‘Sherlock – The Great Game’.

The other day, I found myself analysing the person in front of me in a Sherlock Holmes style. Sherlock, that is, in 2010. “Hm.. Sporting a blue plaster? Works in the catering industry. Chavy clothing though. Works in a chain pub. He’s carrying.. Knives?! Well he’s illegal but he clearly cares about his profession. Taking knives home to sharpen them..?” As I passed this chap on the street, I realised he was foreign – which was clearly my one great mistake. He was probably a brilliant chef but no one here would give him a chance.

Huge, probably wildly inaccurate, assumptions.

But yes, the point is ‘Sherlock’ is addictive and makes you want to be a consulting detective. Really. He makes detecting cool. And it must be so much fun acting the analysing scenes – the greatest moments of his career centres around making everyone else look incredibly thick because Sherlock can work out the hugest facts on the tiniest details. I WANT TO DO THIS.

‘Great Games’ reminded me of the 1939 Sherlock Holmes (with Basil Rathbone), ‘The Adventures Of-‘, which is a fantastic watch really. The main idea was that there were many small puzzles for Holmes to solve, whilst one huge one that he didn’t think was that important was going on in the background. Rookie mistake Holmes. This episode was also the first proper introduction of Moriarty, and it didn’t disappoint.

It starts with Holmes being bored in Baker Street, without a case to solve. He is disappointed with the criminals of London. After a gas-explosion, Mycroft visits and tries to persuade his brother to investigate the death of a MI5 employee, Andrew West, who was in possession of some highly important information. Holmes says no.

But then Sherlock is called to Scotland Yard, where he is given a package containing a pink mobile phone, similar to the one in ‘A Study In Pink’. A message on the phone is a recording of the Greenwich Pips – presumably an updated version of ‘The Five Orange Pips’ – and soon Sherlock starts receiving calls from unsuspecting members of the public who have had explosives strapped to them. These people give Holmes a number of hours in which to solve a puzzle, and if he doesn’t solve them, the explosives on the victim are detonated.

Case One involves Carl Powers, a boy who was drowned in a swimming pool in 1989. Being interested in the case at the time, but underage, Holmes was unable to do anything about it, but now a picture of 221C Baker Street (the basement flat of his building) is sent to his new pink mobile, and the trainers of Carl Powers sit there. Through analysing the trainers, Holmes solves the first case by detecting that Powers was poisoned through his eczema medicine – Case One is solved, and Victim One is saved.

Case Two – another photo message is sent to the pink mobile, this time of a car. When the car is found, a quantity of blood is discovered in it, and the assumption is made that the owner of the car, Ian Monkford, has died. But that is what we are supposed to believe – after Holmes finds a card for a rental service in the glove compartment, and talking to his ‘widow’, and analysing the clues, Sherlock discovers that Mr Monkford used the rental service to help him disappear, and set up a new life in Columbia. Job done.

Case Three involves a TV personality and make-over host, Connie Prince, who has died from a tetanus. Although it suspected she cut herself on a nail, Holmes blows this theory out of the proverbial water by pointing out the wound was made after death, and that it was Connie Prince’s housekeeper Raoul (how cliché…) who had poisoned her Botox injections to murder her. Holmes solves the case in time, but as Victim Three starts describing the perpetrator during her call to Holmes, the building she is in is blown up, and twelve people die. That Moriarty bastard.

Case Four – Alex Woodbridge. This was a particularly good one, and a photo of the Thames is sent to Holmes, via the pink phone. Checking the high and low tides, Holmes finds a body that has been lying under the water, and after a quick glance at the victim, he can tell Lestrade and Watson where he works and why he has been killed – a supposedly lost painting, worth £3 million, has been discovered and is to be unveiled at the museum that the dead man works at. Clearly the dead man knew, and so he had to die. OUTSTANDING analysis from Holmes here, who has about ten seconds to solve the case – or a child dies. He realises that a star, discovered in 1858, is painting into the picture. If this picture is supposed to be genuine, it cannot have been painted in the 1640s. Child survives. 1-Up Holmes.

