“If you want to write a song about the human race / Write a song about the Moon” sang Paul Simon, a decade after Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on land beyond the Earth, and so begins the National Maritime Museum’s ‘Moon’ exhibition. Despite having much sympathy with Gil Scott Heron’s more contemporaneous lyrical critique (“I can’t pay no doctor’s bill / But whitey’s on the Moon”), I can’t help continuing a life-long fascination with the Moon and the 1960s Space Race, and so a trip to this exhibition was somewhat inevitable. And it was worth it…
Having the hills and mountains of Wales as a backdrop helps make Green Man the most beautiful of British music festivals, a visual winning card that was matched this year by a gorgeous programme of folk-influenced performers, surely the largest array of decent ales and ciders outside of a beer festival, and the ritual of burning the eponymous green man, taking with it to the skies hand-written messages of the festival-goers hopes and dreams.
This weekend’s British Sea Power curated Krankenhaus festival on the Cumbrian coast has been pure joy. Housed in a barn on the Muncaster Castle estate, it felt like a legal rave curated by a nature-loving art-school band. Where else would you get hear everything from folk to tree-people trance, alongside a reading from the poet laureate, late night DJ-ing from a snooker legend, and musically enhanced bingo from Japanese punk band?
This year’s Glastonbury will be remembered for the sunny weather, for sure, but also the most extraordinary Pyramid stage show that I can remember in twenty-seven years as a Glastonbury regular. 2019 is the year that Stormzy headlined Glastonbury.
An incident at Malmo station yesterday meant my train to Stockholm was cancelled. I took advantage of an extra night in Copenhagen by going to see The Tallest Man on Earth at the extraordinary new DR Koncerthuset, a venue that looks like a giant cave, hewn out of granite and lined with oak. It turned out to be a magical experience, witnessing a unique performer entertaining with verve and panache.
For a quick trip to radio heaven, listen to Cerys Matthews’ show from 9 June 2019. Jeff Towns of Dylan’s Mobile Bookstore joins Cerys to discuss Idris Davies’ poem ‘The Bells of Rhymney’, which may be the most influential poem you’ve never heard. Documenting life in the South Wales mining villages of the 1920s, and based on Davies’ own experiences of following his father down the pits aged 14, the poem clearly influenced Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milkwood’ (just listen to the start), inspired Woody Guthrie’s ‘Talking Centralia’ (or ‘Talking Miner’), and was put to music by Pete Seeger, only to be covered first by Bob Dylan and then The Byrds.
The Leisure Society are Burton-on-Trent’s finest and Mark Knopfler’s old band, Dire Straits, are rumoured to have played the back room behind Veli’s Kebab Shop in the 1970s. Surely that’s enough of a connection for a joint gig review?