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Friday, March 16

Show Listening Blog

Hazel over at her blog has the habit of writing a blog while watching a TV programme - or at least about the sequence of events in a TV programme. I've decided to spend the next hour or so at my desk in the office recording a Bill Bailey concert that truly makes me happy to listen to. I'm tempted to try doing a real-time blog of what happens along the way.

It's possible that this blog will turn into a "isn't it weird sitting alone in an office chuckling away to yourself" session. It's also possible that this will turn into a really naff director's commentary - in that you don't get to read it alongside the material I'll be reacting to. There's only one way to find out.

At this moment the show hasn't started. I've shut a bunch of programs on my computer and tried to avoid anything which makes noise from being able to do so. The recording is going to be made by Audacity, which records everything the computer is putting into my headphones - it does it digitally, so I can make as much noise as I like, but the computer generation of any sounds will be picked up. As a result, I can have a streaming audio player, like the BBC Radio 3 player, running and anything which comes out of it can be recorded. That's the idea.

Is it normal to have butterflies in the stomach while listening to Radio 3? Why do I feel under performance pressure? I'm not about to perform. I guess I don't want to miss the start of the gig. I had to remember to press my red button. I've no idea whether this will even work. Theoretically there's enough recording space on the disc for about 30 hours of constant recording. I need 1hr 45 minutes.

Make that 1hr 47 minutes. I put the recording on earlier. They were playing some Flanders and Swan at the end of the last show and I thought it might be interesting.

I'm just a pirate.

Apparently it's a song about a "G-nu".

It's a funny song.

I could parody it relating it to "GNER" - I'm "G-ner"... except you don't parody a parody song and anyone who does is a numpty!

It turns out my clock is slow. The previous programme is still ending. I'm still excited.

The continuity announcer has made two crap jokes to link between programmes.

It doesn't matter. The introduction has started and I'm excited.

The sound quality isn't great and the orchestra aren't incredibly tight, but it's started well. The opening gag I remember as being so funny has not appeared yet.

There's a dutch hip-hop joke I don't remember. Must be new. I'm pleased. I should listen, rather than blog.

Ah, they're playing the Emmerdale theme. It's smooth and loving.

I'm laughing out loud at the Bassoon playing the Bee Gees.

The William Tell overture will be playing in a moment and this is a great thing. I sort of missed the opening gag when I saw it live. So I'm getting to hear it again. Beauty.

Playing the DVD opening credits live. It's ridiculous. I laughed out loud again. Still feels weird in the office.

The jazz Eastenders theme. Neat.

I've been listening and enjoying. This gig doesn't feel as tight as when I saw its warm up. The script is tighter, but Bill seems less relaxed and in tune. The orchestra aren't that tight too... But it's still mint!

Oh, and the audience aren't that responsive. The difference between a Saturday night and Monday night crowd.

Eastenders is being done as a melodrama with some amazing film music - it's so warm. Anne Dudley - if she were only younger.

The Leg Of Time - a full orchestral version of it. Sounding good. It was always a good piece of music. I can't see any punchlines or laughs in it... but Bill carries it off with aplomb. It's a lesson in commitment and joy in what you're doing.

The crowd are going mental. This is a great moment - captured in an echoey way by the 44kbps real-player. Shame about the sound quality. Still, this is the best way I can think of getting a copy of it. A USB DAB radio would have been better... if they exist.

The cop show music starts. This is a massive routine, enlivened by the whole orchestra.

The cop show parody music is still going and it's already feeling quite self-indulgent. Some gags aren't really working... but they're good.

The bass clarinet gag brings the audience back, and the orchestra is winding up to serious atmosphere. Who cares if it's indulgent. There are plenty of nice call backs to previous setups made in the last hour. This is a cracking bit of slow-burner writing. This is why we're on radio 3.

A Keyser Sozer gag. I get it now. Yay!

A ten minute cop show music routine. That's quite something. With a full orchestra, there's been a lot of effort put into that. Big respect.

Hats off to the Zebras. Sounding nice with the orchestra providing a warm string pad and french horn counter melody. The guide to the orchestra forming the start of this show has helped me identify this. Neat.

Carnival of the animals is about to be played. This impressed me when I first heard it. Bill plays well with the orchestra. Or at least did on the 24th Feb.

The fossils part of the carnival of the animals is playing. Bill plays piano provocatively... I am enjoying hearing this again, though my attention is waning a bit. Perhaps the edited out interval has hindered the enjoyment. I would still buy a legal copy of this, mind.

It will probably be followed by the carnival of the forgotten animals - the new composition that they made... which I didn't really see the point of.

It's called the Calvacade Of The Unloved. They're about to do the wasp.

It's done. It didn't do much for me. Sorry Anne. You are still lovely... but a bit old for me.

Now the chameleon - this is a more atmospheric piece, but I think it will probably lack a climax. The problem is we're not sure whether it's meant to be funny or, indeed, why it's really happening. It's still good to hear an orchestra playing about with something for the sake of entertainment/art/amusement.

No climax. The bemused audience applauds politely.

The red crab with a solid russian theme is a bit more rousing, I think. Though it does sound like it's mimicking Prokofiev quite strongly.

The jellyfish even gets its own theme. Saint-Saens might have covered that with the aquarium theme they played 11 minutes ago.

Having said that, I really like this theme. It's sumptuous with a horn and an aquatic wiggle of the strings. The theramin is also employed to delightful effect, though Bill has trouble with exact pitching of it. The bottom line, though, is that orchestras sound great and I regret not one second of listening to this.

They're about to do the orchestral version of "Insect Nation" - a rock opera. Cosmic Jam didn't do this well. 10 years later, with a bit more of a War Of The Worlds vibe, and a 50 piece orchestra, Bill finally gets to do it justice.

Insect Nation comes to a massive climax - it's been like 7 minutes and it was truly stunning. I am, of course, deeply awed.

The love ballad is being set up.

The orchestration hams this up so beautifully - there's more Scott Walker in the percussion than I remember.

The love ballad finishes. The audience go wild. I release a massive fart in appreciation - unaware of the exact volume of it and whether anyone left in the office heard it.

They saved the theme from Shaft for a finale. Interesting. I wonder why. I think Bill must just like playing that wacky wacky guitar.

The show comes to an end with Bill thanking everyone.

The End
It was more fun live and I think Bill enjoyed it more without anyone recording it.

My recording of the recording will take about 10 minutes to save to my disk. Wow!


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