31/12/2014 - The Plague Doctors Review of 2014!
By Master P Filth
Yes, it's actually here! And with just hours to spare!
Let one third of your favourite wrong-pop band guide you through some things that happened in the world of culture and the arts in 2014.
Best TV programme
I didn’t watch all of this but it was still the best thing I saw all year, mainly because it was filmed in Halifax, where I’m from. Everyone said it was depressing, but there was a bit where Sarah Lancashire referred to a battering ram as an Ovenden door key, which was the best joke anyone made on telly all year (if you’re from Halifax).
There was another good bit where Sarah Lancashire was in Heptonstall and she had to get to Hebden Bridge in a hurry to stop bad lad Tommy Lee Royce from doing some bad things and instead of going straight down the hill like any normal person would have, she drove for miles at high speed over open moorland. I don’t think that was meant to be a joke, but it still made me laugh.
The third Hobbit film, whatever it’s called.
I’ve been to see this twice already and I'm going again next week. My only problem with this film is that it’s not long enough. My favourite bit is when Sauron puts on a fancy disco light show for everyone and then Sylvester McCoy turns up with some rabbits. My second favourite bit is Orlando Bloom’s old, old face.
Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
All year I was like, where’s this year’s Get Lucky? Where’s the big summer hit? I thought it might have been Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, but that song goes on for precisely one chorus too long. Then Uptown Funk turned up, six months too late, but welcome nonetheless.
Here are two points about Uptown Funk that everyone seems to have missed:
1. It’s a direct copy of the formula of Get Lucky: ie faceless producer type meticulously recreates music of youth with help from hip pop singer type.
2. The song gained massively in popularity when Fleur East sang it on primetime television programme The X Factor, a programme that usually makes its contestants sing Whitney Houston songs and big band numbers until everyone dies of boredom. Uptown Funk was a “moment” on The X Factor because it was a current pop song. People like hearing current pop songs on primetime television programmes. If you haven’t already worked out that this is a roundabout way of saying the BBC needs to bring back Top Of The Pops immediately, you probably have now.
The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
I waited until December 31 to write this review of the year, just to give Kanye West the chance to win album of the year. However, if he’s not actually going to release anything, it’s difficult to justify awarding him that particular accolade.
The War On Drugs album seems to work on the basis that it’s fine to sound like Dire Straits as long as you pepper your songs with enough ambient whooshy bits. I still haven’t worked out whether it is okay, but it’s definitely the album I listened to most this year.
Cliff Richard, Gramercy Theatre, New York, June 21
Sometime back in the spring, Morrissey announced he was playing a US tour. Presumably for jokes, he’d decided he was having Tom Jones as his support act in Los Angeles and Cliff Richard as support in New York. Being fans of both Morrissey and Cliff, and idiots, fellow Plague Doctor John and I got over-excited and decided to go to New York.
About a week before the gig, Morrissey got ill and cancelled the tour. Seeing as Morrissey did exactly the same thing last time he was meant to play New York, this wasn’t a great surprise. And anyway, we’d still get to have a night out in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, so we weren’t too upset. At which point Cliff stepped in and announced that he wasn’t ill, so he’d still be playing, and anyone who had had Morrissey tickets would be allowed to come along for free.
Which is how the Plague Doctors found ourselves, as the sun went down on a balmy midsummer day in New York, queueing to get into a theatre to see Cliff Richard.
There were some Cliff fans at the front of the queue who’d been there since 4am to secure the best seats, to the bemusement of theatre staff. There were some other Cliff fans who were behind us in the queue, and concerned that they weren’t going to get in having travelled all the way from Canada, called us all limey bastards as we walked past them.
Inside, it quickly became apparent that there were four main camps of fans in attendance. These were:
1.UK Morrissey fans who’d fancied a holiday in New York (ie us)
2.US Morrissey fans who were up for a free night out, even if they had no idea who Cliff was
3. UK Cliff fans who’d bought Morrissey tickets just to see Cliff (bit weird)
4. US Cliff fans (the most bewildering people of all)
We ended up sitting next to some people from Barrow-in-Furness, which was nice. Cliff started with Summer Holiday, then did a few more hits, and then after about 20 minutes a man called Phil came out with some stools and microphones, and it became apparent that this wasn’t just going to be a gig, it was going to be An Evening With Cliff Richard.
During the course of his three interminable chats with Phil, Cliff told an anecdote where he was rude about Olivia Newton-John, implied that Michael Jackson’s success was solely down to his dancing abilities and expressed, apparently without irony, a desire to join One Direction. He also dismissed The X Factor as mere karaoke, which I thought a bold move for a man whose entire band consisted of a keyboardist, a backing singer and a whole load of backing tapes.
Anyway, in among all the bitching and unnecessary covers of rock’n’roll standards, we got The Young Ones, Move It, In The Country, Miss You Nights, Livin’ Doll and hitherto unbeknownst to me deep cut Ocean Deep (look it up, it’s awesome).
Then he finished with Devil Woman, We Don’t Talk Anymore and Wired For Sound, a three-song run unmatched in the history of three songs being played in a row.
Afterwards we went out and got nicely drunk in Manhattan and congratulated ourselves on what a marvellous time we’d had, even if it was a bit weird.
Then we got home and there was that upsetting business with Cliff’s house being raided by the police and people didn’t want to hear about what a great time we’d had when we saw him live in New York. But we did, so there.