Archives for August 2011

Welsh acts ruck in for rugby CD

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:12 UK time, Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Rugby fans gearing up for the forthcoming World Cup can get their mitts on a compilation CD called World In Union from 12 September, which features Welsh acts Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins and Fron Male Voice Choir.

World In Union

World In Union

Fron Choir perform Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land Of My Fathers) and Men Of Harlech, Jenkins performs Calon Lan and Terfel sings We'll Keep A Welcome and Cwm Rhondda (Bread Of Heaven).

Wales kick off their Rugby World Cup on 11 September against South Africa.

In related news, Katherine Jenkins has announced two Welsh concerts as part of her 2012 tour in support of her new album Daydream. She will visit Llandudno's Venue Cymru on 24 January and Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena on 27 January.

Her tour will mostly stop at theatres, in contrast to her previous arena tour. "I had an amazing time on my first arena tour but Daydream is a very intimate album and I wanted my tour to reflect that," she told the Western Mail.

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Thoughts on John Peel's legacy

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:50 UK time, Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Great and good men die every day of the week, so why is John Peel's memory important enough to be resurrected at every opportunity? Why does the knowledge that he would have been 72 today evoke a sense of loss out of proportion with my actual relationship to the man?

Close to seven years after his death, the void he left hasn't been filled. Those of us who are distinctly more ten-a-penny realise his true value as each year passes.

Peel proved you didn't have to be a facile egomaniac to bring people great music. By ensuring he was always in the background, he brought himself to the forefront of our hearts. It was only after a few weeks of listening to his show that I realised I had started to tune in to hear him, as much as the fascinating array of music he hung across the airwaves.

But I miss him now more than ever, because I think that an authoritative, knowledgeable, passionate and prominent voice has never been needed more. Every time The X Factor dupes some poor kid into thinking that talent and expression is all about further watering down the bum gruel of a claustrophobically narrow pop market, I wish John was here to show them another way.

I miss most the natural, enthusiastic eclecticism he brought to music. It was all music to John. I don't imagine he thought in terms of genres. I don't know for sure. I'm just extrapolating on the basis of the variety in his shows. It's an inspirational template - well, more accurately, lack of a template - that influences me every day of my working life.

I think of John every single Sunday. I think of him as I do my absolute best to listen to every track that has been sent my way. The stories I have read and heard of him falling asleep at his desk, a carrier bag of demos at his side, as he sought another moment of wonder or surprise for his audience, keeps me going. That appeared to be the common courtesy he extended to any band good enough to send him music. I try to do the same.

But I feel a little uncomfortable writing about me in terms of him. He is my broadcasting god, of that there is no doubt. However I know I'm not fit to lick his boots. It won't stop me trying.

Of course, John's legacy spreads much further and wider than the dark corner of Radio Wales that I love to inhabit. There are stages at festivals named after him. His name is invoked whenever someone wants to bring attention to new music. I'm not sure what a man who adored the complex opaqueness of The Fall or Captain Beefheart would have made of the easy listening, haircut indie that is positioned in the glow of his kudos. Yes, very rich from a man who is, in essence, doing the same in print form. This is, after all, one long missive screaming: think of ME in the same terms as the late, great John Peel.

That isn't my motivation.

He was my motivation.

I think the finest evocation of his legacy is 6 Music. Okay, it's more sanitised and 'branded' than Peel ever was. Don't get me wrong: I love 6 Music. I'd eat one of my own limbs in a moment for a gig on that station (right leg, if you were wondering). I also love Huw Stephens' Radio 1 show. And I love Rob Da Bank. But I'm rarely surprised listening to music radio now, in the way that I was at least once in every Peel show. Happy hardcore bouncing into Bolt Thrower into gypsy folk into, of course, The Fall (or Datblygu, Melys, Yr Anhrefn et al). You cannot program that random excellence.

There was always a thread, a narrative, through the shows. That thread, of course, was John. We knew all of the music had a place in his heart and that meant that it all, somehow, fitted together. The other great aspect of his music shows was the correspondence he would read out from alienated visionaries in Cleethorpes, clutching him to their lonely hearts via a crackly transistor under the blankets. The love in those letters and, latterly, emails was a reflection of how all of his listeners felt about him.

The frequent criticism I hear about Peel was that "he played a lot of rubbish, though". I guarantee that every one of his diehard audience had a differing opinion on which the rubbish tracks were. That is why he was so special. Members of all of the different musical tribes trusted Peel enough to persevere through the "rubbish" they didn't like because they knew he'd have at least one gem for them by the end of the show. Something they could go order from the local must and vinyl emporium. I'm not sure that there are many who trust the likes of me enough to persevere anymore. Music has become so fragmented and each of the tribes so insular.

Peel helped a couple of generations to be more broadminded than they would have been without his influence. Isn't that an incredible legacy?

You could argue that music lovers don't need a Peel anymore, that sound hounds can be more proactive, trawling blogs/download stores/local gigs and finding stuff for themselves. But Peel would have been better at it than us. He had great taste and unparalleled instincts. And he was brave. His embracing of punk to the chagrin of the proggers and pub rockers who'd started to take his show for granted is the most famous example of him challenging his audience. But he did that continually. Which probably explains The Cuban Boys.

In this bleak conservative age I applaud and miss his most un-conservative of minds and his humble, warm, authoritative tones. Happy Birthday Mr Peel.

John Peel, born 30 August 1939

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James McLaren James McLaren | 12:32 UK time, Tuesday, 30 August 2011

John Peel would have been 72 today and, although not from Wales, he did a lot for Welsh bands over the years. He supported both English- and Welsh-language acts and publicised acts being overlooked by the mainstream media.

John Peel, born 30 August 1939

John Peel, born 30 August 1939

Peel was rightly famed for giving airtime to bands out on limbs, whether political, linguistic or musical. Sometimes that enthusiasm gave us the unlistenable, but largely it gave us vital music that was vastly more influential than its sales might suggest.

It was also influential because of the very fact it was being played at all: that a DJ on national Radio One was willing to play Datblygu, Llwybr Llaethog or MC Mabon gave encouragement when all others were looking the other way.

Dyl Mei, producer and musician, says: "As most of the welsh media ignored a whole underground happening in Wales during the 1980s, he gave it the time of day. Thank god. Without that attention, you could say that the majority of Welsh language music bands would still sound like Cliff Richard or Bros".

For English-language bands Peel was also important. Airplay on his show was the first rung on the ladder that could potentially result in the kind of exposure that might make making a living in this art form a reality. People who wanted gold lamé pants and Italian marble baths didn't care about a Peel play, but people who simply wanted to pay their rent were grateful for the attention he paid them. It sometimes led to greater things.

From 1967 to 2004 he ploughed his lone furrow. Here are the Welsh acts to whom he gave sessions:

This morning I spoke to writer and musician Everett True about Peel's enthusiasm, especially for Welsh-language acts. True has reprinted on Collapseboard his Plan B eulogy to Peel. An extract of it appears here:

I never envied him, always admired him: felt that just once - just for one time - someone from our side had managed to slip through and infiltrate the mainstream. That he followed his own path was undeniable, that he continued to follow it, uncaring of what those with the power to make his life exceedingly difficult thought, was incredible. And he continued to follow his enthusiasm for music all the way through his life.

There's not a lot I can add to that sentiment, but if you would like to comment, if you have your own memories of Peel, feel free to do so. If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Reading and Leeds highlights

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:44 UK time, Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Another Reading And Leeds weekend has been and gone (each year reminding me how fantastic Reading 95 was, my first time there), and we're after your thoughts on the Welsh bands who played.

You can add your comments at the bottom, but in the meantime here are some video highlights from The Joy Formidable, Save Your Breath and Cuba Cuba.

Surprise guests join The Joy Formidable:

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Save Your Breath rock out:

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Cuba Cuba perform Fifty A Night, We Rode and Bonus:

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Manics announce National Treasures details, single release and gig

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:58 UK time, Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Manic Street Preachers have announced details of their forthcoming complete singles collection, National Treasures, plus a gig and a new single to coincide with the release.

Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers

The brand new track is a cover version of The The's 1983 single This Is The Day. It will be released on 7 November, a week after the album.

It is the first time the Manics have issued a cover version as a single since 1992's Suicide Is Painless.

National Treasures will be available as a double CD, a double CD and DVD set and a box set with 38 vinyl-finish CD singles, a poster, a DVD, 7" vinyl copies of New Art Riot, Suicide Alley and Jackie Collins Existential Question Time, plus special lipstick and vanity mirror. A limited number will also include a 7" vinyl copy of Motown Junk.

Tracklisting of National Treasures:

  • Motown Junk
  • Stay Beautiful
  • Love's Sweet Exile
  • You Love Us
  • Slash 'N' Burn
  • Motorcycle Emptiness
  • Suicide Is Painless
  • Little Baby Nothing
  • From Despair To Where
  • La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh)
  • Roses In The Hospital
  • Life Becoming A Landslide
  • Faster
  • Revol
  • She Is Suffering
  • A Design For Life
  • Everything Must Go
  • Kevin Carter
  • Australia
  • If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
  • The Everlasting
  • You Stole The Sun From My Heart
  • Tsunami
  • The Masses Against The Classes
  • So Why So Sad
  • Found That Soul
  • Ocean Spray
  • Let Robeson Sing
  • There By The Grace Of God
  • The Love Of Richard Nixon
  • Empty Souls
  • Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
  • Autumnsong
  • Indian Summer
  • (It's Not War) Just The End Of Love
  • Some Kind Of Nothingness
  • Postcards From A Young Man
  • This Is The Day

In support of the release, Manic Street Preachers will play the full track-listing live at London's O2 on Saturday 17 December. According to the band, it will involve: "Glitter, glamour, special guests and a ticker-tape celebration. A never to be repeated one-off visual experience encompassing 21 years of MSP with 38 songs - from 1990's Motown Junk to (but not in order!) 2011's This Is The Day. There will be an interval in order to top up on refreshments and like all the best parties, you'll talk about it for years to come and your friends will wish they'd been there."

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Sir Tom Jones cancels gig after health scare

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:21 UK time, Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sir Tom Jones was yesterday forced to cancel a concert in Monaco on doctors' orders after developing dehydration.

Sir Tom Jones

Read the BBC News story here.

It had been initially reported that the Pontypridd singer was in hospital because of a heart condition but a spokesman corrected those press reports, explaining:

"Sir Tom was ordered by doctors not to perform in Monte Carlo yesterday evening, due to severe dehydration.

"This was extremely disappointing for Tom, the band and all connected with the tour. There are no heart problems, as has been reported in the press."

You can read a full history of Sir Tom here.

Merthyr Rock stagetimes announced

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:26 UK time, Friday, 26 August 2011

Next weekend sees Merthyr Rock bring a good line-up of rock and indie acts to Cyfarthfa Park in Merthyr Tydfil from Friday 2 September to Sunday 4 September.

Sean Smith of The Blackout

Sean Smith of The Blackout

Here is the full line-up with stage times:

Friday 2 September
Big Deal Stage
10.00 - 11.00 - Ian Watkins DJ Set
9.35 - 9.55 - Fireworks
9.05 - 9.35 - Reaper In Sicily
8.15 - 8.45pm - Evarose
7.30 - 8.15pm - FMX Motocross Display Team
7.00 - 7.30pm - Editions

Saturday 3 September
Main Stage
9.50 - 11.00 - Ocean Colour Scene
8.05 - 9.05 - Cast
6.40 - 7.30 - Goldie Lookin' Chain
5.20 - 6.05 - Friends Electric
4.10 - 4.50 - Tiger Please
3.10 - 3.40 - Town
2.20 - 2.40 - Eric Unseen

Big Deal Stage
9.05 - 9.50 - The Last Republic
7.30 - 8.05 - Caesars Rome
6.05 - 6.40 - Straight Lines
4.50 - 5.20 - Masters in France
3.40 - 4.10 - The Broken Vinyl Club
2.40 - 3.10 - Cuba Cuba
2.00 - 2.20 - Richard Kinsey

Sunday 4 September
Main Stage
9.50 - 11.00 - The Blackout
8.20 - 9.20 - Funeral For A Friend
6.50 - 7.50 - Skindred
5.40 - 6.20 - Young Guns
4.30 - 5.10 - Attack! Attack!
3.20 - 4.00 - My Passion
2.20 - 2.50 - Revoker
1.35 - 2.00 - The Guns
12.50 - 1.15 - Go - X

Big Deal Stage
9.05 - 9.50 - Future Of The Left
7.50 - 8.20 - Jettblack
6.20 - 6.50 - Exit_International
5.10 - 5.40 - Save Your Breath
4.00 - 4.30 - The Social Club
2.50 - 3.20 - Spycatcher
2.00 - 2.20 - The Dead Beggars Club
1.15 - 1.35 - Crossbreaker
12.30 - 12.50 - The Hotel Ambush

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Katherine Jenkins asks fans not to buy One Fine Day compilation

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:59 UK time, Thursday, 25 August 2011

Neath singer Katherine Jenkins has asked her fans not to buy One Fine Day, a forthcoming compilation of her earlier work.

Cover artwork for Katherine Jenkins' One Fine Day

Cover artwork for Katherine Jenkins' One Fine Day

She tweeted:

"Just heard that Universal @DeccaRecords are putting out YET ANOTHER compilation album of my music called One Fine Day. Considering that I haven't recorded 4 them since 2008, there is NO new music & it's stuff u already have. Don't want u 2 feel conned. Pls RT #DontBuyOneFineDay"

One Fine Day is due for release through Decca on 10 October, while Daydream is out on Warner Brothers on the same day.

Cover artwork for Katherine Jenkins' Daydream

Cover artwork for Katherine Jenkins' Daydream

Decca is part of Universal, whom she left in 2008 to join Warners in a £5.8million. Speaking to the Western Mail, a Decca spokesman said: "Decca is delighted to be releasing a new collection of favourite Katherine Jenkins songs this autumn, coupled with a special bonus DVD, to celebrate her extraordinary ongoing career and artistic progression."

Three compilations of Jenkins' music have previously been released. From The Heart was issued by Polydor only in China in 2007. It was followed two years later by The Ultimate Collection (Decca), and in 2011 by Sweetest Love (Universal).

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Swansea indie legends to play last ever Welsh show

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:11 UK time, Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Swansea band The Pooh Sticks are gearing up for their last ever Welsh show.

Huw Williams

Huw Pooh of The Pooh Sticks

The C86 indie-popsters will play Cardiff's Globe venue on Saturday 3 September with The School and Tender Trap.

Frontman Huw Pooh said: "Though I am a native of Swansea, the premier city of Wales, I look forward to playing our last ever show in downtown Cardiff.

"We rarely played in Wales, this is really only our second ever headline show in Wales; we never even played Swansea and this is our first Cardiff show since we played with The Pastels and The Vaselines in 1989."

The gig is one of the first to be held after the reopening of the Cardiff venue after a period of refurbishment and under new management.

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Beyoncé to play Michael Forever via satellite

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:09 UK time, Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Ex-Destiny's Child star, and solo behemoth Beyoncé has been announced as a performer for the Michael Forever tribute concert.



The singer won't, however, be playing in person, but will perform one of her favourite Jackson 5 songs via satellite. On the event's Facebook page organisers have announced: "Beyoncé Beams Into Michael Forever Tribute! A unique, never-before-seen performance by Beyonce of one of her favourite Jackson 5 songs will be shown at the concert on 8 October! A lifelong Michael fan, Beyoncé really wanted to be involved in this tribute concert. Due to scheduling issues she can't be there in person, but this performance is not to be missed!"

She joins joins Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis, JLS, Cee Lo Green, Smokey Robinson and Craig David at the Millennium Stadium event.

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The Blackout crowdsource video for new single

James McLaren James McLaren | 13:24 UK time, Monday, 22 August 2011

Merthyr's The Blackout are turning to their fans in the making of the video for their forthcoming single, You're Not Alone.

The Blackout

The Blackout

The rockers are asking for clips of their fans "having a good time" in whatever manner they see fit.

