Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead?

"I want to write...dangerous songs that give you permission to wear your heart on your sleeve before Jesus, unencumbered by the grave cloths of mindless tradition."

I'm a big fan of John Mark McMillan, as much as it pains me to say it, it's very rare to come across an artist who loves Jesus who actually writes great songs and crosses genres. His music has a strong southern feel to it and his raspy voice perfectly accompanies it. It's strange to have an album where the same song can play after Kings of Leon or Jesus Culture and not sound out of place.
He's re-releasing his last album 'The Medicine' next week, you can read the reason why here.
Below you can see a cool video about his upcoming release, an album I would highly recommend. 'How He Loves' was originally on his 'The song inside the sound of breaking down' album, but he's tagging on a radio version of it to 'The Medicine'. Notice here on Amazon it has an explicit lyric warning beside the album? How funny is that. I guess some conservative type reported him for the 'sloppy wet kiss' lyric, amazing! Actually while on the subject, not sure if I posted it before but here's a quote from him about that line...

The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy. Think about the birth of a child, or even the death of Jesus himself. These miracles are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly sloppy ("gory" may be more realistic, but “Heaven meets earth like a gory mess” didn’t seem to have the same ring). Why does the church have such a problem with things being sloppy? Do we really think we’re fooling anyone on Sunday morning, especially God? Are we going to offend him? I mean, he’s seen us naked in the shower all week and knows our worst thoughts, and still thinks we’re awesome. What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead? That could be revolutionary!

Enjoy the video, it's short and enjoy the album if you get it, it's awesome.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pearl Jam June 23rd, Belfast, Ireland

I always get strange looks from people when they realise I've seen Pearl Jam two nights in a row. "Belfast?, are you not going to see them in Dublin?" I always feel the need to justify my decision, my reason for people this time around is "well they played 15 different songs in Belfast, it's not like U2 who will play one different song if you're lucky, two if you've hit the jackpot". But frankly I'd see them in Belfast if I knew ahead of time that they were going to play the same setlist. They're my favourite band, they don't play here very often so why not? They have set the bar pretty high for themselves though with their always varied setlist (in 2003 they played 3 shows in Boston playing 82 different songs as well as 11 covers, immense), so I knew I was in for a treat.
When we arrived into the Odyssey I was stoked to see that we had cracking seats, even happier when no one sat infront of us. Ben Harper played the same set as the night before but it was again very enjoyable. His new band is tight and as much as I'd have loved to have seen him with the Innocent Criminals these new guys are excellent.
Pearl Jam opened with Sometimes, a song I was disappointed to hear them open with in 2000 but was delighted to hear this time, a great little song which I've come to appreciate with time. Do the Evolution came next followed by a favourite of mine Animal. Always intense and always rockin. As there was a notable absence of any songs from 'vs' in Dublin it was nice to have 4 songs from it in the set. The Fixer had me realise that the Belfast crowd was great and just as up for it as the Dublin crowd as they sang along with the many 'yeah, yeah yeah's'.
Next up was a real treat for me 'Tremor Christ', man I was so excited to hear that song, not one I was expecting. Eddie said it was a request and my respect goes out to whoever asked for it. Such a great tune. Low Light a sweet tune from No Code was next. The 1-2 Even Flow and Unthough Known from the night before was next, Mike McCready again tearing up the solo in Even Flow and Unthought Known reminding me of why it's in my top 3 favourites off Backspacer. Love that tune.
Another super rare treat came next, 'No Way' a song only played 9 times in it's 12 year existence. It sounded so good live. Eddie's chat with the crowd was well enough received however it was interesting to see the difference between a Dublin crowd and a Belfast crowd in response to banter about 'Irish' things. A joke about Michael flatley and a reference to his girlfriend being a 'McCormick' amongst other banterings, weren't as well received as he thought they might be (he stated this). I guess the mix of Irishness, Britishness and Northern Irishness in the venue make for slight awkwardness at those moments. Eddie didn't understand it and I'm not quite sure if any of us understand at the moment what the true identity of Northern Irish folk is, but as this is not a political review I'll move along swiftly.
Eddie did mention politics himself in introducing Insignificance as a song conveying his upset that his tax money helped build planes in Boeing in Seattle to drop bombs on kids in foreign countries, whether one agrees with his politics or not it was interesting to hear his thoughts about the song. Present tense a great slow burner from the much underrated 'No Code' was next, followed by a quick 1-2 of 'Got Some' and 'Save You', a welcomed 'Riot Act' song.
Eddie dedicated the next song to someone as Stone began the chords to 'Blac'k but Eddie said 'we can't dedicate a depressing song to them' so Mike kicked in quickly with 'Given to Fly'. The crowd loved it, an amazing staple song live. Black came next with the crowd singing an extended 'do do do do do do do....', it sounded great. The set closed with an ever excellent rearviewmirror.
The first encore started as the night before, with 'Just Breathe', by now the three empty seats infront of us where filled with 3 absolute planks, but I was just about able to ignore them. Following 'Just Breathe' Eddie said he had gotten a message from a very brave man who had gotten married that day and took his guests to the show so he and his now wife could say Pearl Jam where their wedding band (I found out later there where only 24 of them at the small wedding). He mentioned their names and dedicated the next song 'Amongst the Waves' to them and asked the crowd to clear a space so they could have their first dance. Sweet.
Another favourite of mine 'State of Love and Trust' was next, what a song. Eddie then told a little tale about the lady in his life and his two kids and how much he missed them as Boom played 'Wasted Reprise' in the background, 'Betterman' then followed which predictably send the crowd into a tizzy.
The second encore began in a very unique way. Eddie explained that a very good friend of theirs Brendan O'Brien (record producer) was 50 in three days time and he's a hard guy to please to they wanted to do something special. We were asked to stay quiet as they spoke to a camera infront of a black sheet and when they sheet dropped we were all to cheer and sing happy birthday. It actually looked and sounded pretty cool. The 12 string bassed intro to Jeremy came next and brought the house down. It was a fun song and the crowd loved it, as did I. Next was another song with a bass intro; 'Leash'. So fun to hear live and a fan request for many a year, noted for it's absence for 12 years until it was played in 2006.
A cover was next, whats a Pearl Jam show without a cover? Crazy Mary, this song used to be quite the rarity but not so much anymore. It's a great song, although one of the very few songs that I prefer the studio version to the live one. The set finished in the same fashion as Dublin with the lights on and 'Alive' and 'Yellow Ledbetter' played. It was great fun and the crowd was so into it as apparently where the band. Mike McCready teased 'I Will Follow' by U2 at the end of Yellow Ledbetter. A great end to an amazing two nights.
It was a stellar show, and I think it may have just topped Dublin. Hopefully they'll be back soon!

