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July 2019 Archive
31.07.19 > Katiewatch: Leipzig
Part One of the Germany Concerts comes to a close tonight at Clara Zetkin Park in Leipzig. She has a couple of festival appearances in Spain in a few days and then a three-week break until ending the summer tour with three more concerts in Germany at the end of August. If you describe fans as being "blown away" then it is fair to say Katie is leaving a trail of destruction in that country. No funnies from Google Translate today, which has been working hard on its German, though most of today's gig info is copied from Dresden's, so marks lost for cheating. But it does get one bit bang on: "Katie Melua is in her element on stage. With her incomparable charisma, she knows how to inspire crowds of fans." I couldn't have put it better myself.
30.07.19 > Entry 666
.gnola evoM .ereh ees ot gnihtoN .lla s'taht ,666 rebmun yrtne golb si sihT
30.07.19 > Katiewatch: Dresden
And so on to Dresden. Today, Google Translate tells us that "Katie does not put herself in any drawer." Except when she's playing hide and seek, maybe. Also, "In her songs she combines blues, jazz, pop, rock and chanson." I hasten to point out, not all of those in every song. I'm intrigued to see "chanson" in that list. Chanson is French for "song". So she puts song into her songs. Always helpful.
Anyway, a lovely open air amphitheatre venue for this concert (fingers crossed for the weather) in a big park next to Dresden Zoo, which means some people may turn up not expecting to see Katie but The Animals. Okay, okay, hand me my hat, I'm outta here...
29.07.19 > Katiewatch: Berlin
Another week, another trio of shows in Germany. Tonight, the Stage Theater in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. Obligatory aerial shot below.
Once again, Google Translate is nailing the blurb on the German ticket site. I would have thought it had German down pat but it is clearly a pretty complex language. So, "The basis of the nine shows in band occupation is a 2018 published retrospective of the Georgians living in London with the crystal clear voice. " Erm... okay. Then, "the 34-year-old reveals himself again in the seasonally appropriate mode with the cozy, warm timbre". Seems Katie can swap gender at will. But I'm glad to see he, sorry she, reveals himself, sorry herself, in seasonally appropriate mode. I can't be doing with seasonally inappropriate revelations. Finally, "Essence-reduced version of the James Bond classic Diamonds Are Forever." I tend to use the term "stripped back" but I think GT has hit on something here. I may well be tempted to describe Katie as "essence-reduced" myself in future writings...
28.07.19 > One Track Minds event
A day off for Katie in Berlin today after three consecutive nights of wonderful gigs, with three more to come early next week. So just time to tell you about an event she will be involved with in London on September 15th. It is called One Track Minds and is part of the Beautiful Word Campaign. It isn't a concert; Katie will be one of six guests that will talk about a song that has inspired them and changed their life. Tickets are from £20 to £125, so you may want to make sure you are a fan of some of the other participants before deciding to go. I'll be in Georgia on that date otherwise I'd have been interested. I hope someone that does go will be good enough to spill the beans on Katie's choice of song!
Further details can be found here
27.07.19 > Katiewatch: Trier
Katie is playing in Trier tonight. Should be popular—everyone loves a Trier. If anyone reading this is going then you need to see this message from Katie. She is apologizing but believe me she will blow you away wherever you see her perform.
I know, I've been spoiling you. Now you want to see an aerial shot of tonight's venue too. Oh go on then, here you are. (I'm assuming the gig is still in Trier, and not Fort Worth, Texas.)
Actually, the new venue is out of shot. Let's try that again.
26.07.19 > Katiewatch: SchlossKapfenburg
Tonight, Katie is playing at SchlossKapfenburg in Lauchheim, Germany. It's another castle venue, leading me to wonder if she has a thing about castles. Has she told her agent to only book her gigs at castles? Anyway, I know you are dying to see an aerial shot so here you go.
Can't help but wonder where everyone is going to park. The car park only seems to hold about 20 cars. Oh well, it's Germany, they'll have something efficient sorted out.
26.07.19 > Katie Bite: If You Were A Sailboat
25.07.19 > A Week in Germany
Katie gets stuck into the heart of her summer tour tonight in the Leiderhalle, Stuttgart. It is the first of six nights in a week in Germany. Lucky Germany. (That luck might have something to do with Katie now having the German company BMG Rights Management as her record label. I did tell the LMG, Lincolnshire Music Group, to grab her while they could...)
