The Biffy/Thrice Conspiracy

Ok, so not so much of a conspiracy as one of those moments of audio juxtaposition that I somehow tend to spot (see: case of the Coldplay/MacNamara Conspiracy of 2005):

The chorus of Thrice's 2003 single 'All That's Left' -

Thrice - All That's Left (Chorus)

The chorus of Biffy's 2007 single 'Saturday Superhouse' -

Biffy Clyro - Satuday Superhouse (Chorus)

The chorus of Thrice's 'All That's Left' mixed with Biffy's 'Saturday Superhouse'...

Questions?  Comments?  Conspiracies??

Thrice - Cardiff Uni

On Thursday, one of my favourite quasi-Christian rock bands 'Thrice' from Irvine CA played at the venue where I work.  I was especially excited as I got to operate lights for the show.

Here's a sample of their rocking (and my flashing), uploaded by a random concert-goer 'TheBatsMouth'.

Check out his other videos from the show, too!

80's movie logos

While I was at home I came across a rather strange anomaly of film promotion…

I am, for those that don't know, a bit of a fan of 80s teen movies - heck, I'm a bit of a fan of the 1980s in general, although I only lived through 6 years of it…  John Hughes is obviously a huge part of this obsession, and will be sorely missed.  So in my old bedroom in the house where I grew up, I have a couple of posters of movies of his, both of which have accompanying logos.  By logos, I'm not simply referring to the typeface of the movie title or the way in which it is displayed.  I'm talking about separate, stylised logos, which I can only imagine were made to further promote the movies in the years of their release.  Here's a closer look:

photo 2.jpg

From the 1985 movie 'The Breakfast Club', a circular logo beneath the title typeface:


…and from the 1986 classic on which I base my life 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off', this rather more inconspicuous logo (possibly based on Robert Indiana's 'LOVE' sculpture) in the lower-right corner:

photo 4.jpg

…and again, in for a closer look:

photo 3.jpg

I've searched online for any information relating to these logos but as yet have found nothing.  If anyone reading this has any information, I'd be interested to find out more about the ideas behind giving the films a logo.  Was it something that was utilised during the original release period?  An instantly recognisable moniker alerting kids to the new Hughes hot property?  Answers on a Molly Ringwald postcard, please…

Be Kind Please Rewind

On a recent trip home, I found the following sticker on a VHS copy of 'Mac & Me' (no, not an instructional pasta video, but a kids movie - an 80s 'E.T.' but with half the talent involved...) which I pretty much wore out over the few years I owned it (prior to the release and subsequent world-domination of the DVD format…).

I'll always remember the Chester-Le-Street video shop.  A tiny upstairs room in a hovel of a building located outside a dingy train station.  Floor-to-ceiling tape walls, the stench of stale cigarette smoke imbuing each tape with nicotine and cancer, I'd spend hours (or as long as Dad would let me) trying to pick out a movie which looked good.  This was difficult in those days; as a kid, visiting the cinema was a once-a-year activity, a world away from my now bi-weekly visits to the local multiplex.  There was no Quicktime Movie Trailers dot com, there was no internet yet.  Which raises another question - did life actually exist before  A question for another time, perhaps…

It was a simpler time, but not without its charms.  The 'Be Kind Rewind' era is long gone now, and I think it says a lot about the world which we now inhabit.  We no longer have to 'rewind', nor do we have to even visit the video shop.  But it's about more than video shops - I guess it's about the worry that we're no longer a part of a society that would go a little out of its way so that the next person in line can enjoy the same experience as we have.  Maybe I'm overreacting, but I can't help but feel that our world no longer 'rewinds' when we're finished with an experience, and I don't mean 'mentally' rewinds, I mean...well...we leave the hotel room in an untidy state because there'll be somebody in to do that for us.  We don't pick up our rubbish when we leave the cinema because somebody else is paid to do it (well I do, but that's because I've been that litter-picker-upper-guy…).  We don't bus our own trays when we leave the fast food joint, or refill the paper in the office printer, or keep that library book in pristine condition.  We have, in a lot of situations, exchanged our expendable wealth for our sense of community 'niceness'.  Am I overreacting?

Let's say there was a new format of entertainment tomorrow, one that asked that, once you were done enjoying it, you'd do a little bit of work to make it easier for someone else to enjoy it the same way.  Maybe 'rewinding' is today's equivalent of 'seeding' an illegal download that you've enjoyed.  If so, I'm happy to say that there is still a large proportion of society that is functioning by working together, even if the big companies do want to lock us all up for, oh I don't know, 'breaking the law' or whatever….

I can't think of any perfect examples right now of what I'm trying to get at, but hopefully you can catch my drift.  I just worry sometimes that the times of holding a door open for someone even if they're miles away, or giving somebody a lift in a flash rainstorm, or checking that kid crying in the park is ok might be long gone.  I'm not saying society has crumbled since the death of VHS.  If it has, then I'm as much to blame for it as anyone else, but I don't think we're all doomed.  In fact, one thing I've noticed in recent times is that 'random acts of kindness' are everywhere.  And every now and again, if you're watching very closely, you'll see somebody 'rewind', and it's really heartwarming.

When was the last time you 'rewound'??

Testes, testes, one, two....uh...three?!

Ok, so today I bought a domain and some webspace from the kind people at iPower.  How much space, you ask?  Oh, only......INFINITY SPACE.  They were suggested to me by close personal friend Mike Monaghan of the world famous 'Dusty & The Dreaming Spires' and seems to be working out well, so far.

The domain is; it currently redirects to this very site (a fact you'll already be privee to if that's how you arrived here), but in the future I may try to design my own page or even a whole site; just something to help catalogue and promote my various blogs and musical projects.

I also added some code to my blog's HTML which will hopefully turn all .MP3 links I include into a nice little player.  This is, therefore, a test.

How big a nerd do I sound right now?

This is a demo of a song I've been working on for my band -


  • It has a super-long and ultimately pointless synth-pad intro.  What are you talking about?  Of course that's a 'pro'...
  • It's a bit of a spoken word epic - although any comparisons to R.E.M.'s 'Country Feedback' are purely coincidental.
  • It's helped me learn how to record a song that will mix well; layering different guitar techniques (like power-chords/jazz picking/lead solos) instead of layering the same guitar technique (power-chords/dirty chords/clean chords).
  • It does have an Edge-esque pealing guitar lick during the chorus...
  • The vocals were recorded in a sitting position in the passenger seat of a Volvo XC60, a technique which at first seemed like a really brilliant alternative to getting in an isolation booth, but ultimately proved detrimental to my singing.
  • The drums aren't real.
  • The bass I recorded was out of tune so I replaced it with a synth bass from my MicroKorg.
  • The guitar I used won't play in tune - I'm probably going to have to buy a new guitar.
  • has a super-long and ultimately pointless synth-pad intro....

Anyways, what I'm saying is, it's far from finished.  But these are all things I can build upon!  Huzzah!

If On A Winter's Night...


So, this being winter and all, I just thought I'd mention one of my new favourite winter records.
It's called 'If On A Winter's Night' and it's by my favourite Wallsend-hailing musician, Sting.  Somebody, the label I guess, asked him to put out a 'Christmas' record.  He basically told them that he didn't want to make a 'Christmas' record, but that winter was his favourite season and he'd love to do some wintery songs.  Some are of his own creation, others are re-workings of old hymns, others still are traditional folksongs which suits his recent preferences for more new-age and 'world' music down to the ground.  It's a really good record; it's just a little bit classier than your standard 'Christmas' faire of tunes, not that there's anything wrong with those, I'm probably guilty of 90% of the Christmas tunes that get played in our house during December, but I digress...

So to support this recording, Sting put on a show in the city of my birth, Durham, in the beautiful and majestic hall of Durham Cathedral, to be filmed and broadcast on the BBC.  My Uncle Roy, tour manager extraordinaire to the likes of Zeppelin, The Who, R.E.M. and Michael Jackson (to name but a few...), had recently worked with The Police on their most recent tour, and was asked to put this show together.  My lucky parents were offered the usual guestlist spots; in fact my own dear Mother was snapped backstage eating pork pies with the bearded songsmith himself...

I was quite clearly gutted at missing such an opportunity.  Although I'd much rather see The Police, I do also appreciate Sting's solo work, and I love a bit of folk music, when the mood catches me right...

My mother; the groupie...

From what Uncie Roy told my parents, it was obviously quite a difficult show to put on.  Getting lights, sound and rigging into a cathedral built in 1093AD was difficult enough, and this was only compounded by having to fit television cameras and all the related gubbins in there too.  Nevertheless, I caught the show on BBC Two over the Christmas period and it was absolutely spellbinding.