Do The Evolution
The Fixer
Tremor Christ
Low Light
Even Flow
Unthought Known
No Way
Present Tense
Daughter/The Real Me (The Who)
Got Some
Save You
Given To Fly

1st encore:
Just Breathe
Amongst The Waves
State Of Love And Trust
Wasted Reprise
Better Man/Save It For Later

2nd encore:
Happy Birthday Brendan O’Brien
Crazy Mary (Victoria Williams)
Yellow Ledbetter/I Will Follow (U2)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pearl Jam June 22nd, Dublin, Ireland

Driving in to the show I was reminiscing with Jane that it's been 14 years since I first saw Pearl Jam live, scary! Last night was pretty amazing and particularly rockin. Only real let up in the first set from the second tune on was Nothingman, apart from that they pretty much tore it up. They opened with the slow burner 'Long Road' which isn't a regular opener although it's opened three shows I've been to now. From there they just went into overdrive. Loved hearing the opening riff of once, I had a fleeting thought that they might play ten from start to finish but that's a ridiculous thought, although they did do it with the avocado album so maybe someday. 4 singalongs followed, the 'yeah, yeah yeah's' from The Fixer, 'why go home' from eh.. Why Go, pretty much all of what is decipherable from Corduroy and more 'yeah's' from Severed Hand. Two of my top three from the new album came next sandwiched with Even Flow as the filling, Amongst the Waves an absolutely stellar song which sounds fantastic live and Unthought Known an amazing song with a fantastic melody. Even Flow was as always a chance for Mike McCready to show off with a trademark solo and the crowd to go even more mental.
A note on the crowd, I wonder does it happen to everyone or is it just me but I seem to always get surrounded by the same group of cliches. The token shirtless American high fiving those around him when they play his favourite songs, the token shirtless guy showing off his pearl jam stickman tattoo, the long haired Portuguese guy who head bangs his hair into my face (it strangely smelled quite nice actually), the annoying guy who appears out of nowhere and stands right infront of me, the beer spiller on his way past, the tone deaf guy behind me singing in my ear and the token guy who brings his completely disinterested girlfriend. I guess it wouldn't be the same without them.
Anyways, back to the show. Nothingman was a real treat. I was delighted to hear that song, one of my favourites and it sounds just gorgeous live. Was also a nice breather. The breather didn't last long though as they scorched through Lukin seguing into Not For You. Another treat, the b-side Down followed before another song from the new album 'Got Some'. I wonder how drummers have the stamina to take on all those songs, Got Some has alot of drumming going on in it. Comatose went by with a frenzy, before Ed told a story about hearing about the death of Joe Strummer on his birthday December 23 and they launched into a song of his which they've never played before called 'Arms Aloft in Aberdeen'. Some pretty profound lyrics in it. The set closed with the ever enjoyable 'Do The Evolution'.
1st encore began with the absolutely gorgeous 'Just Breathe' a member of my top three from the new album. Having a wife and two kids has definitely rubbed off on Mr. Vedder. Following this was another crowd favourite 'Given To Fly'. They then played another song they've never played before this time it wasn't a cover though. Ed said it was so new it's not even a song yet. Although Jeff mentioned the song a while ago in an interview as an outtake from the Avocado sessions. It's a strange mix of jazz, punk and Peter Gabriel, has some great bits to it. A bangin Porch closed the set, always great to hear a favourite from 'Ten'.
The second encore was another sing along fest. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In a Small Town, was great with everyone singing their hearts out, as they did in the next song Betterman. Ed pleased the crowd with letting us sing the first verse and chorus on our own. Another cover followed, 'Kick out the Jams', not one of my favourites. The set closed with 'Alive' and 'Yellow Ledbetter'.
Overall an absolutely cracking show; added to it by having Ben Harper and Relentless 7 support. A real treat. looking forward to Belfast tonight!