24.07.19 > Katie: Bringer Of Mars
Catherine Tate's Nan might say "She did what? What you talkin about?" Bet you didn't know Katie has dipped a toe in the murky waters of children's educational programs did you? Well, she has. Proving once again what a natural she is in front of a camera, here she is presenting a little film about Mars, Bringer Of War from Holst's Planet Suite. She manages to convey just the right level of enthusiasm for kids—i.e. too much for adults. Could've been a Blue Peter presenter...
23.07.19 > Track Notes 60: Heartstrings
Katie Melua, Mike Batt
Yet another jolly little number written by Katie and Mike, or, given the modern trend for name merging, Mitie Katt.
Here is Katie performing the song with a bunch of musicians I've never seen before (or since) on the breakfast show "Lorraine". Except it wasn't Lorraine, but Myleene Klass. No matter. Effortless performance as ever from Katie.
22.07.19 > Blue Balls Festival
Another day, another plane trip... Tonight Katie performs at the Blue Balls Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. And she can get a good night's sleep afterwards because she is playing there tomorrow night too. I'm assuming the two-night thing is due to the fact she is considered a superstar in Switzerland rather than just being down to an admin cock-up. Still, it's an extra day without traipsing around an airport, which should be a relief to Joe Yoshida, who has a ruddy drum kit to cart around in addition to his suitcase and hat.
Now, I know what you're all thinking. (Actually, I haven't a clue—could be about the gestation period of an aardvark or the price of a pencil in Somalia.) Some of you, at least, will be wondering why this festival is so named. Well, it seems no one has a clue but I doubt it has anything to do with temperature. My theory is that it was inspired by this picture of Katie. (Okay, technically that should have made it the Blue Octagons Festival but it doesn't have the same ring, does it?)
21.07.19 > Invisible wine glass
"So, you can add the wine glass digitally afterwards with CGI?"
"Yep, no problem."
20.07.19 > Katie Bite: It's All In My Head
19.07.19 > Katie in Estonia
From one castle to another for Katie. After the stunning Trakai yesterday tonight she is 500km north in Estonia, no doubt leaving the inhabitants of Latvia, sandwiched between Lithuania and Estonia, wondering what the hell they did wrong to get ignored and merely flown over. Anyway, Haapsalu it is. And so to the gift that keeps on giving, Google Translate. So, in Estonian, Chris De Burgh is Chris De Burgh and Katie Melua is Every Black. Can't wait for the next Every Black album. I may have to change this site to All About Every.
This is what the Rock In Haapsalu web site has to say about Katie (according to Google Translate). I have to agree—I have always considered Katie to be one of the most demanding concert magnets in her field.
18.07.19 > Katie in Lithuania
Tonight Katie will perform in the dramatic setting of Trakai Castle in Lithuania. If you don't believe me when I say "dramatic" then take a look at this aerial shot:
Google Translate is fast becoming one of my favourite things ever. Below is GT's manful attempt at the Lithuanian description of Katie's gig. I'm glad to see she was the romantic star of the British scene on July 18th. I'm also excited that her performance tonight pretends to become the most romantic concert of next year.
17.07.19 > The Demise Of Dramatico
Katie's former record label Dramatico has quietly slipped into the abyss. It was on the verge of being dissolved in 2017 but has been kept technically alive though dormant, with Julianne Batt being the only named director. Mike Batt formed the company in 2002, ostensibly because he had been unable to get Katie a record contract elsewhere. By 2005, Dramatico had become one of the UK's top indie labels but that was pretty much down to Katie's stunning success, and though other artists were signed up none of them had the same kind of impact. When Katie decided to move on in 2014 after six studio albums, I think the writing was clearly on the wall. Personally, I believe Katie was absolutely right to go her own way after twelve years—In Winter is proof of that—but it is a stark reminder that nothing lasts forever. Life changes, people change, the world keeps turning. I've said it before: music is a business, and a particularly tough one at that. There is little room for sentiment. But I will forever be grateful to Dramatico for launching my favourite artist into the stratosphere.
If Dramatico is dead in the water it does raise questions regarding Katie's music though. What becomes of the rights to her Dramatico recordings? Who now owns them? It is a thorny issue for many musicians. Nils Lofgren, for example, owns none of his own music from the first thirty years or so of his career, and he is far from alone in finding himself in such a situation. Some of his early albums are out of print and he can do nothing about it. I don't know for sure, but Katie is smart and I have the impression she has been able to keep control of at least some of her music and I'm really hoping she has got the rights to her Dramatico back catalogue. Ultimate Collection gave me hope in this respect since it was put together in just a few weeks, which suggests rights hadn't been an obstacle. Some people may think "what does it matter?" It matters.
