilfest

The Only One I know

The Charlatans again (includes vibrant keyboard part):

They were followed by Brian Wilson who I missed due to monsoon type rain, poor guy playing sunny music in the dark with everyone running for cover. Good Vibrations ( note pools of water on the front of the stage)

Another one of my gripes about this festival was that there was nowhere you could sit indoors and have a cup of coffee, the cafes were grim and not run by hippies . Since it rained a lot, sitting indoors was important, a lot of people brought their own chairs and giant umbrellas, gazebos etc… but being ecologically minded ( and without enough dosh to run a car) I bring the bare minimum to  festivals. At other festivals I go to there are hippie run cafes under big tarpaulins where there are old sofas, carpets, or at least bales of hay to sit on while you drink and eat out of the rain.

Also the programmes which cost £5 , a lot of money when you have none, was the only way of finding out who was on stage when.

At the information point when I asked who was on stage, they deliberately hid the programme from me as they gave out information, like I was some kind of free-loading thief, explaining to me that I had to buy a programme if I wanted to know anything more. I paid £120 including postage for a bloody ticket, I don’t want to have to be  robbed of another fiver to know who is performing. Pah! I say in disgust!

Plus the real ale I bought there was the worst pint I have ever drunk in my life and their measures of vodka seemed to be very mean. There were no showers on site, these were some distance off the site at a swimming pool. No one I talked to could be bothered to walk there.

Anyway at least there was some good music.

During the daytime around the festival I spotted Fezheads in a tent not just dancing but playing some excellent surf music with their band. Highly entertaining although a couple of young blokes pulled up behind me and watched them  saying that they were crap as they were making mistakes with their dance steps. I think they missed the point.

Surrey University was one of the sponsors. The head of Popular Music there used to be my lecturer years ago and created some very interesting courses , he didn’t mind my writing essays on the Ozric Tentacles and Stonehenge. (I have a sneaky feeling that the Prof. in question could be the person with long red hair lurking at the back of the stage on the Motorhead and Charlatan clips but I may be totally mistaken).

However the Uni produced a brochure with some truly horrific pictures of Jimmy Page and George Martin.I had to throw the brochure away as I was so freaked out by a photo of Jimmy Page grinning with extra-whitened teeth,wearing full graduate garb including silly hat ,looking like King Henry the VIII’s skinny cousin.
Whatever happened to your tight satin snake trousers Jimmy???

I saw quite a bit of music on Sunday, having sussed out my camping situation and accepting that there would be no sleep till Notting Hill ( i. e. in my own bed) due to the loud tent/bar next to me running all Saturday night, Sunday morning and well into the afternoon when they left . This large tent run by some of the younger attendees, was stacked with big amps, lights, and a big bar. At four a.m. I heard about a hundred people sing “woo-hoo” along to Blur , and shortly afterwards they all shouted repeatedly ” Naked Bar!” and could hear them stripping .Their music was often louder than the main stage, most people moved their tents away after the first night but I have ear-plugs and have camped next to 24 dance music stages.
On Sunday morning I got up and saw The Rock Choir, the less I say about them the better.There were so many of them, that they were performing on both main stages simultaneously, another strange decision made probably by either by a crazy fan or a committee. Committees should NEVER run a festival ( I speak from experience) leave it to a couple of driven individuals who know what they are doing.( arrogant opinionated ranting from me but that’s what I’m here for! )
Motorhead and Will Young headlining at the same festival?????What were they thinking? ( Ker-ching  ££££££ let’s maximise our audience possibly).

I watched the Rock Choir, on both stages but had to leave urgently, as two terribly nice young white boys backed by about two hundred white suburban housewives sang a rap song to Jesus in a very earnest fashion. ( just as well Lemmy wasn’t around).

Later, fortunately I caught The Hamsters, who initially seemed a bit jaded, but warmed up nicely and soon attracted a large crowd when playing Hendrix and AC/DC covers and their usual antics of swapping instruments went down well.