Long Road
The Fixer
Why Go
Severed Hand
Amongst The Waves
Even Flow
Unthought Known
Nothing Man
Not For You
Got Some
Arms Aloft (Joe Strummer)
Do The Evolution

1st encore:
Just Breathe
Given To Fly
Of The Earth

2nd encore:
Small Town
Better Man/Save It For Later
Kick Out The Jams (MC5)
Yellow Ledbetter/Cowboy Song


Ben Harper & Relentless 7

Better Way
I Will Not Be Broken
Number With No Name
Lay There & Hate Me
Feel Love
Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart)
Up To You Now

Saturday, June 19, 2010

We've only glimpsed his vast affection

I heard this song the night of it's début when we were in Bethel church a few weeks ago and I can't get it out of my head. Thought I'd share it here. It's not the best recording, but you'll get the gist of it. Hoping it gets on a proper cd recording soon. It's by Jeremy Riddle who is a very anointed worship leader and gifted song writer. I just love the overarching theme that we have absolutely no idea just how much God loves us, but he's on a mission to let us know. His love being furious reminds me of when you're a kid and you believe that your Dad is stronger than anyone elses Dad. Even though my Dad had a dodgy leg and didn't stand much taller than 5 feet I was still convinced that he'd beat the head of anyone else cause he was so strong. I needed to believe that, I needed to believe that my Dad would always keep me safe. Well I think that what it means for God to be jealous or of him being furious as described in this song is that sense of God being bigger than any of our enemies and his being furious against sin and death and the enemy on our behalf. He is determined to reveal his love to us, bring us into his family and keep us there!

Nothing can tear us from
The grip of his mighty love
We’ve only glimpsed his vast affection
Heard whispers of His heart and passion
It’s pouring down

His love is deep, His love is wide and it covers us

His love is fierce, His love is strong, it is furious

His love is sweet, His love is wild and it’s waking hearts to life

The Father loves and sends His Son
The Son lays down His life for all
He lavishes His love upon us
He calls us now His sons and daughters
He’s reaching out

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Go Spain...

I love World Cup time. Even though I'm still extremely disappointed about the fact that we're not there cause of that muppet on the right. At least I know who I will definitely not be supporting. The most entertaining thing about the handball injustice apart from our government making a fool of themselves was Patrice Evra the Man Utd and French full back making the following statement; 'The replay, I'll do it when you want on a PlayStation.' Amusing, although he did also state that they should make a statue of Henry for getting them to the World Cup and anyone who says what he did was wrong is a traitor to their country. Tulip.
Anyways, about the world cup. I want Spain to win and I think they will. I'm also hoping England do well. I don't buy into the crap that because I'm Irish I can't support England. If we support their club teams it's a bit hypocritical to then want their national team to do terribly. Although the media and the rubbish tv pundits do make it harder to want them to succeed.
I think my favourite thing about the world cup, even moreso than the football sometimes is Dunphy, Giles, Sounness, Brady and O'Herlihey. What absolute legends. They really make the bbc and utv look so boring and polished with their constant bickering and being painfully honest. I genuinely think they're the best panel tv have to offer even if they get their predictions wrong half the time, at least they don't tell the viewer what they want to hear all the time. Dunphy is a hero.
Last but not least, God bless the usa media. They really haven't got a clue about 'soccer'. Have you ever listened to commentary from a us commentator? It's spectacular. We watched some games from the confederations cup last year when we were in the states and oh dear me, it was hilarious. This sums it up beautifully...