16.07.19 > Wish List updates
If you read this blog regularly then
God help you you’ll know that I have a wish list of songs I’d like to hear Katie sing, preferably before I die—so I guess it’s a bucket wish list. There are two problems with this list: almost every day I think of another song I’d like to hear Katie sing so it is now a *very* long list; also, Katie is her own woman and she will sing what she wants, not what Lincolnshire’s answer to Homer Simpson opines. You might wonder why I even bother mentioning these songs but, well, you never know, squeaky wheel gets the oil and all of that nonsense.
Anyway, here are a few tunes I’ve had stuck in my brain recently:
If You Could Read My Mind. This timeless classic from 1970 is by Gordon Lightfoot, sometimes thought of as the Canadian Dylan, though Leonard Cohen fans may snort at the mere suggestion. Dylan has though called Lightfoot one of his favourite songwriters, and praise doesn’t come much higher than that. This song has been covered by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Johnny Cash, Petula Clark, Liza Minelli, Don McLean, Olivia Newton-John, Glen Campbell and even Neil Young. That should tell you it’s a decent number, even if your ears don’t. But I know Katie could put a new twist on it and it would be pretty special.
Solitaire. I’ve mentioned this song before. It is by Neil Sedaka, though his version is a bit too cruise ship. Karen Carpenter took it to a new dimension, as she did with every song, and hers is the definitive interpretation. Stunning Norwegian soprano Sissel (that would have read even better had she been Swedish) also recorded a cracking version but since I’m more of a bass head than a treble junkie I have to give the 12 points to KC. Karen weighed around 7 stone when she recorded the song but she was like a Bang & Olufsen speaker—you looked at her and wondered where on earth that rich tone came from. Again though, Katie, with her delicate guitar picking, would give it a fresh angle.
This Girl’s In Love With You. If you want to know how to write a classic song then you need to study the work of the Godfather of Easy, Burt Bacharach. This dreamy number was written as “This Guy’s…” but there was no way the girls were gonna let the guys have this song to themselves and it soon got adapted and recorded by the likes of Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and even the Queen herself, (no, not her madge, don’t be daft) Ella Fitzgerald. More recently, there has been a lovely cover by She & Him, the musical vehicle for quirky cute movie starlet Zooey Deschanel, who turns out to have a gorgeous singing voice—who knew? Well, me. Surely Katie has to cover Bacharach at some point… oh wait, actually she has. She did record Alfie as a bonus track for The Love I’m Frightened Of and a tv special about Cilla Black. But that only proves she ain’t scared of the great man. This Girl’s In Love With You is a better song though, and I’d love to see what Katie could do with it.
Fast Car. What. A. Song. There have been many covers of it over the years but mostly by people you’ve never heard of (Sam Smith perhaps the most notable—he had a crack at it for Radio 1’s Live Lounge in 2014). But Tracy Chapman’s original is nigh on perfect. Katie’s old guitar coach Justin Sandercoe has a video on his site about how to play the hypnotic guitar accompaniment (though clearly he can’t teach you how to sing it, as evidenced by some unexplained woman doing the singing for him, and from 11:30 in the video you understand why). He makes it look fairly easy but my horse fingers have yet to master it. But it’d be fascinating to hear Katie work her magic on it.
15.07.19 > Hungarian Update
How would you like an in-depth review and analysis of Katie's gig in Hungary on Saturday? Yeah, well that makes two of us. I'm sure somebody somewhere must have written something about it but I can't find it. Maybe it will appear in Well Hung, the monthly journal of the Hungarian One-Legged Morris Dancers Society. Failing that I can just copy and paste from my standard summary of all Katie's concerts—it was bloody amazing. Anyway, Katie herself posted these images from Hungary on Instagram. Now I know that sunflowers don't give much information about the actual concert but come on, who in their right mind would share pictures of themselves with sunflowers unless their show had been a success? That would just be perverse.
