Category Archives: 2000

Rocks In The Attic #720: David Bowie – ‘Glastonbury 2000’ (2000)

RITA#720The year 2000. My second Glastonbury festival, aged 21.

My friend Vini came with me this year, and we got the train down from Manchester to Somerset. All of the other years I’ve been to the festival, from 1999 to 2007, I’ve driven. It was just the two of us heading down this year, but we were set to meet up with friends in the same area of the site we had camped the prior year.

The trip down to the South West was quite quiet as we were travelling down on the Wednesday morning, as the music and the festival doesn’t really kick off until the Friday morning. The only bit of the journey that slowed us down was a small queue at the Castle Cary station to wait for the shuttle bus to the festival grounds. It didn’t matter; the sun was out in force.

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Vini and I circa 2000

We got to the campgrounds and met up with my friends from University, Robbie and Natalie, and various other people they’d travelled with. We pitched our tents by the perimeter fence, between the Other Stage field and the Dance Tent field.  I seem to remember the year 2000 as being one of the last years before they started to curb down on campfires, so Thursday night found us stocking up on firewood.

2000 was the also the last year before the dreaded security fence went up, so it was probably the last Glastonbury with any ounce of anarchy in it. From the following year, it all got a bit safer, a bit more middle-class, a bit more Radio 2.

People started breaking into the festival on the Wednesday night. There was still a fence at this point – but it was still quite easy to get over, and wasn’t anywhere near the height of the megafence that went up by the time of the next festival two years later (2001 was a ‘fallow’ year for the festival).

By the Thursday night, the fence had been damaged near where our tents were pitched, and people were starting to spill into the grounds. By the time we woke up on the Friday morning, the fence had been completely breached, pushed aside, and people were just walking in. The security staff had given up trying to stop them, it was just too hard. The organisers sold 100,000 tickets, but it’s estimated that a further 150,000 entered without tickets.

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As a result of the increased numbers, the infrastructure of the festival started to break down. Toilets and litter started to build up, and lawlessness was in the air. At one point, as Vini and I queued up at a food truck, two gypsy teenagers got into a fight next to us. Well, I say fight, it was more like one aggressive gypsy was battering another gypsy, who wasn’t keen on being battered.

Vini’s tent got broken into at one point, and Natalie woke up to an intruder in the middle of the night. We would laugh at this whenever she brought it up in subsequent years – ‘Do you remember that year I woke up and this guy was on top of me going through my stuff?’ – and I’d jokingly apologise.

I saw lots of great bands that year, as I did every other year at Glastonbury: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Bluetones, Dark Star, Muse, Idlewild, the Chemical Brothers, Ocean Colour Scene, the Wailers, Live, Death In Vegas, the Dandy Warhols, Coldplay, Robert Plant’s band Prior Of Brion, and many, many others. Vini swears to this day that we saw one-time James Bond George Lazenby there, introducing Ladysmith Black Mambazo on stage, but I don’t remember that at all. It sounds like the makings of a fever dream.

By the time Sunday night rolls around at Glastonbury, I’ve usually had enough. Festival fatigue kicks in, sometimes with disastrous consequences – and I hate to think about the time I chose to miss Muse headline in 2004. In 2000 though, I was excited to see Bowie play; energy levels were high. This was the first time he had played the festival since its second year in 1971, so it felt like the festival and the artist were somehow coming full circle.

At that time, I wasn’t too much of a Bowie fan. I adored Hunky Dory and The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. But aside from a couple of other singles, I could take or leave everything else. I had heard that his live shows could be quite abstract affairs too, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. His last tour had been in 1997, promoting Earthling, but apart from a 50th Birthday concert at Madison Square Garden in that same year, he had only sporadically playing the hits throughout the decade.

Surely he wouldn’t do a greatest hits set on his return to Glastonbury. Would he?

