Wednesday, 30 May 2012

An Evening With Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie


“I'm assuming that parts of this will end up on the internet,” Alan Moore told a packed crowd at the Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery last night when asked his thoughts on the Watchmen prequel comics, BEFORE WATCHMEN, which have no involvement whatsoever from Moore or artist Dave Gibbons. “So, I'll give this to you. You can have this. What comes to mind is 'Who botches the Watchmen?'”

Moore and his wife and creative collaborator Melinda Gebbie were at the Contemporary to discuss the relationship between art and politics, and during two and a quarter hours of discussion also covered comics, sexuality, pornography, magic, gender, personal identity, writing, and much more. It was an absolutely fascinating evening, and both Moore and Gebbie held the attention throughout the duration of the talk.

Chaired by Professor Matt Green from Nottingham University, the discussion was another great free event held at the Nottingham Contemporary, a place which I really should visit more often. Moore and Gebbie were engaging throughout, and Moore's demeanour was a long way from the dour manner in which he is usually painted by people, even when faced with questions about Watchmen, which he must be so very tired of hearing by now.

There was a collective “Uh-oh...” when someone asked him about the aforementioned Before Watchmen project (which is, in my opinion, a misguided, needless cash-in which I will certainly not be flicking through, let alone buying). The discussions regarding their “Lost Girls” book were very interesting, as were the motivations behind the creation of the piece (“Reclaiming pornography from the likes of Nuts and Zoo”, redefining the term itself and dealing with the sense of shame people have about their bodies were interesting related topics), and the accompanying projected frames from the book and associated works were a fine addition to a wonderful evening.

Moore's dry self deprication (“Sorry, was I booming again? Was I using my Outdoor Voice?” - when Gebbie motioned for him to move back from the mic as his sonorous baritone was thundering from the speakers) and jovial manner with the audience, coupled with the insightful contributions from Gebbie made for a night which was at once entertaining, educational, rousing and informal. A fantastic way to spend an evening, and a very nice way to get into the minds of such talented and opinionated people.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Amazing words from Neil Gaiman

There's a great quote from Neil Gaiman going around right now, taken from his speech at the University of Arts n Philadelphia, where he was given an honorary doctorate.

“Remember, whatever discipline you’re in, whether you’re a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a singer, a designer — whatever you do, you have one thing that’s unique: You have the ability to make art. And for me, and for so many of the people I’ve known, that’s been a lifesaver, the ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times, and it gets you through … the other ones. Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong — in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.”

Brilliant. The full speech this is taken from can be viewed at ComicBookResources.

Friday, 11 May 2012

H.E.A.T. - "Address The Nation" Review

“Address The Nation” 
Genre: Melodic Rock 

Album number three from the Swedish sensations is here at last, finally bringing the incarnation of the band that live audiences have enjoyed since 2010 to an official recording. So how does the first full album to feature former Swedish Idol winner Erik Gronwell fair?

Dear, cherished readers, this is bloody spectacular. Taking its cues from Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Winger, Bonfire, Journey, Dokken and all of the other greats of the AOR/melodic rock heyday, “Address The Nation” offers ten anthems which stand up brilliantly next to the legends the band adores.

However, it's clear from the start with future classic “Breaking The Silence” that the band aren't just playing a bunch of 80s covers. This is melodic rock for here and now, polished, chunky and absolutely effervescent. “Living On The Run”, the first video track, follows that with a sound like Journey with heavier guitars, while “Falling Down” shares a similar atmosphere to Eclipse, or indeed W.E.T. in terms of style.

While some people did balk at the idea of a reality TV star as the new H.E.A.T. vocalist, Erik Gronwell puts in a performance that can only serve to silence any naysayers – this guy is the real deal, offering vocals that bring to mind a cross between Steve Perry and Sebastian Bach's melodic moments. “The One And Only” is a ballad worthy of Bad English, and as the album progresses you discover that the band has taken everything that makes this genre of rock n' roll so wonderful and given it a punchy, modern sheen. 

Yes, it'll come across as unashamedly retro to some people, but that would be missing the point. It's a classic sound, but played with the passion of a vibrant young band who are only just starting to show us what they're made of.

As good as the first two albums from them were, “Address the Nation” redefines the band in grand style and pushes everything to the maximum. The songwriting, musicianship and vocals are all of a ridiculously high standard. Check out the Journey flavoured “Better Off Alone” or the perfect-movie-soundtrack that is “In And Out of Trouble” (featuring a gloriously audacious guitar/saxophone solo trade-off) as great examples of how this genre can sound current without just plundering the past.

Punch those fists in the air. The real thing is back. Now it's time to play your part. Get hold of this album and play it loud and proud.

(My interview with H.E.A.T. is OUT NOW in the current issue of POWERPLAY ROCK AND METAL MAGAZINE)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

HALESTORM - "Love Bites (And So Do I)"

This is some of the finest rock music around right now. Halestorm are one of the greatest live bands of this era, and have finally delivered an album which does their incendiary live power justice (the glorious "The Strange Case of..." album, OUT NOW!).

This is the first single, and it kicks more ass than most bands do in whole careers. Lzzy Hale is one of the best vocalists in the business.