Case Five – we are back to the underlying story of Andrew West, the murdered MI5 employee. After breaking into his brother-in-law’s flat and confronting him, said brother-in-law confesses and tells them about owing money to drug dealers, and how the important information that Andrew West was possessing could help him out of his debts. The death of West was an accident, and the information is reclaimed.

The episode ends in a stand-off between Moriarty and Holmes, at the swimming pool that Carl Powers died in (how sick). As his victim this time, Moriarty has Watson. Ouch. A discussion between whose mind is better ensues, and the scene ends with lasers from snipers on both Holmes and Watson, and Holmes trying to decide what to aim at with his gun – Moriarty or Watson’s explosive vest?

WHEN WILL THE NEXT SERIES BE?! Hurry up yes? Good.

You said it Holmes.


‘Sherlock – The Blind Banker’.

Although not exactly how I would imagine Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal and appearance of him is almost spot on.

Is he about to kill me..?

The second episode in this now confirmed first series, called ‘The Blind Banker’ was still rather good, though the story line was a little far-flung for my liking. On research, it seems there was a different writer from the first to the second episode – so this is the most likely explanation.

First of all, ‘The Blind Banker’ is missing Lestrade. Fair enough, not all Holmes stories have Lestrade in it, but why take him out so soon? Having said that, it could be a pattern of things to come, but I was more impressed with modern-day Lestrade than with this episode’s replacement, who rejects Holmes’ input until he solves the mystery. He was a little irritating as his character was somewhat exaggerated, but not to worry – he wasn’t in it much.

There's a lot of teapots involved

Now to the murders. We start with a break-in at a fancy bank whose workers would be described as working “in the city”. Mr bank manager is a bit of a tosser – but a comical one – and he offers Sherlock a “five-figure sum” to find out who spray-painted what looks like meaningless squiggles on a painting in the building. After a little investigation, Holmes obviously works out who these symbols are intended for (despite the bank having hundreds – maybe even thousands – of employees), and they pay this chap a visit. Except he’s already dead. The same thing happens to a journalist the next day, the same symbols being found. On the surface of it, it looks completely ridiculous and obviously there aren’t enough clues for Watson or the audience to work anything out at present. After some more investigation, Holmes and Watson find themselves in China Town, and, after finding similar symbols on items in a shop, they start to piece together the puzzle. They have discovered a smuggling ring called the Black Lotus, who leave origami black flowers on their dead victims. The banker and the journalist were clearly part of this ring – but why were they killed? What had they done wrong? Stolen a valuable item? Yes!

So after some more research, more good lines, and more patronising tones from Holmes, the code from the symbols is cracked, and the climax of the episode ensues. While Holmes has been detecting, Watson has been getting a new job and a potential new bird, who he goes on a ‘date’ with – except it’s not really a date as Sherlock thinks it’s perfectly fine if he joins them too. They go to see a display of Chinese circus acts, but the reason for the artists to be in England is

much more sinister, as we soon discover. Inevitably, Sherlock disregards all social conventions and takes on one of the circus members, which ends in Watson and his lady friend joining in, and the latter two being tied up and held at arrow-point, by the head of the Black Lotus society. After a few heart-rendering moments, Holmes saves both Watson and girl, kills the two henchmen, but the head of Black Lotus escapes. In the finally scene, she is seen talking on the internet with someone who is dubbed “M” – presumably to make us think it’s either Moriarty or Mycroft – but then is shot in the head. A satisfying end!

You can tell it’s a different writer than the first – this plot line is a little fanciful and I found it slightly disappointing in that a “crime syndicate” and a band of smugglers is not only a bit of a cliché, it’s also a bit of a cop-out. Think of a real plot! That aside, it was still a very enjoyable watch, and the attention to detail in the episodes is quite excellent really. I like the way it caters for an intelligent audience whilst helping you through the detection process, and it is pleasantly updated. It’s a modernised Holmes, but still with his personality – Holmes for the 21st century. He has “three patch problems” instead of three injections of cocaine. And of course he would use the Internet, mobile phones and GPS.

Next time I’m going to watch this when it’s actually on.

‘Sherlock – A Study In Pink’.

Well. This was pretty good wasn’t it. Like really good.

