Sunday, 7 October 2012

Talking Points #01

This is a new style of blog for me. Normally, or at least for the last year or so, I’ve found a topic and wrote a blog about this. This blog and future ones like it will be various talking points that have emerged. The thing to note at this point is I’ll be talking about things I either have some knowledge about, or I have an opinion on. There might just be one or two topics some times, and sometimes there maybe be five or six – it really depends what is going on. With that in mind, this is the first one, and there are five topics. I will sometimes include an odd story at the end although I don’t suppose I’ll have much of an opinion on that.

The first topic is one that is really very sad and that is the disappearance of April Jones from the small town of Machynlleth in Wales. There is not a massive amount I can say about this one other than passing on my best wishes to the family and hoping that April will be found alive and well. However it has to be said as each day passes; I am losing faith in that outcome. A man, Mark Bridger, has now been charged with her murder which indicates that the police don’t expect to find her alive. He has also been charged with perverting the courts of justice and child abduction – so if April is found alive, Bridger could still be punished if it is proven he is responsible for this evil crime. I just can’t imagine what goes through someone’s head just before they snatch, or try to snatch a child. This must be such a horrible time for April’s family and close family friends, but I can’t imagine the pain they must be suffering, knowing the only person arrested and charged was friends with April’s father. I said it earlier, but my thoughts are with her family and I really hope that she is found alive and well.  

Since last weekend (I think) and throughout this week, there has been a lot of talk regarding Jimmy Saville and the allegations that during his time at the BBC, he sexually assaulted teenage girls. Truth be told, I never really knew a great deal about Jimmy Saville before he died. I had heard about his charity works and that he was a little strange (keeping his deceased mother’s room [The Duchess’s Room] perfectly intact for example). I learned more about the man watching the Louis Theroux meets special about him. When the news first came out, I was surprised about it but the more I thought about it, and the more I thought about the information in the Louis Theroux show, it then occurred to me that perhaps this wasn’t so surprising. He discussed never having a girlfriend in the show. I remember not thinking much about it at the time but thinking back on it now, maybe the real reason for this was because he just wasn’t interested in being with a woman who was of age enough for her to be his girlfriend. I’m merely speculating here and I don’t know anything for sure. Other people have been implicated in this story now. Names such as Gary Glitter, Jonathan King and Freddie Starr have been dragged into this story. Are all these allegations true? It is hard to say.

What has come out of this story is that people high up in the BBC were more than aware of these allegations and may have had a hand in covering them up (one source even implicates them in adding and abetting them). That to me is shocking if that’s true and the BBC will have a lot of questions to answer. On Thursday’s BBC Question Time, Janet Street-Porter discussed how she knew about the allegations surrounding Jimmy Saville and others. She also discussed how she thought the women affected did not come forward as Jimmy Saville would/could hide behind his charity work and they would end up being thought of as liars. When discussing the BBC, she said that she could have bought the allegations up but the environment was “totally male”. This view of the BBC during this time has been backed up by a former Radio 1 (current 6 Music) presenter Liz Kershaw. Kershaw claimed she was fondled while on air and when she complained, the people she complained to clearly thought she was either lying or exaggerating, and said “don’t you like it? Are you a lesbian?” Obviously, a lot has changed in the BBC (or at least, I assume it has) but this story could be very damaging to the Corporation. If the allegations about Saville are true, then short of his reputation being damaged, not a lot can happen now he has passed away. If the allegations about the other people who are still alive are true, I hope they get prosecuted. If the allegations made against the BBC are true, well I can’t imagine what will happen. Obviously there will need to be prosecutions and a large amount of apologies – but that will be too little, much too late. What this story has proven, if true, is that there are different rules for celebrities than for normal people – and that is quite a sick state of affairs.

Changing the subject completely now, Jeremy Hunt this week has come out and said he would support changing the abortion limit should be reduced from 24 weeks to 12 weeks. He said his view was his own and it had been reached because of evidence, not because of his religious belief. I heard this story and sighed until I saw that it was not a policy being adopted by the coalition government. Thankfully, they are not planning to make the change. I saw a few tweets on the matter which made me smile.

I don’t know what Jeremy Hunt was thinking making this claim. That is a very controversial opinion for the Health Secretary to have. Well, in my opinion it is controversial anyway. I personally am pro-choice when it comes to abortion and I think that it should be entirely the pregnant women’s decision. I heard an argument recently saying a man who does not want the child should also have a say but I’m not entirely sure I agree with that. Here’s the thing – my opinion on this is basically invalid. I’m allowed to have one, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t mean a great deal as it’s not me who will be having the abortion. In the same week, the Women’s minister, Maria Miller, said she should support the limit being reduced from 24 weeks to 20. According to Sky News, 91% of abortions take place before 12 weeks anyway, but I feel that reducing the limit much beyond 24 weeks could be problematic. I think Hunt really should have kept his opinion to himself on this issue and if asked, should have given the politicians answer – I support the government’s position on this policy. Yes, he would have been given stick for giving the politicians answer, but I suspect that would have gone away a lot quicker than the criticism for suggesting quite a controversial policy.

