Thursday, 31 July 2014

Review: Katy Perry - Prismatic World Tour

**  Possible Spoiler Alert  **

It's unusual for me to review a live concert, and hard to do without completely spoiling the plot!  However, given that many of you either won't be able to get to the show, or won't even want to, it seems quite valid.

Firstly, cards on the table.

My name is Shaggi and I'm a Katy Perry fan.

Most of my muso fans mock me, they don't 'get' Katy Perry.  Well, I like to think I'm no music snob, I like good stuff, from any (well ok, 'most') genres, and so should you :-)

What I'm not going to give you, is a bunch of spoiler photos (you can google for those if you want them) nor am I going to give you a blow-by-blow account of the show (you can wait for the DVD).  What I will try to do is give you my impressions of it, good and bad (if I can think of any) and what I took away from the experience 8-)

This isn't the first time I've been to a KP concert.  I saw her back on the Teenage Dreams tour and whilst I didn't publish my thoughts on that, I think enough people have seen the 'Part of Me' movie or various clips on the web, so I will probably draw some parallels to it.

After Icona Pop left the stage (truly awful - in case you were wondering), the lights dimmed and there was barely discernable movement on stage as technicians and people got into place.
The show started with rumbling drums and staccato movements from the dancers with almost strobe-like lighting.  Naturally, I'm a sucker for a good drum sound and this didn't disappoint.  I've no idea if they were 'live' drums, samples, or a backing track, but it really did sound like Thor himself was taking his mighty hammer to task on a helpless drum kit!  The beat eventually evened out  and Katy took to the stage for 'Roar'.  Nice start.

At this stage I realised there was no band on stage.  Roar isn't a particularly band-orientated song, on the record at least.  I'm not saying it isn't musical, but it's not like you can pick out drums, bass, guitar ... no it's pretty much samples and by the time we reached the first chorus I had come to the assumption that rather than go for the Teenage Dreams Tour approach of a 'live band' with some samples and backing tracks - this show wasn't going to feature a live band.

And then ....

The band popped out through trap doors onto the stage!

Very cool, and that happened a lot during the show.  The band would disappear, dancers would disappear, Katy herself would vanish .... only to reappear on an completely different part of the stage.  Clearly, some very clever shenanigans going-on under the stage to make all that happen.   This was the theme to the stage set-up, and whilst I'm aware it's very theatre (Dahling!) that shizzle never gets old IMHO.

Despite the live band, despite the guitar battles (two guitarists flying around the 02 never gets old!) this was much less of a band concert and much more of a KP show.  Take that as you will.   Sometimes the band would completely obscured by pieces of scenery, sometimes they weren't even on stage (but still playing while under it), sometimes they were active parts of the show (tabla solo for example) but most of the time they were purely incidental. As a pop act I'm of the mind that a 'show' is what I want and what I was expecting.  If this were a rock band .... well I might feel a little differently about it.

As a show centered on one person, you notice when she's not there.  It's a complex set-up, some of KP's outfits were truly off-the-scale, and combined with all the dancing and acrobatics it's understandable that she isn't on stage 100% of the time.  She will be somewhere in that wonderland under the stage, either being transported around, or being (re) dressed by an army of wardrobe assistants, or maybe just catching her breath and re-hydrating.

Some of these moments were obvious.  Extended dance sections, mahoosive cartoon Shaggy on the big screen rapping at us, you know the kind of thing.  Always something to stop you from getting bored and I preferred this approach to Teenage Dream Tour (which showed clips from an ongoing 'movie' loosely themed around the show) between songs.  This seemed more fluid and even when KP wasn't actually singing, she would be on stage if she could be - dancing and shape throwing ;-)

High points?

Well, the drum intro was devastating.  The lights 'in' the drum kit where a must have (yes, I've ordered them).  The tabla solo was a nice touch and unexpected.  The old-school stagecraft was very enjoyable.  The use of mechanical trapdoors, wind machines, wires etc was done really well, and made a change from 'how many lasers can we fit on stage' show that some pop artists go for.

But the biggest high point was when Katy stopped and looked directly at myself and my two companions, whilst flying around the arena on a bunch of balloons.  If anything summed up the experience, it was probably that :-D

Monday, 28 July 2014

Moving Pictures

... and everything else ...

Sorry I've not Shlogged for a few weeks.  I've been moving house - which, as it turns out, is what this weeks Shlogg is all about!

I posted a while back about the rental market.  Mainly about the fact that every rental property you want is already taken before the advert even comes out.  Certainly, this still holds true.  Mostly.  The house that myself and my 'significant other' finally settled upon, after four months of searching was so new to the market that the agent hadn't even listed it.  We viewed it a few hours after the agent got the keys, and said "Hell Yes!" to it before lunchtime was over.

I say this is 'mostly' true, because this property had in fact been listed by a different agent for several months.  We had seen the advert and ruled it out for several reasons - not least of which was the fact the rental was too high.  As it happens we were able to negotiate the rent to a level that all parties where satisfied with.  That and a bit of creative thinking on our part (where to put the drum room!?) and we nailed it.

First a bit about the property itself.  
I think it's fair to say it's our dream house.  It's on the outskirts of Maidstone ('our' town), close enough to the main road to ensure fairly easy car journeys and decent facilities (gas, broadband, transport), but far enough away that we don't avoid stepping outside our front door for fear of being collected by a speeding lorry.  It's also quite literally on the banks the of River Medway, and an outstanding water view was something very high on our wish list.

We definitely nailed it.

Anyway, pleasing views and second floor drum rooms aside, what I wanted to warn you about is the actual move itself.

Our move was fairly complex.  My other half lived in a second floor flat.  That's six flights of stairs.  She had been there for a year, so a pretty typical collection of furniture, sofas, etc but not a decade's worth of collectormania. 

I lived in a ground floor apartment.  Again I had been there for enough time (18 months) to collect all the usual essential bits & bobs, but not enough time to have every loft space, garage and dusty corner filled with clutter which needs moving.

So we decided to move ourselves.
My other half had a definate 'get out of Dodge' date, so we concentrated on boxing and packing her stuff first - after all, my clutter could follow-on at our leisure.  When moving day came along, we figured we had over half of her stuff neatly boxed-up, carried down the (did I mention 6 flights?) stairs and stacked-up at my place.  We were probably right, but we didn't fully grasp just how much stuff was left to shift on moving day, nor did we realise the time and pain impact of the (6 flights - 6 flights FFS!) stairs.

We did the move, but it was extraordinarily painful.  
One full day for four people to move half a flat's worth of stuff into a house.
What this gave us, was a lovely big house that we could barely get into, due to the massive amount of furniture and boxes clogging-up the ground floor.  It would take us two more weeks (9 days of which were vacation days!) to pack and move my own gear in.  I'm sure it will be months before the last box is emptied and everything is in the right place.

So the moral of this story.
Unless you're moving into your first place, or you really do live like a monk, don't try and do your own move.  There are professionals out there who, for a small fee, will pack-up everything you own, magically transport it to a new location, and even put every box and piece of furniture into the correct room for you.

Don't be a tight-arse.  Let the pro's do their jobs!

Now, back to completing all those half finished Shloggs I have backed-up ... ;-)