Sting's band featured this percussionist from Brazil, Cyro Baptista, who is one of the best I've ever seen.  The tools this guy brings to the table.... He uses everything.  I mean, EVERYTHING.  Shakers, beaters, sticks, toys, bottles, a set of chimes made out of keys, pipes, gongs, refrigerator, frog bells, triangles, woodblocks, newspapers, tamborim, vacuum cleaner hose - if it makes a noise, he uses it.  What a dude!

Check out this video for more of his instruments:

My favourite part of the whole show, though, was a folk interlude played at the end of a song.  Sting had asked folk stalwart, Northumbrian Pipes master and local music LEGEND Kathryn Tickell to accompany his band.  She and her brother Peter, a talented violinist and small pipist, took the cathedral roof right off.  Talk about toe-tapping - it gave a whole new meaning to the word 'jig'.  Not that I didn't enjoy the entire performance, and Sting's songs, but these two and the rest of the musicians really made the performance magical.   And thanks to the sheer MAGIC of YouTube...

I DARE you to not tap your foot...

The diary of an amateur recording engineer...


Music for me is a pretty big deal.  I like writing it, I like playing it, I like listening to it, I like going to see it performed.

I have a huge passion for recording music - the endless sonic possibilities enriched by modern digital recording and editing/mixing makes the computer a veritable audio playground.  One of the hardest elements of the process, I find, is getting what I hear in my head to match up with what I hear from my speakers.

Here follow a few examples of things that often trip me up when recording...

Part Un - Recording

I constantly encounter problems in this, the first step of any project, probably something to do with being overcome with excitement and wanting to get my ideas down on tape.  I'm a big fan of fixing problems 'in the mix', but I've learned from experience that the recording process is made exponentially easier if you get things sounding right from the moment you hit the 'Record' switch.

Instruments need to be in tune (where possible), and at the correct levels, i.e. loud enough for the recording.  I like to play along to a click track, when necessary, so it's also important for me to be able to clearly hear the metronome, as well as the instrument I'm playing.  This can often be difficult to achieve without an external mixer or headphone section (if you're using headphones…I usually do….especially when recording with microphones) - I use a cheap Behringer monitor/headphone amplifier which enables me to quickly control the level of the recording/the click track independently, and has plenty of headroom.  You shouldn't need the click track too loud, especially if your headphones bleed sound which could be picked up on the mic you're recording into.

So many times due to eagerness to get results, I'll record an instrument out of time or sing off-key because I haven't taken simple steps to make sure I can hear myself correctly.  If you get a decent 'sample' of sounds from the outset, you can usually fix any mix problems a lot more easily, without having to re-record.  It also helps me to be more creative with my mix, as I'll often come up with new ideas on the spot that I can then incorporate into my recording, like banging on my glass for extra rhythm, or singing into a cymbal for shimmery reverb, or adding a whistle-track…. The possibilities really are endless.

Part Deux - Mixing

Up until I tried it for myself, I never realised quite how much work went into mixing - it can often be quite difficult to get a decent sounding recording, especially when working with lots of instrument tracks that each need to be heard.  It's a lot easier when you're recording acoustic tracks or instruments with very different timbres, but when you're making dirrty rock & roll it can be difficult for a bitchin guitar solo to slice through a wall of distorted power chords.

I'm still an absolute beginner at mixing, but I've started to rely on several 'cheat sheet' techniques to help me get a decent sound.  Little things, like…

A little Panning goes a long way - give your recordings an element of space by panning tracks left & right.  Even a little bit of movement can loosen up a dull recording.

Reverb is about more than just making you sound like you're screaming in a cave on the moon.  It can create the illusion of sounds being close or far away; think of it as lateral Panning - forwards & backwards rather than left & right…

EQ can hurt as much as it helps.  It can help to fill out that part of the audio spectrum that is hitherto left untouched in your project, but overdoing it can make your beautiful recording sound crap.  Best to use it sparingly to highlight the frequencies already present in your recording.  Don't use it, for instance, to try and make your tinny, trebly guitar part sound more 'beefy'; it usually won't do anything but needlessly distort it (unless that's the sound you're going for, in which case there's absolutely nothing wrong with that....).