The Hamsters are one of my favourite live bands, who I go to see once or twice a year.So even though I can’t find Guilfest footage of them I have to put up a clip of them anyway.The Hamsters play Purple Haze ( but not at Guilfest!) Rock Against Ageism!

Later that evening,The Happy Mondays were pretty boring after a couple of songs although they had a fab female vocalist with twenty times the singing ability of Shaun Ryder ( bet there are some interesting ego clashes backstage!).

Bez ,clearly no longer on the wagon, addressed the audience like some demented mute traffic cop. He threw a maraca to a member of the audience close to me and then gesticulated madly that the wrong person had caught it, then indicated he wanted it back, then once it was thrown back to him on stage, he delivered it to the person who was meant to receive it ( or at least this is what I understood at the time  but who knows what motivates him?)
Here he is when he still had both maracas.( but possibly not all of his marbles).

Earlier in the day I’d seen “Goldie Looking Chain” and realised that  I was going to see two ex-Big Brother contestants in one day ( Bez and Maggot, whatever happened to “street cred”?).
“Goldie Looking Chain” are a great  bawdy leaping hip-hop act, very entertaining but so inapropriate to bill them on a Sunday afternoon full of families with young children, many of them waiting to see Will Young in the evening.

There were lots of little girls looking quite puzzled and disturbed when GLC explained in great detail the basis for their song ” Can I F*** your sister?“,  thereby making some lads laugh but traumatising parents and daughters alike.

Apart from Motorhead, the band I saw most beloved by the crowds, including families and people of all ages and backgrounds, were “The Wailers“. The dancing  audience knew all the words and the vibe was fantastic.
Amazingly I can’t find any Guilfest footage of The Wailers even though they were hugely popular, so here’s a clip of them in Saint-Petersburg earlier in the year, imagine the same scenario but in blazing sunshine with a couple of thousand people dancing and singing along .

But the reason why I wrote this entry was after talking to one young woman from Guilford and her guitarist friend in the acoustic lounge. She has a stunning big powerful blues/soul voice. Her name is Alice Armstrong and she was accompanied by American guitarist Jack Kristiansen. They did a couple of interesting jointly-written songs including “Roll-Up” ( i.e. “Skin-Up”) on Sunday. Her stage presence and that big and mature-sounding voice of hers is begging for a big band behind her. I asked for her name, and the name of their act which is simply “Alice Armstrong” . They were definitely the best act on compared to the other stages at that point. I was dismayed to find no trace of her music on the net.

In the late sixties or early seventies, Alice’s voice would have been ideal for a loud raunchy rock or blues band but musical fashions change,  she has a great voice  and I  hope she finds her niche.
It’s a big shame that I cannot find her singing  online but here are some pictures of her from her myspace profile and hopefully, she may be persuaded to record herself or film herself ,so it can go online. But Alice, my advice is to develop your own style, don’t copy anyone else, trust your instincts!

I will email her to check she doesn’t mind me using these photos . ( note the troll behind the window)

Alice Armstrong from Guildfordalice amrstrong 1

alice armstrong2

Anyway got to go now…my next project awaits my attention…

UPDATE! 27/07/09 Alice has uploaded a couple of home vids on youtube, however I’m not sure they do her or her voice justice, she still could do with a band and an attentive audience, however you can hear the essence of her voice on the youtube clips at the following address:http://www.youtube.com/alicearmstrong

( I quite like the one in the laundry with beer) …so I’ll put it up here.

Alice Armstrong with Jack Kristiansen “Roll-up”

Will do another unusual blog entry soon.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. 19/7/09 A lot of  Will Young fans are coming to read this review. Sorry there is no Will Young here, you need to write your own review and ranting  from  a Will Young fan point of view!