RITA#720dHe walked onto stage to the opening bars of Wild Is The Wind from 1976’s Station To Station –starting a lifelong love affair with that song for me. So far, so deep-cut. He looked beautiful, with a long elfin coat and flowing blonde hair.

Then he played China Girl and Changes. Was this just an attempt to get the audience onside before he started playing Tin Machine b-sides?

Another Station To Station track was up next – Stay. The second of three Station To Station tracks played, with the title track being the third. This was undoubtedly to showcase the guitar playing of Earl Slick who had played on that album and was among the band at Worthy Farm that night. Perhaps this was the start of the setlist slipping into the esoteric?

Life On Mars?, Absolute Beginners, Ashes To Ashes and Golden Years left little doubt that Bowie was in fact doing a greatest hits set. Amazing.

Vini and I had been performing a cover of Ziggy Stardust in our band at the time, and while I thought it was unlikely Bowie would play the song, Vini was hopeful. “Nah,” I said. “He doesn’t do it anymore.” He hadn’t played it regularly in his set since 1990, although the excellent www.setlist.fm shows that he had played the song in a warm-up show in New York, nine days prior to Glastonbury.

Bowie finished the main set with Under Pressure, but despite all the big hits I was hearing, I was still sure I wouldn’t be hearing my favourite song of his. The band left the stage, and returned five minutes later for the encore. “It’s gonna be Ziggy Stardust!” Vini proclaimed. And BLLLLLLAAAAAAANNNNNNNGGG – it was!

Hands shooting up in the air, hugging, huge grins. Wow. We were ecstatic.

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My one blurry photo of Bowie on stage

Since Bowie’s passing in 2016, the Glastonbury set has taken on an almost mythic status. It was a watershed moment for the festival and its presence on the BBC. From that year, it became almost expected for the big headlining slot to be broadcast live on television (even the decision to show the Bowie set ruffled a few feathers at the Beeb).

I would never see Bowie in concert again. His heart attack on stage in 2004 led to a change in priorities, and big tours were taken off the agenda. I’m so glad I saw him when I did. It turned me into a Bowie fan, and I started to go back and listen to the albums I hadn’t heard before. There isn’t a period of Bowie’s career I don’t love now. He’s the ultimate artist with something for everybody.

Hit: ‘Heroes’

Hidden Gem: Wild Is The Wind

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Rocks In The Attic #522: The Beatles – ‘1’ (2000)

rita522Last week, I was lucky enough to see Ron Howard’s Beatles documentary Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years. I look forward to any new release relating to the fab four, but once every couple of years something comes along that gets a little more hype than usual.

Do we need a new documentary charting the Beatles’ experiences touring the UK, the USA, and beyond between 1963 and 1966? Probably not. The subject matter has been covered well enough by the Beatles Anthology TV series and The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit (itself a re-edited version of the Maysles brothers’ 1964 documentary What’s Happening! The Beatles in the USA).

There was more than enough archive footage in Eight Days A Week that I hadn’t seen before to keep it interesting, and my only criticism was that they could have done a little more to bring the still images to life other than bizarrely highlighting the band’s smoking habits by adding animated smoke plumes from their cigarettes.

The thing I was really looking forward to though was the full performance from 1965’s Shea Stadium concert, restored in 4K and presented after the documentary. I’m still holding out that this will see a home media release, but everything I’ve read in relation to Eight Days A Week states that the Shea Stadium film is strictly “in cinemas only”.

The Shea Stadium show is just nuts. The Beatles look awesome, with their military shirts and sheriff badges, obviously having lots of fun. Their stage is a long way from the audience, lit from lights on the edge of the stage where their monitors would usually be in today’s standard concert set-up. The lights add an odd glow to their faces, giving the impression that they’re playing a concert in the pits of hell.

But it’s the audience that just defies belief. Girls screaming themselves faint, being carried away by policemen or propped up by family members and friends. It’s the closest to a true religious experience that music has ever become – without the influence of drugs of course.

