Monthly Archives: May 2012

Ticket Stub Blues: What? £6 for postage?? Sod off!

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My exposure to the live music experience is becoming quite limited these days. For instance, I even missed Dylan the last time he hit Wales and have found myself increasingly only stepping out for gigs at small venues with nice seats. Signs of getting older? Probably. In the past few years (say, about twelve), I have found that for every gig I love there are at least two more that turn into a disappointment due to things like over-crowding, venues that are like aircraft hangers, extortionate ticket prices, knobheads in the audience (plenty of these) and just plain crapness from the performers. Basically, I am reluctant to shell out hard earned cash for a second rate experience – even for my musical idol, Mr. Zimmerman. With all these things in mind, I decided it would still be a good thing to get tickets to see Patti Smith at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff – it’s a great venue, Patti is a legend and the last time I saw her there I really enjoyed myself (coming home home with a much treasured drumstick from the hands of Jay Dee Daugherty). I did even consider going along on my own, which is something I am rarely willing to do these days, having been depressed by being ‘Johnny No Mates’ at too many shows in the past. You can imagine my delight when my pal Paul said he’d like to go too. So, I check how to get hold of two tickets for Patti Smith at the Coal Exchange. T’would seem you can only get them via Ticketline. Okay, I thought, here goes. I check the details: £25 each (for standing) plus £2.00 admin fee each ticket. All right, that’s the way it is these days, so I begin to type in my details. At the end of this process, just as I’m about to commit, I note it says that tickets must be posted and this would cost a further £6.00! What?? £6.00 for putting two tickets in the post? Madness. Thus, no thank you very much and it’s a great shame we’ll be missing the great poetess of punk rock.

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Just a few of the punters at a recent gig at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Is it really worth all this dosh to see live bands? I appreciate the likes of Dylan and Smith are big names but even so. What’s worse is the sense I always get of being treated like cattle; herded into venues, prodded and poked and pushed by stewards and fellow members of the audience; feeling more like an inconvenience rather than a valued fan and customer. Some of the more intimate venues are still pretty good and I can report recent pleasurable experiences at the Aberdare Coliseum, Treorchy Parc and Dare, the Fleece and Firkin in Bristol and Cardiff’s much missed Globe but I ain’t paying a heap of dough for a few hours of ritual humiliation and extortion. £100 to see Van the Man, anyone?

Some Entertainment (1)

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Pogle’s Wood (1966)

This was my favourite TV show when I was about five or six years old. It’s magical, haunting and just a little bit mad. The Pogles were proto-hippies, living the life of the rural idyll, away from the prying eyes of humans. I am still haunted by the memory of the dream I had about joining them on a quest to a dark castle when I was a mere cub. I awoke trembling in fear and had to creep into my mum and dad’s bed. I couldn’t stop shaking all night and was only comforted by my parents singing Adge Cutler and The Wurzels’ ‘Drink Up Thy Zider’ to me. I kid you not. Of course, it didn’t put me off the Pogles.

As I Please: Rave On, George Orwell

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To begin at the beginning…well you have to start somewhere so it might as well be here. Yes, I’ve had innumerable blogs; some have lasted, others have barely got off the ground. Presently, I do either solely write or contribute to four web-logs other than Rick Wakeman’s Cape. I know that you’re going to say, ‘That’s a little unnecessary isn’t it, Singing Bear?’ but I am often prone to logorrhoea, which I understand has now been given its own classification by the World Health Organisation, so I have an excuse.

Why jump on board with this one? Firstly, in order to team up once more with my old pal, The Wizard of Ooze, who knows more about the music and the stuff that matters than any other person I’ve ever encountered. Secondly, to find a way of considering some things that I do not have scope to examine in my other projects and thirdly, to have another reason to mention all the stuff I do already talk about on yet another web page.

Do I hear you ask, ‘So what is it that interests you, Mr. Bear?’ I’ll tell you. Obviously, music will always be my main focus, having spent the past forty odd years obsessing about the stuff. When I say ‘music’ I mean a whole lot of things – pop, rock, prog, folk, reggae, soul, psychedelia, funk, jazz and beyond, as long as it’s hot. Be warned, these days, I am pretty ‘old school’, so you may not find too many insights into the works of the latest things in Dub Step or Screamo (heaven forbid!) but you never know. I was thinking the other day of how music has actually been the biggest educator in my life as it has also lead me on to art, poetry, books of all kinds, philosophy and just about anything that’s worth talking about. I probably learnt more through reading the NME in the 70’s and 80’s than all the formal education I received at the hands of the state. That’s not to say that I think the likes of Paul Morley, Nick Kent or Charles Shaar Murray are great pedagogues but just by following clues in interviews and reviews I think I managed to give myself at least a little learning. Having said that, I must acknowledge the frightening amount of damage my musical interests have probably done to both myself and those around me. It’s all Yin and Yang, maaan. Where am I going with this? Just to say that I will basically follow the example of one of my heroes, George Orwell, and use this space to write ‘as I please’. See you soon.

By Way Of Introduction

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I’ve been blogging on and off for nearly twelve years now. I started off as part of the Triptych Cryptic team, then started a ‘solo’ blog, 21st Century Schizoid Man, in late 2000. “Schizoid Man” wound down in 2004 and then Pond Of Tunes was hatched. I was joined on “P.O.T.” by my mate Singing Bear and my goodwyf, Flaming Pixie. We’d all met at The Flaming Lips BBS in the early Noughties.

“P.O.T.” lasted a couple of years and then we all decided to move on to a new blog–and then Blog Is Not A Four-Letter Word (title by Pixie) became our new venture. Singing Bear decided to head off to start up a number of solo blogs with great titles and ace music content and I continued on with “Blog Is Not..” for a time.

I started a music podcast in 2008 and that left a lot less time for blogging and the last couple of years I posted less and less, until finally pulling the plug on “Blog Is Not..” late last year. The podcast is here, if you want to check it out.

In any case – this is just another blog from me an’ S.B., posting on stuff we find interesting. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting as well. To the Yes fans that stumble in here, it’s not really a Rick Wakeman tribute site, though I suspect the “Grumpy Old Keyboard Wizard” will feature in some of the topics. It’s also not a Yes news-site. You’ve got Yesworld and all the other sites for that. Let’s get this party started!

Simian – The Wisp: