Music television

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Post  misery guts on Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:02 am

Olly Murs - Live From The O2
Concert from 2013, as Olly runs through many of his hits, starting with 'Army of Two' and closing on 'Troublemaker'. Crowd seemed happy enough.

From the Ravello Festival, Italy
Daniel Barenboim conducts the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, in 2008, though several pieces by Wagner, to much audience delight.

Live from Wigmore Hall
The Takacs Quartet, w/cellist Ralph Kirkham, play Schubert's 'String Quartet in C' (D956), from May 2013.


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Post  misery guts on Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:39 am

Discovering: Radiohead
An early modest start, but soon beloved of the critics, whether for their American influences, or their experimental stance. They achieved unlikely global success, but their attempts to play politics were never convincing. Most amazing, they're still going.

Yanni - Live at El Morro
An outdoor concert in Puerto Rico from 2011/2, with several pleasant enough tunes. The crowd seemed taken with the whole thing. It seemed warmer than the usual classical concert.

The British Invasion: The Small Faces
How a modest British blues band got together, were prodded along by Don Arden and Andrew Loog Oldham, but fell apart in the gap between jolly novelties like 'Lazy Sunday', rather than the serious material like 'Tin Soldier' that they felt more creatively pleased with.


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Post  misery guts on Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:02 am

Kreutzer Sonata
From July 1986, as 82-y-o Nathan Milstein gave what turned out to be his final recital on the violin, alongside long-term piano accompanist George Pludermacher.

The Kings of Rock and Roll
A special concert from Wembley Stadium in 1972, where Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry did their respective things. An impressive window into a golden age of music.

Compass: Hip-Hop, My Release
Short doc about a rehabilitation workshop run at Distrital Prison in Bogota, where inmates are encouraged to express themselves onto the straight and narrow through rap. The chaps features, DJ Roky, New York and Alma Negra concluded by giving a concert. I'm not wholly convinced this is a wise direction, but I guess it's better than nothing.

Britpop at the BBC
Whilst the BBC celebrates the 20th anniversary (!) of the revivalist movement, this hour featured many of the relevant bands, and showed that there wasn't really much depth to it at all. But some of the songs were fine.


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Post  misery guts on Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:19 am

The British Invasion: Gerry and the Pacemakers
Gerry Marsden recounting his band's story, amidst performance footage of their various singles. They found their feet in Hamburg, were signed by Brian Epstein, reached #1 before the Beatles, had their first 3 singles also go to #1, Gerry developed as a songwriter, but they were left behind when tastes changed, and they didn't move with the times. But they were a major part of the Mersey Sound.


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Post  misery guts on Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:08 am

Colin Davis: The Man and His Music
The noted conductor was celebrated by orchestra colleagues, by other conductors like Simon Rattle, by broadcasters like David Attenborough. The most interesting surprise was his fondness for knitting as a hobby.

Danny Boy - The Ballad That Bewitched The World
A wide variety of musicians from Joe Jackson to Judy Collins and Roseanne Cash, mixed with a bunch of Irish people like actor Gabriel Byrne boxer Barry McGuigan and author Malachy McCourt. Even the insufferable Bonnie Greer joined in. The most interesting thing was that the bloke who wrote it took the tune from his sister, but never credited her. Also, its use as inspiration, solace and comfort was as relevant to those who fought in World War One, as who had to cope with 9/11.

Mariss Janssons
A profile of the Latvian conductor, taking him back to his early home in Riga (where his house is now a museum to somebody else!), and how he coped with being the son of a famous conductor. He had strife escaping through the Iron Curtain, but seemed much loved now.


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Post  misery guts on Sat May 03, 2014 1:18 pm

One Hit Wonderland
The 2002 series based on the book, where 'Stutter Rap' legend Tony Hawks tries to achieve a 2nd hit. He tries a novelty dance record (quite good), a melody sampling Sudanese children, a kids song contest (where his song comes 2nd!), a duet with a Romanian starlet (alas about 10 years before Inna or Alexandra Stan), and finally through Tim Rice, he gets Norman Wisdom to sing a pro-Albania record in Albania, and lo! It makes the top 20. Since I read the book about a decade ago, seeing this show made me want to re-read it.

The British Invasion: Herman's Hermits
They had the melodies, they had the ambition, they had big American success. But they also had a silly name, and painted themselves into a corner with sillier numbers like 'I'm Henry VIII, I Am'. Peter Noone and other band members recalled their brief but bright heyday.


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Post  misery guts on Sun May 04, 2014 12:13 pm

Music Nation
A 5-part series coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Britpop, by covering 5 different musical genres which Britain has created in recent decades to more lasting effect. So there was an episode on garage, on Balearic Ibiza stuff, on Bristol's bass connections, on punk's child Hardcore, and finally jungle. It made its case plausibly, although most of these have already had plenty of coverage really, and will probably get plenty more.

Lang Lang: A Portrait
Chinese piano whizz, who'll be 32 in June, here relating his upbringing (with a martinet father), and his prodigious abilities, which he is already using to try to inspire the next generation. Good luck to him.

Orchestre Royal du Concertgebouw
From Mar 19, 2010, a recital of Brahms' Concerto for Violin op.77, and Shostakovich's 15th Symphony, as conducted by Bernard Haitink. Very impressive it was, too.

The World of Liberace
Not sure what year this came from, but a stunning insight into the homelife and concert presence of Walter Valentino Liberace. He showed his houses, his cars, his jewels, his pianos, even making a lasagne in his kitchen. Some of the musical stuff was impressive (The Strangest Dream apparently mixing Dvorak with Pete Seeger). He claimed his lack of marriage was because of a family history of divorce. Well, quite. He rued not having kids, having to dote on his dogs instead. I know he gets a poor press, but I thought he was pretty good, if big-headed.


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Post  misery guts on Mon May 05, 2014 9:09 am

Memorial Concert on the 200th Birthday of Franz Liszt
From Dresden, with Wagner's Faust Overture in D minor, and Wagner's Faust Symphony. Quite how this celebrated Liszt is beyond me, but it was a melodic effort.

Hugh Masekela w/Mahotella Queens, at Avo Session
The Mahotella Queens acted as support, filling the first 1/3 of the show. They were formed in 1964. Masekela got the crowd on its feet towards the end, when he told them to. Mahotella Queens joined him for the finale, a celebratory number mentioning Mandela and others. Another pleasant show.


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Post  misery guts on Sat May 10, 2014 12:09 pm

All In One Hand - The Pianist, Paul Wittgenstein
His family didn't want him to perform, his father was a martinet, and he lost his right arm during World War One. But he persevered, commissioned major composers to create pieces specifically for left-handed pianists, and fled to the USA to teach music, once the Nazis decided to pick on him. Many of his pupils spoke up here, together with a few grateful pianists, and his daughter, and especially biographer Alexander Waugh. His wife wouldn't share his legacy, so it was eventually sold to Hong Kong.

2Cellos: Live at Arena Zagreb
Stjepan Hauser & Luka Sulic try to prove that cellos are the new rock & roll, with help from the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, on Jun 12, 2012. They started with some classical pieces, but mainly it was covers of recognise rock & pop hits, from AC/DC to U2. If you remember Hayseed Dixie, you get the idea, only without singing. Fair play to them, I guess.


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Post  misery guts on Sun May 11, 2014 12:09 pm

Pop Goes BBC Two
The channel currently celebrating 50 years on the air, here with 50 musical clips squeezed into an hour and a half. The plethora of music shows here was a nostalgic buzz, both the well-known and the more obscure, ordinary performance shows and serious documentary series. Even room for sitcom The Young Ones, and for Live Aid, too. Did great justice to its memory.


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Post  misery guts on Sun May 18, 2014 8:11 am

Trainspotting
OK, a film, but its cult-crossover success revived the career of Iggy Pop, made Underworld stars, and tied in with the Britpop ethos, as well as giving Lou Reed a bit of kudos.


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Post  misery guts on Thu May 22, 2014 1:39 pm

Songs of Praise: Lesley Garrett - My Story, My Music
The Yorkshire opera star talks about her impoverished upbringing, musical influences, time at the Royal Academy, and how she moved into musical theatre and other avenues. She also led and joined in with half a dozen hymns such as 'Bless This House', and 'I Vow To Thee, My Country'. Aled Jones asked the questions.