It’s the same old story…stormtroopers in the street (and I don’t mean the Star Wars variety)


Hello Good People who read this blog…

(I have just realised that I’ve been taken off the Google search engine..a bit weird…anyone know why?)

I thought I’d post a quickie about the police assault on Ian Tomlinson, who died as a result.

Even though now I know for sure that my emails are copied and I could  be identified.

**** it , my mother was in the French Resistance which was far more dangerous!

Here is the Ian Tomlinson story in film. I’m glad for once that the media put this on the TV. Maybe the media are more powerful than police or politicians and that is why the journalists of the BBC and other news channels must take a stand, take a risk and be the “resistance”. We need alternative media and news coverage to get broadcast as well.

The Police Story ( I think they need to get one of their detectives on the case and get those responsible on trial for manslaughter and those covering up charged with perverting the course of justice)

Ian Tomlinson’s Son


Is wearing balaclava helmets standard police procedure?

(Bumbling Boris was not available for comment. He was probably busy at home, reading the Iliad for moral guidance.)

Jimi Hendrix and Machine Gun seems like appropriate music:

I hope to bring you something a bit more cheerful next time.

Love and peace

Born2rant

P.S. Maybe we need an anti-police violence protest, but I guess the headlines would be even grimmer afterwards.

A (relatively peaceful) Revolution!


Hello Good people who read this blog.

I am still here, excuse my absence due to hard work, change and constant illness.

Today is both Maggie Thatcher’s birthday ( don’t ask me how I know this) and the death of Thatcher’s vision.

I am not sure of what state of mind or coherence she is in due to illness but I am sure she would not have wished to hear that three of the main high street banks have been ” nationalised” or at least necessitated being rescued by tax payer’s money.

I went to my bank earlier today, oblivious of the latest news . The staff were unusually rude and unhelpful and I ended up having to make my transitions over the phone as the staff at my local branch were unable to do fairly simple processes. But as I was leaving annoyed and frustrated they suddenly asked me if I wanted a new credit card and managed to say this politely.

When I just  watched the evening news I realised the reason for their incredibly unhelpful behaviour was possibly shock. Whoever would have thought Lloyds and Barclays would need rescuing?

and what’s happening about Coutts ? The bank for truly posh people…

a bit of Thin Lizzy ( not exactly a hippie band but this version of the song “It’s Only Money”  has a great edge to it I think you’ll agree. I think the original was written by Rod Argent of rock band Argent ( argent being “money” in French …Bizzarre!) … no doubt someone will cover it during this recession and cash in….

Gordon Brown assures us in fatherly tones that he will guarantee our money is safe and also that the money lost in Icelandic bank accounts will be safe…. but how can he possibly make such guarantees?

The Icelandic bank thing was weird. I never saw that one coming. It’s a bit like hearing that Bjork is in fact the messiah and the second coming of Christ ( plus the significant other of all world religions and belief systems)  and that we were never notified of this fact up until now.

I’m sorry but I , like the majority of people in the UK up until now,  am obviously completely ignorant of what is really going on in the world of international banking.

I know it’s a bit of a strange concept for a hippie to write about money but money is important to everyone especially for those who long for a less materialistic world.

and now for something complete different…from Eric Idle ( excuse the subtitles it was the only clip  of this I found that didn’t link up to some business site)

This society and this world we live in has been turning a blind eye to corruption and unsavoury business practices for a long-time. Now we have our wake up call, out “Tower card” in tarot terms and our ” Number 51 The Arousing/Shock..thunder and lighting ” in I Ching terms. A time of sudden unexpected shock which betrays all the built-up faults and  corruption that festered somewhere for so long and Boom! Flash ! Thunder and Lightning! ( Kerpow!) The Ivory Tower of Power is struck down and it falls, everything that was secure is demolished. There is shock and panic and the underlying truths are all revealed. Deception and corruption have had their day.

