Posts Tagged ‘Lauren Laverne’

The Culture Show: U2

February 25, 2009

Bono of the pop combo called U2

It’s easy to mock Bono. Everybody’s at it. Whether it’s his hat’s journey by jet engine, his pious preaching at Labour party functions, his forcing African kids to sing With Or Without you in a PR piece to promote his band or just outright laughter at the lyrics to his latest single, Get On Your Boots – only the creepiest U2 obsessive could really object.

This very defensive interview piece was fully aware of the public profile of the band’s frontman and seemed, from the start, to be an attempt to redress the balance. A good angle to come from, but royally ballsed up by Bono himself in protracted, oblique soundbites that did little to dispel how much of an oaf the man is.

Geldof didn’t help. He opened proceedings by insisting that ‘they’re not wankers’ – which, coming from a wanker as monumentally self-pleasuring as Bob, didn’t really help the cause. Later, when talking about how prolific U2 are, he said that those outside the industry might not realise that ‘great bands have to work at it’ which carried the implication that he’d ever been in a great band. ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ was alright, but don’t overdo it, Bob.

After an amusing clip of the fledgling band mucking about on Irish telly in the late 70s or early 80s, a parade of talking heads talked the band up, one of them asserting that ‘every band wants to be U2’. This statement is incorrect.

I’ve no problem with U2 the band – I like bits of Achtung Baby, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But when Bono ever appears outside of his day job it’s impossible not to wince at the man’s nerve. One man’s arrogance is another man’s genius, but for me his pomp and self-belief reek of smugness. He’s unbearable when he starts talking and by the time he’s finished you’re surprised nobody’s ever set fire to him.

He was sitting next to Adam Clayton in his set of interviews, whilst Larry and The Edge were cross-examined separately. It’s easy to imagine that Adam’s the only one who can actually bear the frontman, what with him having had the mental strength to cope with being around Naomi Campbell. The man must be coated with asbestos when it comes to fiery egos. Where Bono dealt in pseudo-enigmatic rhetoric when answering questions, Clayton was gnomic and as bland as skimmed milk.

Bono’s interviewee style was to patronise Laverne whenever she asked a question. ‘You’re right to ask that’, he assured her. ‘Geez, this girl is good’ he proclaimed, as though she landed the job based on blackmail. He was remarkably restrained but still indulged himself in that special line of bollocks he specialises in – the self-aggrandizing statement disguised as humility. One choice anecdote concerned a non-fan of the band who happened to attend a gig saying that the hairs stood up on the back of his neck when they played. Bono, keen to ground himself whilst simultaneously and paradoxically raising himself to Christ level, replied: ‘you know what? That happens to us too’. Because he’s merely a prophet, see? And the music is the message. Man.

Later on, he said they continue doing what they’re doing because their job is to ‘derail the rock n’ roll mythology’ – referring to his belief that U2 are put on this planet to prove great artists don’t have to kill themselves and leave a romantic myth to truly be great. Considering the likes of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Christ – even Paul McCartney have already sorted that one out, the statement falls redundant to the stadium floor.

To finish, Geldof explained to us thickies that people are wrong to think of Bono as cliched in his political dabblings. He said ‘expressions only become cliches because you have to repeat them again and again’. He’s right – but only if the expressions are valid in the first place. If they’re trite and simplistic then they’re cliches from the start. Real insight only needs mentioning once, and can be revealed at any time – even when a new release isn’t scheduled for months.

Get on your boots, indeed.

Advertisements

The Culture Show

January 28, 2009

culture show mark kermode lauren laverne bbc2

I like the fact that, among the programmes about thin people purposefully getting fat for scientific reasons on BBC2 and their numerous reality television broadcasts about food, they still find a place for a magazine show about intellectual stuff. It’s good that high-minded people have an outlet for their frustrations. The Culture Show is that outlet.

