Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lady Gaga Live: Slick, Shambolic and Stunning

Still can't quite believe that I saw Lady Gaga live in concert last weekend. I won't go into it now but safe to say I've been a huge Gaga fan since mid 2008 and I've watched her blow up in the last 18 months and loved every second of it. To finally see her live show was a real treat particularly as her first night in Dublin was only the second night of the newly re-jigged arena size version of The Monster Ball tour.

Unsurprisingly for someone who has made her name on outlandish costumes, performance art pretensions and stellar pop songs there was plenty to enjoy about the show. I loved the stage, it was quite simple but managed to fit in alot in terms of props. On tracks like Alejandaro and Love Game the props and lighting worked to spectacular effect to create stark but effective backdrops for the action. The concept of the show was part musical, part pop extravaganza and all Gaga. The basic story is of Gaga on her way to The Monster Ball and the dark things that happen all the way. Cue hokey dialogue and excuses for dance routines. It works but just about. The lines seem like a deliberate play on the programmed patter of most pop shows and when it works it really works. When it doesn't it's still quite amusing. I never thought I'd hear Lady Gaga say "Oh no! A TWISTER!" on stage but I did and it was fantastic.

Other highlights? So Happy I Could Die got across the sense of isolation and desperation in a supposedly happy club scene by elevating Gaga in a S&M style dress above the whole arena. Telephone was straightforward pop amazingness with a blindingly good dance routine and Paparazzi with it's actual on stage monster was an unbelievably striking set piece. And Bad Romance was suitably epic.

There were some niggles though. The interludes between songs were stunning pieces of high fashion pretentiousness that were beautiful to look at. But there were obvious gaps where the video wouldn't play quickly enough. Between the 2nd last song and the closing number there was a two minute gap that felt like it was in by mistake. Those odd gaps tarred an otherwise slick show.

Still even with such minor faults this is a stunning piece of pop entertainment meets high brow musical theatre. It helped that I saw with a crowd that proved just how rabid Gaga fans are. Singing along to album tracks almost as loudly as the singles there was a real sense of excitement about the place extending even to the support acts Semi Precious Weapons and Alphabeat.

It's quite staggering to think that this is the fourth tour by Lady Gaga in as many months. Between that convention busting videos, endless hit singles and mind bogglingly extensive wardrobe The Monster Ball is the icing on an already satisfying pop cake. Let's hope and pray this show gets immortalised on DVD.

The Meteors 2010: Hanging Out Backstage and Such

I was lucky enough to get to head along to the Meteor Ireland Music Awards last Friday. It's hard to believe the show is now in it's 10th (!) year but there you go. It's fast become a key part of the Irish music calendar attracting lots of press and international stars. This year's heavy hitter was no doubt Florence and the Machine. Everybody was talking about her, in the backstage media area she made many stop and gawk while she rehearsed her soundcheck. She looked like a knock out too. The Temper Trap, Dizzee Rascal, Pixie Lott, The Script were all there too.

Thanks to IMTV I got to head down to the show and do some interviews and help the team out in nabbing as many celeb interviews as possible. The Orange Carpet was actually great fun. It was a tad stressful but I did like how polite everyone was. There was none of the shoving/elbow in the face drama I had been expecting! 

It was a bit weird seeing the array of local and international celebs (of varying degrees of fame) in the flesh. Many of them looked better than on the telly. I'm not going to go into the who looked best in what when it was covered with such wit on Stylebitches but I will say this: Grainne Seoige looked HOT. That is all.

The media room was totally different though, at times a bit of a nuthouse. Lots of "PIXIE ONLY HAS TWO INTERVIEWS SCHEDULED, PLEASE STEP AWAY" moments (I'm of course exaggerating, I don't envy PRs and their ridiculously tough jobs at all) and then loads of people who'd happily amble over for a chat. Wallis Bird was a good example, a real sweetheart and in obvious shock about having won again. 

I really enjoyed it I must say. The lovely Helen O' Reilly nabbed some interviews with the likes of The Coronas, Bell X1 and Una Healy of the Saturdays (at one point I thought they were going to go to the bathroom and do their makeup together, they were getting along that well!). Katie Smyth of Limehouse magazine, who is doing presenting work with IMTV, was hilarious too check out her interviews when they go up, she had me in stitches.

I was lucky enough to do some interviews too, starting off with Katherine Lynch on the Orange Carpet who I made a complete tool of myself in front of. Honestly, I thought I'd peaked when I started singing S Club 7 before the celebs arrived (I'm. Not . Joking) but that interview was even worse. Following that I had a chat with a few others. 

Ray Foley of Today FM, who won his category AGAIN (nice one) who was very sweet and seemed a bit nervous. 

Mark Feehily of Westlife was very polite but kept saying things and looking off into the middle distance. I.e. "Well, I would say to Jedward and them to just enjoy it because it went awful fast for us and we didn't really get to enjoy it like .." *middle distance gaze* I kept thinking I was going to have to pat him on the shoulder. It was odd.

Inside the interview bunker (as I've now christened it) I grabbed some face time with Michelle Heaton who was actually very nice. She came across like a real grafter and she obviously missed her days with Liberty X. Alphabeat were very polite and friendly and awfully beautiful (the cheekbones! honestly). Their new album is also AMAZING, just to point out. There was also a hilarious "interview" I did with Louis Walsh and Sinitta who were clearly out for a good time and not really a chat. Sinitta's legs are incredible, that was all I really took away from our brief time together.

There were other classy moments throughout the evening including eating too many mini sandwiches and indulging in antics like this with Blanaid Hennessy:

Overall I had a fantastic night and can't wait for the next one. The show itself was slick and enjoyable and I think all involved should be commended for keeping this show running for so long and with such success. And for not kicking me out for singing S Club on the orange carpet. How nice of them. And for letting me spend my Friday night getting up to this kind of carry on:

The videos will be going up over the course of the next few weeks but you can see the first of the interviews below where I have a natter with Alphabeat about Lady Gaga, DJing and the 90s sounds on their current album:

(photos nicked from Straywave CEO Stephen McCormack's iPhone snaps)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Brits Chit Chat

Well at this stage the dust is settling on The 30th Annual Brit Awards. Like all big music award shows it's an bloated and slightly lumpy beast but this year did throw up some gems. Check out the full list of winners here, some nice choices. JLS winning might have meant some turned up noses but it's a fair marker of their huge popularity with the UK pop audience in the last few months, while Florence and the Machine taking Best British Album for Lungs will assure that the album will have chart legs for months to come. As a big Gaga fan (how surprising) it was genuinely great to see her pick up an award in all of her categories, not least Best International Album. Her genuine emotion during the speech was touching too:

Of course she also performed, an unusual but powerful mix of Telephone on the piano and my personal fave from The Fame Monster, Dance In The Dark. A stark, moody performance dedicated to Alexander McQueen it offers up some juicy hints at what to expect from The Monster Ball when it rolls into Dublin this weekend (excitement!). Of all the other performances and moments there were a few I found interesting.

The Spice Girls winning for most memorable performance was sort of a token award that didn't mean a whole lot but the whole thing was funny. Sam Fox making a tit of herself (what else is new) and Geri and Mel B turning up to split the award. Mel is great, charming and funny and obviously glad to be there. And that hair works way better on her than it should! Geri on the other hand seems a bit blah on the whole thing. I love the bit where she goes to take the mic off Mel but Mel isn't ready to hand the mic over. Priceless. 

Lily Allen looked amazing and seemed to compliment the perfectly engineered madness on stage quite well. It was a neat reminder of what a year she's had and what a triumph that second album It's Not Me, It's You was, moving her from promising newcomer with huge hits to a bonafide British popstar. The Fear still remains a fantastic pop single, equal parts wistful, angry and utterly utterly catchy.