On the band's official website they say: "We're making a brand new video for our upcoming single You're Not Alone and we want you involved.

"We want all our fans from across the world to get together in their towns or cities and film yourselves hanging out, having fun, listening to music, having a picnic, playing football, dancing...whatever. If you're at a famous landmark from your city represent it! Just all of you hanging out and being with your friends.

"Film yourselves travelling to wherever you're going, or planning your day out. Or if you're coming to see us any time this week catch yourselves in the crowd. Whatever you feel. We just want a collection of clips of all you lot having a good time!"

Submissions are needed by Thursday 1 September and technical details can be found on the band's website above.

Marina's Radioactive

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:07 UK time, Monday, 22 August 2011

Marina And The Diamonds' new single, Radioactive, was premièred this morning on Fearne Cotton's Radio 1 show.

Marina and The Diamonds

Marina and The Diamonds

It is a one-off single, released on 3 October through 679 Recordings, prior to the release of her eagerly-anticipated second album. It retains Marina's distinctive husky vocals, which is a married to a storming dance production job courtesy of Stargate (Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry).

Watch the single here:;p>

The 25-year-old Abergavenny singer-songwriter has recently been touring the USA with Perry. She said: "I wrote Radioactive in New York in the middle of a heat wave. Introduced to a glittering new night-life, I fell in love with New York; it has this magic, fizzing white energy that no other city in the world has.

"I felt happy and was inspired to write a song that felt light and euphoric, a more streamlined, minimalistic style of song-writing. I have changed my approach to song-writing completely, and as a result, written songs I would never have written on my own (ie on my Argos keyboard alone in my bedroom in London).

"I've been working hard on my new album for a year and a half and hope Radioactive can tide you over until it's ready."

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 21 August 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 11:32 UK time, Monday, 22 August 2011

This week's show is now available via the BBC iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme.

This week's show is all about the music. Fewer gaps for speaky bits mean we get more amazing (mostly) new, (almost entirely) Welsh sounds.

For example, recorded live at last month's Gwyl Gardd Goll festival, we have Yr Ods headline set from the Y Nyth Stage on the Saturday night. There was proper dancing, drink spilling, snogging and festival mayhem during their set of irresistible electro indie. Open a warm can of lager, shut your eyes, barge into whoever may be beside you, and you'll almost recreate the experience. It'd help if you have a scale model of Bryn Terfel's mansion to hand...

There are also debut plays for Prince Edward Island (if Flaming Lips backed Arab Strap, this facetious comparison would tell only one of this album's many compelling stories); Golden Fable (the new project from Tim of Tim and Sam: a crisp winter morning perfectly sonicified); Stu Shaw (future disco re-interpretation of a Marvin Gaye classic); Boy Set Sail (top drawer pop punk) and Eve Goodman (prodigious, sunshine-voiced songwriter from Caernarfon).

Elsewhere, Ben Hayes inspires us with something amazing and too frequently over-looked from The Monkees. And there are 1st plays for amazing new tracks from all over Wales. Please see the playlist for further details.

Right - I'm on a mission this week to hear as much new music from all over Wales as is humanely possible. Please send download links/mp3s/recommendations to

Some guidance on sending music to the show is available on the BBC Wales Music blogs (part one of four).

Have an excellent week!




ASTROID BOYS - 'Punkrock Crowd ( Exotope Clean Edit )'

MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY - 'Inflammable Heart'

IFAN DAFYDD - 'Miranda'

KUTOSIS - 'Shadows ( Single )'

Y NIWL - 'Un Deg Saith'

BWGAN, Y - 'Dali Lawr'

EVM 128 (EVERMEAN) - 'D. N. A. ( Instrumental )'

SHONEN KNIFE - 'Blitzkreig Bop'

HELEN LOVE - 'I Love Indiepop'

POOH STICKS, THE - 'The World Is Turning On'

EUROS CHILDS - 'Don't Get Wonky'

H. HAWKLINE - 'Funny Bones'

TRUCKERS OF HUSK - 'Awesome Tapes From Africa ( Plyci Remix )'

London/Cardiff Distribution

JOHN MOUSE - 'Sex With You'

HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT - 'For What Is Chatteris'


GOLDEN FABLE - 'The Chill Pt. 2'

Milford Haven

BOOM BIP - 'Do As I Do ( Featuring Cate Le Bon )'
Los Angeles/Penboyr

RACE HORSES - 'Benidorm'

MR HEALAN - 'Fish Taco'

STU SHAW - 'Starlost'

BOY SET SAIL - 'Rewind'

GWILYM MORUS - 'Y Llinell Rwyn Llunio'

ANNI ROSSI - 'Candyland'
Chicago/New York (cardiff Label)

TROUP - 'Some Lie'
Monmouth/Los Angeles

HOLY COVES - 'Euthanasia'


DOOM REGGAE - 'Sorry ( Radio Edit )'

BILLY GONE BAD - 'Call Me Rotten'

YR ODS - 'Live Set From Gwyl Gardd Goll'


BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'

MONKEES, THE - 'Carlisle Wheeling'
Los Angeles

POCKET VENUS - 'Godspeed'

Manic Street Preachers announce a sabbatical

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:22 UK time, Monday, 22 August 2011

Manic Street Preachers bassist and mouthpiece Nicky Wire has said the band will "disappear for quite a long time" following the release of their forthcoming complete singles collection.

National Treasures will be released through Columbia on 31 October. "It feels like it's going to be two or three years before we do come back after this greatest hits," he told NME.

In a typically interesting interview, Wire talked about the recent England riots, their career and the benefits of taking some time off.

The release of the album will be followed by the publication of Death Of A Polaroid: A Manics Family Album, a book featuring photographs taken by Wire. He told Q Magazine: "It's the cream of my collection of around 6,000 to 10,000 Polaroid photos. Some of The Holy Bible-era Polaroids are odd because they're from when Richey was hospitalised. There's a shot of me and (frontman) James (Dean Bradfield) that's bleak."

Listen to Nicky Wire and Sean Moore talk about their 10 favourite songs from their back catalogue

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Time to celebrate Green Man

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:22 UK time, Friday, 19 August 2011

While most people's thoughts are with the victims of the Pukkelpop disaster this weekend, there is space to celebrate an event that is much closer to home: Green Man.

The 15,000-capacity festival has sold out for the third year running and kicks off today at its home at the Glanusk Estate near Crickhowell. While it's grown from its 2003-era boutique status into a much larger affair, it has retained an atmosphere that many people I know think makes it very special.

Some of that might be the stunning location, cosseted in a lush valley in the Brecon Beacons, but its staunch desire to retain the vision of its founders, Jo and Danny Hagan, has meant that it has done that rarest of things: growing without compromising. Current festival organiser Fiona Stewart (who came to prominence with the Big Chill festival in the Malvern Hills) seems to have married top-name acts with a cornucopia of grassroots Welsh acts.

Stewart told the Western Mail: "It's not owned by one of the entertainment corporate companies that own many festivals, like Special Republic or Live Nation. It's independently run, which means the content is not being put in there because we have to do it through some kind of financial deal. Everything is in there because of the creativity of the people who organise it."

While the likes of Fleet Foxes, Noah And The Whale, Iron And Wine and Laura Marling provide the 'draws', there are some nice home-grown acts to check out across the site's four music stages. The Gentle Good, Y Niwl, H Hawkline, 9 Bach, Chailo Sim and Zwolf are just some of the Welsh ones to catch.

On Saturday 20 August at 6.30pm on BBC Radio Wales you can catch Bethan Elfyn's show from Green Man with interviews and live sessions from some of the artists, including Villagers, 9Bach, Hannah Peel and Martin Carr.

See also: Green Man official website.

Welsh bands affected by Pukkelpop disaster

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:22 UK time, Friday, 19 August 2011

Two Welsh bands have fallen victim to the cancellation of Belgium's Pukkelpop festival in the wake of yesterday's disaster which saw five people killed in a stage collapse caused by a sudden, violent storm.

Kids In Glass Houses were meant to be playing today while The Joy Formidable were due to play tomorrow.

