Wednesday, June 17, 2009

iPod Touch 3.0 - First Impressions

Well, for once I am disappointed! Granted, I am using an old 1st Gen iPod Touch but for that reason I had to pay €7.99 to get the update, and what do I have to show for it...
  • Shake to shuffle (like I will really use it)
  • Cut & Paste (that is cool!)
  • Spotlight search
  • Landscape keyboard
  • I can download movies directly, if there were movies available in iTunes in Ireland
  • Sync notes. I thik this ability will come in handy.
And I think that's about it!

Here is the link with all t he details from apple

Comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tesla, Journey, Witesnake & Def Leppard Live at the O2 Dublin - June 12th 2009 - The Review

Last Friday I ventured to the O2 for the first time since it reopened at the end of last year. What a change! It really is a magnificent arena for rock concerts. It has a capacity for 14,000 people and it is perfectly designed to ensure that you have the best experience while you are there. It really is miles apart from the old Point Depot. Now, if it only had a proper car park.

With 4 acts on the bill, the show started promptly as advertised at 5:45 when Tesla hit the stage. I was trying to get my backstage passes (more on that later) so I missed the first couple of songs of the set. It had been years since I last heard them. They didn't disappoint, even if the place was only about 60% full, they gave it all. They played for about 45 minutes, and their set included the classics Signs and Love Will Find A Way. In typical 80's rock fashion, at some point Frank Hannon was playing an acoustic guitar on a stand while holding a double neck SG! You can almost make it out on the picture if you squint a little bit.

Journey came out at around 6:45 and played close to 60 minutes, you can see the setlist on my previous post. A much shorter set than the one on the National Stadium last year. I think Arnel Pineda is getting better and better. It sounded fantastic, but I was left wanting a bit more. The highlight was obviously Don't Stop Believin'. The place was about 95% full by the time Journey came out, and it was great to hear the whole place singing along with them.

On came Whitesnake. The reviews on the web are a bit mixed. Those who liked them didn't like Def Leppard and Journey, and vice versa. I fall on the later camp. I have never liked Mr. Coverdale, and he didn't do anything on Friday to change my mind. The highlight for me was a little bass solo at the beginning of Is This Love. We ended up getting up and going out to get a beer and a hot dog.

We decided to chance it and get downstairs to see Def Leppard, we had backstage passes after all! We found a perfect spot on the left hand side of the stage. I had tickets to see Def Leppard for the Adrenalize tour in the early 90's, but I ended up being sent on a business trip and had to give them away. I started listening to Def Leppard in the mid 80's when Pyromania came out and then a bit later with Hysteria. I used to simply love those records. I had forgotten all about it, but Friday reminded me just how much I did.

Def Leppard are the ultimate hard rock professionals, their sound was really tight and clear. For the most part, Joe Elliot is still well able to reach the high notes and bring the audience along with him. I was particularly impressed with Vivian Campbell's playing. As a kid, when Hysteria cam out, I wanted to see Rick Allen play live on that fancy drum kit of his... he didn't disappoint. He is not the fastest drummer in the world but he has a punch that cuts through the music and holds the songs together. The setlist was a good mix of old and new. In particular, the second part of the show was very strong. You can see the full list on my previous post as well. Highlights for me were Armageddon It (my favourite DL song!), Animal, Rock of Ages and Photograph.

To top it all up, and if seeing three great bands on stage in one night wasn't enough, thanks to my brother, who met Rick Allen as a result of some charity work they have done together through their charities The Raven Drum Foundation and Fogo es Fuerza, I got back stage passes for the meet and greet after the show. Rick came out to meet us and had a chat with us about the concert. A true gentleman, despite the fact that it was nearly 1 o'clock in the morning he still spent some time talking to us about the show. He was very tired, and I was too cool to bother him asking to take a picture with me... now, that was stupid!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Julie Feeney, Pages Live at Crawdaddy - June 10th, 2009 - Review

This was a fantastic week from the musical point of view. Two concerts, one intimate and one huge, eight acts over three days.

It all started with Julie Feeney's concert to promote the release of her second album Pages last week. As I have mentioned before on other posts, Crawdaddy is a fabulous place for an intimate gig like this. It only has capacity for about 300 people. There were tables on the ground floor and although the second floor was full I think there were only about 200 people in there. Most of them looked like family and friends, and a handful of loyal fans. Crawdaddy is the perfect place to see an artist like Julie.

The night started with Kevin Nolan (can someone confirm the name?) playing a couple of songs that he described as "dark fairy tales" . Although I enjoyed his music, his singing was, let me call it, non-conventional. Having said that, I will try to check him out later.

The second person on stage was Vertigo Smyth, definitely worth checking out. Again, he only played two songs and where incredibly powerful. You can listen to some of his songs on his website. I haven't checked whether he has released anything just yet. Let me know if you find anything.

Vertigo was followed by Size 2 Shoes, two brothers from Limerick that I can probably describe as the Irish Flight of the Conchords. Musically they are incredibly gifted, yet they don't take themselves very seriously. I thought they were fantastic. They do have an album out that you can get from their website. Definitely worth checking out.