Dizzee Rascal and Florence and the Machine pulled off their performance of You've Got The Love with aplomb. I wasn't quite sure how this one would work (particularly with awful memories of that lame Beyonce/Outkast "performance together" a few years ago) but overall it really did. Florence was charismatic and effortless, a perfect conduit for the simple but effective staging and inevitable glitter at the close. Dizzee's rap was a nice compliment to the track and their back and forth movement on stage felt like a nice spin on the usual "rapper performers with singer performing the hook" dynamic. And it was certainly more interesting than Jay Z and Alicia Keyes who while perfectly enjoyable failed to top their VMA performance.

Cheryl Cole of course picked up alot of the tabloid coverage today. Truth be told her performance was a perfectly watchable pop romp but one that could have worked better. The different parts were excellent in terms of staging, the Michael Jackson style opening with the white coats and THAT single, the rather effective Show Me Love breakdown and sliding back into the remainder of Fight For This Love. The dancers were on point and visually it worked. But Cheryl herself seemed off. Her vocal seemed to veer from a bad prerecorded vocal and obvious miming to the original track which was confusing. 

And there was a slightly lacklustre air about the way she was hitting some of those moves too which is a shame. The great appeal of Cheryl for so many is that her emotions are always hugely present to what she is doing. It works well on the X Factor where if she's upset she's REALLY upset. If she's proud she's REALLY proud. But when those nerves kick in it makes her REALLY nervous. And the knock on effect is obvious. Of course it won't stop the Cheryl juggernaut from rolling on but you can't help but feel that sometimes when Ms. Cole says she misses her bandmates, she really isn't lying.

Robbie Williams closing the show was alot more fun than I was expecting. It's easy to write the man off but there is a catalogue of amazing pop songs that he brought to life that make him impossible to ever truly dismiss. Angels may have become lambasted as a karoke favourite/wedding song but that's only because it's genuinely great. It remains to be seen whether or not he can truly turn around the general sense of him being past it in the eyes of media types/the general public but this performance is a good start. The performance is in two parts here and here

With that another big music award show out of the way. I'm curious to see how this weekend's Meteor fare in comparison at least!

They won't top that Mel B/Geri golden moment, unless there's an Emma Bunton / Mel C pairing I'm unaware of :

That's the kind of thing I live for when it comes to Awards show. Take note The Oscars.

Marina and the Diamonds: Album Launch and Brief Encounter

At this stage I'm sure many of you have heard of Marina and the Diamonds, one of the 2010's most exciting musical prospects. Brainy, quirky pop with a powerful mix of mainstream appeal and individual charm it wouldn't surprise me if her album The Family Jewels became something of a chart behemoth this year.

A sure sign of the impact of Marina on her already wide group of fans, Dublin club night Listen | Love are holding an album launch tomorrow night (Thursday the 18th) at the Chocolate Bar in Tripod. Organised by fans for fans (old and new) it's a chance to hear a genuinely great new pop album in the rather lovely settings of the Chocolate Bar. There'll be two plays of the album, tunes selected by Marina herself (I've had a sneak peek and she's picked a typically interesting but rather good mix!) and plenty of guest DJs including the wonderful Joey Kavanagh and Eimear Fitzmaurice of Come As Soon As You Hear taking over duties in the Chocolate Bar post Marina album (expect more than a fair share of great remixes and hidden gems). 

Not only that but I'll kicking off things in Crawdaddy from 11pm with a bit of a DJ set, followed by other fab DJs including Rich JC of Supersuperdisco (who I'm playing with this Saturday, do come along!), Aine Macken of Áit Ait and Peter Fingleton of C U Next Tuesday. There is also a bucket load of cheap booze, lots of Marina goodies and a general air of all around mischief.

If all that weren't enough (you greedy sod) there is also this rather lovely promo that myself and Helen O'Reilly of IMTV shot with the lady herself last week in Dublin (with thanks to both Listen | Love and Warner Music Ireland for having us in). We only had Marina for a brief few minutes in a rather hectic press day. She was very polite, professional and seemed very focused. I caught her talking to her PR about her other interviews that day. She was gracious and friendly but also wary of interviewers trying to portray as something she wasn't. It was nice to see that the intelligence of Marina's music was more than evident in person. And all that and she is awful pretty too. You can't quite see it in the video but her outfit was pretty fierce also.

Anyway enough droning on, check out the video below and do say hello if you make it to Listen | Love tomorrow!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

90210: How To Slowly But Surely Make A Mildly Interesting Teen Drama

Gosh it feels like forever since I last blogged (isn't that the biggest blogging cliche ever? Oh what a great start we're off to). I want to say that I've been uber busy with my schedule of working for Style Nation/IMTV, doing yoga/dance/acting classes (I'm improving my mind), other writer-y things and DJing but another reason I have not blogged is because of this boxset:

That's right.  That's RIGHT.

In my defense I won this boxset courtesy of the lovely Teen Today and decided to give it a go. I'd seen a bit of the show on TV but never really given it a chance. I'd heard mixed reports but the general consensus was that it got better as it went on. With that in mind I decided to tuck in.

Eh I won't even try and admit that the first 12 or so episodes aren't quite dull. There are a pile of characters, many of whom are totally undefined and uninteresting. And the appearance of older characters may make tickle the fancy of nostalgia fiends but it makes the younger characters even more dull.

The basic plot follows earnest youngesters Annie and Dixon as they move from Kansas to Beverly Hills when their Dad takes the principal job at West Beverly High (his old alma matter). Plenty of ridiculous scenarios abound as the good kids get sucked into the not so safe world of big bad Beverly Hills. Well not really. Unlike say, Gossip Girl which wears its decadence like a badge of honour, 90210 feels oddly neutered in this respect. For example, there's an odd moment in the first episode where one of the main characters obviously gets a blow job from a random girl, an attempt to shock but one dealt with in such an awkward way that it just feels stupid. This uneven tone makes the first half of the season an uneasy watch.

There is a glimmer in all those initial episodes though. Anna Lyne McCord as bad girl Naomi (above) is clearly in a different show to the rest of them. She gets the soapy/campy relish that this show needs and is happy to ham it up big time. She also makes Naomi both a power bitch and a loyal friend, a trick that doesn't always work on teen dramas. She also has a knack for picking the hottest guys on the show which makes her ten times more interesting than the rather drippy Annie, the show's inane lead character (below).

Around episode 12 it finally starts to pick up with some character development thrown around and a sense that things are finally coming together. I'm on episode 17 now and genuinely starting to enjoy the cocktail of ridiculous plots, break ups and make ups and the enjoyable feel of a teen drama doing what it does best: having fun. 

I'm well aware that with a new season of Lost, a stockpile of boxsets to watch (including Damages Season 1 & 2 which I'm excited by) and a load of other things to catch up on I should be watching something with more weight. But sometimes you can't beat a good teen drama or watching one slowly come together. All that and I'm loving the theme song. Those opening chords, beautiful!

90210 Season 1 is available on DVD now and the second season airs on E4 Tuesdays. Despite my initial reservations it's well worth a look, there is plenty of good teen drama fun to be had with this one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lindsay Lohan is a Celebrity Hoarder (and/or Desperate for Press)

I don't think I needed convincing that Lindsay Lohan was a bit of a mess. Whether you take your cues from I Know Who Killed Me, that hilarious but slightly sad video for Funny or Die, the various desperate Tweets (like the time she gave out to her ex Samantha Ronson for ignoring for all the world to see. Juicy) or her genuinely haggard appearance (see below) and it feels a bit like Miss Lohan is officially on the Hollywood scrapheap. Perhaps her role in Robert Rodriguez's "Machete" next year will improve things.