Being what is described as a “Rathbone Purist”, I was initially averse to watching any other Holmes-based product that didn’t involve Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson. Their quaint depiction of Conan Doyle’s characters in the 1940s will always be my favourite performance, but not only was the 2009 film (simply entitled ‘Sherlock Holmes’) with Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law very good, this new adaptation is better than that. Doesn’t beat Rathbone though, but it’s still a good achievement.

Anyway. To business. Set in the modern-day, we ‘return’ to the first meeting of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Pleasantly, the focus is mainly from Doctor Watson’s (Martin Freeman) point of view – as the books were written from this angle, I feel it’s good to get in some relation to the original stories. Watson has just returned from Afghanistan: this is also where he originally returned from, in the books, but it is then stated (after meeting an old friend in the park) that he studied for his medical degree at Barts. Not true, as Watson originally attended the University of London. This may be a minor point, but still one to raise – why stick to some details but then change others? Anyway, Watson is then taken to Barts and meets Sherlock Holmes. Played by Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, that’s really his name), he makes detection freaking awesome. Cumberbatch gives an excellent performance as Holmes, also adding in a sick excitement about murders and serial killers, which I don’t believe any writer or actor has had the courage to do so.

The story of this episode centres around a series of suicides which turns out to be a series of murders – but what’s the link? Turns out there is minimal link, but of course Holmes finds one. He’s not quite my idea of a Sherlock, but he makes a very good one – cool, aloof, skinny, wild eyes… And so bloody clever! The bastard. In an early scene, Watson is taken to meet what most Holmes fans would assume is Moriarty. The character tries to Watson to spy on Holmes for him, for a good sum, but there is no persuading the good Doctor. Holmes is disappointed as he thought they could have split the fee. He is also convinced that the murderer must be someone who we would normally trust everyday but not particularly notice – so immediately your mind starts racing as to who this could be.With a whole half an hour to go, Holmes meets the murderer – a taxi driver – and absolutely HAS to follow him to find out why he has been committing said crimes.

A half an hour talk ensues, and this sad little character of the taxi driver has been ‘playing a game’ with some of his passengers: he gets them to somewhere using a gun, and then makes them chose one of two pills – one kills one and one doesn’t. He takes the other. An exceptionally odd game, considering the way he makes them take a pill is with a fake gun. So it looks like suicide as the victim has died swallowing a deathly pill. The taxi driver is paid to do this by, I believe, the character who tried to get Watson to spy on Holmes at the beginning. Watson has followed Holmes and the taxi driver to their place of battle, and Watson saves the day as he shoots the taxi driver through a window. Good shot.

The blackmailing character turns up at the crime scene, and Holmes asks why… Turns out it’s Mycroft, his brother. As far as I’m aware, his brother wasn’t an evil crimelord so much. So another odd twist, but it was a particularly good surprise. I wonder where that aspect of things will go next…

The script is also very good – “Sherlock, I was wondering if you’d like to have a coffee some time..?” – “Yes please, take it into the next room won’t you?” I think it’s hilarious. I’m also a fan of the music – very ‘inspiring’ I suppose, and fitting, and the ‘text effect’, where if someone is writing a text then it appears on the screen. This also happens if Sherlock is figuring facts out from a dead body or similar. This I found useful: extra facts mean more clues to work out what happened, and when you work out what happened before Holmes tells you, you feel a little bit special.

This was a very good depiction of Holmes, detection and how well the stories fit in today’s society ie. very well. I have until Sunday evening to watch all the rest, so reviews aplenty shall occur! In many ways, I want there to be more than three in the series, and as of the 10th of August, it seems there will be other series to come, but for now, it’s excellent that they haven’t overdone it so far.

You Need To Watch This.

Hello, this is good musical education. Watch the second song ‘Burning Hell’, from just after 4 minutes in, as the first song is just average really.

I know it’s Tom Jones and he’s usually only good for comic purposes but THIS IS AMAZING. The simpleness of the whole set up makes this number, along with the slide guitar and the 70-year old (therefore finely tuned) pipes of Mr Jones. This is good music.

Ashes To Ashes – The Final Chapter.

