Glastonbury 2016: One of the best weekends of my life

One of the greatest music festivals took place last weekend. Aside from the amazing acts which get to grace the Pyramid Stage and the other stages, there’s the buzz, excitement and atmosphere attendees feel which really takes Glastonbury Festival to another level. I went to the festival last year, but the experience is never the same. This year, it was even better.

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In 2015, I listed all the acts I saw over the three days, but since this turned into a rather lengthy post – and I cannot remember or write a lengthy comment on each act I watched – I shall instead talk about key moments for me during this year’s festival.

The first being how two out of three headliners (Adele and Coldplay) used technology to heighten the audience experience. During Make You Feel My Love, Adele asked fans to put their phone flashlights on and to wave them in the air, and honestly, that was a moment I will never forget. Something similar to this happened with Coldplay, where free LED wristbands were being handed out to festival goers, and were synced with the band’s performance. I don’t know whether this has been done on this scale and at Glastonbury before, but hopefully this is something headliners continue to do – it really does add to the festival experience.

Audience members during Adele's performance, holding their phones in the air for 'Make You Feel My Love'.
Audience members during Adele’s performance, holding their phones in the air for ‘Make You Feel My Love’.

Also, I finally got the chance to go up the Ribbon Tower this year. At the top of the hill near the Glastonbury sign and the Park Stage, you can go up the top of the tower and see out across the whole of Worthy Farm. It really is breathtaking and worth the wait if you ever plan on going. Another great thing about Glastonbury is Left Field, which I’ll admit, I did overlook last year. This year, I went to watch a debate on the Junior Doctors’ contract, and took a selfie with SNP Member of Parliament, Mhairi Black – who was so kind and friendly when I went to say hello.

Finally, I must turn to the music – of course. As soon as the lineup was announced, I was desperate to see Two Door Cinema Club’s name appear. I had recently rediscovered their music and fell in love with it again. When I saw that they were to play at Glastonbury this year, I couldn’t wait, and they certainly delivered. They’ve certainly cemented themselves as one of my favourite bands, and for those wondering what their third album – Gameshow – will sound like, they teased us to a few songs. Whilst it definitely is different, the traditional TDCC is completely lost, and I love their new sound – if Are We Ready? is anything to go by.

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Frances’ performance was intimate, and she has a personality as warm as her voice.

One of the things I love about my passion for music is that I can often stumble across bands that are on the brink of making it big. They then become one of those bands that only a select few know and when they do debut, you can proudly say: “I knew them before they made it”. It’s already happened with Capital Cities (famous for Safe and Sound, but their debut album is worth a listen) and Chlöe Howl (who was a runner-up for the BRITS Critics Choice Award in the same year as Sam Smith and Ella Eyre). My latest discovery is a singer by the name of Frances, and I was so glad to finally see her at Glastonbury. Her new single, Say It Again – out on Friday – is something to look forward to, as well.

I suppose another great thing about this is that because only a small amount of people know about them, the audience sizes are – sadly – not too big, but this means I can get right up to the front of the stage. This was also the same for Fishermen’s Friends, a small group of singers from Port Isaac in Cornwall, who I’ve always missed when I went down there.

I should also mention a rapper who I was so pleased to finally see live. The name Abandoman stuck with me from childhood, as he is a freestyle rapper who can make up raps on the spot – he’s that good. I still remember one song he performed, entitled What’s In Your Pocket?, where audience members took out what they had in their pockets, and he would rap about them on the spot. It was unbelievable.

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I’ve already talked about how phenomenal Adele and Coldplay were, but I should also add that Muse were also impressive. At the end of almost every song, Matt Bellamy would show off his amazing skills with the guitar, and I do take my hat off to him. After seeing all three headliners, I decided that this year’s Glastonbury was better than last year’s, in my opinion. In particular, when it comes to the headliners, they are all – mostly – pop or chart-based, which is very similar to my music taste. This was different to last year, where Kanye West certainly isn’t my cup of tea, and I didn’t know many of the Foo Fighters’ tracks either – even when they didn’t end up playing on the Pyramid Stage in the end.

Now, in the world of music, I’ve seen everyone I want to see live (The 1975 were also incredible). I’m a happy man, and after the phenomenal weekend I had last week, I need a lie down.

Acts I saw: Abandoman, Adele, Bastille, Blonde, Bring Me The Horizon, Coldplay, Example & DJ Wire, Fatboy Slim, Fishermen’s Friends, Frances, Gabrielle Aplin, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Madness, Muse, Of Monsters and Men, The 1975, Tom Odell and Two Door Cinema Club.

Did you watch any of the Glastonbury coverage on the BBC? What did you think? Have you ever been to Glastonbury? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘I Wanna Know’ by Alesso feat. Nico & Vinz

It would be surprising if we didn’t have a euphoric anthem from Alesso this year. In 2014, Heroes (we could be) feat. Tove Lo was a huge hit, and last year Cool (feat. Roy English) was released just in time for the summer. This time, I stumbled across Alesso’s latest release whilst listening to BBC Radio 1.

Whilst I didn’t know that it was a song by Alesso, I definitely knew that it was a traditional electronic dance record. However, although the chorus was memorable and I was singing along by the end (something I’ve never usually been able to do on the first listen), I remember myself longing for an instrumental section or big chorus during I Wanna Know which never really arrived.

Since then, I’ve been able to listen to the song on repeat on Spotify and have come to realise some similarities with this track and Alesso’s previous releases. Whether it’s the plucky, opening guitar melody in Heroes (we could be), the upbeat strings in Sweet Escape or the bubbly piano intro in Cool, Alesso always seems to begin with the main tune and instrument of the song. This time, it’s a Hawaiian-style guitar riff, which is a nice nod to Nico & Vinz’ original samba feel, I think – just look at their big hit, Am I Wrong, for example.

That being said, the duo’s vocals are refreshingly different in this track. Despite the chant-like chorus being similar to Am I Wrong, the verses are soft and relaxed. On my first listen, I complained about the lack of an instrumental, but I must have missed the section towards the end where we hear a brief guitar melody before we return to a verse. As well as this, I think the track doesn’t need a loud, pulsing main tune, when it definitely sounds like a more laid-back track compared to Alesso’s previous releases.

In the year where tropical house is on the rise – with Norwegian DJ Kygo being one of the main musicians part of that movement – Alesso is right to make the move towards more chilled singles, as I Wanna Know will definitely stand out over the summer months.

What do you think of I Wanna Know (feat. Nico & Vinz)? Comment below!

Liam

Writing Update: Now, to sort out a plot…

Forgetting about my idea for a work of fiction does worry me. One of the ideas I stick by when it comes to writing is that an idea worth writing down is one that won’t go away. Whilst this story has survived many rewrites, due to being so busy this week, other things have taken the forefront of my mind and in doing so, my plot idea has been pushed aside. Does that mean that my story is no longer interesting? Have I lost my passion for my work in progress? Have I lost my writing mojo (something I said had returned in last week’s Writing Update)?

Writing Update Notepad
Photo: rimse.nefert on Flickr. (Changes to the original image have been made). Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Probably not. Earlier this week, I managed to solve an issue with one of my sub-plots, and only managed to write it down later on. For me, plotting my idea is always the part which scares me the most. In the past, I’ve tried writing without no clear structure, and detailing what happens in my book chapter-by-chapter. Either way, both methods at some point lead to me panicking about the final length of my novel (I always fear that it would be too short) and so I give up – hence this not being the first time I’ve started up my Writing Update series.

Since then, people have talked about developing my characters and using them to create sub-plots, which should ultimately flesh out the wider story in general. I’ve been working on this on the past few weeks or so and now that my final sub-plot has been sorted this week, I can finally start to develop my story further.

My book is still in the planning stages, but as soon as it’s all planned out, then I cannot wait to put pen to paper.

How was your week? Are you writing a novel? Comment below!

Liam

A disastrous EU referendum shows we need positive politics | The Friday Article

The EU referendum was a disaster. At a time where the public’s disenfranchisement with politics is continuing to rise, the last thing we want to hear from both sides of the debate is fear mongering and arguing which drifts away from the facts. Granted, with either result, there is a degree of uncertainty – be it whether we achieve reform, or achieve a better trade deal – but there are still lessons to be learnt from one of the messiest referendums in British politics. The main thing being that fear in political debates will get us nowhere.

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Fear, arguments and negativity are angering the general public. We need hope and positive politics. Photo: Darren Tunnicliff on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Zac Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign proved this all too well. It drifted away from his own policies and instead targeted Sadiq Khan’s background to stir up fear (one of the most controversial moments of his campaign being a column he wrote for the Daily Mail).

Now, both sides of the EU referendum debate have used fear tactics in an attempt to win over members of the public. However, there is a slight difference in their methods. Throughout Britain Stronger In Europe‘s campaign, the fear has always been around the loss of jobs and the £4,300 sum drawn up by the Treasury. Yet, this was the side of the argument labelled ‘Project Fear’, not the ‘leave’ campaign, which made a poor choice to make their final argument about immigration.

Whilst the only extreme comment made by David Cameron during the ‘remain’ campaign was about a possible outbreak of World War Three, Vote Leave’s referendum broadcast was shocking – claiming that the EU’s freedom of movement will ‘destroy’ the NHS (something UKIP, not Tory MPs, would say) through the use of graphics which make it sound like it’s the apocalypse. It was divisive, random and did not summarise the whole of Vote Leave’s campaign – unlike the ‘remain’ campaign, which managed to focus on a variety of points based on referenced facts. Throughout the referendum period, Vote Leave’s videos and leaflets have been full of opinions, not evidence. If we had the facts, the public interest in the referendum would have increased and it would stop invalid and hurtful opinions from being aired.

Soon after Vote Leave’s video was broadcast on national television, the campaign became defined by this fear tactic surrounding immigration. ‘Project Fear’ shifted from the remain camp to the leavers. Now, with the result announced and the referendum put to bed, we must look back at the failings of the referendum as well as looking ahead at Britain’s future.

Fear irritates the public. Not only does it create the ‘us and them’ dynamic which society has come to despise, but it’s almost patronising too. Both Zac Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign and the EU referendum revolved around targeting the opposing view or candidate. Granted, this vote had to involve a lot of predictions and estimates (we didn’t know what the future holds either way), but that only leads to exaggeration, division and manipulative tactics.

Whilst bad news is what sells newspapers, negative politics is what has switched off members of the public from voting and getting involved in political debate. Voters have always been selfish with their votes and want to hear how a policy will positively affect them. At the end of the day, it’s a positive attitude in politics which can win back the public’s trust and lead to a hearty debate.

We may have voted to leave the European Union, and some may struggle to be positive about this, but having hope will be the first step to healing a fractured society.

Liam

How Twitter both separates and unites the blogging community

Twitter is an extension of a blogger’s personality. As a micro-blogging site, it’s there for us when we can’t write a lengthy blog post about a TV show we watch or what our plans are for the day. Its 140-character limit requires us to be succinct, allowing us to perfect the best versions of ourselves. Twitter is one of the few social media sites which allows us to be both an individual and as part of a group, and that isn’t without its problems.

 

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Twitter can unite bloggers, but at the same time, it can set us apart. Photo: Esther Vargas on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

I’ve been involved in blogger Twitter chats for a long time now – most notably #lbloggers (a chat for lifestyle bloggers). As with any community, there are advantages and disadvantages to being part of a group. One of the main issues is that of a ‘group think’. Whilst we all have our own opinions – of course – we all have to agree on certain aspects of blogging in order to fit in – we like to feel included, right?

For example, we’re all expected to despise automated DMs on Twitter and hate ‘follow for a follow’, yet there are some people who disagree with this and still expect a follow back. Admittedly, I can be one of these people sometimes, and I’m open about that because I shouldn’t hide it, just to fit in the wider community.

Similarly, as much as most of us like to think that numbers and followers don’t reflect the quality of the blog (some great bloggers may have only a hundred followers, for example), I certainly feel like there is a hierarchy within the blogging community which is headed by those with rather high follow counts. This can have both positive and negative effects.

To some bloggers, it serves as a motivator, to strive to achieve similar success in terms of followers and interaction. However, it can fuel an obsession with numbers when a lot of people argue that it doesn’t – or shouldn’t – matter. In a post at the start of the year, I talked about new bloggers being influenced by numbers and stats, and I think this hierarchy is partly to blame for that. In an ideal world, I’d like to see a blogging community where numbers don’t matter or where there isn’t a sense of hierarchy. It may take time, or it may never come at all, but it’s a concept I like the sound of.

To further delve into the psychology of online communities and the ‘group think’, then you also have drama and controversy whenever someone goes against what everyone else thinks. I’ve seen some of it online for myself and it’s quite uncomfortable and a tad hypocritical when the community is meant to be about positivity.

But then again, there is a smaller sense of community within blogging which is much more manageable. I’m of course talking about the small group of bloggers whom you talk to more frequently than others. Unlike the wider blogosphere, you’re not bound by collective thinking and you can truly be an individual. However, as we mature and develop as bloggers, our blogger friendship groups change. We read fewer blog posts of theirs, comment less and never really interact on Twitter. It becomes awkward and then sooner or later, we unfollow them. It’s a cycle I’ve found myself trapped in for a very long time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved Twitter as a platform – both personally and from a blogging perspective. I’m a big fan of Twitter chats as well. I just think that there are some aspects of the blogging community on Twitter which need to be changed. Blogging is all about sharing opinions and these should be individual and our own.

What do you think about Twitter? Do you like it as a social media site? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Fire in the Rain’ by Måns Zelmerlöw

Eurovision was just over a month ago, but the night of parody, Justin Timberlake and the odd bit of unavoidable politics is yet to be forgotten. In amongst what was arguably the best Eurovision Song Contest so far (in terms of Sweden being excellent hosts), we heard the new song from last year’s winner, Måns Zelmerlöw – who won in 2015 with Heroes – called Fire in the Rain.

As someone who isn’t the biggest fan of Justin Timberlake, his performance of Can’t Stop the Feeling didn’t make a big impression on me – until a month later where I can’t stop listening to it. However, the bigger ear worm came when Måns performed this track. With a soft, mellow introduction from the piano, you could tell that it’s a more relaxing song compared to the fast-paced, edgy feel of Heroes.

Much like his winning song, the verses contain almost country-like guitar riffs. Yet, whilst the transition from country to drum-and-bass in Heroes wasn’t so smooth, Fire in the Rain‘s upbeat, bouncy chorus fits in perfectly with the verses. The melody is catchy and memorable, and Måns’ vocals are mostly soft, with the odd moment of soul adding to the song’s vibrant nature. Even the lyrics create a feel-good atmosphere upon listening to it.

Whilst most singers who have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest are quickly forgotten, Heroes has become a well-known track in the competition. Now, as Måns returns with Fire in the Rain, it’s likely that he won’t be yet another one-hit wonder, and that we’ll be hearing a lot from him in the future.

What do you think of Fire in the Rain? Is it better than Heroes? Comment below!

Liam

Writing Update: The return of my writing mojo

Forgive me if you’ve been reading this blog for a while. You’ll be aware how many times I’ve done this series. I’ve talked about writing my first novel I’m proud of, but then a few weeks into it, I would give up and let the inner critic have his way.

Now, after my first year at university, I was in a bizarre state for a while when it came to writing. I had spent months reading academic books and perfecting my journalistic style, but this meant that whilst I was incredibly passionate about continuing writing, the world of novels and writing fiction became alien to me. This week, however, I like to think that I have my writing mojo back.

Writing Update Notepad
Photo: rimse.nefert on Flickr (changes to the original image have been made). Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

I have always been protective of my ideas, so I won’t go into that part of my writing too much. What I will say, though, is that the idea itself has been so hard to get right. From what perspective I want to write the story (first or third person), to the context in which the plot will belong. Each time I have come to write this novel, the plot has developed, characters have become more believable and the new universe they live in has expanded.

At the moment, I am working on the synopsis. There’s always something worrying when it comes to fleshing out the plot. Whilst I can easily translate the idea onto a Word document or onto paper, it would only be in about fifty words or so, which is always disheartening. How can I write a novel when my idea can be distilled into something so short?

Thankfully, fellow writer Liberty over at Liberty Falls Down was able to offer some tips when it comes to fleshing out my idea. This has since helped me massively, and now as I work on the synopsis, there’s plenty of interconnecting subplots involving numerous characters. I’m just trying to tie them all together, and think of more ideas to develop the plot.

I’ve already had some of these moments, and it’s this sense of euphoria which is what I love about writing. It’s hard to describe, but when a plot-hole finally fixes itself with a new idea, there’s this moment of excitement as this opens up new plot points. It’s a wonderful nuclear fission of ideas, mixed with a sense of accomplishment. The first time I had this whilst writing my synopsis, I knew my writing mojo was back.

Now, to write.

How has your week been? What have you been up to? Comment below!

Liam