Foxes Live @ Snowbombing 2014
Some festival or other, where the impressive lass knocked out the hits, finishing on my favourite 'Let Go For Tonight'. I hope things continue to build for her.


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Post  misery guts on Sun May 25, 2014 9:04 am

Nikolaus Harnoncourt: A Journey into the SELF
Irascible cellist turned conductor relates his journey through music, with his brother, son & wife on hand to also sing his praises. He had a tough time because of the political climate, and he had respect for Haydn, amongst others. An intriguing show that never quite seemed to pin down its subject beyond the superficial.


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Post  misery guts on Wed May 28, 2014 12:00 pm

The Ukes in America
Back in August I reviewed a gig from theirs in Australia, and here was a show about their tour of the USA, where they seem to be wildly popular thanks to YT. They even met a sort-of tribute act, the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Brooklyn, whom they graciously raved over when invited to see them in a club. Their octo-harmonic organised anarchy seems to be a bottomless pit of invention.

The Stone Roses: Made of Stone
Film by director Shane Meadows covering their 2012 revival, warm-up gigs, curt European tour, and big Heaton Park gigs. All four band members seem glad to be back together, and they sounded fine. The crowds were delighted, too. Apart from a brief trouble spot after a gig in Amsterdam, they managed to hang together long enough (though I'm not sure where they are now).


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Post  misery guts on Sat May 31, 2014 12:45 pm

Kent Nagano's Classical Masterpieces
This time the usual gang tackled Robert Schumann's 3rd Symphony in E Flat Major, op.97 aka 'The Rhenish'. And very fine it was too.


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Post  misery guts on Sun Jun 01, 2014 7:58 am

Perspectives: Bruce Forsyth on Sammy Davis Jnr
UK all-rounder sings his friend's praises, relating the story of a rise from poverty to national acclaim, and the highs and lows along the way. Not merely the familiarity of the accident which cost him his left eye, but his unlucky flop of a Motown album. His racial struggles were typified in that he helped JFK in his election but was then barred from attending his inauguration, whereas Richard Nixon showed no such qualms when his time came. The support of Frank Sinatra was probably a double-edged sword, too.

Behind The Music: Boy George
He struggled when young, but was making a name for himself before starting Culture Club. It was a surprise to find just how successful they were in the States, although unsurprisingly, once he admitted his relationship with Jon, the band were finished. Though George's struggles with heroin didn't really help. He made a comeback eventually, with his book and musical, but there was more drug problems with cocaine and a prison spell. He seems to be happier these days, although the prospect of more music remains uncertain.


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Post  misery guts on Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:43 pm

Sammy and Bruce
The 1980 special with Mr Davis Jnr and Mr Forsyth, as discussed above. They did plenty of singing (Bruce probably more than Sammy), and their big finish was a medley of Broadway tunes. Their between-song banter seemed to favour Bruce more than Sammy, though a skit about impressions was above expectation. At least Bruce finally got this screened, having praised it for years.


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Post  misery guts on Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:43 am

Legends: Herb Alpert - Tijuana Brass and Other Delights
Think I've seen this before (it was from 2010), but still charming. Alpert discovered and refined a novel sound, and Tijuana-mania ran wild for a few years. Then he spared the trumpet to do some singing, and also made a success of it. But his love life was going through upheaval and his ideas needed a refill. Happily, he'd also started A&M Records with Jerry Moss, which meant he could discover The Carpenters and The Police, amongst others. He even managed a big disco hit with "Rise" on the nod from his nephew. And he even finds time to paint and sculpt too. Unlike many a smart alec, he manages to turn his hand to many things with great charm, and long may he continue.

Storyville: Searching For Sugar Man
How a guy called Rodriguez recorded 2 albums in the early 70s to no acclaim - except in South Africa, where he became legendary, and it was thought he had died. But in 1997, fans learned he was in fact very much alive, and insisted he come over to perform the following year. Which he did. He seemed a genuinely nice guy, and the story built superbly. I gather it wasn't entirely as straightforward as claimed, though, and that he toured Australia in the late 1980's. But in itself, it's still a good story, and a sad testament now its director has died tragically young.

