The tattered legacy of Michael Jackson

Paul Sinclair, David Paul, Olivia Otigbah and Luka Kenyon discuss the controversial Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland”, which aired last night in the UK.

They discuss the allegations, what the film means for Jackson, and his legacy.

 

To watch the Leaving Neverland documentary, click here.

 

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(Credit: Casta03)

Keith Flint: A retrospective

The music world was left reeling this week as the unexpected and tragic news of Keith Flint’s passing made waves around the world.

The Prodigy singer, just 49 years old, died at an unspecific time over the weekend of March 2nd. Reportedly taking his own life, the singer – perhaps best known for 1996 number one Firestarter – had ran a 5km race earlier in the day. Flint was last seen out celebrating with his personal trainer: enjoying a quiet drink in a local pub, in a corner by the fire.

The latest in a string of male suicides in the press over the last few years, Flint will be remembered as the charismatic, anarchist frontman for one of the biggest dance bands of all time, The Prodigy. Here, we take a look back at the singers storied time in the limelight, and remember another musical icon, gone too soon.

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(Credit: ParaDoxus)

When you think of The Prodigy, you think of Keith Flint. His green spiky hair and his punk rock attitude became something the band were perhaps most known for. What often goes overlooked, however,  is that Flint himself didn’t actually become a contributing member of the group until their third album, 1997’s Fat of the Land.

Originally brought in as a dancer for the group, Flint soon found himself singing on the bands biggest hit, FirestarterHis iconic devil horn styled hair and manic movements thrust Keith into the limelight, becoming The Prodigy’s poster boy.

Flint went on to feature in some of the bands biggest hits, including Breathe and Fuel My Fire.

The Prodigy became a staple of electronic music, their influence still felt to this day in the genre. Flint and the band faced many controversies during their time at the top of the electronic mountain. Smack My Bitch Up was banned across many radio stations and music channels in 1997, due to its apparent misogynistic lyrical content. Flint was met with controversy in 2002, referencing drug Rohypnol in Baby’s got a Temper, however this and throngs of other controversies merely propelled the band’s popularity in the eyes of fans.

Despite his demonic onstage demeanour, Flint was said to be a soft spoken gentleman when away from the bright lights of showbiz. Buying a country pub – The Leather Bottle – in 2014, Keith would often reportedly chat to fans, sign autographs and even pick up bar tabs on occasion. For a man so outspoken and vibrant onstage, it seemed he enjoyed the quiet life whenever he could.

Credit: Jared Earle/MotoRaceReports

(Credit: Jared Earle/MotoRaceReports)

Whenever a high-profile musician passes away, it seems they become everyone’s favourite band. Timelines and hashtags bursting with songs, pictures and stories. Evidently this time around is no different, with Firestarter gaining national airplay once again this week, 23 years after its initial release. But the passing of Keith Flint has shown the world a very different man to the one they thought they knew. Stories of his kindness, his secluded country lifestyle, and his soft spoken manner paint a very different picture from the twisted Firestarter that appeared on the airwaves and screens of the world. His fire may be out, but his legacy is burnt into British musical history forevermore.

 

 

 

Review: Weezer (Black Album)

California kings Weezer return this week with their thirteenth and eagerly awaited new release Weezer (Black Album).

This is the sixth self titled/coloured album released by Rivers and the gang. Blue, Green, Red, White and most recently Teal have all come before. Teal in particular had the music world talking: dropped from out of nowhere with zero hype back in January, an album of retro covers to keep fans content whilst they wait for new music, and a friendly reminder that Weezer have always been good to their fans.

 It can’t be helped but to compare all of these colours, and in doing so the listener can really hear the evolution of a band 23 years into their career. 2019’s Black is worlds apart from 1995’s Blue, as even the idea of drum samples and trumpets would make a mid 90s Weezer fan shudder. This latest album features all of the above, a comfortable next step on the Weezer journey, but also another step toward the mainstream that the band were once so shunned from.

