Daily Archives: June 14, 2012

Review: Jay-Z and Kanye West at Birmingham LG Arena, 13/06/12.

Two of the biggest artists in music at the moment, on one stage? Hell, yeah!

I’ve seen both perform separately and so went to this gig with a very definite idea of who would produce the best show. When I saw Kanye West in Newcastle, 2008, he was unresponsive, disinterested and very, very late. Later that evening, he assaulted a photographer outside a nightclub and that was the start of his rather public downfall. Less than a year later, he stormed the stage during Taylor Swift’s award acceptance at the MTV VMAs and the industry – along with the media and the public – turned their back on Mr West.

His public rehabilitation came in the form of a duet album with his mentor (and boss), Jay-Z. Their ‘Watch the Throne’ album is an absolute hiphop classic. And last night’s ‘Watch the Throne’ gig raised the bar even higher.

With hydraulic stages and laser light shows, the show promised to be a corker. However, the show was quite stripped back, letting the rappers do what they do best. There were no dancers, no special guests and no gimmicks – just two of the best artists in the world and a sea of adoring fans chanting along.

Whether it’s the successful businessman in Jay-Z or just genuine enthusiasm, he knows how to keep the crowd happy. He’s obviously been taking lessons from his mate Chris Martin – Jay frequently expressed his gratitude to the adoring crowd. Kanye certainly is getting better at interacting with the crowd but he remains slightly detached at times. He was definitely a million times more interesting to watch than 4 years ago.

The show was over two hours long and featured plenty of solo time for both artists but when they got together, it was explosive. I was at the back of the arena but I was as excited as the people in the mosh pit – the atmosphere was just electric.

These two men will be remembered by my generation as being the most influential men in music. Their lyrics are insightful and sometimes funny. Their patriotism is really moving and their honesty is often brutal. I adore them.

This was the best gig I’ve ever seen. It will take a lot to top it.

Vic x

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Getting to Know You: Pete Sortwell

Today is my friend Pete Sortwell’s birthday so I’d like to wish him many happy returns and thank him for taking time out of his celebrations to have a chat with me about writing.

To read Pete’s work, here’s his Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pete-Sortwell/e/B004TESI70/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_5

Vic x

Writing is something that I’ve always thought about and done to some extent or another. It used to be writing my name on pretty much anything there was. I remember being really young and writing ‘PETER’ on the banister with a compass, shaping out the letters with little holes. I can’t have been that good as it took my Dad a few days to work out it said my name and wasn’t wood worm. Mind you after he’d conditioned all the woodwork on the stairs he never had to worry about actually getting woodworm so that’s something.

I can remember there being an old BBC Acorn computer in the house and every time I went past it I’d write my name on it. I was fascinated that my name had all it’s letter on one line.  I soon moved onto writing other people’s names on the school desk after realising fairly quickly that writing your own just saved you a couple of playtimes running about.

It was during the school days that I really noticed books, my mother says I always used to like books being read to me when I was a nipper, I still do now. I love audiobooks and wish there were more, however back in the school Library I saw something that I knew existed, I knew we had one at home, in fact I had my own signed copy but I’d not really taken much notice of it. But there in the library of The King John Middle School sat a book my father had written.

‘Animals of the past’ was a project my father had worked on the year before I was born and was published in 1980 by eye opener books. He had done the writing and his mate had done the art work. I remember thinking then that once I was old enough that I’d like to have a go at writing a book and used to day dream about how great it would be to have a book with my own name on it- and not one of the many library books that I’d borrowed and crudely scribbled it in before handing it back.

From middle school to adulthood the idea of being able to write slipped further and further into the ‘No chance’ section of my brain’s day dream department. I wrote a few things over the years but nothing that I’ve either got now or would do anything with if I did have it.

Coming up to thirty two years ago and being in a job id become bored of i decided I’d write a biography with a ghost writer. i forgot that id not actually done that much interesting stuff to write about so jacked idea in.

A month or so after that, I was bored with not doing anything whilst having to sleep in at work. (Which by the way should have been called ‘you stay working all night and we’ll give you £30 for doing it- in’) A year before I’d met a fiction writer who was published with Harper Collins and she’d invited me along to her launch, I read the book and it was great. Polly, the writer was normal too, that was a big thing. she wasn’t wandering about in a smoking jacket or writing down everything someone said instead of engaging in the conversation. I now know this is an image id created through fear and not many writer are like that. well, except the twats, they are. But they only ever talk about writing rather than do it, so who cares what they’re wearing.

On April the 24th 2010 at 2am I lay in the crappy single bed I was supposed to be sleeping in, thought to myself ‘It’s now or never’ so and started tapping away the first chapter of what would eventually become ‘So Low, So High’ on an iPad.

In the two years since I’ve written the whole novel of So low, I’ve also just finished the follow up, Die Happy, Die smiling. And I’m going to get the third in the series finished before the end of the year. I’ve had numerous short stories published and have a little shelf with the books I’ve been in in my office. What inspires me today is the people I met the things I watch on tele and think I could have written it better, I’ve worked with people most of my life too so I’ve got a fair amount of characters in my memory that I sometimes draw on.

When in writing mode, and I mean working on a novel here, I try and do at least a thousand words a day. I make time in the evening but find I go best at about midnight through till one am. I’ve got an office, a lovely desk and a nice little office set up that I put together in the house, however I find mainly that I write on the sofa, with the TV on in the background. My laptop is the perfect height that I can see over it to the larger screen behind just my moving my eyes, I’m doing it now.
The reason I do write is that it is something that I want to do, there is something special about a book, something that makes me feel good knowing will last longer than I will. So regardless of weather this set of books finds a place or makes me any money, I’ll continue to get the books out until I write one that does. Then it’ll be time to write a script or two.
What I find helpful is reading books that I like, and actually sitting down and writing rather than talking about writing which is something I’ve fell into in the past, I could sit on Facebook all night and talk about what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it but all the time I was talking about it I wasn’t actually doing it. Starting is the hardest part and sometimes before I sit down and open Word I can make it seem almost an impossible task in my head, but I need to remember that flow only comes once the taps switched on, talking about switching it on and thinking about how good it will be once on doesn’t actually get you anywhere near flooding the kitchen, if that analogy makes any sense at all.

Download ‘The Village Idiot Reviews’ by Pete Sortwell here: http://amzn.to/TeN1Uh

Review: ‘Losing Face’ by Annie Try

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This is a story of friendship, family and overcoming adversity. Written in the form of MSN Messenger exchanges and emails, Annie Try’s novel tells the story of Cass who, following a horrific car accident, has to come to terms with the loss of an eye and severe facial scarring.

Cass is helped by her friend Em who is also having difficulties with her foster family and biological mother. Throw into the mix the usual issues like bullying, coursework, exams and boys and you have a realistic portrayal of teenage life.

Although I felt the possibility of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder could have been explored more fully, Try gets away with it because the first-person narrative allows her to say what the girls want to say – and omit what they may be holding back. These two girls make me remember what it felt like to be at school, thinking that everything that happened on any given day could potentially affect the rest of my life – but for Em and Cass that may actually be true.

The character of Cass’s shady “boyfriend” is written well – he’s so edgy and elusive and Try’s portrayal of him gives the reader a great insight into how confused Cass must be feeling.

It’s an original and insightful read.

Vic x

Download your copy of ‘Losing Face’ here: http://amzn.to/OJYjjw

Order your copy of ‘Losing Face’ here: http://amzn.to/MStsBX