14.07.19 > Katie Bite: If You Were A Sailboat
13.07.19 > Hungary For More Music
No time for Katie to frolic across Austrian hillsides singing like a nun (shame, but I'll keep that fantasy to myself) for she has hopped across the border into Hungary and made the 300km trip to Veszprem for tonight's concert at the VeszpremFest "Premium Music Festival" (last night it was UB40, so you decide). I'm assuming the weather there isn't great since the venue has already been changed from the History Garden to the Veszprem Arena almost twelve hours before Katie is due on stage.
The image below is from the festival web site, helpfully translated from the utterly baffling Hungarian by Google. Note the breathtaking AI algorithms straining their sinews to decide that Melua in Hungarian must be Melu in English. And I'm sure Joe Yoshida must be proud to be considered part of an orchestra! I'm assuming the 11,900 Ft - 15,900 Ft thing is something to do with ticket prices and not the elevation Katie will be performing at. Sounds like you need a mortgage but I understand we're talking about thirty-odd quid. (That's Pounds Sterling for non-Brits).
12.07.19 > Summer Tour Gets Under Way!
Katie kicks off (no, not like that) in Austria tonight at the "Classic At The Dom" event. She's too much of a pro to need luck but let's all wish it to her anyway. With actors, they say "break a leg", so what do they say to singer/songwriters? Break a string, perhaps? Why not. Break a string, Katie!
Disclaimer: If Katie actually does break a string and decides to come after me with murderous intent I should declare that I am a master of disguise—my Turkish taxi driver could go unrumbled for weeks.
11.07.19 > Playlist: Quaint And Quirky
Katie has never shied away from trying different things and most of her albums have had one or two songs I'd describe as eyebrow-raisers. Some elicit the response "interesting", and are therefore Spock's eyebrow-raisers. Others are double-eyebrow raisers, which generally accompany a "W.T.A.F." We should be clear on one thing—they are all good songs. They wouldn't make it on to an album otherwise. But they also have something a bit different about them, whether it be the subject matter, lyrics, arrangement or some musical magic that I can't explain. For example, in "Tiny Alien" the line "who are you my tiny alien" always reminds me of those famous five notes in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. I would also add that whilst some of these songs are clearly a little tongue-in-cheek, most are not and it is probably only my warped mind that would include them on a list such as this but I find this a fun playlist to listen to.
Quaint And Quirky
- Tiny Alien
- A Moment Of Madness
- God On The Drums, Devil On The Bass
- Idiot School
- Jack’s Room
- Straight To DVD
- Shiver And Shake
- Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
- Looking For Clues
- A Happy Place (Sparks vs. Katie Melua remix)
10.07.19 > Lyrics: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
09.07.19 > Track Notes 59: The Cry Of The Lone Wolf
The Cry Of The Lone Wolf
Katie Melua, Mike Batt
This little beauty has slipped under the radar somewhat. It wasn't released as a single, nor was it included on Ultimate Collection. Yet it is a gem of a song written by Katie and Mike, though you could easily mistake it for another fish they'd caught from the sea that is the Great American Song Book. It has that feel about it.
Check out this sumptuous performance of the song. It is labelled as "acoustic". Ignore the bloke on the electric guitar sat next to Katie and yes, it is.
08.07.19 > Katie Bite: The Bit That I Don't Get
07.07.19 > Katie's Summer Tour
Good luck and safe travels to Katie as she embarks on her summer tour this week, beginning in Austria on Friday. No need to tell her to dust off the passport since her passport gathers less dust than a broken vacuum cleaner. She will be performing in Austria, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Germany (again). Those lucky Germans are getting spoilt rotten whilst we parched Brits will be forced to lick our vinyl to quench our Katie thirst. So ist das leben.
I don't know about ticket availability but if you go to the On Tour section there are links to the appropriate places for you to find out for yourself.
