Sunday, June 29, 2008

John Mayer is ambrosia to my ears

Listening to: 'Belief' by John Mayer [Continuum]

It almost didn't happen. Thanks to a right royal cock up with the tickets (which was nothing to do with me), I almost missed seeing John Mayer live. But luck was on my side, as the tickets landed in my friend's mail box at 1pm on the day of the gig. We got to the Brixton Academy at 7.30, and I had just about managed to start getting excited again, after pretty much giving up on my hopes of getting the tickets.

Now you might recall that my only previous gig experience was seeing Matchbox Twenty at Wembley. Brixton Academy is nothing like Wembley. Comparatively, the Academy is tiny. And it still has the trimmings of a former theatre, associated more with Shakespeare than Shakin' Stevens. The average age of the audience was about 30, which is a tad older than I'd expected. The supporting act was Jack McManus, who was pretty decent, but not spectacular...he could be a grower though.

And then he arrived. And the first thing I noticed were his arms. You kinda expect a hardcore blues-rock guitarist not to worry about going to the gym, but he clearly does. The second thing I noticed was his hair. Jennifer Aniston's obviously a better influence than Jessica Simpson (who seemed to be happy with him looking like Jack White). At least now he looks as hot as he's supposed to.

Once I had made these extremely superficial (but oh so necessary) observations, I moved on to the music. Oh boy. What came to mind over and over again throughout the gig was that John Mayer loves to play guitar. I know that sounds kinda obvious, but this guy loves to play guitar. So much so that my friend said he looked like he was making love to his guitar...and she wasn't wrong. The riffs were amazing. The vocals were amazing. The live arrangements were completely different to the album versions, but they were as good, if not better. He managed to move seamlessly from 'rock concert' mode (getting the crowd to sing the chorus of 'Bigger Than My Body') to 'blues performance' mode (with an amazing rendition of Duffy's Mercy - she should be honoured) and back again.

I suppose quite a few creative artists tend to be outspoken, and John Mayer proved to be no exception. The lyrics to his song 'Waiting on the World to Change' hint at political discontent, and he preceded his performance of the song with a little introduction:
This is a political song. I wanna say that everything is great back home. Everything is rosy back home, and I'll drink to that. [Drinks out of mug]
You can't print sarcasm!
(Maybe the Dixie Chicks should've spoken to him first?)

Another perfect gig. Maybe my favourite artists are really good performers, or maybe my expectations just aren't very high. Either way, it's got me waiting for my next dose of live music.

UPDATE: Apprently, Jen was there...and I didn't see her. Boo hoo :-(

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Want James McAvoy

Listening to: 'Back To You' by John Mayer [Inside Wants Out]

So in my last pseudo-movie review, I alluded to the fact that my next cinematic experience would be Wanted. And oh boy, was it an experience!

Let me start of by saying that this movie is not for everyone. If you're looking for romance...if you're looking for a meaningful, believable storyline...if you're looking for intellectual stimulation...look elsewhere. If, however, you're looking for Matrix with a far less prophetic Morpheus and a muuuuch hotter Trinity, if you're looking for one absolutely gorgeous viper (sorry, that's the best image I could find!)...if you're looking for adrenalin-pumping action from the word go until the very end...if you're looking for insane special effects...then this movie won't let you down.

I won't bother with the story, because that's what trailers are for (link to the trailer is on the imdb page linked to above). What I will bother with, are the things that were running through my mind as I walked out of the cinema:
  1. Overall, Mac did a good job of hiding the thick Scottish accent (that I love so much), but there were moments where it made brief peek-a-boos (or maybe that was just me hoping I'd get to hear it)
  2. Cheesy lines actually work in an action movie
  3. Angelina Jolie has way too many tattoos
  4. Mac shouldn't stop going to the gym
  5. I don't care if it's physically impossible to curve looks frikkin' awesome!
  6. By not having any romance between the lead characters (no, that's not really a spoiler), director Timur Bekmambetov (whose previous movies have all been Russian) went against a Hollywood golden rule: do not alienate key audiences/ticket-buyers (i.e. chick flick lovers)...but what he did do instead, was follow another (possibly more noble) rule: know what you do well, and stick to it.
As I said, this movie is not for everyone...but it was for me.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Worth the wait

Listening to: Radio 1

Coldplay have got their first #1 in the UK and are now at the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

What Kind of Movie-Goer are You?