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(Credit: Atlantic Records)

 Songs like Can’t Knock the Hustle and Byzantine wouldn’t sound out of place on a mainstream radio show, but certainly wouldn’t belong on a classic Weezer playlist. However, it has to be said that the Rivers Cuomo of old shines through in tunes like High as a Kite, and particularly The Prince who Wanted Everything. It’s songs like these that remind fans why they’ve remained with the band through the good times (Pinkerton) and bad times (Raditude)

 It seems that more and more with each release, Weezer divide their fans: the purists who claim they lost it years ago, and the die-hards who stick with them through every track (Saturday Night Live even referenced this in a sketch featuring Matt Damon). But Weezer (Black Album) is a comfortable reminder that the LA band have still got it, and there is enough material here to keep both sides of the argument happy.

 

 

Bask in the glow of the Female Warrior

For years, wrestling has been seen as a man’s world. A place where David meets Goliath, where musclebound alpha males meet in the middle of the ring to settle the score.

Whilst women have been featured, often the emphasis would shift from athletic competition to beauty pageant, with wrestlers acting as eye candy and fighting in sexually fuelled storylines and matches. However, the diva-driven days of old have slowly been left behind, and the age of the strong female competitor is upon us.

Wrestling giants WWE, once responsible for such content as the “bra and panties match” and forced lesbian love affairs are now working to right the wrongs of the past, holding women’s only pay per views and creating a female tag team championship tournament – the first in the company’s history. Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey made the jump to the wrestling company last year, and is rumoured to become the first woman, alongside Charlotte Flair (daughter of legendary hall of fame wrestler Ric Flair) to headline the company’s global attraction, Wrestlemania.

These changes are set to make a positive impact on the portrayal of women throughout the industry, from the top of the mountain at WWE to the path along the way.

Glasgow wrestler Emily Haden has spent the last seven years honing her craft up and down the country, recently taking part in an all-woman battle royale at the Jam House, in Edinburgh. Reflecting on changes in recent years, she is glad of the positive steps forward.

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(Credit: Emily Hayden)

“Oh, I welcome the change!” She exclaims “It’s great to see women presented with the same opportunities as our male counterparts. Wrestling has always been a male dominated sport so I find it exciting to see women being given the chance to go from ‘Bra and Panties’ matches to a TLC match for example. The sky is the limit these days to what else women can do. There’s been so many women within wrestling who have been breaking down doors and shattering glass ceilings so it’s about time we see the big pay off.”

Growing up, Haden rarely missed a show of Monday Night Raw, WWE’s flagship programme. Watching as a young girl, the show portrayed the female characters a lot differently in the early 2000’s than they do in 2019.

“Women were always sexualised and used as ‘eye candy’ for the men in the audience” Emily recalls “whether it be a valet/manager spot or with matches like Bra and Panties, Evening Gown and Playboy matches”

But there were a few diamonds in the rough, strong women attempting to break the mould and make a change in what was considered a “Diva” era.

“We did have women like Lita, Trish Stratus, Victoria and even more recently, A.J. Lee, who were strong women. Yes, they weren’t afraid to be sexy with photoshoots and whatnot but they stood out for their in-ring talent as well as their looks.”

The showcasing of WWE’s female division has reverberated throughout the entire wrestling community: more and more female showcases are appearing in many companies around the world, including Fierce Females, an all-women wrestling promotion based in Glasgow.

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(Credit: Mrs Wilson Photography)

Emily doesn’t believe that this equality was an overnight sensation, rather years of pioneering young women. “I’d like to argue that there is no specific point in which a positive change started happening, I feel like this has been building up over the course of many years through a variety of strong, empowering women paving the way for future wrestlers to become trailblazers in their own right. Every one of them helped to make this women’s revolution possible.”

The future looks bright for women in the wrestling industry, now held on an equal pedestal in such a male dominated industry. Emily is proud to be a part of the wrestling scene, but aware that the fight isn’t quite over yet.“Women are being given great opportunities especially after having to fight so hard to get them. I feel the hard work isn’t done though. I feel we still have some work to go before we can say we have evolved from ‘this is great for a women’s match!’ for example. There should never be that factor taken into the calibre of a match.”

Thanks to the trailblazers that came before her, and the empowered young women she stands with, Emily believes that there is unlimited potential for women who stand inside the squared circle in 2019.