Last night the show was all about the Scotch (I’ve no idea why), so we were treated to Robert Carlysle talking gibberish under the guise of reciting some Burns poetry. Victor Meldrew talked about if for a bit and then the bloke out of Idlewild did a nice little song.Then they talked to the cumulatively irrelevant Franz Ferdinand and finished with an obligatory (but decidedly non-Scotch) African musical collective.

All very nice, inoffensive and aimed at a specific market. Most folk will prick their ears up for the film bits and the musical sections, then go back to their copies of Titbits when an item comes on about theatre – King Lear last night – presented by the woman with the unmoving mouth, Miranda Sawyer.

My main issue with The Culture Show lies with the presenters. The odd couple being, of course, Lauren Laverne and Mark Kermode. The chemistry between these two is really, really odd. When it comes to Kermode’s film reviews, Laverne indulges him with mock-shock gasps when he says something supoosedly scathing and tickles his fancy with scripted questions with blindingly obvious answers so that he can do that thing he does. That thing where he acts like he knows absolutely bloody everything about everything.

Admittedly, Kermode is a very intelligent bloke. He knows a lot about films, but there is one major issue with his style, which is that he’s started to resemble Michael Portillo’s Spitting Image puppet.

His hair is a plasticated lump that looks like it’s been nicked from Gunther Von Hagens’ spleen collection. I can’t get over his ridiculous quiff no matter how hard I try, and whenever I look at Laverne, I can’t get past the fact she works with Steve Jones over on Channel 4 on a weekly basis and doesn’t smash his blasted face in to a mushy pulp to save us from the builder-in-a-skinny-tie idiot.

For my part, I’ve been brainstorming better presenter couplings for the Culture Show – and here are some ideas:

  • James Bardem and June Brown
  • Jermaine and Latoya Jackson
  • Cosmo and Dibs from ‘You and Me’
  • Avon and Stringer from The Wire
  • Karl and Susan Kennedy from Neighbours
  • Harold and Lou from Neighbours
  • Toadfish and Stonefish. From Neighbours.

If anyone at BBC 2 wants to get in touch, I reckon I’d revolutionise your casting sessions. Email at the usual address.

Glastonbury on the BBC

July 1, 2008

Aha! Festival time! The season when all publications pull out their stock book of cliches and plagiarise themselves in a transparent effort to seem at one with the zeitgeist! Huzzah! Boomshanka!

As if you weren’t sick of it already from the endless coverage in every publication other than music magazines (that shithouse NME aside), as if you hadn’t puked real tears from your colon upwards upon seeing ‘style thermometers’ in the broadsheets recommending which designer wellies to shove on your pointless feet, as if you hadn’t already ticked off which hopeless, mediocre, electro-punk-fuzz rock/pop fusion supergroups you were going to lap up in lacklustre fashion like an artificial indie drone when you finally got to the hell of the desecrated countryside, they then go and put Glastonbury ON THE FUCKING TV as well.

For the purposes of this blog and in the vain hope of seeing a half decent performance (in comfort rather than from the back of an enormous marquee while trying to avoid a flag some South African twat keeps waving), I tuned in. I V plussed the whole lot and forwarded a hell of a lot of the crap.

That’s a lot of forwarding. A hell of a lot. My forward finger’s gone all bent.

Before I start, I should point out that I don’t for one moment think that watching all of the BBC’s output gives any insight into the festival itself. I’m clear that this is a BBC production and that many of those who went to Glastonbury won’t have seen any of the crap outlined below and will have had a jolly wheeze. This is really a criticism of the rubbish on BBCs 3, 4 and 2 more than Eavis’s garden fete. So if you went, don’t get all defensive.

Trying to keep a chronological list of what I viewed would’ve been logistically difficult, so I’ll highlight and lowlight what I absorbed.

Full-on, MOR bilge

Mark Ronson, step right up. Hours were dedicated to this little shyster playing his coffee-table cover versions. Except he wasn’t really playing – he was whacking a cowbell while a team of session musicians joylessly flapped about behind him. To distract the audience from this fact, special guest after special guest was invited out to ruin perfectly good songs. The best example of this was Lily Allen shitting on the already shitty Oh My God by the Kaiser Chiefs.