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Having seen the film on its first night here in New Zealand, I rushed home to send my review to BBC’s flagship film show – Kermode And Mayo’s Film Review on BBC Radio 5 Live. I got the email through a couple of hours before the show, thinking I may have missed my chance, but luckily I was just in time. From the sounds of it, I raised the ire of the notoriously cranky Mark Kermode, so I can tick that off my list. As Frank Skinner once said, I’ve marked a few commodes in my time.

(And for the record, they were random American celebrities – the appearance of Whoopi Goldberg and Sigourney Weaver were really jarring in the middle of a Beatles documentary, although I admit both were in there for eventually decent reasons).

1 was released in 2000, as an attempt by Apple Records to release a single-disc CD compilation of all of the Beatles’ number one singles (the vinyl release was fortunately split over two discs). Essentially, it’s a re-tread of 1982’s 20 Greatest Hits – the last official release to have different UK and US variations. That record collected each of the number ones in their respective markets, aside from Something which was left off due to running time. 1 combines the two collections, adding Something back in, to stretch the tracklisting out to twenty seven songs. Magic.

Hit: She Loves You


Hidden Gem: The Ballad Of John And Yoko


Rocks In The Attic #448: AC/DC – ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ (2000)

RITA#448.jpgI saw the mighty ‘DC the other night in Auckland, my third time seeing the band. As you would expect, it was exactly the same as every other time I’ve seen them – but to be fair there was enough different this time round for it still to be interesting.

The biggest difference was the line-up – due to ill health sadly forcing his retirement, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young has now been replaced by his nephew Stevie Young; and original drummer Phil Rudd, arrested recently for hiring a hitman to take out two men, was also out of the picture, replaced by the man he replaced back in the ‘90s, Chris Slade. The best joke I heard about Rudd’s arrest was that he was mistakenly overheard just saying that the band needed a couple of hits.

That was the thing I was most looking forward to with this concert – the return of Chris Slade, the drummer who drove the band through the Live At Donington concert film. As New Zealand music journalist Simon Sweetman has correctly pointed out, Phil Rudd could never play Thunderstruck correctly, there was always something missing. Slade played on the studio version of the song from the Razors Edge album, and his approach to the song takes it to another level, not least for those great side-bass drums he has positioned on either side of him.

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Seeing the band on stage without founding member Malcolm Young was heartbreaking. Malcolm has always been a rock on stage, standing in the shadows but always there holding the rhythm. The only positive outcome was that his position went to a family member (who looks so alike Malcolm that the casual onlooker probably wouldn’t even notice), and to complete the illusion Stevie even used Malcolm’s guitar – a Gretsch G6131 Jet Firebird with the neck and middle pickups removed.

The show wasn’t without its hitches – Brian Johnson missed his intro to Sin City (“Diamonds…”) and caught up with the second half of the line. The ego-ramp was really underused, with Angus and Brian only venturing out it in the final bunch of songs. There were a few sound issues early on, with Stevie’s guitar deadly quiet until they fixed it.  Angus’ guitar tone sounded a bit digitally enhanced – not something you want to hear from a guitarist so heavily associated with keeping it old-school. And the band didn’t play The Jack – the first song I learnt to play on the guitar – and as a result there was no slow blues played during the set.

But for all the cons, there was more than enough pros (a lot of the women in the audience looked like pros actually – lots of 40 year old faded blondes, with missing teeth, dressed as 20 year olds). They played two older songs, High Voltage and Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be (both from the Live At Donington set-list) which I was very happy to see. I’d never seen the band play Have A Drink On Me (from 1980’s Back In Black) lie before, and that was such a surprise and so unexpected, I initially thought Angus was playing the intro as some kind of blues throwaway snippet into another song. For the same reason, it was also great to see them play Shot Down In Flames – another deep cut off n album overshadowed by hit singles (in this case, 1979’s Highway To Hell).