Still in the meantime I spotted this gem thanks to The Style Bitches. Lindsay appears on US entertainment show The Insider because her house is a mess, there are clothes everywhere and it seems to be driving her insane. It's kind of hilarious in that trashy way most of these things are. The comical carry on of Nicey Nash and the sight of a once potentially huge star now just living in a shell of a house with a load of clothes. But it's also quite sad too. Lohan still has buckets of potential as an actress and to think that somebody let her do this is quite disappointing. Part one is below, with part two here and the third one due next week. At this point I half expect Lindsay to get her own reality show. How exciting.

Is it wrong that I'm finding this quite addictive? Despite the fact that the whole thing is essentially Lindsay looking uncomfortable (and old beyond her years) and trying to justify having loads of clothes... actually of course that would be addictive. Also I think it might be time for Linds to stop having this as her signature pose:

Just saying!

Jedward Unleash Their Music Video

At this stage I'm a tad reluctant to mention Jedward again given how often they've been cropping up here on the blog. But then I think about their debut music video, with it's ridiculous dance sequences, Vanilla Ice looking like he walked in from a guest stint in Limp Bizkit (Remember them? Shudder) and the general typically Jedwardian ramshackle air I can't resist.

 It's no Bad Romance video but it is QUITE entertaining. Watch it here.

In a word? AMAZING.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Young Folk Rough Up Dublin Theatre

It's not really a secret or a surprise that for most young folk the thought of a trip to the theatre is not usually cause for excitement. Maybe you've horrible memories of that production of King Lear you were dragged to all those years ago or just think the play themselves won't speak to you. That isn't a million miles from how I feel myself.

Thankfully because of the work of numerous disgracefully talented young folk in Dublin this notion is being challenged. A good example of such an attempt is THEATREclub whose production "Rough" caused something of a storm at the Absolut Fringe Festival last year. 

Describing themselves as "raging" that many young people aren't into theatre they're aiming to bring "Rough" to Ballymun this month. The play is about "taxi's, downing double vodka and waking up in someone else's suburbs." Which sounds both realistic AND entertaining

Not only are they bringing the show to Ballymun they are also doing workshops and auctioning off the vintage pieces featured in the show. AMAZING.

For more on this production just check out the website for Axis Ballymun. I'll see you there! I can't wait to get all cultured. Or at least blag myself a nice vintage leather jacket.

Pop Culture Platinum Goes On The Airwaves!

Far be it from me to shamelessy plug myself on a blog (I wouldn't dream of it) but just wanted to let you know that this month I will be co-hosting the Venntertainment radio show on 2XM this month. Venntertainment is a pop culture blog I'm now contributing to also alonside helping out with the radio show. Expect plenty of the same stuff you'll find here but to the power of eleven. And maybe with a little less on The Hills.

And speaking of the blog check out my first post here

The show airs on 2XM on Monday's at 12:00 with a repeat on Friday's at 19:00. And lo and behold there'll be a podcast for those of you who like their radio on demand, just visit Venntertainment after the show airs to get your hands on it.

Get in touch with me if you want us to talk about anything. Be it Heidi Montag or great films of our time. Whatever!

Monday, February 1, 2010

AMAZING Jedward Video Alert!

I love the new Jedward single. As in, LOVE it. Not ironically. Not in a "oh dear it's awful but I can't stop" way. I just love it. It makes me smile. I think this might become a song I can put on whatever happens in my life and I will smile.

They're all over the place and at this stage you've probably seen their appearance on Johnathan Ross. If not watch it immediately it is comedy gold. I also love their big blow out performance from the National Television Awards awhile back. Stellar.

But in anticipation of the release of their new single the boys are all over Twitter. Where they just released this video which is basically an extended ad for why you should buy the single. Not that I needed convincing!

It is priceless. I like the before and after moments delivered in that still brilliant faux American Irish teenager accent, the "on air, on air" bit clearly filmed on the hop in some radio station and the bit at the end where they break character to discuss air conditioning. And the fades! Stunning. If only they'd used star wipes.

Enjoy, this feels like a glorious moment in pop culture history. I'll be telling the young folk about these two for years to come: