Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Joseph's Well

Another institution disappearing to make the city a whole lot worse is The Well. The announcement that the building situated behind the LGI would no longer continue as a music venue was devastating, if not unexpected. Only last year, there was a petition to stop the premises being taken over by some monstrosity or another followed this year by a premature announcement that it had lost. Then, just when it seemed to have won…

Memories of The Well are many. From as far back as when it was Josephs and I am working out whether my 16 year old schoolmate on stage has a red-face because his bass-string has just broke, because it’s fecking hot in here, or because his mum’s dancing like a lunatic Bez next to the girl he’s trying to impress. Later and I am scoffing at a Kaiser Chief telling me that Parva have been dropped but how their change in direction is sure to take him from pulling my pint to Glastonbury. Then it is new years eve and I am in drunken delirium being hit in the head by a snowball thrown from the arm of the headliner. Next it is Live at Leeds and I can’t even get into the bar area let alone the stage because it’s too full of people watching my best mates band even though they’re not famous. Oh, and there’s been some damn good music too. The Kills, British Sea Power, Buck 65, Fucked Up, Gallows, Earth… to December when the doors must close with a suitably sweaty, emotional and rocking farewell.

Maybe The Well ultimately carved out too fine a niche for itself as an out-of-town down-to earth hardcore rock and metal.venue. The location was hardly remote but people can be lazy. The bands weren’t always obscure but people can be safe. The Well was always about the music; a huge support for a myriad of local bands stepping out into the world of rock’n’roll and a showcase for any number of superb cult acts unlikely to visit Leeds were it not for here. I, along with many others, grew up with The Well. On behalf of us all, we salute you.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

X Factor to English

Steff Higgins translates...

For years I’ve been perplexed by the fact that I seem to hear something completely different to the X Factor judges. No matter how often King Simon Cowell throws a strop and axes someone, replacing them with someone more attractive and less talented, I always seem to find myself open-mouthed at their reactions. Then I realised… It must be that there’s a secret X Factor language that they are taught vigorously before they’re allowed on our screens to judge the nation. It’s the only explanation (that doesn’t mean I have ridiculous taste in music)! So I went ahead and devised this phrase dictionary so that, on Saturday, you’ll know what they’re actually saying.

* “You’re the dark horse”
I didn’t really like to start with, but after seeing the reaction of the public, I’ve had a sudden change of heart (£££)

* “You’re the one to beat”
You’ve peaked too soon, you’ll probably get voted out around 3 or 4 weeks before the final and no-one will ever hear of you again, despite your voice actually being pretty good

* “You own the stage”
Don’t get too cocky

* “You haven’t got the best voice in the competition”
You sound awful, but my god are you attractive.

* “You’re a born entertainer” 
You’re controversial and, without you, no-one would be talking about the show

* “You’re very likeable”
What’s your name again?

* “You look amazing up there tonight”
You usually look like dog shit, big well done to hair and makeup

* “You look like a pop star”
We’ll have to auto-tune you, and you could never sing live; but you look like we could make you do ANYTHING in a music video (Alexandra Burke)

* “I think you’re better than that performance”
I don’t like that song

* “That was a safe song choice”
Might as well've listened to the original

* “Yours was the performance of the night”
Yours, and everyone else I’ll say that to over the course of the night

* “You looked like you were having a really good time up there tonight”
At least someone was

* “What a great start to the show”
Let’s get this over with

* “What a great end to the show”
Can I go now?

Now I’ve cracked the code, you can watch with the confidence that you’re in the loop.



The cherry on the crapcake of TV programming has to be "Take Me Out" with the baldy bouncer from Phoenix Nights. This indication of how we have slipped as a society should not be ignored! First of all, there's Paddy himself, a man who would not be out of place, and indeed would be the coolest, funniest guy, in Oceana. Have you heard the shit this bloke comes out with? And to rapturous applause from the overweight, undereducated rabble of an audience. So, what's it about? Well, a particularly pathetic man descends down an oversized hamster tube into somewhere within the 8th circle of hell. Where has he come from? What's at the other end? Is the tube just sucking up twats from around the UK like some massive dickhead hoover? If only. How I would love the idea of moving the chute to the middle of the North Sea. I fear the reality of the situation is far more disturbing, they're actually putting themselves forward for this - oh, the humanity! He strides to the back of the studio (or dances) in either jeans and a shirt (George at Asda) or an ill-fitting suit (purchased for court appearances), turns round and strikes a pose. His job is to impress and then choose one of about 40 hags, all as charmless and desperate as the jabroni up for grabs. At this stage the females decide whether they would like to go on a date with him or opt out, Pad then asks a select few the reasons why they are interested or not. The answers require subtitles. I have no idea what they're plying these women with beforehand but judging by their answers it may have started life as floor cleaner. Perhaps one of the requirements for applicants is a full frontal lobotomy, ".....well 'e's a bit full of 'imself inni, I mean yer know...what's all this eh", she flails around showing off her bingo wings. The next is completely indecipherable, god knows where she's from but she sounds like a cup of hot water thrown into a deep fat fryer, cackling something about "not her type". Because he doesn't have two heads? Is his forehead not quite as sloping as she would like? Should Paddy carry round a protractor testing for homosapiens? "Oooh this one's borderline!" One of the girls with their 'light still on' is questioned. "I loved the way 'e just come out, like you know, with a bit o' this (she shakes her hips) I think 'e could be a bit of a wild one, and I'm a bit of a wild one too!!" The audience go fucking crazy, she's a character it would seem. He then gets to show a tape of himself, a kind of promo, showing the girls how average he is, hopefully he will be average enough for them. "Hi I'm fucking Greg, I have a car and a job (great start), I've been to see James Blunt 12 times this year already! (really great start)." Greg, or whatever he's called, is on a roll, but if round two (his mum/sister/boyfriend telling everyone he's a wimp/bully/bore) doesn't get him, round three (displaying his delusion of having a talent, such as playing air-guitar whilst showing no shame) sure as hell will. Greg then selects one of the bozos not turned off by a man who defines talent as sitting in a bath. As our Pad spouts one more nonsensical rhyme and the word Fernando's rises above the wit of Wilde, it is time to turn my TV light off this excrutiatingly moronic meat-market. No lighty, no fucking likey.

Friday, 9 November 2012


Let it not be said that Millennium Square is a paved waste of space and council money surrounded by mercenary bars spilling over with brainless lads and clotheless lasses. It’s not. Since opening in, erm, the millennium, the square has provided a serene space to potter, bask and relax in an otherwise hectic city centre. The following year saw the beautiful adjoining Nelson Mandela Gardens opened by the loud-shirted man himself, who thought he was in Liverpool. Since then, a string of ingenious events have provided us Loiners the chance to have some great days and nights and put some money back into the project. Music gigs, art exhibitions, theatre, fashion shows, sport screenings and food tasting are some of the impressive showcases staged at Millennium Square, all with huge success. The most successful of all returns winter after winter: Christkindelmarkt aka The German Market.

Friday, 5:05pm, mid-November: I am two of thousands upon thousands of feet clomping hurriedly up The Headrow. Offices and staff-rooms across Leeds descending from all sides, eyes bulging, mouths shrieking, tummies rumbling. For tonight, 11 months later, the city comes together for a previously unknown mutual love of sausage, steins, mulled wine and oompah. The anticipation is palpable.

Within minutes, I have queued for a spicy sausage, put too much pressure on the ketchup dispenser, queued for a cheese sausage, put too much pressure on the mustard dispenser, wiped mustard excess off with a paper towel, demolished a spicy sausage and too much ketchup sandwich, and demolished a cheese sausage, mustard and paper towel sandwich. I’ve injured my girlfriend on the dodgems, perused the lovely stalls, laughed at mullets and been told I’m too old for the merry-go-round. Things are going well and can only improve with a massive jug of overpriced German lager next to roaring drunks watching an aged hirsute brass band.

Fifty minutes later, I am two of hundreds of feet standing miserably still, way away from our holy grail, outside the mockingly named Walkabout. Queuing and waiting. Tummies bulging, mouths rumbling, eyes shrieking. Waiting and queuing. One in one out. Only another eighty to go I reckon. Only no-one’s leaving. Another couple of joy-sapped call-centre staff trundle off towards The Cuthbert Broderick. Only another seventy-eight to go I reckon.

I am sitting in the window of Wetherspoons with an underpriced pint of German lager, a wooden rocking horse, 3ft of salami, a reindeer rug, 45 chocolate marshmallows and a toilet roll holder of a man pooing. People outside shiver with broken hopes, from the bierkeller to the exit and beyond. The group of booming louts to my right cheer or jeer, it’s hard to tell, as another pint goes tumbling over. The evening has disintegrated into a din of wordless noises; yelps and grunts, wahays and woahs. I smile at the moustachioed old gentleman to my left carrying a trombone case as he rinses his bangers & mash down with a gulp of English ale. Sir, the city is waiting for you.