Flat, atonal, vocally weak, if this wasn’t an abject lesson in why famous peoples’ kids shouldn’t be indulged on the strength of their name, I don’t know what is.

In addition to this, we suffered KT Turnstile, James fucking fuck’s sake Blunt, Will Young (?!), Goldfrapp, Crowded Fucking House and yes, Vampire Weekend. Despite claims to the contrary, this band are as middle of the bloody road as a centrally plonked white line in a central motorway along the equator. So, so dull. Sting. The Police. Get lost.

Rubbish, weak, noughties indie

Pigeon Detectives. Kate Nash, Get Cape, Wear Cape, Get Lost. The Enemy. Editors. All of these were showcased on the BBC while interesting bands (interesting because I quite like them) such as Los Campesinos, Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Young Knives were all overlooked in favour of the flavour of the month, which inevitably left a bitter taste on the buds.

A handful of highlights

A song each on the main coverage from Spiritualized, Band of Horses, The Verve, MGMT, The National. Despite the fact that the latter were rather sullied when Edith Bowman made out she’d invented them. A few full sets on the red button (including some of the above groups) were alright as well, but were also non-recordable – which was handy.

Hip hop at Glastonbury

I’m a fan of a fair bit of hip hop music but as I’m middle class and from the midlands I try not to talk about it in public for fear of sounding anything like Tim Westwood. Jay Z’s set was alright, considering live hip hop usually sounds abominable. What was hard to digest was the constant adulation the BBC presenters gave businessman and occasional rapper Jigga.

He’s made a few great to excellent tunes, fair enough, and he’s sold a lot of records, but he does put out a fair bit of shite. Anything he’s done with that berk Pharrell is unlistenable. The constant ‘bringing hip hop to Glastonbury’ celebration the presenters brayed about was ludicrous – hip hop has been at the festival for years. Why don’t the likes of Roots Manuva get the honour of bringing the genre to a festival it’s already at? Nonsense.

The bloody presenters

Mark Radcliffe dithered but was amiable. Lauren Laverne was her usual geeky self – likable but irritating simultaneously. Phil Jupitus was wheeled out for nostalgic reasons. That Rufus chap with the comedy moustache had the unenviable task of showing the odd stuff that goes on away from the music at Glastonbury to entertain people on drugs and pierced bozos. All of these I could bear. Even that Grimshaw fellow was alright. The rest of them were horrible.

Jo Whiley, a woman who seems to be permanently wincing, kept trying to tell her audience that they were missing out by not being there where all other presenters were trying to convince them that they were better off at home watching footage. I’ve followed Whiley’s career from the off. I remember her first ever transmission where she kept talking over a live Teenage Fanclub set on Radio One and she’s not improved. Not one jot.

Annie Mac looked extremely vacant. She earns bonus points for having passively dissed Mark Ronson, but aside from that she was nothing more than a curly blur. Grimshaw (is that his name or have I made that up?) kept her afloat. She was clearly on hyper-intertia-drugs.

The booby prizes undoubtedly go to Edith Bowman and Zane Lowe.

It’s baffling to me why these two are in gainful employment. Edith talks so earnestly and joylessly about stuff that’s completely pointless that it makes the viewer roll their eyes frequently enough for it to resemble epilepsy.

Zane Lowe, on the other hand, sits like a twatty teenager thinking he’s above everything. His wisecracks are second-rate, his wannabe laidback style conceals panic inside and his attempts at cool come off as horribly desperate. Putting these two together was a low shot from the BBC, designed to annoy the sit-at-home festival goer so much that they got to the point of watching the stuff on the red button, just to prove that people use that neglected function.

Apart from that – nothing to report. Amy Winehouse was a coked up, furry, stick-insect arsehole again – but what’s new? I wish that fan had punched back.

CAN’T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!

 

*BANG*

 

*thud*