You’d think we would learn from our mistakes, that now the blinkers would come off and people would say:

“Come on let’s be reasonable and have some common sense. Let’s plan ahead so we have no more disasters, let’s not base everything around money and business because it doesn’t work.

and yet the rest of the day’s news reads like a ” Book of Fables for the truly stupid “ ( if this book has not been written it should be  so you can buy it for people who you don’t really want to give presents to at Christmas) plus “The Concise Encyclopedia of Disasters caused by people with more GREED than actual money” and “ 100 things to do when you are lonely , bored and unemployable, and neither your TV or your computer work and you are living in a tower block that is suddenly hit by an economic crisis“( this isn’t very funny, I need to get well again so I can get more creative!)

So yes I can see a few more crises looming up

worldwide climate change …..action taken by clever UK …build another airport runway!

Increasing crime, alienation of youth, general morale low, people feeling dis-empowered and needing to feel more responsible and taking an active part in creating our society…action taken ……let’s bring in the 42 day detention bill , then everyone will know that they  can safely be thrown into a cell for 6 weeks with no reason given at all and also let’s have cells in secondary schools to get them in training
Can’t afford to build houses, losing jobs oh f*** me we have no money…..action taken by clever UK ……….let’s carry on spending millions for the Olympics and show how great the British are and let’s pay more taxes to bail out the banks

If these banks are nationalised and as the news claims we own the banks, then does that mean when the banks make profits again that we also get them? I think not!

So in fact the people are paying taxes for the bank’s debts. Is Gordon Brown or his successor really going to be able to find all this guaranteed money?  From where exactly? It is a mystery…………

Revolutions are things that have come full circle….

and yet I feel a kind of calm about the future. I am not panicked and many around me seem to be carrying on as usual.

I remember George Harrison when he was ill with cancer talking about it in a very calm way in a TV interview. He said that fans should not worry and that everything come and goes in cycles. His spiritual belief was very strong and gave him strength too.

I think now on Thatcher’s birthday we have also come full circle,  all of a sudden money and business is no longer revered. All the unethical trading is no longer sanctioned under the general premise that all business is good and that the successful business men and women of this world should be looked up to and their luxurious lifestyles are the one thing we should aspire to make you happy.

Because if there’s one thing I have learnt by being an outsider who knows some very very very rich people is that money and business do not make you happy. Many ( but not all) of the richest families are truly dysfunctional .There are so many secrets to be kept , rich businessmen do not make faithful or non-violent husbands, beautiful trophy wives who struggle to look perfect are  frequently  on anti-depressants or other drugs and are often abandoned and lonely in their palatial homes , the children are driven to work so hard in school and with extra lessons in the evenings that they have no time for play or friends and their current nanny or tutors are emotionally closer to them than their parents ever will be.

Being excessively rich is not the dream we were sold. Being poor is no good either but there are many types of poverty.

Before I get even more depressing here is George Harrison who like all the Beatles had a great sense of humour

Now we are clearly in a massive financial crisis leaving alongside world climate change  we all ask one question…

What does the future hold?

The only thing that is certain is CHANGE , BIG CHANGE

Hearing banking experts on the news and journalists criticising banking practices that went on for the past 20- 28 years it makes me laugh from the hypocrisy.

Although bankers are responsible for doing many wreckless things I feel they are to a certain extent being treated like scapegoats because each person who voted for the Tories or New Labour knew they were voting for business, they took out loans which they knew they could not pay back, they bought shares and became mini-business people themselves. They too criticised or ignored those too ill, old or otherwise unable to work. They too criticised single mothers on benefits while knowing that childcare costs about the total sum of their wages. They too invested in savings accounts which in turn helped to keep the business wheels turning involving the  exploitation of the poorest people in the world.

Business is not always a bad thing, we all need to survive, but this society has turned a blind eye for so long to anything else but the “ethics” of making money and spending money. The bankers are responsible but so is everyone who supported the highly materialistic machine of exploitative business.