Last night KIGH tweeted the simple message "Our thoughts go out to everyone at Pukkelpop." Shay of the band added: "Absolutely gutted about the Pukkelpop news. Shocking."

I spoke to Simon Young, deputy editor of Kerrang! magazine this morning. He said: "Those who run Pukkelpop have a great reputation as being some of the most kind and accommodating people in the music industry. This festival - like Download, Sonisphere, Reading, Leeds or Germany's Rock am Ring and Rock Im Park - is an extremely important part and much loved fixture of the European circuit. Many of the bands I've spoken to have nothing but good things to say about the festival and the fans who attend.

"We were all very shocked when we heard the news. We watched YouTube footage of one of the stages collapsing and couldn't believe how much destruction the weather was causing to the site. Our deepest sympathies go to the friends and families of those who were killed or injured. Imagine a loved one going to a rock festival and never coming back; it's too upsetting to comprehend."

Pukkelpop is one of Europe's main outdoor festivals and over 60,000 people were believed to have been on site. Some of the world's major acts have reacted to the disaster. Foo Fighters tweeted: "Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the tragic events at Pukkelpop. For information +32 (0) 11 23 97 11."

Fleet Foxes said: "We are all safe at Pukkelpop. Crazy storm. This is awful. Hearts go out to all." Blink 182's Travis Barker tweeted: "Really sad about Pukkelpop. Another stage collapses [5] dead and tons of people hurt. My heart goes out. Not supposed to happen at shows."

Skunk Anansie were playing the main stage when the storm hit. Singer Skin curtailed the set and made a swift exit for the sake of self-preservation. She tweeted: "My heart goes out to those kids who came to see their favourite bands and ended up losing their lives and getting hurt, so sad right now.".

Here is a view of debris in the air at the end of Skunk Anansie's set:

The Chateau stage at the site was brought down in the storm, while the Shelter stage was damaged. Trees were uprooted and many tents and equipment were destroyed.

Lostprophets - Solus, Cardiff, 17 August 2011

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:06 UK time, Thursday, 18 August 2011

Last night Lostprophets played a homecoming show at Cardiff University's Solus venue. It was one of the few Cardiff shows from the Pontypridd band I've missed since first seeing them in 2001.

Lostprophets at Solus, Cardiff by Sam P

Lostprophets at Solus, Cardiff by Sam P

Given that fact (a sad one, as I always like catching up with them), I decided this morning to crowd-source some Twitter thoughts instead. Of course, it's a self-selecting audience but I think in these days of social media that's not intrinsically a bad thing. Collating tweets on an event is more about reflecting an audience's reaction rather than reviewing it.

So here are a few of those fans' tweets, encapsulating one of Wales' best-loved bands of the last decade in 140 characters:

nataliejevans Lostprophets were awesome last night :) u can't beat a home gig.

sharifowadally Amazing. Full of energy and connecting with crowd as usual.Jamie getting involved more added a whole new dimension to the gig.

Hyperpower22 They smashed out the hits. Great set spanning their entire career and a new 1! Circle pit for shinobi was killer!

neilharries87 The smaller venue made for a great atmosphere, @ian_watkins' banter was quality, they were awesome as usual!

danielnicholls A complete home run. Best gig I've been to in a long while. Triumphant return to Wales!

xgabylpx One of the best performances by the band after being away for so long, new song promises an energetic and positive new album.

SamPan_24 So good they were! Back with a vengeance! All the sing-a-long hits! Brilliant live!

s_gummer Great gig last night. Good set list and atmosphere. Support band TOWN were also good, will definitely check them out again.

Even the local rock glitterati were in on the act. The Blackout's drummer Snoz Lawrence said: "Last night reaffirmed to me that @lostprophets are STILL one of the best live bands/best bands in general about today! Truly inspirational! X".

And when I asked the boys in the band what they thought of the night, Jamie Oliver said: "It was an amazing night! So great to play an intimate show back at home. I'll never forget it."

But there was one dissenting voice. AmyO2Angel said: "It's the worst I've ever seen of LPS, too much messing around on stage and whoever booked that venue should be sacked!"

Were you there? Comment below and share your thoughts! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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More turmoil for Michael Forever

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:38 UK time, Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, hitherto restricted to top-class sport and occasional concerts, has unwittingly become a battleground in the continuing farrago surrounding Michael Forever, the Michael Jackson tribute concert due to take place on 8 October.

As we reported yesterday Kiss were added to the line-up, despite quotes attributed to the group's lead singer Gene Simmons, accusing Jackson of paedophilia. Overnight, news has emerged that Kiss have now been removed from the event by promoter Global Live Events (GLE).

GLE's Chris Hunt said in a statement. "Under the circumstances we fully agree that even though Kiss is a band Michael admired we have no choice but to rescind our invitation to them to appear in our tribute concert.

"We offer our sincerest apologies to Mrs Jackson and the family for this oversight - our primary concern must be to do justice to Michael's memory, and to put on a tribute that the family and the fans will find suitable and fit for a King, our King of Pop."

According to MTV this latest news comes on top of an increasingly bitter row between Jackson's estate and the concert organisers.

Estate lawyer Howard Weitzman has sent a letter to the concert organisers, saying: "I represent the Executors of the Estate of Michael Jackson. As the legal caretakers of Michael's intellectual property, we believe it is our duty to contact you directly regarding the growing number of questions that have been addressed to the Estate, as well as multiple concerns that have emerged in recent days."

While the organisers of Michael Forever have been careful not to impinge on the intellectual property owned by the estate, it is clear that a wedge is being driven between the parties and increasingly the concert is looking like it's floundering.

BBC Entertainment and Arts quote Michael's brother Jermaine on Twitter:

"This mishandling reinforces my view that this promoter is getting it all wrong. It also saddens me that my mother is being used to promote this event. Does Global Live really need an 81-year-old woman to prop up its event? Stop.

"I hear you all. Global Live mishandled this booking in the same way it has misjudged the event's timing and mood of the fan community."

With fans sceptical over the booking processes, the lacklustre line-up and lack of clarity over the charitable element, it's far from a guaranteed success. It will be interesting to see if the high-profile acts confirmed for the concert will stay supportive if the concert continues to be beset by problems.

The letter from Weitzman concludes: "Michael Jackson always made sure his fans were treated to concert experiences so spectacular that they would remember the evening for the rest of their lives. He always treated his fans with the utmost respect. In light of the questions raised above and the confusion surrounding this 'event,' we are extremely concerned about Michael's legacy, his fans and the public-at-large."

The Vanities, 10 years on

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:20 UK time, Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Last week I was contacted by an old friend, Rhys Bradley of Cardiff band The Vanities, telling me their self-titled début album was due for release on 12 September. "What the hell?" was my initial reaction, seeing as the band had first come on my radar in 2001, and I had seen them perform at In The City in 2002. Their day seemed to have been and gone by the middle of the decade; they sparkled and faded many moons ago.

The Vanities

The Vanities

So I wanted to know the story: why on Earth would The Vanities choose to release the album a full decade after they started? And what was the story of what they've been up to since I last saw them?

Rhys was glad to fill me in. What he has to say is an interesting perspective on the passage of time, the factors that affect a band when they don't get signed, when they don't get the breaks. It's also a great look back to how the local scene used to be.

"The Vanities formed in 2001 and began performing that September, making our live début at Clwb Ifor Bach just a few days after the demise of the World Trade Centre. Whilst foreign policies began shifting in a way that would define the next decade, we were glad to be in the bubble that was the Cardiff music scene at that time. The Barfly had recently opened its doors to 21 bands per week which, along with Clwb and The Toucan Club meant that hot new music was everywhere in the capital.

"Boobytrap Records was also fairly new and providing great exposure for bands through their increasingly influential singles club whilst Welsh Music Foundation's magazine Honk (later Sound Nation) was giving local artists column inches on a monthly basis. Whilst undoubtedly an overused term, there really was a strong 'scene' which included bands such as The Loves, Small Victories, The Martini Henry Rifles, Transposer, Sammo Hung, Watershed and Kilo-C along with ourselves and many others.