Every time someone said “Let’s find out the truth about Gene Hunt”, it always sounded so negative. So wrongly negative. The majority vote – or at least what the reviews said – seemed to believe he killed Sam Tyler. I never thought he did. Gene Hunt, as I believe has been discussed countless times, remains a loyal to his team as his team is to him. And, although I think it might have been better if none of us knew the truth (both viewers and fictional characters) as this has somewhat tainted potential re-runs and the non-serious side of Gene Hunt world, the truth turned out to be a positive thing, more or less, for Hunt fans. He was not evil. The evil one, AS I THINK I STATED ALL ALONG, turned out to be DCI Jim Keats. Jim ‘I don’t have a purpose until the final episode’ Keats.

The first showing on Friday made for exceptionally confusing viewing, in that I did not understand at all. Subsequent discussions between my watching companions were then needed, and when I rewatched it today, it made much more sense. But either the script writers wanted to be cryptic or they, too, were so lost by this point in Gene Hunt World that they weren’t relating too much to the viewer, who had no idea how this was supposed to end, anymore. I am dubious as to whether they had this explanation/ending planned since Sam Tyler was around, or whether, when they started writing Series 3, this is what they came up with. It seems a little more like the latter – surely Keats would have been around for much longer, given his somewhat incredibly intrinsic role in the whole thing? Fans have been confused, upset (mainly due, I have found, to the killing of the Quattro) and devastated by the end of this saga – I keep telling them it’s fictional – but what I am most upset about is the lack of anything Gene Hunt anymore. Obviously had it gone on much longer the whole thing would get boring and be ruined, but he’s such a good character how could you not wish for more of the same? I believe one interview with Philip Glenister actually asked the question “So why are you leaving Gene Hunt behind?”, which I found bizarre – surely it’s up to the script writers and the BBC budget, not one actor in a show of many many workers?

So much happened it’s hard to know what to write about first. I think I agree with the rumours – the episode could have done with being 90 minutes. It wasn’t rushed so much, but still could have been longer. The end of episode 7 saw Alex leaving Hunt alone in her flat, literally about to hop into bed with each other (in fairness, Gene Hunt probably would have been even more crude about it). I was extremely annoyed about this – it couldn’t ever happen now. Keats shows up and ruins the evening, as usual, and leaves Drake intrigued by a photograph of an old house – the old house that featured in the news report shown in Alex’s hospital room. Where a body has been found in a shallow grave. Obviously Alex jumps to the conclusion that it’s Sam – why would it be anyone else’s?

Oh how wrong she was. From what I seem to be able to deduce, from the very vague script  (which, incidentally, was just as funny this week – “His pulse was all over the bloody floor!” etc etc., – but seemed less so due to the ridiculously serious nature of all things ending. Too serious for what was one a light-hearted show) and things I have read in various places (ie. the internet), the world they are in is not the real world. I mean that was pretty obvious to begin with – no one travels back in time, no one can travel forward in time and not age (Hunt, Chris, Ray etc, from the 70s to the 80s had nothing in their appearance change), and no one can travel forwards AND backwards in time (Alex). But why are they there? And how are they there, if it isn’t the real world?

After leaving the three other members of the team to sort out a diamond heist in London, Drake races up to the location of the building in the photograph, given to her by Keats. Hunt finds out and tries to stop her, but he reaches the scarecrow on top of the hill (where the shallow grave is) just as she discovers the badge that says ‘6620’. As she digs in the dirt (literally and metaphorically), Hunt pulls a gun on her and orders her to stop, but she finds an identity card stating that the body buried is that of the ghost that has been haunting her. The police officer with the number 6620. The signature states it is a young Gene Hunt.

Keats, being the evil tosser that he is, reveals to Chris, Ray and Shaz, before Hunt and Drake can do it gently, through his ‘report’ (three Betamax tapes, addressed to each individually) that they are not really alive. The tapes contain footage of their deaths – this I totally did not understand at the time, and thought it was a prediction of their deaths – (what the hell were Oasis doing in a show that has predominantly amazing music?) – and when they realise that they have been dead all this time, they are, understandably, somewhat perplexed and confused and upset.  Keats tries to convince them that Gene Hunt has covered the truth up from them too long, but the REAL truth (I said it was confusing…) is that Mr Gene Hunt himself was unaware of things, as he had ‘forgotten’. How very vague. It appears that Ray killed himself after not joining the army, Chris was shot whilst on duty, and Shaz was stabbed by a car thief. This is when Oasis turned up (on the soundtrack), so we must surmise that Shaz died in the 90s.