We have come full circle and now

In the mainstream media which governs our thoughts and ethics more than any other institution we have  woken up from the American dream that we espoused so readily under Thatcher.

But people are still flying , driving , wasting our water, our earth, our air, our energy supplies. We need to wake up to this as well.

High fliers it’s time to come to earth, no more money for cocaine driven dreams.


We need to recreate our society again with different priorities or suffer the consequences.

Hippies created self-sufficient communities and tried to find alternative ways of living without money but with a better quality relationships between people.  We need to do this but in a way that is practical and that can last.

Love and peace

Born2rant

hoping there are not too many mistakes in my free-flow writing…will edit tomorrow…

Leaving you with a musical ray of hope from Steve Hillage’s version of Hurdy-Gurdy man ( Donovan) because without hope and only fear everything goes to pot and not in a good way!

P.S. Ringo doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour at the moment.

I’ve been trapped in a big hole that went down to the centre of the earth


Hello good people who read this blog

I am so sorry that I haven’t been here. To tell you the truth (well metaphysically speaking -in real life it is just another bullshit excuse)…I was trapped in a big hole that went down to the centre of the earth. Have any of you seen the film “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”?

I don’t mean any recent versions but the one made in 1959 with James Masson and a duck called Gertrude plus all kinds of strangeness. According to the film site imdb.com the plot keywords to this film are as follows:Explosives / Concertina / Convent / Presumed Dead / Romance

That kind of covers probably where I’ve been the past month or so ( metaphysically speaking).

I had written a really “clever” analysis of Steve Hillage’s 1979 Canterbury concert DVD. But it wasn’t good , it was rubbish and then I had to research it and then I got lost in space and time, my ego smug-remarkness and in particular, ethnomusicology, apathy, panic resulting in an epic underworld journey involving explosives, concertinas, convents, gone missing and presumed dead by others actually I am still missing!

I am in hiding in a safe house in a London suburb with a dog called Oscar, and cats named Lucifer(true to his name), Ozzie, Riff, Magenta and Ebony plus an unnamed turtle . Only those who know these creatures by name will know where I am .

I’m sorry I have deserted you all.

I couldn’t make it to “Born to Go” in Hitchin. I hope those who went had a good time.

I just wanted to wish you all a Good Easter.

Got to go soon as they are showing “School of Rock” for the 30th time on TV and I must either watch it or go and switch it off immediately…I have not decided which would the better decision…

I am getting tired of having a multiple personality and concealing my multi-faceted roles . I have an insight into the elite personality, an anarchic one, a tragic acoustic singer-songwriter one, a comedy psychedelic experimental alien one, a music academic analytical one, one who likes Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music” and well there’s probably a few more in there. I’m very contrary and contradicting myself on a daily basis.

Anyway some music!!!!! and I will be back soon writing about God-knows-what…

Video One

Gong but from a different dimension! One of the influences of Gong the band?(as well as French Cabaret Chanson and many more)

Anyway here’s Gamelan Gong Kebyar

Video two

a version of Om Namah Shivaya – Listen to Steve Hillage’s ..and Peter Hillage’s version on the album “L

I am enjoying trying to trace the various world music influences on some of my favourite musicians. Steve Hillage may have fused and synthesized different styles together but he must have listened to a lot of music from India, South East Asia, the Middle-East and Afro-American music ( well FUNK!). I enjoy picking out the threads of music to see what other musics they resemble. But I’m not very good at it yet there are so many different types of music in the world!

Anyway here’s some Indian music..Om Namah Shivaya

(this is a mantra to the God Shiva. There are many versions, I chose this one at random. As a mantra it is obviously very repetitive but later on it livens up a bit!)

and I’ll write some more nonsense soon.

I need to study some world musics a lot more and then I can write more about these things at the moment all I have are my ears to rely on but not a lot of knowledge. Apologies to Ethnomusicologists please feel free to add more information.

Take care everyone!

Love and Peace

Born2rant