"Many of these bands got to know each other personally and became friends, despite the diversity of their music. Indeed, it was almost as though there was a self-styled 'brat pack' of local bands. This was before the days of Facebook and Myspace and bands were yet to realise the full potential of the internet, so in many ways there was a greater emphasis on face to face interaction.

"Some bands were lucky enough to get a single released by Boobytrap Records, something which was much sought-after at the time. Our own Boobytrap single, Space Tourist, helped us gain a great deal of exposure and opened many doors. It was single of the week for a prolonged period on Kevin Hughes' BBC Wales radio show whilst the record also gained airplay from the late great John Peel on Radio 1. Perhaps most significantly, it helped us get selected for the official In The City A&R conference in Manchester along with 12 other Welsh bands - a good indicator of the strength of the scene at that time.

"Unfortunately this didn't bag us the big record deal, with our style and sound being somewhat out of step with what was currently in vogue (perhaps we were ahead of our time given the later emergence and success of The Killers, La Roux and Little Boots etc!). Between 2002 and 2006 we gigged extensively up and down the country with a strong emphasis on London, where we were embraced by many of the ultra cool 'electro-clash' club nights of Camden and Soho.

"We made many friends along the way and had some unforgettable experiences. We also released a number of records on our own Star Asylum label which were well received. But in 2007 The Vanities went on an indefinite hiatus. This was due to a combination of things: disillusionment, burn-out and a desire to do other things and have different experiences. After many years of slumming it and tolerating dead-end, soul-destroying jobs purely to finance the band, we did a bit of a Renton and chose 'life', kicking our addiction to the band.

"So we went away and spent several years doing things that might be considered 'normal': re-training, getting married, getting mortgages, having kids and so on. Music took a back seat and for a time in seemed as though Rock Band on the PS3 was the closest we would come to performing together again. But earlier this year we started to get the itch. We also felt that we had unfinished business, with a big regret being that we never released an album, despite amassing a large body of work.

"A lot of rehearsing, mastering and remixing later and The Vanities are back next month with their self-titled début album. We are launching the album with a show at Clwb Ifor Bach on Saturday 10 September.

"It's an interesting coincidence that our return to the stage is exactly a decade since we made our début. We return to a scene that is very different from the one we departed: the Barfly has shut its doors for the last time, Boobytrap Records is no longer trading and our 'brat pack' contemporaries appear to be no more.

"Honk/Sound Nation has long since gone out of print and social networking appears to be eclipsing social interaction. There's a new generation of bands on the block although whether the scene is as vibrant as a decade ago is unclear. Wars have been fought, regimes have fallen and governments have changed since 2001. As well as being a vehicle for our music, The Vanities provides us a framework for reflecting on life and how so much can change is such relatively short time. It is clear that we have changed a lot as people since our beginnings as a band, as has the local scene and the world that we inhabit. It is almost reassuring then that our music remains the same."

For me, the return of The Vanities is exactly as Rhys says: it's a window into a world in which a younger version of me was enthused by a local indie scene that provided me with my job for five years, more or less. Their music is exactly as I remember it: Pet Shop Boys-meets-New Romantic synthy anthems with shades of Wales' other synth god, David Wrench.

It's good, in other words. If you're feeling old, or nostalgic, or you're a young buck wondering how Cardiff used to do things, it'd be worth checking out the record or the reunion gig.

Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Sŵn puts on Advancing 101 for performers

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:09 UK time, Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sŵn festival and Welsh Music Foundation, in conjunction with Music Wales and UK Trade and Investment, are putting on two workshops aimed at helping everyone involved in music take their performance into the professional world.

Taking place at Cardiff's Chapter Arts Centre on 7 September (2.30-4.30pm, free), the workshops, say Sŵn, will "help bands, band managers, promoters and musicians get more shows and get better shows.

"They offer musicians and performers a chance to learn about the essentials and jargon involved with playing a show - from sorting out tech specs to learning about input lists, watch what live show and festival bookers are looking for, what you need to give them and how to prepare and deliver it.

"The organisers of Sŵn are on hand to help guide delegates through the vagaries and confusion and give tips on how to have a great show before sound check begins. Bands are often booked according to how good they are but sometimes they're booked according to how well prepared they are. Be well prepared!"

This session is delivered by Fionna Allan who has over 10 years' experience working for major festivals and road managing tours across the UK, Europe, North and South America, Australia and Japan with artists including LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, Will Young, Peaches, The Kills, The Pipettes, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Sinead O'Connor.

She said: "Getting it right before you hit the road can mean the difference between a great show and chaos! I was lucky enough to have a really experienced tour manager walk me through how to advancing a show, a tour, a festival and having worked on both sides of the fence, I hope to do the same for other people."

Also taking place at Chapter Arts Centre, International Calling... (5-7pm, free) is for all musicians, interactive companies, music enterprises and media producers who are interested in taking their music overseas, broadening creative business contacts and attending key international trade events. The Music Wales team will be joined by members of UK Trade and Investment and representatives from two of the music and interactive industry's biggest conference and showcase events - South by South West and Midem - offering the low-down on trade missions and how you can reach that wider international market.

To reserve your place on one of both of these free sessions, please email or phone 029 2049 4110.

Crazy Crazy Nights for Michael Jackson tribute concert

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:38 UK time, Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The line-up for the Michael Forever tribute concert took a strange turn yesterday with the announcement that American stadium rock giants Kiss will be performing.

The announcement has caused some furore amongst Michael Jackson fans groups as Kiss frontman Gene Simmons, in the weeks following the singer's death in 2009, accused him of paedophilia.

The website has released a statement articulating some of these fans' grievances:

"Again today, GLE had hit a new low and stomped again on Michael Jackson's legacy, by announcing the addition of Gene Simmons to the tribute line up. This announcement was the latest insult to Michael Jackson's memory, his children and his fans, after a strings of questionable decisions.

"In the days following Michael Jackson's death, Gene Simmons has made slanderous, derogatory comments about Michael and his children. He had also questioned the numerous homage [sic] paid to the singer, so it is quite ironic that Simmons has now agreed to himself pay tribute to the man he called a child predator."

But, for many, the addition of one of the world's biggest bands is a step in the right direction as the event moves away from the problems that beset its early days, struggling to announce major acts and reeling from negative reaction to the booking procedure and charitable involvement, which has now been simplified.

As of today, 16 August, the line-up is as follows:

  • 3T
  • Alien Ant Farm
  • Cee Lo Green
  • Christina Aguilera/li>
  • Craig David
  • Jackson Brothers
  • JLS
  • Kiss
  • Leona Lewis
  • Smokey Robinson

Does the addition of Kiss make you want to go? Let us know what you think of the line-up so far. If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Christina Aguilera, JLS, Leona Lewis, Smokey Robinson and Cee Lo Green for Michael Forever

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James McLaren James McLaren | 07:04 UK time, Friday, 12 August 2011

Michael Forever, the Michael Jackson tribute concert due to take place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, has announced its first tranche of acts, possibly offsetting some of the negative press which has beset so event this far.

Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis, JLS, Smokey Robinson and Cee Lo Green have been confirmed for the 8 October event.

Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis

They are being joined by Alien Ant Farm (who had a hit single with a cover version of Smooth Criminal), Craig David and 3T - three of Michael Jackson's nephews, who had a few hit singles in 1996.



Paul Ring, the US director of the concert's promoter Global Live Events, said: "This announcement is just the beginning; we have many more to announce. This concert will unite various generations and musical genres, reminding everyone of just how amazing a talent Michael was."

Chris Hunt, the president of Global Live Events, said: "We're delighted that such exciting and globally recognised acts have joined the line-up to pay tribute to a music legend. This is going to be a spectacular event, and one not to be missed! I'm also pleased to say that we'll be adding more amazing headliners in the days to come."

The concert will be broadcast around the world in both 2D and 3D. Charities that will benefit from the proceeds include The Aids Project LA and The Prince's Trust.

What do you think of the line-up so far? Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Aberjazz 2011

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:48 UK time, Thursday, 11 August 2011

There are lots of small festivals in Wales, many great little events existing because of people's love of the genres they're working with, but most don't achieve the recognition of something like Green Man or Wakestock.