It has been a strange set of affairs that we are unable to deport/extradite people from our country freely, especially when they have been accused of committing a crime or advocating acts of terrorism. I wonder if we are restricted in our freedom to deport/extradite people because we are members of the EU. Based on the fact appeals have gone to the European Court of Human Rights, I would guess that it is. If so, just another reason to consider leaving as far as I am concerned. But I’m not here to be all euro-sceptic right now; I’m here to say that finally, Abu Hamza and others have been extradited to face trial in the USA for crimes dating back to 1999. It really shouldn’t have taken over 10 years to complete this but it doesn’t matter – it is done now. He has been extradited alongside Babar Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan, Khaled al Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary. Reading the list of charges against each man, I am amazed it has taken so long to extradite them and again stress I am pleased to see them go. I just hope that in future, if we have a person living here who openly wants to commit acts of terrorism on the people here or elsewhere, it won’t take so long for justice to be served.

Is anyone at this stage surprised that Ashley Cole isn’t an excellent person? The report relating to John Terry’s FA racism case was released in the week, in which they said that Ashley Cole’s evidence had “evolved”. Ashley Cole, furious at this, tweeted the following:

Which let’s face it, probably wasn’t smart. But then, he isn’t really. Or if he is, he hides it really well. I saw a fantastic comment on the whole situation. “I think people are over-reacting over this whole Ashley Cole situation. I mean, it is not as if he has shot someo....oh”. I have very little else to say on this matter without ripping off the article Henry Winter wrote about John Terry and Ashley Cole. So here it is -


“A graduate has found a job with a difference - working as a human scarecrow.Real-life Worzel Gummidge, 22-year-old Jamie Fox spends his days sitting, reading and strumming his ukulele.But he leaps into action when birds begin to circle, scaring them with his bright orange coat, accordion and cow bell.Mr Fox, who studied music and English at Bangor University, is halfway through a fortnight-long stint scaring partridges from a field of oilseed rape near Aylsham, Norfolk.” (Sky News)

Well, I can’t fault Jamie for wanting to work. It is a bit of a strange job granted, but it’s doing something different and earning money. I have just noticed he almost gets paid as much as me which makes me a little bit sad but no matter. Pretty cool story all around I think.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Wacken Open Air 2013 - Early Days Preview

Wacken Open Air 2013 is sold out, and I will be in attendance for the 3rd year in a row. Sadly, I will be attending this festival alone, but no matter. They’ve announced a portion of the bands for the 2013 festival already and I will have a look at them now. Some of them were announced at the end of the 2012 festival, and some were announced in the last fortnight (ish). I will look at these in alphabetical order and just give a brief summary of what I think of them, and their announcement for Wacken 2013.

AMORPHIS – Before their announcement, Amorphis is a band I was not too familiar with. Following their announcement, I know a little more of their stuff. I am intrigued about how many different sub-genres of metal they cover (listening to a death metal song right now, but earlier I was listening to one of their more folk-metal songs). I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard and hope to catch them. As I understand it, they will be doing a full band set and also a special acoustic show. I don’t know if both will be do-able but I certainly hope so.

ANTHRAX – Anthrax are a solid booking for any rock/metal festival. I’ve seen them twice at festivals and really enjoyed them both times. They were booked for Download 2012 and I missed them in favour of Edguy. I suspect that if they clash with someone else I want to see, the end result will likely be the same – however this is because I am seeing Anthrax support Motorhead in November. Still, if there is no clash, I will see them and I will really enjoy it.

ARCH ENEMY – Arch Enemy are another solid booking for Wacken and I am looking forward to seeing them in mainland Europe as opposed to the UK, where they are undoubtedly a bigger band. I really want to see a headline show by this band, but their Wacken set will likely be the longest set I’ll have seen them perform, so that will have to do for now. Also, it makes me happy that Michael Amott is in the country and at the festival. ¼ of Carcass is there – go on Wacken, do the right thing ;)

ASP – I’ve seen ASP be described as “gothic novel metal” and “German gothic rock”. Personally, I think they give off a folk-metal vibe. Whatever genre they fall under, they seem pretty good to me and I am not against their booking for Wacken. I will try to catch them, assuming there is no clash.

BOB WAYNE – I’m not sure how I feel about this booking. I didn’t have a problem with The Boss Hoss playing the 2012 festival (even though due to weather issues, I didn’t end up seeing them). But I think that was because they do covers of famous rock songs (as well as some other stuff). Bob Wayne is a straight up country act from what I can tell, and I’m not sure how much of a place country has at a metal festival. I’m not overly interested in country music (I’ll make the odd exception here and there) so as a result. I don’t think I’ll be seeing Bob Wayne.

CANDLEMASS – I’m not massively into doom metal, but Candlemass interest me to the extent they are one of the early “must see” bands of this announcement. I haven’t heard much by them but what I have heard, I’ve liked. I think this is a solid booking for Wacken and I look forward to seeing them.

DEEP PURPLE – One of the early announcements that almost sold me a ticket there and then. I have liked Deep Purple for quite a while now but never had the chance to see them live. I’ve heard questionable reports about them live but I am still excited to see them, and hear some classic songs which I absolutely love. I suspect they will be in a similar spot to Scorpions from this year – longer set on the final night. Might be wrong, but it seems like a logical spot for them.