Finally at around 9:30, Julie's musicians started setting up. She had 7 or 8 people on stage (was there someone to the left of Eugene?): Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Percussion, Trumpet and Flute. A guitarist joined her for one of the songs while Julie played the keyboards for the 13 Pages songs, and the Harmonium for Aching.

The concert started with the video for Love is a Tricky Thing. Afterwards we heard Julie singing a cappella, she started walking from the back heading towards the stage. She weaved through the tables as she was singing. She played a number of songs from 13 Songs on the keyboards before moving to the Harmonium to sing a beautiful version of Aching, followed by a very different arrangement of Alien where she sang accompanied only by her percussionist playing a Cajon. At some stage she spoke about the difference between her two albums and how Pages represents her current mood, definitely more lively!

After that she played all of the songs from Pages. Highlights for me included Mr Roving Eye Guy, Love is a Tricky Thing, Myth, and my favourite song from the album Impossibly Beautiful. Check my previous post with the setlist which I got from the stage. After the show Julie was signing copies of her album, as I had already bought it, I asked her to sign my ticket which she did. The handwriting was the same as the one on the setlist!

Every song was arranged differently. Julie's attention to detail definitely paid off. The arrangements took into consideration everything, even the place itself. For instance, on Valentine's Song, the trumpet player played from the second floor, while Julie sang from the middle of the ground floor without microphone. It was simply beautiful. One of my favourite arrangements was definitely One More Tune hard to describe, but just look at the musicians as I caught them in the middle of playing that song!

It was a fantastic concert, where the music was the main character. Brilliant music and extraordinary musicians enjoying themselves and really bringing the public along on their journey!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Def Leppard Live - The O2, Dublin - June 12th, 2009

Setlist from the Def Leppard show yesterday

C'mon C'mon
Make Live like a man
Too late for love
Nine Lives
Love bites
Rock on
Two steps behind
Bringing on the heartbreak
Switch 625
Armageddon It
Pour some sugar on me
Rock of ages
When love and hate collide
Lets get rocked

Update: I have posted a review of the show

Journey Live - The O2, Dublin - June 12th, 2009

Almost a year to the day I saw Journey for the first time, I saw them yesterday for the second time. Even better! I am glad I saw them last year because this was a shorter show and I would have been left wanting a lot of songs that they didn't play this time around. But Don't Stop Believin' sounded even better... if that's possible. No printout of the setlist this time, but here it is:

Separate Ways(World's Apart)
Stone in Love
Ask the Lonely
Change for the Better
DD Harp Segway (this time Neal used a mandolin rather than acoustic guitar)
Wheel in the Sky
Wildest Dream
Don't Stop Believin'
Anyway You Want It

Anybody got Def Leppards setlist from the concert?

Again, I will try to post a review later on.

Update: I have posted a review of the show

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Julie Feeney Live at Crawdaddy - June 10th, 2009 - Setlist

Here is the setlist for yesterday's concert. It was fantastic! I will do up a review at the weekend with some pictures. Hopefully my little camera worked OK as it was very dark.

I got the setlist from the stage handwritten by Julie, I will post a scan later on.
Update: I posted the setlist, please note that she changed things around a little bit!

Hiho - Julie a capella
You Broke The Magic
Wind Out Of My Sails
The Reaper
Aching (with Harmonium)

Nothing To Declare
Valentine's Song
Mr Roving Eye Guy
Life's Nudge
Knock Knock
One More Tune

Love Is A Tricky Thing
Impossibly Beautiful

2nd Encore:
One More Tune

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Julie Feeney - Pages. My first impressions

I finally got the long awaited (for me anyway) Pages last Friday when it was released here in Ireland. If you are in the UK you will have to wait another few weeks. I am afraid I am not sure when will it be released for the rest of the world.

As much as I liked 13 Songs, Julie's first award winning album, Pages feels like a far superior album. It is more coherent and consistent. Where 13 Songs was a collection of great tunes where each song stood on its own, Pages has a sense of purpose. 13 Songs was at times quirky and the arrangements a little overworked, Pages in turn is well structured and the arrangements let you appreciate the melodies for what they are. Each song flows from the previous with great ease. Julie says on the album notes that she spent a long time preparing for the album and working alone on it for most of 2008. The notes appeared last January on her blog and you can get a link to it from my previous post.

One of the things that you notice immediately is the orchestration. Julie worked very hard since the release of 13 Songs to improve her orchestrating and conducting skills. In my view it really paid off. The arrangements are beautiful and they support and lift the melodies. Some of the vocal harmonies are, well, just beautiful. Two songs jump straight away: 'Mr. Roving Eye Guy' and the aptly named ' Impossibly Beautiful'.

In terms of the orchestral arrangements, perhaps the best example is the opening track 'Love is a Tricky Thing' which you can download for free from Julie's website.

I already have my tickets for the show in Crawdaddy next Wednesday (June 10th, 2009). I am really looking forward to the show. I am wondering how will Julie be able to pack so much music in such a small stage!

If you are reading this outside Ireland and the UK, I really recommend you buy this album as an import from one of the online stores. Some details on the mittens website, the label that Julie setup to release her music. You won't regret it!