I took a call last week from Richard James of the Aberjazz jazz and blues festival (25-29 August, Fishguard). He explained to me how Aberjazz has no external sponsorship or funding, and exists simply because of a passion on the part of the organisers to get great acts to Fishguard each year.

"Aberjazz is a community group made up of a core of six people and a full committee of about 12; all of us are volunteers," he said.

"We all love jazz and blues music, but most of all we love our special coastal county of Pembrokeshire and we all do our best to plan and organise a festival that combines our pride of place with fabulous music.

Eddie Martin

Eddie Martin, headlining the blues side of Aberjazz 2011

"We have no major sponsor and we have no grants from a government agency. We put together our festival with money gathered from advertising in our festival programme, ticket sales and bucketing, bucketing, bucketing. All year round we try to put on small events and busking sessions just to add to our budget and with the help of local clubs and pubs who help pay towards our performers we have succeeded in putting on seven festivals so far.

"Each year we go through nerves and minor panic as we hope to balance our books, but we are all still driven by the desire to create a premier event in Wales. We try to bring the best of jazz and blues to our local populace, who would never normally get the opportunity to see such great musicians live, whilst providing a special venue for all jazz and blues lovers to come to enjoy.

"The members of our little team are Paul, an IT professional; Alice, a doctor's receptionist; Hazel, a local authority officer; Liz, a social worker; Chrissy, who runs a B&B and me, Richard, a project manager. Each of us tend to live our music through the festival, each with his or her job to do to try and make it happen. We all feel that we provide musicians with an opportunity to perform for their audience and we all believe that what we do is for the good of our community (smaller and larger)."

While I have seen a lot of Welsh festivals come and go over the years, whether through incompetence or misfortune, events like Aberjazz, run by people with an obvious passion and amazing work ethic, enrich the cultural life of the country massively. People like Richard should be applauded for endeavouring to bring something different to music fans in Wales.

Jazz acts playing in 2011:

  • Kit Downes sextet
  • The Dave Jones Trio
  • James Morton's Porkchop
  • Adam Palma
  • Wonderbrass
  • Jason Yarde
  • Organic
  • Little Rumba
  • Moodswing
  • Freewheelers
  • Tudor And The Rhythm Kings
  • Wibble

Blues acts playing in 2011:

  • Eddie Martin
  • Virgil and the Accelerators
  • The Grey Goose Band
  • Lowri Evans
  • Pat Grover's Blues Hawks
  • Simon Stone Duo
  • Red Eyed Fly
  • Smokin Hoggs
  • Hideaway Trio
  • West Coast Blues Band
  • Mark Pontin Group
  • Call Me Albert
  • Karl Griffiths

Are you going to Aberjazz? What do you think of the festival? If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Cee Lo for Michael Forever, Kanye and Xtina say maybe, but Bieber says no

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:11 UK time, Wednesday, 10 August 2011

As previously announced, Michael Forever, a tribute concert for Michael Jackson, is due to be taking place in Cardiff on 8 October and has apparently booked its first big name act.

Celebrity-chasing tabloid website TMZ has reported that Jackson's mother, Katherine, has been personally inviting music megastars to perform.

They say that so far Cee Lo is the only one to say yes, Christina Aguilera and Kayne West are 'leaning towards "yes"' while Chris Brown, Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars have "respectfully declined".'

CNN Entertainment are reporting that more line-up details will be announced today, as the family and Global Live Events attempt to steady the concert in the wake of cancelled announcements and fan denunciations.

This statement was put on the company's website earlier this week:

The organisers of the Michael Forever Tribute Concert are very mindful of the expectations of the fans, who have waited over two years for an event that will do justice to Michael's musical legacy. Some of the greatest names in music are already signed, and more are trying to shuffle other commitments to come on board.

Chairman of Global Live Events Chris Hunt said "We will be announcing an incredible line-up very soon. The registration period was put on hold because we want people to know who they are registering to see. Between now and October we will be continuing to add names to the line-up so more announcements will follow. Fans of Michael's music will get the concert they've been waiting for."

But reactions from fans on the event's Facebook page are sceptical: "Hopefully we might start getting the truth now. They are rapidly running out of options," said Jamie Smithson, while Sam Bol said simply: "Has this farce been cancelled yet?"

As I said in my original blog on this concert, this concert needs to deliver; there have been too many false hopes raised among fans of Michael Jackson over the months since his death. Concerts are mooted, announced and then abandoned. It would be great for the fans and for Wales if Michael Forever gets off the ground, and can sell out its 70,000 tickets. Time is running out, though.

And if you missed it, here's a great clip of Michael Jackson fans before his 1988 Cardiff Arms Park gig:

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Are you planning to go to Michael Forever? What do you think of the latest news? If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Independent music sector reels from London riots

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:43 UK time, Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The London riots affected the UK music industry last night in a devastating fashion. An arson attack at Sony DADC's distribution centre in Enfield totally destroyed the building and the stock inside, including the UK's largest stock of independently-released records.

Pias Entertainment Group (formerly Vital) distributes a huge list of independent companies' releases. A large proportion of its stock was held at the Enfield centre.

Pias Entertainment's head of digital marketing Darren Hemmings tweeted: "OK: I can confirm that the Sony DADC warehouse in Enfield did burn to the ground, and Sony holds Pias stock... In terms of the impact to Pias etc., the situation remains to be clarified. Again, I will not post anything until I have confirmed info... I'm getting quoted a lot so want to reiterate: we know DADC was destroyed and are waiting to confirm exactly how badly this has affected Pias ."

A later statement on their website said: ""There was a fire last night at the SonyDADC warehouse which services the physical distribution for Pias in the UK and Ireland. Pias is working closely with SonyDADC who are implementing their emergency plans. Pias' UK offices in London and all other areas of our business are unaffected. More information will be communicated shortly to all our labels and partners."

Welsh label Turnstile is affected badly. Alun of the label told me: "A huge blow. Fatal in the cases of some labels whose whole stock and source of income has been destroyed. And for others a massive massive headache in facing weeks of uncertainty while the true cost of lost stock and temporary collapse of distribution system is calculated."

Matt Jarrett of Diverse Vinyl is devastated. "I guess we'll find out in the next few days and weeks [what effect this attack will have on the independent sector].

"To give you some idea of the impact on us, our Pias section of CDs is the same size as Warner, EMI and Sony put together. People now buy CDs by the likes of Coldplay in Tesco for seven quid so there's no point us stocking them. When it comes to buying albums, both on CD and vinyl, from bands on Domino, 4AD, Warp, XL, Xtra Mile and Loose then the independent record shop is going to be people's first port of call.

"Some of these labels are hopefully big enough to cope and it'll mean a massive headache of an insurance claim, delayed releases and cash flow issue but some simply won't cope with this.

"I have friends at Loose Music. They're a small label that is run with the heart as much as the chequebook, by people who are genuine music fans. Going by what I've heard this morning, it may [be in danger]. I'm sure there are other labels in the same boat. In an age where majors would rather bang out 'deluxe' editions of albums released 10 years ago rather than gamble on new music, these labels are the good guys. It could have a massive effect in the years to come if these labels didn't exist.

"I honestly have no idea what quantities of stock we are talking about and hopefully labels have their releases dotted about warehouses in different countries too but, on a local level, Straight Lines, Future Of The Left, Gruff Rhys to name a few, will have had the majority of physical product in existence destroyed in this fire.

"Bands will have their incomes hit as they won't have sales of back catalogue and may well have new releases delayed. It's going to have a knock-on effect right down to our customers that are waiting for the new Toddla T or Wooden Shjips albums that are supposed to be released on Monday.

"I'm just a bit numb. I have friends at labels that won't have jobs and friends in bands that will have lost the records that they're worked so hard to create. We'll lose a few quid too, as will other shops but that's irrelevant compared to what others are having to cope with."