“The sky is the limit to what can be achieved and we’re just getting started. I can’t wait to see the journey that wrestling will take with this women’s revolution”.

Female wrestlers have also broke through to popular culture in the movies, with recent release Fighting With My Family documenting the rise of WWE superstar Paige. Read our review here.

So long, Meadowbank

Meadowbank Stadium is home to many sporting moments etched forever in the minds of both athletes and spectators – including the 1986 Commonwealth Games. Understandably, there was a mixed reaction when the stadium closed its doors for the final time in 2017.

Some were happy to see the old, worn-down place go. After all, it’s set to be replaced by an all-new sporting facility in 2020. Others were left feeling dejected, nostalgically looking back at countless matches, competitions and general feel-good moments that took place in one of the city’s great sporting grounds.

2019 has seen demolition of the old stadium recently completed, as building work for the £45 million replacement is imminent. But there is one more thing that has been lost with the old place, one relic of Edinburgh’s artistic flair that hasn’t been at the forefront of the closure as much as its sporting accolades: the music.

Used as an occasional replacement for the nearby Usher Hall, Meadowbank was temporary home to a surprisingly elite list of musicians and groups known the world over. Scotland’s own Simple Minds headlined the 25,000 capacity space back in 1989, when the band were arguably at their peak, the same year they achieved their only UK number one “Belfast Child”.

Among a string of names to drop by the venue in the 90s was the legendary singer/enigma Prince, bringing his infectious grooves to the city in 1993. To think of Prince strutting his stuff just a stone’s throw from Easter Road today seems like a far-fetched fable, but strut he did. The gig was even presented in conjunction with Forth One. Prince on Forth One…wild.

The 2000s saw Meadowbank host the short-lived but critically-acclaimed T on the Fringe Festival, in which major acts would descend upon the sporting venue to perform as part of that year’s Fringe Festival. An impressive array of artists would grace the stage during those few years, including Muse, Foo Fighters, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails.

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Idlewild, including Rod Jones (far right). (Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic)

Edinburgh’s own Idlewild opened for grunge pioneers Pixies at the old sports ground in 2005, sharing the bill with fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub. Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones reminisces about a magical moment, in which he got to share the stage with his heroes in his hometown:

“For us it was a really special moment, playing between two of our favourite bands in our hometown,” he muses. “I’ve always been a huge fan of both Pixies and Teenage Fanclub, and remember feeling fairly surreal – but excited – looking over to the side of the stage and seeing Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Frank Black (The Pixies) watching us.

“I remember it being a pretty special night,” Rod continues, before mentioning another great bonus to playing a show in his hometown: “Always nice to be able to walk home from a gig!”

In recent years, the grounds have been used less and less frequently, with a 2016 Elton John concert marking the last time music would emanate from that breezy sports track. Gone, but certainly not forgotten, Meadowbank will hold a place in the hearts of many music fans who got to experience their favourite tune, their icon, or their bucket list band there.

Read more EN4 News coverage of Meadowbank here.

Petition launched to help local artist

A petition has been launched to prevent local street artist Michael McVeigh from losing his “patch” in which he sells prints of his paintings.

The artist, who sells his prints on Saturdays behind Marks & Spencer on Rose Street, claims selling art is is his only source of income. However, Edinburgh City Council believe that nearby construction and vehicle movement in the area conflict with the street trader. They concluded that McVeigh’s display will cause “a severe risk to public safety”

The petition, available on change.org, has currently been signed by 315 people, with organiser Daniel Smith urging more to sign. One overseas supporter wrote:

“I live in Canada and have a few of his prints. I’m complimented on them all the time. I’ve given them as gifts. Scotland should be proud of this fellow. He’s a treasure.”

McVeigh, whose art has been displayed in galleries throughout Edinburgh and Glasgow, has been selling his art on Rose Street for over 20 years. The artist will find out the fate of his trading license next month, when the city council decide whether or not to revoke his permit.

For more on art in Edinburgh, try these articles:

Another Country exhibition: a topical subject meets remarkable artwork

Queer Artists Exhibition

Artist Zac Hughson on gender norms, working in retail and haircuts

 

 

 

In memory of Jim Morrison: 8 shocking rock ‘n’ roll moments

Today, March 1st 2019, marks an important anniversary in rock and roll. It might not be the one you think.

No, it’s not the day The Beatles landed in America, sending throngs of Beatle maniacs into a screaming frenzy upon their arrival. It’s not the date Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon, an album that would stay in the album charts for 17 years. It is, in fact, 50 years to the day that The Doors frontman Jim Morrison allegedly exposed himself to a stunned Florida crowd, all the way back in 1969.

Granted, this may not seem like the most shocking thing by today’s standards, in which skin, sex and nudity are at times a key part of an artist’s performance or identity. During the hazy days of the late 60s, however, this alleged lewd act was a national story in both music and mainstream press. Morrison himself was arrested over the incident, which he denied having taken place. The question of did he/didn’t he continued well after the untimely death of the singer in 1971 – but Morrison was eventually pardoned nearly four decades later by Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Guilty or not, this act of supposed rebellion is one that will go down in history as one of the more memorable moments in rock history. In the years that followed, there have been countless moments on stages throughout the globe that have shocked the audience and – indeed the world.

8 – The Sex Pistols swear on live TV, 1976

Another example of a moment that may be considered tame by today’s standards, but when members of legendary punk band The Sex Pistols turned the airwaves blue back in 1976, it caused mass outrage and made the group into public enemy number one.

As a last-minute replacement for Freddie Mercury, forced to cancel due to toothache, the punks appeared on tea-time tell programme Today. Continuously needled by presenter Bill Grundy, the group referred to the host as a “dirty old sod” before dropping a tirade of obscenities, including the F bomb. The show quickly went off air, and the Sex Pistols cemented themselves in musical infamy.

7 – Billie Joe Armstrong loses his cool , 2012

Green Day frontman Billie Joe smashed his guitar into smithereens during the iHeart Radio Music Festival during a performance of the band’s biggest hit “Basket Case”.

The singer, triggered by a production cue, cut the song short, declaring “I’ve been around since f–king 1988, and you’re gonna give me one f—ing minute? You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m not f—ing Justin Bieber, you motherf—ers.” Before destroying his guitar and throwing his microphone into the crowd. The singer entered drug rehabilitation in the days following the incident.

6 – Nirvana play the wrong song, 1991

At the height of their fame, Nirvana were arguably the biggest band in the world. But an appearance on The Jonathon Ross’ show proved that they weren’t going to be selling out and playing nice as part of their newfound fame.

Scheduled to play their chart-topping tune Lithium, the grunge band instead launched into their much punkier, much less famous song Territorial P-ssings before destroying their equipment and the stage. A shocked Ross jokingly reminded the audience at home Nirvana were available for “children’s birthday parties and bar mitzvahs.”

5 – Liam Gallagher Throws a Plum, 2009

Okay, so this one didn’t happen in front of the cameras or an audience, but the backlash from this rather bizarre incident is one that left the music world reeling, and worthy of a mention.

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The Gallagher brothers in happier times (Credit: Paula Torres Rey)

Minutes before heading onstage to play in front of an eagerly awaiting crowd, rock ‘n’ roll’s most notorious brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher were involved in a heated argument that would lead to the end of one of the world’s biggest bands. When tensions continued to rise, Liam reportedly swung a guitar at brother Noel before throwing a plum in his direction. Arguably the straw that broke the camel’s back, that night’s performance was cancelled, and Oasis were no more.

4 – Ozzy Osbourne bites a bat’s head off, 1982

No stranger to controversy, former Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne was onstage in Des Moines, Iowa when a bat emerged at his feet, flung from the crowd.

Thinking the bat to be made of plastic, Osbourne picked the animal up…. and bit the creature’s head off. Fans in attendance looked on in horror as the rocker finished his set, before being whisked to a nearby hospital room for rabies shots. The incident led to a ban of performances containing animals in the arena, and is still one of the most talked-about controversies in rock history today.

3 – James Hetfield goes up in flames, 1992

In 1992, two of the biggest bands in the world were playing a double headline show in Montreal – Guns ‘n’ Roses and Metallica. However, when Metallica frontman James Hetfield accidentally engulfed himself in flames, it triggered a series of very unfortunate events.

