19 June 2006

Night/day dream-mare

I am working on something new but it may be a while in gestation. To fill the void here is something from a year ago which many will not have seen. Those that have may notice some modifications.

Sometimes my mind drifts and I think with piercing clarity.

a million people stand in my way
iridium lenses shield against eye contact
a beautiful barrier
minding my own business
incessant conversations in my skull
words I can’t speak
drag a finger along the railings to pick up germs
frigid freezing fridge magnet
i’m not talking to you
reflections in a window resolve into the view beyond
everyone else is needlessly boring
a different journey on new roads
treading water, not waving but drowning
supposedly intelligent actually retarded
a rice pudding with tender skin
what fucking saviour?
hatred fatigue
do you know that Artesian well
walk the wing of a 747 eight miles high
leap from the 48th
main line de-sensitising agents
tea and toast
hell of a holiday
is anyone sitting here?
dry properly between your toes
rotting red road-kill
angelic choir church and steeple
charisma bypass or character transplant
10 million seconds to live, equals -
3 months to die
it is now safe to switch off your computer
precious people prefer private promises
taking the utmost care
barrel pressed to temple
happy angry sad desperate
rules for archiving and destruction
report unattended baggage
i so badly want to drink an Ocean, so badly
eyes wide, ears flat
take me to your leader dealer
fuck forever
wireless trip wire
portent omen sign harbinger prophecy
alive at least
Bonus Random Thoughts
one spot doesn’t make a rash
a marathon not a sprint
worldwide patent pending
forever young and drop-dead gorgeous
fighting a fight with maturity
devastatingly dignified and sheer class
intellectual intimacy
The Kick Inside
got to promise not to stop when I say, “when”
living on an island
swim out past the breakers
watch the world die
chainsaw through growth rings
hope I’m old before I die
naked and sticky…
… under protective leather
armour-plated sensitivity
thunderous rock n’ roll
sweet mown grass
searing blue sky
scorching rays
summer madness

14 June 2006

Isle of Wight Festival 2006

There are dozens more pictures of how I spent my rock and roll weekend and here they are.

England’s “Woodstock” was a beautiful dream from 1968 to 1970 until a scarcely believable one million hippies took over the Island, forcing action at government level. In 1970 the ‘Isle of Wight Act’ was passed by Parliament to ban all future festivals. The Act was repealed in 2002…

2006 sold out months ago but I came across a single last minute ticket (the vendor knows how grateful I am.) The one hundred and sixty square-mile island is barely separated from the mainland by a narrow strait but has the feel of a bygone era. A crucial local newspaper, scores of cousins and low mileage vintage cars demonstrate the efficiency of water as a boundary.

A note-by-note account of the music would have you yawning and reaching for the remote so I’ll stick to highlights and atmosphere but here’s a quick scan of the 3-day line-up:

The Prodigy
The Rakes
Morning Runner

Foo Fighters
Primal Scream
Dirty Pretty Things
The Kooks
The Proclaimers
The Upper Room
Suzanne Vega
The On Offs

Richard Ashcroft
Lou Reed
Maximo Park
Procol Harum
The Windows
Skyline Heroes

Thank you to Steve and his daughter for introducing me to island life.

I like it at the front, bouncing, up close and personal but in a giant seething crowd of fifty-five thousand that was impractical and downright fucking dangerous. I held a variety of positions over the weekend, sometimes within twenty yards of the stage at others two hundred yards away. At times the only way from A to B was to get your head down and push people hard to create a path where no gaps exist.

It rains too much in England but I was treated to three hot blue summer days in a row. I borrowed a girly blue hat to shade my sensitive forehead and slapped on SPF thirty-five. Wrap-around Oakleys saved my sore eyes. Late morning there was plenty of grassy meadow to sit on but by 11pm it was ‘sardines’ in a field. Stand in your garden for twelve hours a day and you’ll know how my feet, legs and back feel! Make sure you find a spot with not a speck of shade and choose a cloudless weekend. Yes, physical and emotional exhaustion are very real.

Teenage girls in halter-tops passed around spliffs as thick as your finger and scampered on dirty bare feet. Forty-something guys took off their T-shirts to sport taut white beer bellies. Bronzed fifty plus women bent to reveal seductive lower back tattoos and young boys with beer mugs staggered in the sun, their eyes reduced to unseeing slits. Oh, and there was me in my borrowed blue hat.

Fifty-five thousand souls make a lot of noise, they drop litter ankle-deep and they produce a vast amount of “waste” – please don’t invite me to discuss the toilet arrangements… The whole world and his wife thumbed texts in their mobile phones or shrieked into them, jumping and waving wildly to an unseen friend a hundred yards away. The air was thick with alphabet soup, text messages became constipated in the hot dusty air taking an hour to travel ten paces and thousands of digital cameras recorded every scene for posterity.

If the music failed to move you there were fairground rides three hundred feet tall to scare the pants off you. Another field of stalls sold ridiculous hats, shawls, beads and a myriad of hippie trinkets. Beyond that lay thousand upon thousand tiny tents for the hardy festival campers and after that acres of cars, their windscreens glittering in the dazzling June sun.

Back to the stage - huge beach balls bounced over our heads and imaginative souls held aloft inflatable alligators, waved flags on twelve foot masts and swayed to the summery sounds. Bands I thought might be wild were somewhat restrained and bands I had no expectations for blew me away. The variety was spine-tingling, from angular modern punk to sweeping anthems, from thrashing rock to mellow melodies, it was all here over three days. The sound was huge. This equipment aficionado studied the gigantic towers of PA speakers, the python-thick cabling and the million-knob mixing desks – wow I want one of those!

Procol Harum (Whiter Shade of Pale) were way down the order on day two and I expected nothing. So why did I become so very emotional and choke up completely at their set? Thirty six years ago they played at the final original I.o.W. Festival when I was a teenage schoolboy with my whole life ahead of me. I was yet to make the crazy fucking mistakes and do the reckless things that would forever change the course of my life. The humility and dignity of these men was beautifully understated yet emotionally charged. They will die doing the thing they love and their own mistakes are just part of a rich life. Music has extraordinary power.

Richard Ashcroft stabbed the mic at his bare chest offering his soul to the masses. Wearing his tormented heart on a ragged sleeve he introduced songs of love and death, depression and suicide - including "Bitter Sweet Symphony" and "Lucky Man." The band left the stage leaving him to deliver "The Drugs Don't Work" with just his acoustic guitar. An emotional roller-coaster.

Dirty Pretty Things were as skinny as sharpened pencils, kings of cool in spray-on black denim with backs to the crowd. Swigging sherry from the neck of a bottle at twenty six you know they are approaching the essential age for rock and roll suicide.

Memories of grass hot but damp, cigarette lighters held aloft, searing green lasers that pierce the black night, ten vast video screens so those at the back of the island don’t see the players as ants, throbbing pounding bass that shakes my spleen, picking my way through piles of half eaten burgers and noodles, the setting sun, a death-defying electrician climbing the lighting gantry like a monkey, burning skin, azure skies, green eyes, sentimental fucking emotions, summer memories and still a teenager at forty eight…