So. If they’re all dead, why is everything still happening? Conclusions draw that Gene Hunt runs a world (or Limbo, as Keats yells) for troubled coppers, who have had dubious or undeserved deaths, and need to hang around for a little before they can go to Copper Heaven. Or Copper Hell, if they follow Keats. Yes, Keats turns out to be the Devil, as is suggested by his evil tempting of them, his constant “Gene Hunt’s a bastard so pick me instead” stance, and the small hints like the lift in their new police building going down (to Hell, one assumes), the three same numbers to press on the key code on the door lock, and the red button on the lift. Hints, hints, hints, but you don’t actually notice them until you watch it a second time. I was a little disappointed that it turned out to be a regular Good vs Evil battle in the end – that seemed a little too blunt and obvious – but it was still pretty good.

“Gradually they come to you, those who had issues with their passing, and you tucked in their shirts and wiped their noses. Sorting out the troubled souls of her Majesty’s constabulary.” Ironically, Keats says it best.

There were some epicly touching moments. In the building next to where the young Gene Hunt is buried, Alex talks to Hunt, and finds out about his past. He died in 1953 – Coronation Day – hence the British flags still decorating the place, and didn’t deserve a shallow grave. I didn’t understand why Gene Hunt had been chosen to help the troubled souls, post-service, as he’d only died in ’53 – surely there had been plenty of dead officers priory to this? But as he remembers his past, he actually looks genuinely upset. There was some incredible acting here, so it was a shame that Keats had to turn up and ruin it. I liked the way the inside of the building looked like the interview room in ‘Life On Mars’.

In the midst of all this confusion and ‘explanation’ and so on, Shaz, Chris and Ray are still on the case of the diamond heist. A gang in London was going to hand over jewels to Dutch traders (I think?), and the downsized team plan on inserting Shaz into the operation. A sting, if you will. Before this can happen, Keats tries to tempt them to a new life in his division – which they initially take up, as it seems like there is nothing left for them in Hunt’s Fenchurch East. Luckily, Shaz returns to Hunt and Drake, all ready to complete the mission, and there is a fantastic scene where Hunt asks the rest of Fenchurch East “Are you armed bastards?”, and ‘Beat It’ plays as the Quattro and four other cars line up, driving to the London Aerodrome.

Everything goes to plan until the Dutch gang suspect Shaz. Luckily, Chris and Ray have not abandoned the team, and drive their car into the Dutch one, allowing Hunt to shoot the leader, based largely on the fact that he killed the Quattro. What a tosser.

So, the mission is a success, and the team agree the next plan of action is “pub”. As Hunt said, “you don’t need to put the word ‘why’ after ‘pub'”. When they get there, the Railway Arms from Manchester and Life On Mars times is there instead of Luigi’s. I assume this is because Luigi has gone back to Italy. I also assume the team moved to London after Manchester as that was where Alex was shot.

A final touching scene it is indeed – Ray, Chris and Shaz know they have to say goodbye to Hunt, and that he cannot come into the world beyond the door of the pub (one assumes this is Copper Heaven). Chris and Shaz make amends and get back together, in that Shaz declares her undying love for him (haha), and the three of them leave. Drake has spent the entire episode assuming that she is not dead, and her purpose in this world was to help the team move on. But Keats shows up (AGAIN), and tries to convince her she is still alive. She realises that it’s 9:06 – it is always 9:06 as this is the time she died (she WAS shot in the head…), and that Keats is not what he seems. He is evil. Drake becomes very upset about her daughter Molly, who hasn’t been present in this series as Drake has died and cannot contact her, but Hunt assures her that she’ll be fine. They FINALLY kiss, although it was a disappointment considering what it should have been, and Drake wants to stay in limbo with him so much, but I suppose just isn’t allowed to. It appears there are some rules. She leaves through the pub door, to the sound of ‘Life On Mars’ by David Bowie. Gene Hunt is all alone, but as soon as he walks into his office and picks up the Mercedes-Benz catalogue, a new case walks through the door, asking to have his iPhone back. The cycle begins again…

Later With Jools Holland – 21st May.

