Ed’s… Highlights – Apr ’11

Everything seems a little visual and audio this month. The Prodigy’s film World On Fire came out on Mar 31st, The Foo Fighter’s ‘Back & Forth’ is out on Apr 7th, and Shiva Soundsystem’s Nerm Chauhan’s music directorial debut, ‘Everywhere & Nowhere’, is on national release from May 6th. Plus Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring gets a 3D make over on Apr 21st. I’m trying to think of a joke, but I’m not that clever.

Out there in the land of the live gig, my fingers are crossed for Beth Orton (Glee Club – Apr 11th) and my legs for Lizzy Parkes (Symphony Hall, Foyer Bars – Apr 29th). It’s a free gig, which is just as well. For a voice like that I’d flog my Grandma on EBay.

I’m spending the rest of the month avoiding the world’s most tenacious one hit wonder, Chris de Burgh (Symphony Hall – Apr 15th 16th). I’ve been practicing for 25 years so I’m pretty confident I’ll manage. That and enjoying the endless bank holidays bashes, with the posh-totty-tie-the-knotty giving us even more room to party on Apr 29th. I’ll be seeing Guy Carlos at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath. But whatever you’re royal ra-ra celebration entails, enjoy. And wear a nice hat.

Follow Ed King at www.twitter.com/edking2210

Ed’s… Highlights – Mar ’11

It may still be battleship grey above but Birmingham’s got a few gigs to smile about this March, Primal Scream playing Screamadelica (O2 – 15.3) the most grin worthy on my calendar. A scene shifting band playing a scene shifting album. Magic. Plus I’ll get to feel all old and superior, which is always fun.

Over at Brum’s other biggie, Deconstruction (Mark II) spring chickens, Diagram Of The Heart, play the HMV on Mon March 7th. Not sure why they chose the worst of all school nights but I’m keen to seem them strut their stuff live. And if I need consoling (I’m hoping they’re good), Maceo Parker comes to the stage on March 13th. Failing that D:Ream play on March 20th, and just reading that on the listings make me laugh uncontrollably.

But if you want something tangible for your money, GlasVegas release ‘Euphoria, take my hand’ from their new album on March 28th, Beadyman’s debut ‘I Done An Album’ is out on March 21st, and Duran Duran’s ‘All You Need Is Now’ is on CD from March 21st. Otherwise you could buy Kim Kardashian’s new single, ‘Jam’. But don’t. You’ll only encourage her.

Follow Ed King at www.twitter.com/edking2210

Ed’s… Highlights – Dec ’10

Wading through the quagmire of Christmas parties, a few murky musical treats rise to the surface. It’s mentioned in the Club News but Sven Vath is always worth saying twice, plus Mr Ronson at Crasher would be a good end to the year. The rest of clubland looks a little moody to me, with bass heavy parties rolling over the city, but if you’re into your darkside then just hang around Digbeth.

Back to the live stage for some suitable cheer, with Herbaliser, Bonobo, Foals and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas all coming to the HMV there’s a few evenings to choose from. However the prize turkey has to go to the 02 Academy. The Pogues are playing on Dec 18th and it’s never really Christmas until you’ve heard Fairytale Of New York. Plus, if you don’t fancy staring through the gaps in Shane MacGowan’s teeth, Sophie Ellis Bexter is on in the other room.

Out in the wider world of music there’s the usual Christmas flake on the shelf, with The Trashmen’s Surfin Bird, one of the most irritating records ever made, currently favored for the coveted number one spot. Please don’t let that happen. If you’ve got some left over Christmas cash I’d recommend The Orb’s Metallic Spheres. They’re touring, but not playing Birmingham. So buy a copy, turn it up loud, lie on the kitchen floor and open and close the fridge door with your feet. Which is roughly like being at an Orb concert anyway. Merry crimbo/New Year guys and galls.

Follow Ed King at www.twitter.com/edking2210

OPINION: UB40 30th Anniversary of Signing Off – by Brian Travers

Signing Off Anniversary Tour, courtesy of UB40

We’re currently on a thirtieth anniversary tour of the UK and Europe, thirty years that have flown by in a flash since we started out as eight young inexperienced guys from Moseley and Balsall Heath. As unrealistic as it is now, back in 1980 it seemed more realistic to start a band, get a hit record, become famous and tour the world, rather than getting a regular job of which there were none.

As I look back I realise just how lucky we were, and how that ambition changed our lives forever. We made Top Of The Pops with our first single ‘Food for Thought’; about the church’s hypocrisy and the reality of the starving third world, five years before Live Aid. They say ‘nothing succeeds like success’ and this first hit led to another 52 hit singles, over a hundred million album sales and countless world tours, hitting all the big venues     we’d once dreamt about playing.

2010, here we are back on Brummie terra firma, thirty years later and in much the same place. The Tories are back in government; our country’s fighting wars around the globe, mothers mourning their teenage soldier sons, while fascists march our streets under the banner of the BNP and EDL. All around us small businesses are closing, pound shops take their places and property prices are once again plummeting.

We decided to re-release ‘Signing Off’, our first album, as a way of marking thirty years in music, then take the songs out on a live tour and play the album in sequence. I wondered would the songs be dated, would they sound like songs written by angry teenagers who were voicing their political opinions for the first time, but the truth is they’re as relevant now as they were back then. I write this as we’re half way through the tour and the audiences are as receptive as ever when we play the Signing Off album. Every night we are told by waiting autograph hunters how it was a trip back in time which somehow feels very contemporary. Funny that!

OPINION: Has the new HMV Institute got what it takes? – by Anthony Tattum

Anthony Tattum, Managing Director at Big Cat

Marketing an event or a venue starts way before the first press release is emailed out, even before the designer gets the brief to create a good looking ad. Marketing begins before the talent has been booked or the first lick of paint is applied to recently plastered walls. This is because the product and all its attributes is the marketing.

It doesn’t really matter how much money you spend on advertising, PR or social media. If your product: venue or event, is boring or not designed to appeal to a highly targeted niche, you are screwed. Which brings me on to the subject of my column; the long anticipated launch of the HMV Institute.

The success or failure of the venue is now written on the wall. They have already designed the entry system, the music policy, decided the drink range and designed the website. So good luck to them. However the crowd will decide whether they like Digbeth’s newest tenant or not, they are cynical, bored, distrustful and over stimulated.  If they decide they like it they will proceed to tell their friends, fans and followers all about it.

Creating a remarkable product, effective targeting, making promises and keeping them are good ways to please the crowd and build an audience. I remember the Institute (and then the Sanctuary) as mainly stairs and landings with an unfathomable room layout. It was never really my bag but I truly am delighted that another music venue has opened in Birmingham.

Audiences are notoriously difficult to find in Birmingham. Many promoters simply miss out the city in favour of more northerly cities like Manchester and even Wolverhampton.  Whether this is a function of economics or geography, this remains a mystery. But with the Factory Club closing, Digbeth’s buoyant music scene and what looks like a very reasonable line up maybe HMV have backed a winner.

By Anthony Tattum, Managing Director at Big Cat; European Experience Marketing agency based in Birmingham / www.bigcatgroup.co.uk