Tom Bridgewater of Loose Records said: "All of our stock, amounting to around 10,000 CDs and Vinyl LPs, was destroyed overnight in the fire at Sony DADC. We are a small independent label and the implications for us are likely to be severe. We have new albums from bands that were due to be released in early September, all that stock has been destroyed.

"It will be very difficult for us to re-manufacture in time to hit the release dates. Suddenly everyone wants more records manufactured at the same time and not many of us can afford to pay for these records to effectively be manufactured twice.The cashflow implications are obviously very worrying. Around 150 labels at Pias find themselves in similar situations. What will happen to Pias and all who work there? All of us here at Loose Music are currently in a state of shock."

On Beggars Group chairman Martin Mills described the effect on the independent sector as "horrible, horrible".

But there are moves to mitigate the losses and clear sense of necessary actions has emerged. Ashli Todd of Cardiff's Spillers record shop said: "The determination and motivation that goes in to running an operation like Pias and the labels involved will be undoubtedly be applied to the rebuild and repair following this destruction."

The Association of Independent Music's chief executive Alison Wenham said: "We released an emergency bulletin this morning. It's terrible news, obviously it appears to be have burned to the ground. There's nothing left.

"We're a strong community though; other independent distributors are rallying round to help. Labels who have stock can be distributed, and other labels whose stock has gone may be able to access the distributors once a clearer picture has emerged."

She is also urging fans to buy digital copies of the affected labels' albums to provide a short-term cashflow benefit to allow many to stay afloat. "What music fans can do to show their support for the indie label community, and help them survive this disaster is to buy a digital download of an album from any one of the digital retailers in the UK, as well as going to their local record store while their stock lasts.

"This way, the labels will be able to re-manufacture their CDs and vinyl more quickly, to resupply the record shops who are also affected by the riots. This is a disaster for the music community, but with the fans' help, labels and artists will survive. Please show your support for the music community by buying a digital album from an independent label today".

And on Twitter, an idea has sprung up for a fund-raising event to help the labels affected. More information and offers of support can be made to

Read the rest of this entry

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 7 August 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:43 UK time, Monday, 8 August 2011

This week's show is now available via the BBC iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme.

I'm going to keep this brief because I'm in the midst of writing the Mother Of All Blogs detailing (well, not too much detail) my experiences at last week's National Eisteddfod in Wrexham.

Much of the show reflects some of the great sounds I heard there. But there is much from elsewhere too, including debut plays for: His Naked Torso, Wibidi, Bury Me In L.A., A Skylight Tonight, Bodez, The Hotel Ambush, Angelpig, Substance, Kryophere, NecroNath and Castor.

Huw Williams brings us something unintentionally ironic from Major Rowely. Ben Hayes blows us away with something from Robert Palmer's early back catalogue that's a world away from exploiting models and causing a dip in the world's hair gel market.

I'm always hungry for excellent, new Welsh music. Please direct creative ace to (mp3s/download links) or by visiting the BBC Introducing Uploader.

Longwinded, but sound, advice on submitting music to the show is available here:

I've written a love letter to one of the songs on this week's show. I'd love to know (either reply or post a comment on the blog) about the pieces of music that have completely poleaxed you. Just so I feel less embarrassed about having bared my soul so unflinchingly).

Gigs of the week are Shy And The Fight/Denuo and Winter Villains at Ten Feet Tall in Cardiff this Tuesday (9th) night & Race Horses at the Fairy Falls Hotel, Trefriw, Gwynedd on Friday night (12th).

Feel free to share any of this information with all and sundry.

Have an excellent week,


Y NIWL - 'Undegpedwar'


CRASH DISCO - 'Lemon Juice'

Y TRWYNAU COCH - 'Lipstics, Britfics A Sane' Silc Du'

SŵNAMI - 'Mwrdwr Ar Y Manod'

COLORAMA - 'Magic Lantern Show'

DAU CEFN - 'Cariad'

R. SEILIOG - 'Sturdy Seams/Wingsuit Dreams'

HIS NAKED TORSO - 'Von Teeto Bon Bon Dito'

HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT - 'The Light At The End Of The Tunnel ( Is The Light Of An Oncoming Train )'

BASTIONS - 'The Lengths ( When Wants Become Needs )'

DEFICIT - 'Pressure Cooker'

WIBIDI - 'Some People'

Ynys Môn

BURY ME IN L. A. - 'Alien Heart'


GRETA ISAAC - 'Don't Go'


HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'

MAJOR ROWELY - 'There's A Riot Going On'

IFAN DAFYDD - 'Miranda'

TELEGRAM FROM THE QUEEN - 'Faceplant ( Bodez Re-edit )'

TRWBADOR - 'Sun In The Winter'


HENRY'S FUNERAL SHOE - 'Dog Scratch Ear'
Ystrad Mynach

HOTEL AMBUSH, THE - 'No More Second Chances'

ANGELPIG - 'Sports Volvo'


MC MABON - 'Gad Dy Ben Yn Syml ( Session )'

SIBRYDION - 'Uwchben Y Drefn'

CULPRIT 1 - 'Grains Of Light'


KRYOPHERE - 'Assume The Position'

NECRONATH - 'Rock The Party Illuminati'

CASTOR - 'Leon's Theme'

Blaenau Ffestiniog/Cardiff

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'

ROBERT PALMER - 'Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley'



Cardiff Big Weekend 2011

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:25 UK time, Monday, 8 August 2011

This Friday I went down, as every year for the last three years, to the Cardiff Big Weekend's site outside City Hall. I picked my way past the burly security fellows (who checked I wasn't smuggling moonshine in my camera bag) and through the wonderful sea of kohl-smothered humanity to the backstage area.

Cardiff Big Weekend featured Welsh acts on the Friday from 1997 to 2001, and then again from 2009. Each year there's something revelatory or celebratory that sticks in the mind. Stereophonics, Lostprophets, The Blackout and Kids In Glass Houses have all played great shows early in their careers.

This year, Funeral For A Friend headlined, a full decade into their career. Instead of winning fans to a new, unknown quantity, they played a blinder of a set which demonstrated to me how mature they are now, able to marry 'old hand' professionalism with a passionate vigour.

I talked to Matt Davies of the band before they went on (apologies for the poor sound quality of these clips; such is life when you're at a festival):

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Another band who played this time was Attack! Attack! Neil Starr talked to me too, about recording with Romesh Dodangoda, their songwriting and grunge music:

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Attack! Attack! also played well; the tracks from The Latest Fashion (2010) lending themselves very nicely to an open-air rock-friendly festival atmosphere. Their choruses are seriously impressive, if you've not heard them yet.

But it was OK who were the surprise hit of the day for me. They seemed to win over a sceptical audience that initially wrote off their indie demeanour. By alternating between a kind-of Kinks/Blur British Chas and Dave-inflected chirpiness and an American indie wig-out style of guitar thrashing, they showed a danceable rockularity that had the audience attempting an improbable moshpit.

2011 won't go down as one of the classic line-ups of the Big Weekend, but all three bands deserved their place. Like The Blackout and Kids In Glass Houses in the last two years, Funeral For A Friend rose to the occasion and were as triumphant as I think I've ever seen them.

Do you have pictures from the weekend? Add your pictures to the BBC Wales Music Flickr group.

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Dau Cefn - Cariad

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 08:37 UK time, Monday, 8 August 2011

Chances are you're reading this because your love for music extends beyond the rack of CDs in your local Tesco. Chances are you're seeking those rare moments when a piece of music appears in your life that makes your soul thrum in perfect harmony.

Chances are you'll know how rare those songs are. The soundtrack to my life - the songs that really, really matter - wouldn't burst the seams of an unironic C90. iTunes playlists give the impression that we can fit an infinite amount of music into our lives. But our hearts aren't iPods. We only have the capacity to fall head over heels for a handful of songs. The sheer proliferation of music, its ready access, doesn't mean that we fall in love with more music. It makes those moments rarer. For a song amongst the millions to shake us, it has to have a profound, and personal, emotional charge to it.

I fell head over heels for a song this week. The rest of this piece is a love letter to that song. It's a paean to a cathedral one apparently unremarkable man built in his heart.

I was at DJing at the Eisteddfod's Maes B last Saturday night. In most respects it was an uneventful evening, but something amazing did happen. Most excellent connoisseurs of sound, C2's Dyl Mei and Carwyn Jones (Y Bwgan) - two men whose knowledge of and love for music I have absolute respect for - recommended a song that has subsequently obsessed me like no other in recent memory.

"You should check out Dau Cefn's Cariad," said Dyl as we sat outside not giving up smoking.

"Yeah," said Carwyn, eyes proper glittering. "It's beautiful. So simple. It's the best song I've heard in ages."

I may have extrapolated that last sentence. So we did a bit of drinking. I did a bit of DJing. Some bands did some playing. Including Dyl and Carwyn as part of Dau Cefn. The thought that there was any bias in their recommendation didn't cross my mind. And, with all due respect to Dau Cefn, their performance, marred by malfunctioning DI boxes and sequencers possessed by poltergeists, wasn't a great advert for their music.

But the recommendation stuck. Just something in the awed way Dyl and Carwyn spoke implanted it in my brain like a flag on the surface of the moon.

I did a bit more drinking, a bit more bonhomie, a clatter of DJing, and stayed up most of the night up to no good. My midlife crisis will be over soon, but for now this is the shape it's taking and I haven't the wherewithal or backbone to fight it.

So night blurred into morning and I felt all displaced and emotional and a bit out of love with myself, then I remembered the song.

Dau Cefn. Cariad.

One quick Google and four minutes later I was caught in sudden shower of tears at my desk. Somehow, some other man had managed to write and record a song that blew in through my ears and billowed my heart with an all encompassing, yearning sadness; a giddy soaring vertigo I've spent the last couple of days mainlining. That's not a poetic exaggeration. I haven't been able to listen to anything else. I crave the feeling the song gives me like no other. I can't fathom it. At all.

So, what's in this song? Why has Cariad got me as weak-kneed and happy sick as when I caught sight of my first love from the school bus window? What is it about a succession of airborne vibrations that has me astrally projecting my knackered heart all over the skidding skies?

It doesn't make sense to be so unmanned. It's as much biological use to me as a pair of un-opposable thumbs. What evolutionary advantage do I gain from being left dumbstruck by a four-minute piece of music sung in a language I only quarter understand? Is it some clue to God's existence revealing itself to an atheist heart?

"Okay, you fuzzy-backed non-believer, your science thinks it can explain where My universe came from; you can read the stories of time in the rocks I laid beneath your feet and you can immunize the rich from three quarters of the diseases I sent to move you closer to Me, but - son of sperm and egg - can you explain this?"

It all starts with a few sharply-plucked steel chords. Nothing fancy. Nothing clever. It's a chord sequence as familiar as rain against a windowpane. Then a voice ghosts in, all hushed, all too human, with more integrity and heart in its whisper than a billion parliaments. There's no affectation, no posturing, it's just there; the breath of a breaking heart. It's the sound of the singer reaching for his love, the other heart that makes sense of the riddles and noise. That brings calm and belonging. It's all there.

Then, one minute four seconds in it goes supernova. Oh god, and it's so perfect it makes me teeter with yearning, trips me out, splays my guts all over the floor, ripping through damp cardboard and exposing the molten core. Massive echoing drums, harmonies, harmonics, a glittering stairway up and out. My heart goes widescreen in a high definition not yet available in Currys. If you've ever lain awake in the first flush of love, not wanting to fall asleep because you just want to keep that feeling inside, then that moment at one minute four seconds is that feeling. Nailed. A pin through the most beautiful butterfly imaginable.

Scoff if you like. I am the owner of a Disney heart and I. Don't. Care.

Unexpected diversion alert! I knew Sting was a twit the moment he wrote a song called If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free). Fraudster. The titular sentiment is the plain lie of an internationally successful narcissist. For those of us unskilled in the Tantric arts, too busy surviving to spend three hours taking shallow dips and shallower breaths, who don't have the benefit of millions of pounds in our bank accounts to perpetuate our attractiveness, love isn't about sharing or being magnanimous.

We want to trap love, fence it in, give it a life sentence, circle it with hungry tigers and make sure it doesn't escape. Now, all of these things are frowned on in civilised society, so we trap love in art. For right now, my love is crystallised in that dizzying ascent of harmonies in Dau Cefn's Cariad. It won't get sick of the sight of my hairy arse. It's unlikely to feel tempted by the gym-sculpted wazzock who ostentatiously jogs past our window every morning, tossing his hair just so. Nah, my love is safe in the hands of a song.

I haven't drawn any conclusions or moved myself closer to an understanding of this inexplicable response. The end of the recording is somewhat half-assed too, so I feel that tailing off with a bit of a mumble is in keeping with the spirit of the song.

Listen to the song on Dau Cefn's Soundcloud.

The Story Of TJ's retold

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:27 UK time, Thursday, 4 August 2011

BBC Radio Wales is broadcasting this Saturday (6 August at 1pm) a repeat of the documentary The Story Of TJ's.

TJ's founder John Sicolo died on 14 March last year after a career at the Newport venue that made him a well-known figure for touring bands across the world and two decades. Read our obituary.

You can watch a short tribute to John, filmed by Sarah Dickens following his funeral:

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Welsh Music Prize

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:17 UK time, Thursday, 4 August 2011

We've got The Brits, the Mercury and the NME awards, but now we've got the Welsh Music Prize added to the list.

Huw Stephens

Huw Stephens

The prize, an initiative of Sŵn Festival and co-founders Huw Stephens and John Rostron, "will be selected and judged by a panel of industry figures and music experts".

A shortlist of 12 albums released between 1 August 2010 and 31 July 2011 will be announced very soon with the winner to be announced at Sŵn Festival 2011.

Stephens said: "The Welsh Music Prize is a chance to highlight incredible albums made by Welsh musicians, and bring their music to a wider attention. By inviting a panel who love, make or work with music to judge this award, it will be a chance to celebrate the wealth of recording talent that exists in Wales, and shine a light on some exciting, diverse and excellent albums."

Rostron said: "We've long thought Wales should have a critically judged music prize which celebrates the great diversity in genre and language which comes from this country. I've watched developments such as the Nordic Music Prize and the Polaris Music Prize in Canada and how they've been great platforms to discover new bands from those countries. We hope the Welsh Music Prize does the same for bands in Wales."

Catching up with Kids In Glass Houses

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:26 UK time, Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I spent most of yesterday afternoon in the company of Kids In Glass Houses here at BBC Wales as they got set to record sessions for Bethan Elfyn's Radio Wales show and Jen Long's Radio 1 Introducing in Wales.

I sometimes forget what it's like hanging out with bands in their interminable waiting periods between gigs, interviews, sessions and other press work. On one side of the room, their guitar tech Jamie, once of the fantastic Cardiff band Douglas, was reading National Geographic and Time, while on the other side of the room Shay was showing Aled something on his phone which causes disgusted hilarity.

Mind you, the mood was good and Aled was up for recording a short interview before they started their session. (Catch him in a few months and the rigours of press work for their third album, In Gold Blood, may have crushed his joie de vivre a little.)

We chatted about that press work, interacting with fans on their Twitter account and fibbing:

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You can catch the session on Bethan's show this Saturday at 5pm, and also hear what promises to be a hilarious pop quiz with the band.

Katherine Jenkins releasing new album

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:38 UK time, Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins has recorded her eighth album in Los Angeles and London with the help of Take That producer John Shanks.

Katherjne Jenkins

Katherine Jenkins

Daydream is scheduled for release on 17 October through Warner Bros and is the latest in a line of records which have taken the Neath singer to sales of over five million album sales. A spokesman told the Western Mail: "[Day Dream] reflects on the exciting stage that she has now reached in her life and career.

"With album sales in excess of five million copies and now with a global fan base since the release of her biggest selling album, 2009's Believe, which went platinum in many countries across the world, the record reflects her global success and signals the start of the next stage of her life."

She is also part of the celebrations for Songs Of Praise's 50th anniversary at Alexandra Palace on 25 September (broadcast in early October). She will be joined by Andrea Bocelli and Aled Jones among others.

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