This week’s Jools was something of a disappointment. Which is a shame as it’s usually awesome, but most, if not all, of the musicians were so dull it left me wanting to scream “SOMEONE do SOMETHING a LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT why don’t you?” at the television screen. The episode featured Alicia Keys (oh I remember her…), Yeasayer, White Rabbits (who?), Jeff Beck (ohh..), The Creole Choir Of Cuba and Macy Gray (I remember her too. Though don’t want to).

So, not exactly an inspiring line-up so much. Presumably I shouldn’t have expected so much…

So. Alicia Keys. I thought… she was ok. She had some ‘catchy’ songs (not a fan of that expression), but most seemed a little tacky – almost ranging into the Lionel Richie scale of things – especially in lyric content. ‘Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart’? *vomit* Can’t people sing about a different subject for once? She appears to have turned from a meek piano player into a soul queen of sorts, except it wasn’t soul and she isn’t a queen – just giving the impression of being one. A good performance though I suppose – she looked like she was enjoying it – but she was wearing what looked like a dustbin liner and neck-breaking heels. Odd combination. This seems like the sort of music that middle-aged housewives might listen to – like the female version of Jack Johnson/Michael Buble/Jamie Cullum/James Blunt (sorry Ed have I just named all your favourite artists?) – and I wasn’t very inspired. Try again Miss Keys.

Yeasayer – I am confused by this band. I can’t work out if they’re good or bad, or whether I like them or not. My brother would probably state that I’m being moronic and that they were the best band around at the moment, especially considering “they haven’t even reached the peak of their musical career”, but I’m still dubious. It is definitely odd. It sounds good to the ear – it doesn’t make them bleed – but is it too easy to listen to to have sticking power for the future? They played ‘Ambling Alp’ first – a good tune but the lyrics are so cliché and tacky – and god knows what they were wearing. Good performance – good live – though you got the impression that they had all come together because they answered an advert in the New York Times, not because they were childhood friends or something. It pains me to say so but I think they were the best thing on this week. And the lead singer needs his non-mic-holding hand cut off. Stop waving it around.

Macy Gray – WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOUR VOICE? Musically, quite boring and generic I suppose. Not that interesting at all really. Is a giant. Literally, not metaphorically. Looked so bored when being interviewed. Must have been hammered when being interviewed, but then I remind myself, so is Jools. Now that makes for a very boring interview, unless you’re one of the drunken parties.Ask her about MUSIC, Jools, not food.  Sounded like a pretentious idiot when she said “I wanted to make a commercial album, but I’m not good at conformity”. How ironic considering how commercial it was. I am not interested.

Jeff Beck – Possibly the least dynamic character ever on Jools Holland. And he didn’t even write the song he played – a cover of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. That really aggrivated me – it’s not like it hasn’t been done before – and it wasn’t even a good cover (too slow, too slow). I wondered if he was playing it to coincide with the ending of the BBC’s talent search for the next Dorothy. At 65, Jeff Beck should be wearing something with sleeves. I would have prefered to see the 1960s black and white footage that was played of him over and over again instead of having to watch him now. I don’t even like the Yardbirds that much.

(You see my point about it being a disappointment?)

White Rabbits – OH COME ON SOMEONE BRANCH OUT A LITTLE BIT! Please?! I’d rather listen to experimental music more than this indie landfill rubbish that doesn’t ever vary the bloody programme. On the plus side, they had some good drum beats, can write a good melody and were enthusiastic in their performance, but I’m looking for something different! And they need better grammar – ‘They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong’, I am afraid, makes no sense. They HAVE done wrong, we HAVE done wrong. Yes? Yes. I am disappointed that their song titles make for more interesting writing than their music.

Creole Choir Of Cuba – Despite their excellent costumes, their energy and what seemed like genuine happiness, and their alliteration-based name, these people, too, were a disappointment. They sang well, but were just a choir. I thought they might be a bit weird, possibly eccentric, maybe even… quirky *shock*, but they were none of these and were another set of musicians to add to the “I’m Not Bothered By” pile. If you can sing that well, why not do something with it? Bring lions and adders on to the stage, make it an epic opera – anything – just branch out from the regular.

