Archive for July, 2017|Monthly archive page

Midnight Oil, Hammersmith Apollo, 23 July 2017

The music of Midnight Oil is part of my youth/early adulthood. There was a time when Antipodean music was all the rage with the likes of Icehouse, Men at Work, INXS and Split Endz. Midnight Oil also belonged to a rare popular genre of protest rock. Here one found The Jam, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Chumbawamba and Latin Quarter whose Album, Modern Times, still reverberates, having been exposed to it on a rather-poor quality Radio Caroline incarnation just-about audible in Hull. These were also the days when I used to read music papers and look at the gig list and see the Hammersmith Odeon hosting countless familiar names. It was a long way from home and I never travelled a long way from home. Like the ferries from Hull that also eluded me, now was the time to go to this art decor temple of sound and vision (below right).

Being Australian, however, Midnight Oil had this additional quality – a familiarly unfamiliar history. I was once in a school musical (I was perhaps 8 years’ old) where I had to choose to be either a cowboy or an indian. The downside of the latter was that as part of the make-up, one had to be covered in dissolved Oxo in order to get a darker skin tone. Those who know me, know only too well that I dislike being sticky or being face painted, or whatever.  The idea of having Oxo painted onto my skin may have swayed my decision to be a cowboy. Not a bit of it. It was a few years later, prompted by Midnight Oil’s song, Beds are Burning, that I realised why I had elected to undergo the Oxo treatment. Indians were indigenous people pushed to extermination by, largely, white settlers. With guns.

Beds are Burning is not an ernest song; one of the problems I find with regular protest music. It is a stonking rousing tune that you can dance to. And probably should. Beds are Burning, and the album from which it comes, Diesel and Dust, is a body of work (which dominated this gig), but it is not the whole story. The lead singer, Peter Garrett, forced the band to break up in 2002 on his decision to enter politics and become a senator in the Australian Parliament (he was eventually elected under a Labor banner in 2004). But seemingly their early career relied on live performances due to the controversial nature of their lyrics and Garrett’s particular brand of outspokenness which rendered regular airtime difficult to garner. Thirteen years’ after the break, Midnight Oil are reformed and doing a world tour under a largely original lineup of Garrett, Rob Hirst – drums, vocalsJim Moginie – lead guitars, keyboards; and Martin Rotsey – lead guitars. The band’s bassist is Bones Hillman.

Beds are Burning got the audience to its feet after the relatively quiet and contemplative start with Outside World, even though the venue was all-seat. It was a bit of an anthem-after-anthem performancePut Down That Weapon, Dreamworld, Bullroarer, Sell My Soul, Ships of Freedom, Power and the Passion, Blue Sky Mine and the final encore, Best of Both Worlds. Just under two hours in total giving plenty of time to watch as well as absorb the music. What does one observe? Garrett has always been a striking figure – tall, bald and charismatic. Rob Hirst, from what I understand has, not surprisingly, been the beating heart of the band on drums and vocals. So much so that they are lugging around a giant metal corrugated bin (right) that comes into its own when he gets his rock-set drum solo during Power and the Passion – goodness knows where he gets the energy from. Moginie and Rotsey concentrate on guitarship – both being leads (Moginie is also the band’s keyboardist). Feasible, one senses, from an over-familiarity with one another, Garrett’s quirks and Hirst’s direction/conducting. This was great stuff. Another bit of my cultural history retrieved and shared with my beloved.

 

 

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Camel Do Your Thing wtf

Camel’s Do Your Thing campaign reappeared last week in Munich with this gem. In the left panel a couple demonstrate two Camel packets, conveniently limiting exposure of the nasty death/chronic disease images that cigarette packets must legally display. On the right is the couple being tossers. That’s about it really.

German cigarette advertising update – early summer 2017

Not a huge amount to report on the cigarette company campaigns. No attractive young people having their lives ruined. Not consciously, at least. That said, one cannot get over the sheer cleverness of the campaign managers with their slogans. Take Lucky Strike, for example. Urlaub Eingereicht – holiday secured, if my translation works. Cause for celebration and anticipation? Hold on. Am 1. Arbeitstag. Not so good. A working holiday, maybe? At least we have Luck Strike. The hashtags seem to refer to the taste of the cigarette – icecold and, for want of a better word, persistent?

Then there is Jeanshemd Getragen. Zur Jeanshose (right). I think for this one, it is too subtle for me. Literally Demin shirt worn. To Jeans trousers. Double denim or long shirt not needing trousers? Whatever it means, the product is deadly, icecold or not.

Finally, JPS are sticking with the big packs. 10 Euros gets you 39 cigarettes in a megadeath box. Sorry, megabox.

University of Brighton Graduate Show 2017 – Fine Art

I have given quite a bit of attention this year to the 3-D objects. But the fine art remains the star attraction and it is fine indeed. As noted in my earlier post, I was a shade rushed, so my review is curtailed. Again, apologies to fine artists that I have not selected.

This year seems to me have been dominated by scale artwork. Big. There is also a good number of portraiture such as Jessica Zaydner’s work (above left). This is quite a face, despite its youth. There is something going on beyond the gaze, and I am not sure how good it is.

There is landscape as well, but not of the realist genre. The work of Bethany Carter is interesting here. Carter calls on influences from 1960s psychedelia to insist that we detach ourselves from our digital lives to think about the natural world. This psychedelic imagery spells out the interconnectivity between landscape and animals and what is natural anyway in the increasingly soiled environment “downtrodden” by human beings. Carter is asking a lot of questions in her work, not all of which I understand or agree with. But as a scale piece, A New Earth, works.

Next is the disconcerting work of Victoria Suvoroff (left). This piece belongs to her Phantasms show. Her work seeks to challenge gender’s social construction. The vehicle for doing this is to present body parts as phantasms (seen but not necessarily rooted in a physical reality). It is striking work.

Emily Alice Garnham’s work I picked out because of its allusions to one of my own favourite artists, Paul Nash. Nash drew on his experience of war to paint is often disembodied figures. Garnham draws from urban landscapes.

Working from photographs the finished work is not a depiction of an existing cityscape. Rather it is the creation of what she calls “an original utopian scape”. The green hue alludes to the interaction between nature and concrete.

Lucia Hamlin (left) admits to grappling with being brought up as a catholic. She nicely brings together colour, history/archaeology and superstition. The history, it seems, tells us that extended craniums were often seen as belonging to gods or God-like figures. She makes her figures deliberately offensive and immature “as a dig at the narrow-mindedness of religion, and to put across the idea that God has stopped caring and is now mocking the obsceneness and immorality of modern humanity”. Hamlin’s work is on canvas and also as 3-D structure suitable for sharing a selfie (right).

Finally, my PhD many years ago was about railways in the UK. The logo for British Railways is a design classic. Two lines with arrows oppositely directed brilliantly captured the purpose of the railways, particularly in its modernisation phase after WW2. An artist (whose name I could not find) has taken this logo and embedded it in something slightly bigger. I leave readers this year with the BR logo and the songbird (left). Naturally, my favourite piece.