Angus’ playing was still very fluid for a 60-year old, and there was no evidence of ‘locked-up fingers’ syndrome (that blighted Jimmy Page at Zeppelin’s O2 reunion show). And perhaps as a nod to his advancing age though, Angus didn’t do his momentum-stopping mid-set strip-tease, thankfully keeping his shirt on for the second half of the show. Rock N’ Roll Ain’t Eye Pollution and all that.

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The crowd was very interesting in fact. All ages were represented, the youngest child I saw couldn’t have been any older than six or seven, and while it wasn’t a completely 50/50 gender split, I’d estimate about 40% of the audience were chicks. There were some proper low-lifes there though. I expect if Auckland Police looked into it, there would have been a distinct drop in the number of burglaries reported on the night – all the no-mark bogans were wearing their best black t-shirts at the AC/DC show.

The set-list didn’t feature any songs from 1995’s Ballbreaker or 2000’s Stiff Upper Lip, the record I’m supposed to be talking about here. Both albums are solid efforts and I’m surprised they didn’t play just one track from each. I guess they have to be vigilant with this though. Not every studio album can be represented – there are seventeen of them!

While I enjoyed Ballbreaker, leading me to see the band for the first time on that tour (supported by the Wildhearts no less), I prefer Stiff Upper Lip of the two. It’s a bluesier, low-key affair – but it didn’t do very well in terms of sales, selling half what Ballbreaker and its follow-up Black Ice did. I even skipped that tour, busy playing with my own band at the time.

I’m sure there’ll be another album though, in four or five years. And another tour hopefully. Here’s to the 2020 world tour!

Hit: Stiff Upper Lip

Hidden Gem: Hold Me Back

Rocks In The Attic #408: Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes – ‘Live At The Greek’ (2000)

RITA#408I downloaded a digital copy of this in the early 2000s, by accident really, as I was trying to put the Black Crowes’ discography on my iPod. Needless to say, it because a firm favourite, even though I knew nothing about the gig or the reasons why Page was playing a show of Zeppelin songs and blues standards with an American band some time after their early ‘90s heyday.

It doesn’t matter why though –  I don’t want to know. All I know is that I love this album. Of the two, I think it has the edge over Celebration Day, the recording of the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion show at the O2. Recorded only seven years after Live At The Greek, there are a few moments on Celebration Day where Page seems to suffer from locked-up old-man fingers. I don’t know whether this is from age, or simply a lack of enough rehearsals, but the same problem isn’t audible on Live At The Greek. His playing here is fluid – maybe not to the same level of his mid-‘70s peak, but good enough – and obviously he’s got two guitarists to fall back on (Rich Robinson and Audley Freed), whereas he was flying solo at the O2.

It’s also a more energetic album – probably as a result of Page playing alongside a much younger band – and the choice of material is also much more fun, taking the time to play some deeper cuts and some well chosen blues covers. Zeppelin wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do this at the O2, in front of a crowd essentially wanting to hear the hits. They could have done, but it would have meant playing another night. Or two. Shit, they could have played a 100-night residence at the O2, and every night would have been full.

Hit: Whole Lotta Love

Hidden Gem: Woke Up This Morning

Rocks In The Attic #129: Blur – ‘Blur: The Best Of’ (2000)

Rocks In The Attic #129: Blur - ‘Blur: The Best Of’ (2000)This was an unsurprising release by Food Records. With only one album left on their contract with Food, a greatest hits collection was assembled. This isn’t a new thing in the record industry – although diehard fans of the band may not rush out to buy a batch of songs they already own, the general public will always buy a compilation album in droves, and so it makes economic sense to bring out a ‘best of’ while the opportunity is ripe, rather than release studio album #452.

As a DJ – which I was at the time of this release – it’s always handy to have a collection of hit songs on one disc (or two, in this case), rather than lug a load of albums around for the sake of one or two songs. Still, saying that, this album did open my eyes to some of the other Blur material which I wasn’t familiar with at the time.