Listening to: Radio 1

People watch movies for a variety of reasons. Some watch movies that have overall good reviews and are highly publicised; others like to go against the grain and watch movies that have virtually no publicity, but a few amazing reviews. There are those who watch film adaptations of well-loved stories, just because they want to compare the director's interpretation with their own. And then there are those who'll watch any movie with a actor/actress who is critically acclaimed...or incredibly hot. I'm not sure which group I belong to. I like to watch the summer/Christmas blockbusters at the cinema, but I'll shy away from any movie that has too much hype. I watch adaptations, but I try to watch them without comparing, 'cos I'll only be disappointed. And as for the actors...I'd probably only watch all their movies if they're critically acclaimed and incredibly hot!

Of course that's not the only way to categorise film audiences. I have friends who would not watch a rom-com even if their life depended on it. Other friends have the same attitude towards musicals...or horror flicks...or action movies...or movies with sad endings. Again, I'm not sure where I am on the spectrum. I love rom-coms and action movies. Not a fan of movies with gratuitous horror or gore though...I need a plot.

I think it all boils down to what you want out of a cinematic experience. What do you want to be thinking when you walk out of the cinema? I could think of the following options -
  • Hahahahahahaha!
  • OMG he/she is soooo delectable!
  • I loved the bit where he told her he loved her...made me cry!
  • Whoa the car chase was awesome!
  • La la la laaaa la la la...I am so getting the soundtrack!
  • Oh wow the bath scene was cool!
Yesterday, I watched a movie that didn't elicit any of these reactions...but I still liked it. Weird? Maybe. I walked out thinking "omg he is such a bastard!". The Edge of Love stars Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy and Matthew Rhys, and is a biographical account of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas' love life. Once you get past Keira's amusing Welsh accent and Cillian Murphy's spooky eyes, you can get stuck into the relationship between the characters, which could be considered twisted, to say the least. The acting was good, as was the direction, the soundtrack was well-suited, and the cinematography was pretty cool. If you like movies that explore human interaction at its least attractive level, you'll like this movie (oh wow, I should be a film critic :P ). If I were to describe the movie in 4 words - "1940's version of Closer".

I'm still not sure what kind of movie-goer I am. But what I do know is, my next cinema trip will be for Wanted - apparently James McAvoy takes his shirt off...wheeeeeeeeee!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In Search of Equilibrium...

Listening to: 'Nine in the Afternoon' by Panic at the Disco [Pretty. Odd]

...between what I think others expect of me, and what I can comfortably be
...between who I want me to be, and who I really am
...between what I wish I could achieve, and what is realistically possible
...between what I think is important to everyone else, and what is actually important to me
...between yearning to be loved, and learning to love myself

Is 'cutting your losses' just a euphemism for 'giving up'?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Can't Do Culture

Listening to: 'Mistress Mabel' by The Fratellis [Here We Stand]

There was an article on the beeb a few days ago, that spoke about how 'the British are uniquely happy to admit being bad at maths'. And then about half an hour ago, the DJ on Radio 1 confessed to being a horrendous cook. And it got me thinking...why are people so keen to embrace failure?

The article postulates that school children would probably do anything to avoid being labelled as a swot. While that can be understood in terms of avoiding the bullies, what about the same attitude in other avenues of life? Why do we not strive to improve our lives? Why are we so willing to sit around like lemons and blame everyone and everything around us? Binge-drinking is blamed on low-price supermarket alcohol. Debt is blamed on the government. Negative body image is blamed on celebrities. Why don't we exercise our willpower and resist the booze offers? Why don't we learn how to budget our expenses? Why don't we make sure that we're healthy and then love our healthy bodies, regardless of how others look? Why don't we try? Is it that cool to be inadequate?