Itinn Itinery Itina List of Dates
12/07/19 — Klassik Am Dom, Linz, Austria
13/07/19 — VeszprémFest, Veszprém, Hungary
18/07/19 — Trakai Castle, Trakai, Lithuania
19/07/19 — Rock In Haapsalu, Haapsalu, Estonia
22/07/19 — Blue Balls Festival, Lucerne, Switzerland
23/07/19 — Blue Balls Festival, Lucerne, Switzerland
25/07/19 — Leiderhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
26/07/19 — Schloss Kapfenburg, Lauchheim, Germany
27/07/19 — Amphitheater, Trier, Germany
29/07/19 — Stage Theater, Berlin, Germany
30/07/19 — Junge Garde, Dresden, Germany
31/07/19 — Parkbühne, Leipzig, Germany
03/08/19 — Cap Roig Festival, Calella de Palafrugell, Spain
05/08/19 — Starlite Festival, Marbella, Spain
29/08/19 — Freilichtbühne, Schwerin, Germany
30/08/19 — Kemnader See, Witten, Germany
31/08/19 — Kurpark Classix, Aachen, Germany
06.07.19 > Katie's Web Site Woes
Sadly, Katie’s web site is still not getting the tlc she deserves. I should stress that this isn’t Katie’s fault—the upkeep of the site is farmed out to a web development company by her agent. But her agent could do with switching the account to a company that actually cares about how their client is perceived. I won’t delve into my ongoing list of problems with the site but just highlight the latest issue. When you first go to katiemelua.com you are greeted with a full page image of Ultimate Collection with the invitation to “Listen Now”. If you click that link you are given a list of options such as Amazon and iTunes. However, the first option is a link to Katie’s online store. This is just as it should be—music is a business after all—the trouble is the link takes you to tmstores.com, a third-party music store that no longer handles Katie’s merchandise. If you enter her site and go to the store you will see her merch is now handled by kontrabandstores.com. They will happily sell you Ultimate Collection. But the link to Katie’s store on the landing page of her website will merely whisk you off to buy albums from the likes of Emma Bunton and Stormzy. It is obvious that whoever is maintaining Katie’s website couldn’t give a monkey’s pilates DVD about it. A world class recording artist deserves so much better, which is one of the reasons I created AAK. It is not an official site but I do care about making it as good as it can be. I’ve said it before—an artist’s web site is the first port of call for potential new fans. It matters to get it right. If you want an example of how it can be done take a look at neilyoung.com It is an extraordinary site and even offers archives to everything he has recorded. That is a site that has been made with real love. (Just like AAK.)
05.07.19 > Kid In A Sweetshop?
04.07.19 > Playlist: Katie At The Movies
Now, as a resource for film-makers I consider Katie to be seriously underused. Her material is an absolute gold mine, not just for romcoms but all kinds of genres, including sci-fi (don't forget Peter Skellern's "One More Kiss Dear" made it into Blade Runner). "Tiny Alien" is the obvious candidate, but it all depends on what is required and fits the context at a particular point of the movie. And of course, it doesn't have to be a song from Katie's back catalogue—it can be written specifically for the movie with Katie in mind to sing, as was the case for "When You Taught Me How To Dance". But the following (criminally short) playlist is for the songs that have made it into movies and I duly doff my cap to the enlightened directors for their wisdom. The Tourist sees a lovely montage of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in Venice, set to "No Fear Of Heights", and who could forget Miss Potter, with Renee Zellwegger and Ewen McGregor grinning idiotically to the sound of "When You Taught Me How To Dance".
Katie At The Movies
- Just Like Heaven (Just Like Heaven)
- Call Off The Search (Mia Sarah)
- Tiger In The Night (Mia Sarah)
- When You Taught Me How To Dance (Miss Potter)
- Looking For Clues (Nancy Drew)
- Toy Collection (Faintheart)
- No Fear Of Heights (The Tourist, 5 Days Of War)
03.07.19 > Katie Bite: Anniversary Song
02.07.19 > Dylan Cover Challenge
Okay, so who’s up for setting Katie a Dylan Cover Challenge? Oh, come on, I can’t be the only muppet with my hand in the air. No, actually, I probably am. Anyway, the thing is Katie did a cracking live cover of Blowin' In The Wind. (That video has had over 2 million hits by the way, despite having the resolution of an 80s video game.)
So the challenge is simply to get Katie to sing another Bob song. There's a few to choose from for sure, but I think a nice easy option would be "If Not For You". This little gem was recorded by Dylan in 1970. George Harrison polished it a bit and released his version a month later, but it wasn't until cutesy seventies starlet Olivia Newton-John released a version (based on Harrison's arrangement) in 1971 that the general public pricked up its ears and ONJ reached number 7 in the UK charts. The song was later covered by the likes of Rod Stewart and Bryan Ferry. If you want to check out the song on YouTube here are Olivia's sweet version, George Harrison's version and George and Bob performing live together.
If anyone fancies a bash at it here are the guitar chords and lyrics.
I did say that was an easy option. A more interesting challenge might be Subterranean Homesick Blues - at least Bob kindly provides lyric prompts for it 😂
01.07.19 > Lyric Card: All Over The World