During ballad “Fade to Black”, Hetfield misjudged his step and stood directly in the way of a 12-foot flame as it burst into the air – a part of the band’s impressive pyrotechnic show. The fire melted the strings on Hetfield’s guitar, the skin on his right arm, and incinerated his eyebrows and parts of his hair. The group were forced to cut their set short to a sea of boos. Guns n Roses were set to take the stage and save the day, when….

2 – Axl Rose triggers a riot, 1992

Guns ‘n’ Roses took to the stage after Metallica cut their set short, and seemed ready to rescue the show. However, the rock megastars ended up leaving early themselves.

Infamously late Axl Rose took to the stage two hours after Hetfield was rushed to hospital. Complaining of sound issues and a sore throat, Rose walked off nine songs into the set, telling fans this would be the group’s “last show for a long time.” Furious fans then took to the streets of Montreal: overturning cars, smashing windows, looting local stores, and setting fires. Altogether, the riot caused more than $500,000 worth of damage to the city – which would be closer to $1 million in today’s money.

1 – Dimebag Darrell’s onstage assassination, 2004

By far the most shocking and tragic moment on this list, and perhaps in musical history is the Damageplan shooting in Columbus, Ohio that left four dead and seven injured.

Just two songs into their set, gunman Nathan Gale took to the stage of metal band Damageplan, featuring legendary brothers Darrell and Vinny Abbott of Pantera. Gale first shot and killed guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell, then fired upon the other band members and tour crew. The incident landed on the anniversary of Beatles legend John Lennon’s death, another musician gunned down by a supposed fan.

To this day the incident remains the largest mass killing in Columbus history, and led to security measures increasing at shows around the world, many of which are still in effect. Darrell was honoured in 2007 with a space on the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame.

For more try these EN4 News articles about problematic musicians.

Podcast: Disney Matters

This week, EN4News reporters Paul Sinclair, Dave Paul and Olivia Hill discuss the upcoming Disney remakes, scheduled for release in 2019.

Update: French PM renounces fuel tax rises

Latest: French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe has announced a suspension on fuel tax hikes, after protesters took to rioting in the French capital and surrounding areas.

Following crisis talks in Paris today, the PM renounced the policy put forward by President Emmanuel Macron. He stated that the fuel increase will be suspended for six months.

“No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger.”

French motorists began protesting the tax spike in mid-November, when leader Macron announced the price rise was a necessity to combat climate change. However, the protests took a violent turn when political protesters known as “Yellow Vests” began violent clashes with authorities.

The riots, which saw over 130,000 people take to the streets in protest saw major damage to multiple homes, cafes and stores throughout Paris has seen more than 400 arrests since the clashes began. Over 133 were injured, including 23 members of the French security forces.

The action took a sinister turn Saturday afternoon when an 80 year old woman was killed after being struck with a gas canister thrown during the troubles. The unnamed woman, who was at home at the time of the incident, was struck in the head whilst closing her shutters. The woman was taken to hospital but died in the operating theatre. Two more people have also been killed.

Macron and Philippe’s approval rating have hit a new low as the violence spread across Paris and the hope is the suspension of the tax increase eases tensions between protesters and the government.

Bruce Springsteen announces UK return

Springsteen is know as the “the Boss”. Photo Credit: Craig O’Neal

Legendary singer Bruce Springsteen has confirmed he will play a string of concerts across the UK in 2019.

Though no confirmed shows have been announced as of yet, Springsteen recently announced it was “time to get back to my day job”, confirming his return to musical form with a new studio album with his E Street Band.

A new studio album would mean the first new material released by the artist since 2014’s “High Hopes” however “Springsteen on Broadway”, a greatest hits performance covering Bruce’s mammoth 46 year career will premiere on Netflix December 15th.

Springsteen last toured the UK in 2016, which included a stop at Glasgow’s Hampden stadium. Known for his mammoth performances, the singer played for over three hours at the famed football stadium.

Bruce and the gang will be well rehearsed for next year’s dates, currently playing five nights a week as part of the Broadway shows in New York City. Though Springsteen turns 70 next year, it seems the iconic American hero is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

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