Jools, your show is usually a hive of diversity. This week was exceptionally dull. Get some better musicians. Better ones than the ones you have lined up for next week – MGMT, Corinne Bailey Rae, Crystal Castles, Tom Jones, Metric and Vampire Weekend. *sigh*.

Later With Jools Holland – 14th May.

This week’s ‘Jools’ had performances from The National, LCD Soundsystem, Kelis, Crowded House, Tracey Thorn and Pete Molinari. Two bands obviously stand out here (the first two), and the others didn’t make much of an impression, but hey! It’s still music…

Now. The National. I do quite like this bad (like A LOT), so this may be something of a biased review, but – whatever! As much as I’d listened to their music, I’d never actually seen them, and for some reason I imagined the lead singer to be a little scruffy, possibly with long hair and wild eyes. I didn’t expect all of them to wear suits… But luckily this doesn’t turn them into wankers, and their music is OUTSTANDING. They played three songs from their new album (‘High Violet’) – Bloodbuzz Ohio, Anyone’s Ghost and Terrible Love, and despite being something of a dismal baritonal type sound, I love the vocals, and the lyrics are incredible, and how they keep coming out with such good songs is unbelievable. I’m not sure if I’ve heard a song of theirs that I don’t like… Their new album is fantastic. Buy it. And I get to see them at Glasto! Lovely 😀

LCD Soundsystem – Like with The National, they didn’t get to play enough songs, but what they did play was very good indeed. This was another band that I didn’t know much about as a band, only musically. And not really much then, but their new album also sounds good – possibly even to buy, not just Spotify. They had some excellent lighting going on too, and for some reason Mr Murphy reminded me of a cross between Gene Hunt and Morrissey (and had a very strange microphone), but it was good stuff and I’d be up for seeing them live. Good thing I am then!

Crowded House – Too 90s, and not in a good way. I mean the name of them just says ‘I know you know I came from the 90s, but I’m going to make a stab at being indie landfill anyway’. It wasn’t wonderfully impressive, but better than previous aged musicians that Jools has previously had (Ian Hunter, for example). Not much else to say… Listenable too but not exactly exciting.

Tracey Thorn was this week’s ‘bird with the piano’ (Jools tends to be a little formulaic sometimes…), and it was better than in recent weeks (better than, say, Kate Nash). Although the best part of it was the string section I feel. It was pretty but, like most singer-songwriters, not that different from everything that came before them. Not bad music but nothing special. Easy on the ear though.

Kelis – Right. Now, what? The singer who, malevolently, gave us ‘Milkshake’ (a song which lends its name so well to other subjects, not least of all ‘My magic brings Voldemort to the yard, and I’m like, that’s hurting my scar’ – a vast improvement you could say) appears to have turned into some strange Grace Jones-esque character, sporting various parts of animal (horns, tails, what-have-you), with exceptionally odd make up and barnacles for jewellery. So the appearance isn’t great. What about the music? 90s-themed electronic-infused weirdness. This was not what I was expecting. There were some small moments of ‘Oh actually that’s quite good’, but I think I was too vexed by the whole thing to appreciate it. Not that I think I could have really anyway – it was too 90s rave! The whole thing was a little controversial I’d say, and not really the sort of thing I’d listen to… Though it seemed a good performance and one can commend her for that. Bloody weird though.

Last but not least, Pete Molinari. Who? I hear you ask. Well, quite. He sort of gave an 1950s twist to his music, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but like nearly every single other musician that has existed ever, it just wasn’t that inspiring! There was nothing new or innovative about it, and it’s not that music HAS to be new or innovative (I suppose that depends on what you really want from your music), but surely there isn’t much point in just churning out music that has already been done before? (Hence, what the hell is the point in tribute acts?) Luckily, he didn’t have much screen time. His music, like the other singer-songwriters, wasn’t offensive to music as such – perfectly fine for background music – but that has the potential to be the biggest insult ever sometimes. Oh dear…

Next week! Alicia Keys (a dubious ‘hmmm’ springs to mind), Yeasayer (unpronounceable – bad start) and Jeff Beck. The Creole Choir of Cuba look the best option here. Not that I know them, but with a name like that, surely they can’t disappoint!