Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tom Robinson stands up for Geldof

Fair play to Tom Robinson. He had little to gain from supporting Geldof in this way, but he has stated that The Boomtown Rats were a significant band in their late seventies heyday. "Why all this bitter schadenfreude when it comes to Bob and the boys ?" Indeed, what did Geldof do that was so wrong? Always got it in the neck.

Still bit of a cheek for Tom to lump himself in with the Rats and Squeeze, he wasn't that good! Though he wasn't bad to be fair (Up Against The Wall, 2-4-6-8 Motorway, War Baby and Glad To be Gay).

Bigmouth Strikes Again

I'm appalled by the torrent of ignorant, spiteful bile directed towards Bob Geldof and his music in response to yesterday's post - typified by HowSoonIsNow's comment: "As a musician he's a dead loss: mountain of attitude, molehill of talent."

Blimey. An Italian promoter made a major miscalculation as to venue size and ticket price - a not uncommon occurrence - and suddenly it seems to be open season on Geldof's musical career and personal integrity.

To begin with the music: you don't have to like Bob's songs to at least respect the fact that others - including me - have liked them a lot. Here is a man who wrote 13 top-30 hits between 1977 and 1990, including two number ones.

Any fool with modest talent, reasonable looks and towering ambition can knock out one or two hits if they are lucky and pushy enough. Look at James Blunt. Or me, come to that. As Lady Bracknell might have said, to have written half a dozen hits may be regarded as good fortune; to have written more than a dozen looks like talent - at least from where I'm sitting.

Certainly, artists and their music fall in and out fashion. But album tracks such as The Beat of the Night (Deep in the Heart of Nowhere) and The New Routine (Sex, Age and Death) make regular appearances on my iPod - and radio playlists - on sheer musical merit alone.

And, contrary to Scrittipolitti's posting, the Boomtown Rats didn't have a "heyday" in 1981, when they may or may not have been "reassuringly shite": they had a genuine, measurable, shout-it-from-the-rooftops heyday in 1977-8, when they clawed their way from obscurity to the NME front pages with a series of blinding gigs that blew away all competition night after night. The songs were great, the band were hot and Geldof was a rivetingly charismatic frontman.

If they lost the plot later on under the pressures of success, it was no more than happened to contemporaries such as TRB, Squeeze, the Hot Rods, Graham Parker and countless others. So why all this bitter schadenfreude when it comes to Bob and the boys ?The uncharitable sneer from Correspondent Bob's solo career was "a half-hearted exercise which never took off and was over 20 years ago" is simply incorrect: Bob's hilariously defiant Great Song of Indifference made number 15 in 1990 and was widely covered in dozens of languages by recording artists across the globe - for the simple reason that people everywhere liked the song - on its own merits - very much indeed.

As to his subsequent lack of musical output, Bob's personal life, in case you've forgotten, was devastated by loss, strife and tragedy during the 90s in the full intrusive glare of the world's media, gleefully detailing every fresh blow. He told me three years ago that at times of crisis there would be an average of 40 reporters camped outside his house. A scooter from the Daily Mirror and a van from the News of the World with blacked out windows tailed him everywhere he went. Even when he escaped the pressure at the weekends in Paris with close friends, there would still be journalists waiting for him on the Eurostar home.The astonishing thing is not that it took him until 2002 to write another album - the critically acclaimed Sex, Age and Death - but that he managed to make one at all under such conditions.

Whatever it is Bob Geldof wants, I'll bet you a quiet family life comes top of the list and getting his picture in the papers is pretty close to the bottom. The problem is that, whether he likes it or not, he has one of the most recognisable faces on the planet, which gives him almost unique access to the world's media - and most powerful political leaders - whether he chooses to use it or not. Many of us feel that world debt and global trade barriers are a humanitarian scandal and Aids is an unfolding global catastrophe. But not many of us can do much about it beyond charitable giving, letter writing and attending the occasional demonstration. Let's suppose for a moment that Bob actually would like a quiet, easy life - News of the World permitting. What would you do in his place, knowing that simply picking up the phone might save dozens or even hundreds of lives? Put up the shutters, mutter "I've done enough" and tell the world to go fuck itself? Or would you be big enough to accept the facts, the horrible responsibility that circumstance had thrust in your lap? Would you have the strength to put yourself in the firing line all over again, resigned to the fact that the media would think and write the worst about you whenever possible; and that whether you sought to alleviate a little of the world's unnecessary suffering or simply sit on your arse like everyone else, armchair critics would rip you to shreds?
"Just think, all that self promotion and no one wants to know. Perhaps he should put up a montage of suffering Africans to get the punters in," wrote Xuitlacoche on yesterday's blog. Well, comment is free, and you are entitled to your opinion. Mine is that, on balance, the world is a better place thanks to Geldof's efforts than if simply sat down, shut up and crawled into a corner, as you would seem to prefer.
Bob himself expressed all this far more eloquently, and at greater length, in his review of 1985 for the Guardian last December.
Bigmouth strikes again? More power to his larynx.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Of course, there had to be a rational reason why 45 people turned up in a 12,000 seater venue...,,3-2282704,00.html

Francesco Iacovone, the impresario who organised the concerts, said that he suspected sabotage. “We have been boycotted,” he said, though it was not clear why or by whom. It was incomprehensible that “an artist whose internet site has 19,000 visitors” and who had “fans throughout the world” had failed to arouse interest in Italy.

Signor Iacovone said that some internet sites had falsely claimed that tickets for the concerts were sold out, and that he was “considering legal action”. whatever happened to that gig at Shepherd's Bush that was postponed?

No one loves Geldof (ok, maybe 45 people do!)

Bob Geldof has been forced to cancel two concerts in Italy because of lack of public interest, after only 45 people turned up to see him perform in Milan, Italy's La Stampa newspaper reported on Saturday.


Excuse the google translation, but

“On my passport he is written that I am musician."

i) They don't have occupation on a passport
ii) A musician!

La Stampa