Thursday, July 23, 2015

Labour is doomed if Corbyn really is the answer

After last night's LBC Radio leadership debate I am starting to think that the UK Labour Party is doomed. Perhaps the best hope is the proposed party reform to trigger a new leadership election with a small amount of MPs' support (and possibly some members' backing too)....but only if the party thinks about the need to build a national (UK) coalition to win a general election and about who has the personality and intellect (gravitas even) to do it. This possibly means persuading/begging a few people to leave the back-benches/semi-retirement including Alan Johnson and David Blunkett. It certainly means thinking seriously about people like Hilary Benn. 

Corbyn "won" last night's radio debate because even a bearded prig from the old People's Republic of Islington (who like the other 3 hasn't had a real job in his life despite what they all claimed last night) can "do human". The other 3 forfeited their claims on this test, and confirmed that after the public revulsion at spin and expenses they still don't "get it", when they wouldn't answer whether they'd give Ed Miliband a job in the shadow cabinet that one of them will have to put together in 2 months time. 

I screamed at the radio at this point and almost voted for Jeremy on the spot. God help us (and I mean that).

There is a wider revolt going on and it's affecting the leadership election. The most democratic one ever (and perhaps that needs to be changed in the future too). Many of the new and old party members, quite a few of those who have bought their vote at £3 a pop in the appalling "registered supporters" scheme brought in by right-wing Labour lovers of US primary style elections, and no doubt a large number of the 50,000 plus trade union members (whose unions contribute to the Party) who are registering to vote individually, are in revolt. They are UK Syriza/Podemos/English SNP, and they aren't going to take it any more. And the three "serious" candidates still don't get it......

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Gecko rock in St Leonard's Hastings

Hastings and St Leonard's in East Sussex have a thriving music scene, and that's due in part to events like last night's Hastings Friendship Group gig. Held at Gecko’s, St Leonard’s in aid of Cancer Research, this was the latest in a series of charitable showcases for local acts.

Gecko’s Bar and Bistro is a regular venue for HFG events. It’s a nice place, seafront-facing and spacious. The beer is a bit pricey by St Leonard’s standards, but the food menu looked competitive. Full marks to Gecko’s for providing a platform for local musical and artistic talent (Paintings fill the main wall).

Tom Cole kicked the night off with a few nods to the Canada Day theme that Trevor Webb, the principal HFG organiser, was encouraging. His sensitive vocal and guitar style is well-suited to Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ and Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Early Mornin’ Rain’ and ‘Steel Rail Blues’. His own tunes, including ‘Ramblin’ Man’, are pretty good too. However when Tom re-interprets the old gospel and blues standard ‘In My Time of Dyin’ his performance is lifted to another level. If the makers of True Detective were putting that broodingly atmospheric, deep south, swampy TV drama series together now, they could easily include Tom on the soundtrack. His version of ‘In My Time of Dyin’ would sit proudly alongside the contributions of the Handsome Family et al.

Tom was followed by Eddy Odel. As it was privately observed on the night, “Eddy is good and he knows it.” He did exquisite versions of Hank Williams’ ‘Lovesick Blues’ and other vintage country and folk blues numbers. Eddy’s version of ‘Mr Bojangles’ brought tears to my eyes.

Wendy White and Nelson King are The Goo Goos, named presumably after the one-time American candy bar rather than “good government guys”. I’m told that Wendy has sung with Stone the Crows. She doesn’t look old enough to have performed with the legendary 1970s act. Maybe she gets mixed up with the (much older) Stone the Crows’ lead singer Maggie Bell who is still touring. Wendy has a similarly earthy, almost ballsy, white blues voice. That, and her and Nelson’s fast and furious electric mandolin playing, were used to great effect on a cover of the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want'. 

However we went from the sublime to the ridiculous when, being reminded of the loose Canada Day theme to the night’s proceedings, the duo covered Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of 69’. Don’t get me wrong, The Goo Goos did it very well. However ‘Summer of ‘69’ is one of the most appallingly bad songs ever written. It carries as much conviction and emotional substance as a Lynx deodorant ad. Mr Adams has always been a highly antiseptic performer anyway, representing everything that rock n’ roll should not be about. Despite that musical low, The Goo Goos were undoubtedly in fine form on the night. Their reinterpretation of the Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ rocked, and Wendy’s vocals on ‘Whole Lotta Love’ were impressive. 

Guitarists Peter Williams and Steve Avery had only played a couple of numbers when I had to leave. I’ve heard Pete and Paul Crimin (who played later) on one other occasion and like their vocal and guitar styles. From what I heard last night, Pete and Steve complimented each other nicely. Mike Guy was also scheduled to appear. Perhaps there was a further nod to other great Canadian songsmiths. After all, four-fifths of The Band were Canadian, and there is always Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and…. Justin Bieber.

I look forward to the other HFG gigs lined up throughout July and August.