Madness Rocks Big Ben Live

Spent a good half hour or so watching 80’s legends Madness put on one amazing gig this evening in the run-up to the stroke of midnight. Suggs practically redefines the term front-man as far as I’m concerned, then again he’s had 30-odd years of experience in doing it. As you’d expect they started their set with One Step Beyond before they continued with even more of their hits including Embarrassment, The Prince and Mr Apples. Eventually they did my all-time favourite hit of all time House of Fun which is one I just cannot get bored of no matter how many times I hear it. I absolutely love this band and will no doubt continue to do so for many more years to come.

The Script: Freedom Child

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I brought this the other day as a small treat for myself and it was well worth the money. Freedom Child is an amazing album and is another reason why I just love this incredible Irish trio. The songs are fantastic and can’t any fault with the album. I particularly like Freedom Child, Rock The World, Written in The Scars. My biggest listening pleasure though has to be Rain and I’m blaming/thanking persistent airplay on a certain radio station for that. Also the video for the song is really good to. My verdict on the album; 10/10…. well I did say that I couldn’t find any fault on the album.

In The Spotlight: Hozier – Take Me To Church

The first in a mainstream debut for the Irish singer-songwriter and the song is just amazing to listen to and a powerhouse in its own right. Take Me to Church has a sombre tone straight from the start and all the way to the finish and has very dramatic tones that accompany it. For a soul song it’s both haunting and melodious. The video itself was shot in Cork, Ireland which stands in for Russia and was shot in grayscale monochrome.
The video tells the story of two men in a relationship who, despite being very happy together, try and keep their relationship a secret from the community. However, the community learns of the men’s sexuality and kidnap and torture him in a violent homophobic backlash. The other man learns of what has happened to his partner and rushes to try and get him but realises he is too late the he sees a violent homophobic mob drag him towards a big pyre.
Hozier openly admits that the lyrics for the song came about from his anger on the Catholic Church’s stance and attitudes towards LGBT+ Rights. Judging by the way many religious organisations treat the LGBT+ community it can easily be argued that he’s got a point.
Another aspect of the song that highlights the issues is the lyrics as they are quite poignant
“Every Sunday’s getting more bleak, a fresh poison each week, we were born sick, you heard them say it, my church offers no absolutes”
“Take me to church I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies, I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife, offer me that deathless death Good God, let me give you my life”
In terms of the lyrics they give a direct reference on how religion is easily used to attack minority groups and how sermons are easily used to preach ignorance and lies.
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On The TV: Mark Ronson & Miley Cyrus

Musical legend Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus have got together and have made a new song and, Nothing Breaks You Like a Heart, is the result. As an open fan of Ronson but not quite of Cyrus I just found myself liking this song within the first few seconds. Miley’s voice fits the song perfectly and adds just that little bit extra to the music though there is a slight southern-state twang to her voice. Oddly enough it actually works really well. As for Ronson, what can you honestly say about him that’s not already been said? the guy’s a musical genius who just will not let you down. The chorus itself ‘Nothing, nothing, nothing gon’ save us now’ is both catchy and addictive. I’ve a feeling this’ll quickly grow on me. The song is off the album Late Night Feelings.

TV chief Jamie Oliver, actress/singer Hailee Steinfield, actor Matthew McConaughy and wrestler-turned actor John Cena were also on the sofa adding banter and discussing upcoming projects.

On The TV… Take That

Just finished watching Take That performing one of their hit singles Greatest Day and I have to say that even though I was never a fan, both in their 90’s heyday or now, I thoroughly enjoy listening to it. Gary Barlow just lives and breathes front-man material as he just possess an incredible voice as he sang with Mark Owen and Howard Donald. They’re great to, I’m not denying it. I think that for any fan of the band either from their original heyday and/or since their comeback you simply cannot deny that they’re like a good wine; they just seem to get better with age. Also, Greatest Day is just another example of Gary’s talent not only as a singer but also as a song-writer.

This Time Last Year…

This is something I’ve written about, an account of how my life has changed in various ways over the past year and a bit. Some bits of it you may have gone through, be going through now. Either way this is my story and is something that’s happened to me so feel free to have read… Here goes

This time last year my life took what felt like a sudden U-turn, a month ago to this year I found myself leaving a steady job that I had had for over 10 years. I had been working for a very well-known British retail establishment. I had made many new friends during my time, gained new confidence through my many years and learnt about how to deal with various situations and communicate with people especially with many, many people who I did not even know. The job took me through college, university and eventually into post-graduate life. I got to know people who were similar to myself, had similar problems to myself and were generally good people to know. Sadly however, as the saying goes “All good things must come to an end”. My time did eventually come to an end, but not as I imagined it. Like many others in similar positions who wanted to make the leap to another form of employment to another and I always believed that mine would basically go a similar way. Go on to pastures new and everyone wishes you well for wherever the next stage in your journey takes you. Sadly, for me the reality was completely different. With new faces came new attitudes and sadly not all of them pleasant, understanding, caring or willing to listen to what you might want to say. Bitter treatment, false accusations, harsh words, preconceived notions, words and actions taken completely out of context and bullying in disguise brewed-up within the following weeks and months that were to come. What many do fail to realize is that when things like this happen to people it hurts them, upsets them and makes them second-guess themselves. The pain that they carry isn’t physical but is one where it cannot be seen, in your mind, weighing heavily on your emotions and continuously going round in your head. But you disguise it by using your facial expressions and calm voice. You begin to put on a calm outlook so as not to let people know just how hurt you are on the inside and you pace yourself from your peers so as to not let on that your superiors have just come down on you like a ton of bricks. In your mind the warning that your job could very well be on the line if you don’t watch your step plays heavily on you. You reflect back on your time spent with your superiors who seem to spend hours quizzing you in a very grueling manner, being made to feel like a criminal. A while afterwards you been to reflect on past situations which cause you to reflect on your behaviour, words spoken and you begin to second guess yourself. You also remember the harsh words said by your superiors which basically boil down to “Look, far as I’m concerned this did happen, why don’t you just admit it”. Yet deep down you know that what’s been alleged didn’t happen, anything else didn’t happen in the way it was said and words written in one way are twisted to appear in a different way. Other words directed at you start to weigh on you “Well I’ve got 3 other people all saying the same thing, claiming that this did happen so I’m going to have to go along with it”. You fantasize yourself saying to them that the only reason they are going along with it is so that they don’t have to believe what you’re saying so they can prolong grief and torture further. You ask your superiors if you’re allowed to inform your kin of the current situation and what’s going to be happening. They let you know that you can but they do it in a way that’s insulting and down-right patronizing “You need be be very careful of how you tell the story”. They might as well of just said to you ‘don’t forget to inform them of all the facts because I know what you’re like’, basically they think you’re incapable of telling the truth. After more time passes more accusations follow, you eventually come to the realization that your superiors, for whatever reason, just seem to have it in for you and are basically trying to force you off the cliff-edge. The more it goes on you begin to wonder if they are trying to wear you down or gear you into a position so that they can give you the boot. During your grueling meetings with your superiors you mention to your superiors if they’re actually aware of your problems which partially explain your behaviour and why it is the way it is. They look at you in an arrogant manner, almost as though they don’t really believe what you’ve just told them. They ask for proof despite it being on the records for your duration of employment. Eventually you come to the only conclusion that it left; jump before you can be pushed. You make the decision to leave your job. During a conversation with the parents about recent events along with allegations along with yet another situation in which things were taken out of context and exaggerated a decision was reached. A suggestion was made, and I can still remember the words very clearly in my head “Maybe it’s time you thought about moving on”. With those words said by one parent and backed by another I began to look back through all the memories I had of the workplace, colleagues I’d got to know, laughs I had shared, the banter which helped me get through some long and occasionally tedious times. It had all come to a sudden end. Another talk followed and this time with my siblings both of whom backed the decision claiming that was probably for the best and my superiors clearly weren’t nice people. For over ten years I had shown nothing but dedication and loyalty to the work force. In many ways this took a massive weight off my shoulders knowing that I wouldn’t have to put up with accusing eyes from the superiors, all waiting for you to make just one ill-footed move giving them all they needed to strike. A sick note was handed in declaring two weeks off and right there between those two weeks you hand-in your letter that you’re leaving. After two weeks the day had officially come; I was out on my own. I cleverly hid the tears that I had shed just a few days prior, the upset, shame, embarrassment and anger to mask away my pain. You remind yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong and that the real problem lies with your very soon to be former-superiors who not only seem to have some sort unjustified problem with you but don’t seem to object to twisting the facts.
After over ten years in the job I left into the dark world of unemployment, wondering what to do next and how I would manage.
The next two and a half months that follow feel like an eternity, and after over a decade being in a steady work-based routine. And then there you go, into the world of joblessness. Not long afterwards you realize that you don’t have much option but to sign-on, a decision you thought that you would never have to make but with no income what other choice do you have. Also, you realize that your savings, regardless of the number, won’t last forever. The fateful day comes when you go to the Job Centre and you take a few minutes to look back at where you were that time last year and look at where you are now. The words go around and round in your head “how could it have come to this?”. The saying ‘here today gone tomorrow’ couldn’t ring any truer in your mind. You are now back at the bottom of the ladder, a place you hadn’t seen since you entered the job-world and thought you would never have to see again. Now you’re back and wondering how to get back up again, or if you even can or if you could how long would it take you and would any of the odds be stacked in your favour. You recall a light-hearted comment that you were told by a friendly face prior to being there, “once you go in, you’ll never feel clean again”.
In the days that follow you begin the process of looking for work, but this time you begin to look for other jobs that are completely different to what you’ve been doing before. You decide to use your own experiences to help others in their lives. In go the job applications, hoping that someone will take note of what you and of your achievements as well as your own experiences and take a chance on you. What you lack in terms of professional experience you know you can more than make up for it in personal experience. Eventually interviews come in, not jobs but interviews, and whilst they may not be actually offering you any work, you’re filled with hope that you’ll get it. After all, the job is the next stepping-stone after the interview. You go to endless numbers of job interviews till you get the point where you joke with your family that if you could get a job where all you have to do is do continuous interviews, you’d practically get the job hands-down. Sadly, after the first you get your first reply ‘After much consideration we have decided not to pursue your application’, this coming along with ‘Unfortunately you have been unsuccessful with your application’. It turns into what feels like a gushing stream of ‘After much consideration we have decided not to pursue your application’, ‘Unfortunately you have been unsuccessful in your application’ ‘After much consideration we have’, ‘Unfortunately you have not been’, ‘After much consideration’ ‘Unfortunately you have’. Basically, it’s no after no, after no, after no. All those no’s and afterwards you begin to question your employability, how employable you really are, or if you’re even worth employing, or if you really are destined to live on the bottom line. You contemplate whether you might be better just going back to work for your previous employer whom you left before, you shudder at the thought but it slowly dawns on you that you might not have much choice. Thoughts go through your mind that even if you went to another branch the reasons why you left the previous one would be brought up, something you just don’t want to even think about. Another thought that also dawns on you is to return to the same working environment, but to an establishment that rivals the one you used to work in. It’s probably not what you where wanting but it dawns on you that you might have to and you remember the infamous saying “beggars can’t be choosers”. One day, and after seemingly endless days of job-hunts, interviews and rejections you get the offer of two job interviews, both on the same day. You attend them both and you come out with a positive feeling from the two but remembering that your luck could still go either way with either of the two. Your bad luck is confirmed when you get the reply from one saying that despite your good efforts the answer’s no. The blow is made even more depressing is that it came the same day of the interview, just a mere few hours later. Days pass and you don’t hear anything from the other one and you begin to wonder if you’re actually going to hear back from them at all. Eventually that day comes, however, there is a twist of fate. You are informed that you weren’t successful in getting the job you originally aimed for but you are offered another one, either way you take it and without a second thought. After all, it’s a job and there are possibilities of progression. You realize this means you don’t have to remain sign-on anymore. Eventually you start the new job, it’s been a long struggle but either way you’re there, you embrace your new job and the possibilities that could follow. In the days that follow you begin to pursue other interests outside of your new job whilst forever grateful that someone took a chance on you and now it’s your time to demonstrate they were right.

So here I am and this is the story of how my life changed in only 14 months, and I couldn’t be any happier.

 

In The Spotlight: Imagine Dragons – Natural

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For this edition for In The Spotlight I have chosen the new song by Imagine Dragons, Natural. Here’s a few reasons; First and foremost, why not? Secondly, it’s a steady progression of how they have evolved as artists in terms of the way their music has changed; thirdly it demonstrates the vocal range of front-man Dan Reynolds abilities as a singer as he hits a higher note than what we’re used to hearing from him normally. And the fourth and final reason? The music video accompanying the video shows much creativity and has Victorian/Gothic tones that just run right the way through.
Natural has both a sombre tone throughout as there are times when the song matter becomes a little bit dark, and it some areas can sound a bit haunting as well. The mood of the song itself turns both somewhat sinister and serious at various moments and the seriousness in Dan vocals adds to that because when you listen closely to his voice there is that element to it.
Lyrically the song itself is somewhat serious, dark and sinister and in actual fact are cleverly written as it deals in somewhat sombre subject matters, both personal and around you. There’s a few lines in the song which stand out “Natural a beating heart of stone, you gotta be so cold, to make it in this world, yeah, you’re a natural, living your life cutthroat, you gotta be so cold, Yeah, you’re a natural
Now this can apply to anyone who attempts to live in a cut-throat environment as refers to how you’ve occasionally got to unleash a brutal, coldest parts of yourself and let it run wild, especially if the odds are against you. If you want to get by you also need to know how to stand your ground, and how nothing is without a cost of some sort.
Natural is an amazing credit to the genius, creativity and pure musical talents of the Imagine Dragons and why they’re still one of the most amazing bands around now.

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In The Spotlight: Tom Grennen: What I’ve Been Looking For

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In this edition of Spotlight, I am looking at the release of British artist Tom Grennan’s new single What I’ve Been Looking For. First and foremost, it’s completely as compared to his earlier hit single Royal Highness as is a reminder of why he’s a big musical star in the making. His track has even been featured in the FIFA 18 soundtrack and has been used as the theme song for Sky Sports Super Sunday. Not bad for someone who first emerged on the music scene four years ago.
Tom has indeed progressed from his earlier work such as Royal Highness and I’ve been a fan since then and have seen just how he’s developed. His debut single was upbeat and a catchy one to say the least but he hadn’t quite reached his pinnacle whereas What I’ve Been Looking For is a progression. Also, it contains more of an energetic force and uses more vocal range.
The line ‘I keep searching and I can’t seem to find what I’m wanting’ are quite an interesting choice of lyrics in the song, cos firstly you never seem to hear of artists that are wrapped up in some form of soul-searching. Also, in some ways it can be about looking for a sense of own identity.
In every respect of the word Tom Grennan is very much his own man when it comes to his development as an artist. He isn’t polished or told to look a certain way, as far as we know, as just does what he wants which is somewhat of a rarity for male artists these days.
For me, I’m completely enamoured by much of what Tom Grennen actually does and his music just seems to be able to grab your attention. What I’ve been looking for is a perfect reminder of the best of British music and why his new track is definitely one for your playlist.
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