Monday, 21 August 2017
Sean Mayes is a famous rock 'n' roll piano player from the group Fumble, who are best known for supporting Bowie on the Ziggy Stardust tour in '72. Further down the line, Bowie was recruiting musicians to be in his band for the Isolar 2 tour in '78. Although Fumble were well into the production of the Elvis musical at the time, Mayes couldn't not say yes to a request from Ziggy himself and was soon in the throes of a globular tour with one of the most inspiring, innovative and interesting rock 'n' roll musicians that has graced the Earth. The tour was recorded and subsequently released as Stage.
Life On Tour With Bowie is a short, edited version of Mayes' diary entries from his time spent on tour with D, and details everything down to the travelling between destinations, the costumes, the people involved both musicians and administrative, the fans and groupies, the night life and, most importantly, the live shows.
I found the entries to be less raucous than I expected, and whilst there is a lot of clubbing, drinking and the occasional mention of drugs, the whole tour seems relatively restrained for a such a big impact upon the rock 'n' roll scene, but I found Sean's descriptions of events to be really illuminating without getting boring.
The differences between the varying venues of different countries, from size and technical specs, to sociabilities of staff and audience was something I found really interesting, especially when on tour in places like Japan and noting how different the audience behave from place to place.
The retelling of the live shows too was great to read, though sometimes only a few lines in length, it's amazing how different shows can be from day to day, and how one event can set the mood and tone for the entire band. Something could happen mid show and the entire dynamic would change, and Maye's details this very well.
The relationships between the group are always informed upon, without ever feeling 'gossipy' and it's nice to see that they actually seem like quite good friends behind the scenes. I can only imagine how this impacted on the live performance, but Sean talks about how the entire group would go out for food and clubbing on a social level, not just to keep up appearances as the band.
It's only a short read, and I'd definitely recommend it for any fan of Bowie to get an insight into the life of a touring musician from a perspective other than that of the main star.
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
Chasing Embers is an excellent modern time fantasy novel by James Bennett. Ben Garston, our leading character is an emotional yet hardened soul, living in a version of modern day Earth as an ancient magical pact that has lasted 800 years begins to deteriorate, causing Ben no end of grief and unforeseen encounters with an interesting, detailed and varied array of characters.
The story is steeped in pseudo medieval history and ancient Egyptian mythology, and see's Ben traversing the globe in an effort to save humanity, his human ex girlfriend and if he has chance and the time, possibly himself.
A cast consisting of Fae, witches, knights, dragons, humans and soothsayers, it's not always apparent at first glance what their intentions are, leading Ben into some difficult situations which only weigh down his emotional state further, nursing himself back to some semblance of normality with the magical elixir that is Jack Daniels.
The variety of locations, characters and originality of the story really sucked me in to this novel, and it feels written to a similar standard as those of the Ben Aaronovitch novels, the Rivers Of London series and I can't wait for the next one in the series.
The story's not complicated, but is enriched with Bennett's seemingly effortless talent for description, wielding metaphors and similes as though his pen were a sword. My only qualm with this is that sometimes the story drags, when we just want to discover what is about to occur next you have to pursue through pages of description first.
This didn't deteriorate from my enjoyment of the book and I'm really looking forward to the next one. I'd recommend this to fans of Tom Holt, Ben Aaronovitch and to those who grew up on things like Potter. An excellent mystical adventure in modern times. Great stuff.
Despite it's flaws, I quite enjoyed the Knack Of Life by Trisha Rainsford and it made for an absorbing read whilst on my holiday, and I'd recommend it to fans of easy to digest crime fiction, looking for a short escape whilst relaxing on a sun lounger on the deck of the Arcadia...
I think I related quite while the main character, Seamus, who see's his friend Mattie, who had helped him through some rough post divorce trauma, shot in the dark of the Irish night with a shotgun.
He then slumps ever further into a depression, but is encouraged by his room mate and cousin to investigate the causes of the murder for themselves. With a few twists and turns along the way, and some discoveries about the Irish locals, Seamus is forced to do some soul searching and to grow up quickly to help get him out of the climatic "Poirot in the drawing room" styled peak of the story.
I also liked the titles of the chapters being pop songs, though this is because I'm a shameless pop fan and not because it actually adds anything to the book's composition.
I also enjoyed how so many of the social interactions revolve around tea, toast and coffee...
Occasionally clumsily written, The Knack Of Life is unpredictable enough with a likeable cast to absorb you and see you through a short holiday. Go for it.
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