Celtic Women: A New Journey
A charming Aug 2006 gig from Slane Castle, Ireland, with a mixed selection of song and a little dance. They managed to find room for a bash at 'Orinoco Flow', 'Beyond The Sea' and 'Somewhere' along the way. A pleasant hour or so.


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Post  misery guts on Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:16 am

Yes Acoustic
A one-off show from Jan 26, 2004, with Anderson, Howe, Wakeman, Squire & White performing half a dozen tracks, with much between-song banter from a slightly bemused Jon Anderson who kept promoting a new DVD to the point of distraction. The music was good, though.

Michael Flatley: A Night to Remember
To both commemorate the 20th anniversary of 'Riverdance', but more pertinently to promote Flatley's forthcoming new show 'Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games', this featured assorted celebs & family members singing his praises, and several excerpts from previous shows, as well as Nadine Coyle, whose solo career has been a disaster away from Girls Aloud, belting out the title theme from the new show, which was at least not bad.

John Ogdon: Living With Genius
How a piano prodigy shot to global fame when winning a prestigious tournament in 1962 (in fact, he shared 1st prize with Vladimir Ashkenazy, by chance), and then went on to perform too many gigs until his health deteriorated. His taste for the unfamiliar tunes and his evident brilliance in playing were made all the more poignant by his decline, and death at just 52. Several pianist admirers and family members (and Ashkenazy himself) contributed, although some were more rueful of his fate than others.


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Post  misery guts on Sat Jun 14, 2014 8:20 am

You've Got A Friend: The Carole King Story
Kicking off with some sort of citation from current US President Barack Obama, this was a pretty smooth run-through of the career of the singer-songwriter, from her days of working & living with Gerry Goffin (their daughter Sherry bears uncanny resemblance to Sarah Jessica Parker, I think), to her solo success as a singer-songwriter at the peak of things at the Troubadour club. Perhaps more interesting to learn were how things went downhill after that, a short-lived doomed marriage which did little other than inspire a love for the land in Idaho, and a recent musical based on her life story. No Neil Sedaka, though Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil were among the other talking heads.

John Ogdon: A Musical Tribute
Rather than have footage of the man himself, this got another pianist, Peter Donohoe, to give a recital of a few works Ogdon was fond of (!), from Schumann and Ravel to Shostakovich, and including one of Ogdon's own compositions. Whilst preferring the more obscure tunes was commendable, it does then lead to such gigs becoming less for a general audience.

Joni Mitchell: A Woman of Heart and Mind
I'm always convinced she was one of the many who died young in their heyday, so it's always a surprise to find she didn't. This was a lengthy look at her career, with James Taylor claiming her for the singer-songwriters, Graham Nash mouthing off as ever, David Geffen failing to not look smug, and David Crosby, who seems mellower for his own suffering, and thus tolerant. Herbie Hancock was one of many saluting her creativity and style-jumping, despite the media image of her as just a folk singer.

Kathleen Ferrier: An Ordinary Diva
How a modest girl from near Blackburn shot to fame as a contralto, wowing crowds in Europe and the USA, but her career was cut short by cancer at the early age of 41. Her love for a pint was one of her many appealing quirks that showed she wasn't elitist, despite the general tone of the classical world.

Troubadours: The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter
Doug Weston's LA club was a key focus for this golden era of US music, though Weston himself seemed to mind that he wasn't as well-known or successful as the many acts he helped find & promote in his club. Carole King, James Taylor & Jackson Browne all got their due, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt and Kris Kristofferson all added to the tale, but perhaps the most interesting and unusual inclusion was Steve Martin, for whom it was a major staging post on his own journey, and whose incisive wit put a lot of the waffle to the sword.
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Post  misery guts on Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:32 am

Rihanna 777
7 gigs in 7 countries in 7 days, to mark her 7th album (hands up if you can name it without looking) in 7 years, on a Boeing 777. Those countries were Mexico, Canada, Sweden, France, Germany, England and the USA (and we saw footage of a different song from each gig). The sheer pressure involved in such a large compressed exercise did tell at times, but apart from a tedious sub-plot with one of her entourage doing wacky things like streaking on the flight, and the surprise that Nuno Bettencourt was a member of her band, this was an entertaining hour or so.

