Call me an old fuddy duddy, but there’s precious little new music that excites me these days.
In all honesty, I’m extremely unlikely to be seduced by what Kerrang! Magazine tells me is essential listening – and that’s been the same way with that publication for the last decade at least. Even Classic Rock’s free CD’s fail to sway me in any new band’s favour, and I’m supposedly ideal target audience for that magazine. I’ve heard Airbourne before, ditto Buckcherry et al – I’m sucker for melody and punch, and usually you get too much of one at the expense of the other in rock and metal’s modern era.
Therefore, thank your lucky stars that Foo Fighters are still around.
I remember hearing them for the first time just after their 1st single was released in the mid 90’s. Popping into Discovery Records in Solihull one weekday afternoon, the fella behind the counter beckoned me over saying “Here Ian, listen to this – Dave Grohl’s new band has covered a KISS tune!”
That as you can imagine was all the encouragement I needed, but I did slap the headphones on with some trepidation. After all, when he was part of Nirvana, Grohl and his former bandmates had covered ‘Do You Love Me’ for the ‘Hard To Believe’ tribute LP – and covered it with no small amount of irony and, frankly, pisstake.
As it turned out, the Foos had recorded a version of ‘Ozone’ of Ace’s Frehley’s 1978 solo album as a bonus track on the single and it was a really faithful and respectful version compared to the song I’d heard before. A week later, I’m round at my mate Gray’s house after a heavy night on the razz at XL’s nightclub and he played me the debut album in his entirety at 3am much to the chagrin of his then (and soon to be ex) girlfriend upstairs in bed.
The story goes that Grohl had recorded pretty much everything himself on the album in 2 weeks – you couldn’t make out many of the lyrics, but the riffs and melody were undeniably good. So good, it made me immediately regret not seeing them at Reading that year where they played away from the main stage and caused a near riot with fans crammed into the Rizla Tent…or wherever it was they were put.
I put that right (along with Gray) in 1997 when we saw them at Wolvo Civic Hall on the tour supporting their brilliant ‘Colour and the Shape’ album. Strange to recall that Gray and I were probably the oldest folk there (in our late 20’s as we were) whilst all around us, teenagers in Nirvana T-shirts that looked 7 sizes too big for them went mental all night. And rightly so – Foo Fighters were every bit as good as I’d hoped.
I’ve since proudly watched them grow as if they were one of my own children – the odd stumble, like an ill-advised slot supporting the reformed Black Sabbath at Milton Keynes Bowl, where they went on after Pantera’s blistering set and were too much at odds with the general ‘dark’ feel to the days’ music – but generally their rise has been fantastic to observe up close and personal.
There was an awesome night at Brixton Academy with a dual Grohl/Taylor Hawkins drum solo (like Genesis on steroids) their first triumphant UK arena show at the NEC and their recent “Echoes Silence Patience Grace” tour, to which my brother & I attended and loved every second. To get my brother to like modern rock is an even bigger challenge than to appease me given his jazz/fusion leanings, but he ‘gets it’ about the Foos just the same as I do.
As has been the case with ‘Wasting Light’ the new album that has made me forget iPod shuffle mode for the last month, which is no mean feat. Great song after bone-crunching song-one day I’m well into “Rope”, then it’s “These Days”, then it’s “White Limo” a tune that I’m convinced my old act Sons Of God could have written – my favourite changes with every listen through, it’s that consistent.
Just got to get to MK Bowl this time though…
The Europa League Final is a week away as I type this, and precious few people in this country are in the least bit interested in Porto vs Braga. What a desperate shame that such an attitude prevails. To paraphrase master Yoda, “That is why we fail”
Our closeted view on any aspect of European football that doesn’t include the British Isles is one of the reasons why we as a nation have failed to learn a single thing from successive World Cups and European Championships. I too had a blinkered outlook on games and cups which don’t feature our teams-but not that I have spent the last 4 years or so commentating on Champions League & Europa League fixtures for UEFA.com, I have been brought to my footballing senses.
The more I prepare notes and commentate on matches like, say, Besiktas/Dynamo Kyiv or CSKA Sofia/Rapid Wien, the more I know not only about individual players who may one day arrive in the Premier League or SPL, but also about systems, formations, tactical awareness and technique that other leagues possess – some of which are better than those we see week in week out here. Yes there are some dud fixtures - one I watched last season between Heerenveen and Ventspils was truly truly awful in terms of technique and spectacle – but for every one of those there’s a game like Porto’s semi final demolition of Villareal at the Dragao. Quite brilliant to watch, with so much to enjoy from both sides, even though the Spanish side capitulated so spectacularly after half-time.
I’m really looking forward to commentating on Porto take on Braga at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. It’ll be my first major final as a commentator and a huge responsibility but it’s such an intruiging matchup – Villas Boas has done the most extraordinary job elevating Porto to a level where they seem almost invincible domestically (just don’t compare him to Mourinho) and yet Braga could easily upset them on the night. The Arsenalistas played with such heart to knock out Benfica in the other semi, and they’ll approach the final in much the same way.
Do me a favour in you’re in any way into your football and watch the final on 18th May – take a look at Falcao’s predatory instinct for Porto in the box; at Vandinho’s tireless efforts in the Braga midfield; at Moutinho’s creativity and passing for Porto…and so much more.
Of course, the mighty Blue machine have had their UEFA licence granted to play in Europa League games next season, after a load of negative headlines and sabre-rattling over our right to obtain such a licence. Well, we have it now so that’s that. I will, however, ask the board to start making things clearer to the fans about who truly holds the purse strings and therefore wields the power. Too many rumours and counter-rumours about mystery figures with all the real executive power. Cloak and dagger does not work with fans, nor with the authorities. Let’s be crystal clear with how our finances are structured and maybe, just maybe, the silly stories will stop.
It is a very different board in one way to the previous one – Messrs Gold & Sullivan are now deep in the mire at West Ham and fast learning that you cannot run a club like that as publicly as they did at Blues. Not because West Ham are in any way a bigger club – I don’t buy that one bit – the problem is that West Ham have so many supporters in the national written press and in broadcast media that any daft Sullivan outburst and subsequent Gold denial/retraction is amplified by the red tops and Sky Sports News far more than in their St Andrew’s days.
Whether relegation (if it happens) will temper their spiky attitudes to rubbing players, supporters and fans up the wrong way remains to be seen – I very much doubt it.
Finally, talkSPORT have won the UK Station Of the Year award at the Sony’s, radio’s version of the Baftas in London last Monday night. Vindication for the way we go about our business as a station and hopefully we will go from strength to strength and make more great radio. Being at the centre of our World Cup coverage in South Africa was a real thrill for me personally, not to mention the way my Football First show is seeing a huge growth in audience. Now to make sure I get a personal invite to the Sony’s next year – with a nomination of my own. Well – you gotta have goals, eh? In every sense!! :o))
And if I was ever lucky enough to be a recipient, I would make darn sure I wouldn't misplace it whilst staggering around the South Bank in the dead of night, as one of our number did with our Gold award for station imaging. No-one knows where it is now - if only Pickles from 1966 was still with us...he'd track it down...