DIE KASSIERER – Don’t really know what to make of this band to be honest. They appear to be a comedy band but a lot of it is lost on me as it is in German. I should really learn that language if I’m going to keep going back there for a festival. Anyway...probably won’t watch this band honestly. I expect a Wednesday slot for these (or perhaps one of the first bands on the Thursday, after Skyline).

DORO – This will likely be in the “U.D.O” slot of this year’s festival considering it is also an anniversary show – 30th anniversary to be exact. I am looking forward to this as I haven’t seen Doro (aside from a couple of guest slots with Skyline and U.D.O. I also quite like Doro’s new song, “Raise Your Fist in the Air”, so hopefully there is a new album to come along with the single and it is as strong as the lead single.

ESKIMO CALLBOY – Having listened now twice, I can confidently state that they are not for me. I will be somewhere else when they are on.

HAGGARD – Another band that could be placed in a number of metals sub-genres but I’d best place it in symphonic death metal. I don’t mind what I’ve heard so far and will likely catch them at the festival.

HATE SQUAD – Nothing wrong with a bit of thrash metal here and there. Quite like what I’ve heard from this band. I imagine they will be in the W.E.T tent, which could mean they are missed, but we’ll see. At this stage, it is impossible to know.

IHSAHN – I’m really interested in Ihsahn’s solo material. I didn’t know what to expect when I started listening to it, but I really like everything I’ve heard. It explores more sub-genres of metal than Emperor did (I’m not criticising Emperor) and overall, is really good. Ihsahn in some setlists plays a couple Emperor tracks, giving a nod to his previous band, but the main focus is the solo material, and I am looking forward to seeing him live.

LEPROUS – Haven’t heard a great deal from this progressive metal band but I am certainly interested in the material I have heard. If the chance arises, I might give them a watch. They would likely lose a clash though with someone else (depending who it is obviously!)

LINGUA MORTIS ORCHESTRA FEAT RAGE – I like some of the Rage material that I have heard, but I don’t really know what to expect with this set. Is it going to be a set of Rage songs, or songs by a related orchestra featuring Rage? I really don’t know. Only way to find out is by seeing them I guess!

NIGHTWISH – Nightwish was another one of the initial announcements which almost sold me a ticket right away. I remember being a little disappointed with their set at Brixton at the end of the Dark Passion Play world tour, but their set at Download bought me round that they are a good live band, and I do remember how immense they were at Wacken 2008. There will be one major change at the Wacken 2013 show to any of those shows though (and indeed, any time I’ve seen Nightwish). Annette Olzon has quit the band. It’s not been made public why this has happened, but apparently it was related to Annette missing some shows and Nightwish bringing in replacement singers, rather than cancelling. I don’t know if that is the reason, or even part of the reason – but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is who will be singing by the time next August rolls around. Floor Jansen has replaced Olzon on the current dates, and she might still be singing for Nightwish then – depends on her touring cycle with Revamp I guess. Personally, think Tarja Turunen should do it.....very very unlikely though!

RAMMSTEIN – The band that sold me the ticket. I said that there are 3 things I could think of that would get me back at Wacken next year – Metallica, Iron Maiden or Rammstein. I have seen Rammstein four times now, so they really aren’t a massive draw for a UK festival anymore (don’t get me wrong, I am delighted they are headlining Download). But seeing Rammstein in Germany will be something special I imagine. I am hoping they are still on the Made In Germany tour by then as that setlist was pretty damn good.

SABATON – I don’t know much about Sabaton, other than that they are a Swedish power metal band who sing about war, and that the roar when they got announced at Wacken 2012 for the 2013 festival was deafening. I will definitely see this band as I like what I have heard. 

SCOTT IAN (Spoken Word) – Anthrax’s Scott Ian making a solo appearance at the festival, this time doing spoken word. I caught some spoken word at Wacken 2012 and really enjoyed it. I will try to do this same with this set. I am hoping, due to 3 events that are happening in London this winter that Chris Jericho is also going to do a spoken word set at Wacken, which also means we get Fozzy. That would be alright with me.

SOILWORK – I am very happy with this announcement. I saw Soilwork at Wacken 2008 and they blew me away. I am hoping for another performance like that.

SONATA ARCTICA – One of the, if not the best bands I saw at Wacken 2008. They were superb then and I am sure they will be superb again. Haven’t really kept up with them since the 2008 set, but I have high hopes they will be immense again.

SUBWAY TO SALLY – Missed them in 2011 (I’m not massively fussed about them, and they played at 2am.  Not a good combination). If they played earlier in the day, I’d probably watch. We’ll see.

So all in all, I would say I am quite positive about the line up as it stands. I am not expecting any more announcements until December when Wacken does the Wacken Xmas Advent Calendar. If there are any more before that, then they would be gratefully welcomed (unless its Corvus Corax, then they can do one!) Anyway – the following is a short list of bands I would like to see get announced to really beef up the Wacken 2013 line up.


I suspect I might be a little bit hopeful with some of those. Still, nothing wrong with creating a wish list!