Morrissey: 25 Live
At Hollywood High School, LA, Morrissey belted out many solo hits, and a few from the Smiths, too. He managed some between-song banter, even letting some of the audience have the mic (luckily they merely expressed how awesome he was). With a new album on the way at last, this was a good time to be reacquainted with his back catalogue.


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Post  misery guts on Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:02 am

Nikolai Znaider
From the Menuhin Festival, Gstaad, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, conducted by Ivan Fischer, perform Brahms' 'Violin Concerto En Re Majeur Op.77', on Aug 27, 2011, with Znaider on violin. A good effort.

Killing Me Softly - The Roberta Flack Story
Well-meaning, but quite boring. Dionne Warwick and Johnny Mathis were on hand to sing her praises, but there seemed rather a lot of musicologists and professors, including one from the "Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music", FFS. Despite the praise for her collegiate prowess and great singing, the narrative seemed to be a battle between criticising her for not being true to the black stereotype, and holding her up as the only match for the great Aretha Franklin. For me, it rather boiled down to the fact that she didn't actually write KMS at all.

The Lindsays Play Haydn
Still a few remaining of these, this was the String Quartet in C Major, op.54, 2, and very nice it was, too.


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Post  misery guts on Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:19 am

Hollywood In Vienna
A protracted concert at the Vienna Konzert Haus with the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Vienna. They played various tunes from the flicks, spending the middle on an extended tribute to Lalo Schifrin (who was present), and had Al Jarreau singing a couple of songs I'd never heard before, too. The sections were MC's by Gedeon Burkhard, who killed his script at every opportunity. The tunes were OK, though.

Nat King Cole - Afraid Of The Dark
Long tribute doc replaying the familiar story, the NKC Trio, the racial hatred from the white community, the standard bearing but short-lived telly show, and so on. Greats like Tony Bennett, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Mathis, George Benson and Buddy Greco paid respect, the always entertaining George Schlatter had much to say, and Nat's 2nd wife Maria was on hand, too (she died back in 2012, so this must have taken a while to put together), and his various daughters. His acting career got short shrift, though, perhaps deserved. But every Christmas, his voice will be heard.

Michael Buble Meets Madison Square Garden
On Dec 3, 2008, the boring bighead belted out a few standards, and whilst claiming to be proud of his rise from humble starts, he finished claiming he had reached his peak. I wasn't that taken with his interpretations, either.

Celtic Woman: Believe
From the Fox Theatre, Atlanta, in 2011, the Irish vocal group belted out a mix of traditional, Irish and pop songs, from Bridge Over Troubled Water, to A Spaceman Came Travelling (!) One ironic highlight was a tribute to Broadway, which amounted to a total of 2 songs. But still a pleasantly melodic concert, even if the nationalism was vomit-worthy.
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Post  misery guts on Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:41 am

Tchaikowsky On The Road
Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra do gigs around Europe, performing the cycle of 6 symphonies of the pre-eminent Russian composer, in Jan 2010. Gergiev was a typical conductor, though I was impressed at his facility and ease with other languages. A chattier show than many, with various band members commenting on both the composer and Gergiev himself.


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Post  misery guts on Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:47 pm

Orchestre de Paris
Denis Matsuev bashes the piano whilst Paavo Jarvi conducts Tchaikowsky's 2nd Piano Concerto, from 2011. Matsuev also gets a couple of encores, which further demonstrate his dexterity.

Elbow @ Glastonbury
On the Pyramid Stage as the sun set. A few years and albums ago, they peaked massively. Now, they're just ordinary again.

The Best of Michael Bolton Live
An odd 3-phase show. He started with 3 of his own songs, then did a long stretch of covers, before finishing back with his own material. To give him credit, he gave a fair bash at Nessun Dorma, though whether the whole album of arias works is another question. I think he probably deserves a slightly better critical reaction, even if he does overdo the big-head routine.


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