Much after the fact, I had discovered Parklife and, subsequently, The Great Escape, while at University. Blur and 13 sort of passed me by, although by this time they were sufficiently on my radar, enough for me to anticipate their singles as they were released.

I’ve been thinking about ‘90s music for a few weeks now, after somebody mentioning what a truly terrible decade for music it was. I guess it’s too early to tell, but will anybody be listening to this sort of thing in 40 or 50 years?

The reason I prefer to listen to older music – specifically from the ‘60s and ‘70s – is that most of the time you can listen to it without having to handle all of the other bullshit that comes with it. It’s almost impossible to listen to a Blur album without thinking about how much of a knobhead Damon Albarn is.

I remember being asked about Blur and Oasis by my sixth-form English teacher in the mid-‘90s. Their rivalry was all over the British press because of the chart race between Country House and Roll With It. He wanted to know who I thought were the better band. This was many years before I would start listening to “Indie” or Britpop music, and I was existing purely on a diet of hard rock and heavy metal at the time, so the question was sort of lost on me. I still stand behind my response back then, which was “Blur, of course, because they’re always doing something different.” The one thing I can always be sure of is that I can happily look back at Oasis’ entire career and proudly declare ‘not guilty’.

When I look back at Blur’s career alongside British bands which I’m sure they’d like to measured against – The Kinks, The Who, The Beatles, The Stones, etc – I’m not sure if they’ll ever be regarded in the same light. Oasis plumbed new depths of mediocrity in the ‘90s, but Blur were simply the best British band of the decade, and I guess that’s all that mattered at the time.

Hit: Song 2

Hidden Gem: To The End

Rocks In The Attic #90: JJ72 – ‘JJ72’ (2000)

Rocks In The Attic #90: JJ72 - ‘JJ72’ (2000)This album is much better than I remember. I must have liked the band enough to go out and buy the album, but I haven’t listened to it for about 10 years.

JJ72 were a band that was small enough to be playing The Castle in Oldham when I used to DJ, but still big enough (and talented enough) to be signed and to be releasing albums like this. I remember DJing the night they played – which means I probably also did their lights – but I don’t think I met them because if memory serves, they didn’t stick around to meet anybody after their set.

Hit: October Swimmer

Hidden Gem: Long Way South

Rocks In The Attic #85: Primal Scream – ‘XTRMNTR’ (2000)

Rocks In The Attic #85: Primal Scream - ‘XTRMNTR’ (2000)Wikipedia tells me that this album was the final LP released on Creation Records. I don’t remember that at the time – I definitely remember Creation folding, but I think I bought this purely for Kill All Hippies, a great song I would regularly play in my Saturday night DJ set at Oldham’s 38 Bar / The Castle.

I must have met Primal Scream (and ex-Stone Roses) bassist Mani not long after this album was released, down in the basement bar of Corbieres in Manchester’s St. Anne’s Square. He signed my cigarette packet – which I still have – and as I’m not a fan of the band he’s more well known for, his bass playing for Primal Scream will always remind me of that chance encounter. His bass playing on this album, especially Blood Money, is noteworthy – it’s like he’s playing his own tune, keeping the bass driving forward regardless of what the rest of the band are doing.

This version of Primal Scream isn’t my favourite. It’s a bit – dare I sound like an old man – noisy and tuneless. It’s also not the most popular thing to say, but my favourite version of Primal Scream is the Give Out But Don’t Give Up version – where they’re practically doing everything right to appeal to my classic rock leanings. That album almost sounds like a Black Crowes record, and although I’d like them to record another album like that, I guess you just have to admit that they’re a continually evolving band – probably one of the most genre-shifting bands in the last couple of decades.

Hit: Swastika Eyes (Jagz Kooner Mix)

Hidden Gem: Keep Your Dreams