Things can only get better…

I went out last night. That may not seem extraordinary to most people — well, perhaps except for those suffering from agoraphobia, I guess, but I digress — but it doesn’t happen anywhere near often enough, what with three kids, lots of writing work to do and a seemingly endless quest for sleep on my hands.

Anyway, I went out with my lovely wife to the Hornsby RSL. Now, the last time I’d been there specifically for a show, it had been to see the definitively terrible Bob The Builder show. I still shudder at the memory. And that was back in August, to give you an idea of how much time out we get together. Anyway, this time was different — I was heading out to see someone I wanted to see — and someone I never quite expected to see touring Australia, let alone playing Hornsby RSL, Howard Jones.

Sure, some of you are sitting there scratching your heads, wondering “who”? Congratulations, you’re probably under 25. Here’s the Wikipedia link, and here’s the link to the official Web site. Others will be having a sly chuckle at my musical tastes, and that’s your call, but I frankly don’t care.

The venue was good — an odd table-based setup that would have been more suitable for the dinner theatre crowd, but I guess that is a good proportion of the Hornsby RSL show-going crowd. We had a good table near the front, where we sat after I spent far too much money at the merchandise table (it was worth it, dammit!), and enjoyed the two-act show. Flash photography wasn’t allowed, and I only had a truly average point and shoot digital with me, so the following pics could be (ahem) a little cleaner.. but they’re not. It’s what happens when you have no flash, no time, and you’re dancing as you frame the shot.

Howard Jones

While he’s most famous for his electronic music, this was an acoustic set, with the accompanying guitar work of Robin Boult. Acoustic in this context meaning one electronic piano, not twenty of them at once.
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The set included a good mix of his classic older stuff — and no doubt the crowd was largely there for that — and some slightly more obscure stuff, along with a new song — “Say it like you mean it”. Not surprisingly, I liked it.

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Howard performs “The Prisoner”, while I try to get cute with the camera. The song’s about capturing people by stalking them with a camera, so I took a photo of him singing about people taking photos… well, it sounded amusingly postmodern in my head. A pity then, that the shot is so blurry.

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Note to the people who were sitting on the table next to us (Table 20, I guess). Next time you’re at a concert, SHUT UP WITH YOUR MINDLESS YAPPING while the music bit is happening, even if you don’t know the song. I’ll have a better time of it, and I won’t be forced to stab you in the head with a fork. So you’ll have a better time too. (legal note: Nobody was in fact assaulted in the cranial area with cutlery. But I was sorely tempted…)

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Howard doesn’t know the lyrics to “La Bamba”, but he does do a good version of “Twist And Shout” — I’d never really thought about how close both songs are to each other.

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Joseph, mentioned in “Don’t Always Look At The Rain” as being five years old, is apparently now thirty and married. Eep. We’re all getting older, I guess.
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Finishing with the crowd pleasing hits, which also brought up a bevy of beautiful “young” things to dance in front of the stage, including the mother of one of Zoe’s school friends. See — parenting, music and technology — this blog truly has it all today.

The gig finished, we said goodbye to a few people, and then sat there to wind down and let the traffic escape from the very small (and very packed) car park. Just as we’re about to walk past the merchandise stand (they already had $140 of my money, but I was happy to provide it for the stuff I didn’t already have), the guy running merchandise comments to the dozen or so people who were left that Howard would be out for a signing in a minute or two…

So it was back into the showroom, and one very short wait in line later — complete with what seems to be a requisite factor at any Australian gig: A sad, inebriated fool of a man trying to pick a fight with someone (anyone) for “trying to chat up his wife” (i.e standing next to her in line). His wife walked him out before the bouncers did — but I digress again. Anyway, one short wait later, and I get to meet one of my musical heroes:

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I know it’s a cliche and everything, but he is shorter than I would have thought.
And then…

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Howard spots that I’ve brought my own copy of Revolution Of The Heart to get signed, rather than buying one at the gig, and works out that I’m not just a “classics” fan. So we start chatting for a couple of minutes about the remix album, and what can be done with 5.1 Surround sound remix DVDs. Amazing scenes, as they say.

It’s nearly a day later, and my brain is still buzzing with excitement.

And do you feel scared? I do…

Another day, another review of mine published at CNET.com.au:

Acer Aspire 3683WXMi: “You don’t have to spend a fortune for a shiny new Vista laptop, as Acer’s 3683WXMi proves. Just don’t expect a stellar notebook, or for that matter a stellar Vista experience.”

BRANtastic

In a change from my normal routine, I’m a guest commentator this week on BRAN, “Australia’s edgiest tech podcast” — their words, not mine — as a replacement for Nathan Taylor, who is on a briefly on leave. Head over to the site, listen to the stream or subscribe to the podcast (as takes your fancy) and diligently try to work out if I do in fact sound far too much like my brother. I certainly seem to do my best to talk as quickly as he does.

Minor bit of trivia: When I first started as a journalist at APC, some nine years ago (my, how time flies), I spent my first two weeks in the world’s tiniest production office (those who were there will no doubt recall) sitting at Nathan’s desk, because he was on leave at the time. So this week’s BRAN is rather like travelling back in time…

There will be no mention of cats in this post…

Well, except for that mention of cats. Oh, and that one. Blast.

In non-feline related news, the no-doubt tired folks* at CNET.com.au have published another of my reviews:

Sony Vaio VGNG118GNB: “Sony’s latest business-centric Vaio is a wonder of sturdy construction, ultra light portability and enticing design. At the same time, it’s not exactly an inexpensive number-crunching beast.”

* Predominantly as many of them were up late last night watching surprisingly low numbers of people buying PS3s. Mind you, if they’d given away 125 42″ LCDs, as they did in the UK…. The video is hilarious, although it should be noted that they cheated – there’s a CNET/ZDNET staffer in the video hyping the unit….

Every Christmas night for seven years now, I drink banana daiquiris ’til I’m blind…

Yeah, it’s not the happiest Prince song ever, is it?

What you can be happy about, however, is the April issue of Australian Netguide Magazine, on store shelves now. It’s the teeny tiny one, next to all the shinier, more expensive PC titles. Think of it as the little magazine that could. Clearly, I’ve been reading too many Little Golden Books recently.Netguide Magazine

Anyway, within its humble pages, you’ll find all sorts of Alex-penned goodies, including a look at CD/DVD capable printers, the Broadband Table of mild excitement and reviews of (customary big breath, although I have only tiny lungs): BigPond USB Mobile Card, Snapfish, Google Maps Australia, Lexmark P350, Hitachi DZ-HS303SW, Logitech Alto, Belkin Vista Transfer Cable, iRiver E10, Microsoft Windows Live OneCare, World Of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, The Ship, Final Fantasy XII and Lost Planet: Extreme Condition.

I’m not here for your entertainment…

Well, actually, that’s not true — as a fully accredited* freelancer, I’m all about entertaining you. For only a modest fee**, I can even do a wacky dance while you eat your meal.

Or you could check out my latest product musings at CNET.com.au:

Motorola MOTOFONE F3: “What does seventy bucks buy you?”

* Accreditation via the Alex Kidman School Of Accrediting People Called Alex Kidman. Apply today!
** Fees start at $1 Million Dollars US, on a sliding scale (upwards) depending on travel distance. What do you mean, that’s not modest? Try telling that to Paris Hilton!