Compression is a term that's used more often than not these days in the perforative.  There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the technique of compression; it basically refers to reducing the dynamic level of an audio signal so that the quieter signals are made louder and the louder signals quieter.  This can be useful when you have a very dynamic instrument which needs to be audible at all times in your track.  The human voice is a great example of this.  Voices sound different when sung louder or quieter, and if your recording has vocals then varying the singing volume can obviously add emotion and 'feeling' to the track.  Compressing the track means that listeners should be able to hear the vocals or whatever clearly irregardless of the level at which they were recorded.  Compression therefore, like EQ, is only as good as you know how to use it.  I still don't understand all the parameters completely, but you can always rely on the user-made presets found in most computer plugins.  There's no point compressing things like distorted guitar parts as they are usually 'compressed' during the act of distortion anyway.  But if you have a drum track, for instance, that's getting lost in the mix, compression can really help to keep it afloat, providing you know what you're doing and don't overdo it, obviously.  It's technically the same process as 'riding the fader', manually controlling the volume level of a track over the course of a recording, but it's usually more accurate than the human perception of dynamics.

Which brings me to another point of recording via computer.  Since the advent of digital recording, the entire process seems to have changed.  A lot of people nowadays, me included, seem to record with their eyes, reacting to the shape of waveforms on the screen rather than the sound in their ears.  Which is clearly bonkers.  Sound is the king here; it's the sound that's going to get people moving when they're rocking to their ipods, and they won't give a hoot if the section they're listening to looks dodgy through a spectroscope, providing it sounds good.  Personally, I always find it hard to ride the fine line between sending track levels into the red or not being able to hear the track clearly in the mix.  Let's just remember: VU meters are there to help you, but don't let them control you….  If something's clipping, it's not the end of the world.  A little EQ here, a little compression there, or better still, just turn everything down.  My most recent project went from sounding like utter crap to sounding like the best mixing I've ever done as soon as I stripped everything back, turned all the levels and the compression down, and then gradually brought each part back in, bit by bit, with more headroom.  Of course then I added 4 vox parts and I was straight back in clipping hell, but that's another story.....

I'm sure I'll comment more on my adventures in sounderland as and when I have them.  I haven't even started learning the art of 'mastering' yet.  When I was just starting up, the problems inherent in recording were annoying enough to discourage me for a little while.  Now that I've learned a little and gained a little more experience/half-decent equipment, I find that most issues can be solved by a quick Google search or a post on the Reaper forums.

At this point I should probably thank my DAW of choice, the fabulous 'Reaper' from Cockos, which is the cheapest, easiest, cleverest and mostest bestest recording program I've ever had the pleasure of owning.

Oh and if you're so inclined you can hear my most recent recordings on my SoundCloud page.

All is quiet...

Went out with my parents for a nice new year's day walk on Friday.  The snow was deep and the light was perfect for some dusk snapping:

One thing I always notice on walks is that people talk to other people.  Not friends they know, but complete strangers.  Only the occasional 'how-do' or even just a nod as you pass, but this is the only place I can think of where this happens.  Are the only people still walking for recreation from another time where people spoke to one another?

It's bizarre, it's abnormal, and it flies in the face of the world we know today.
And I love it.

Please Wait...

Not just the title of the first song I ever wrote (a terribly emo affair, probably created around 5 years prior to the birth of the 'emo' genre...), but a request which seems to expend most of my gaming time nowadays.

A great and oft overlooked thing about modern handheld consoles (such as the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP...) is their uncanny ability to store your game state to RAM on sleep, enabling you to pause and recommence gaming as often as you wish.  Contrast that, then, with most home console boot times averaging around 20 seconds, and most games startup time averaging around 60 seconds from inserting the disc to beginning to play, probably a 1000% increase from NES-era consoles.  I know games have grown and expanded and the HD revolution is upon us, yadda yadda, but I feel this overlooked issue is a bigger problem than many realise.

If you, like me, are prone to bouts of unbelievable laziness after a hard day at work (well, a day at work anyway....), then you too might be feeling the pains of all this waiting to game.  And this problem is compounded if I'm in one of my 'don't know what I want to play' moods.  Playing 10 cathartic minutes of Left 4 Dead before continuing a serious quest on a more time-invested game is the way I generally like to play, but in the knowledge that after having waited 5 minutes to boot the console, start the game, navigate the menus, find a server and connect to a team, and then after playing eject the disc, re-box it, go all the way over to the games shelf, get another game, unbox it and boot it etc.....I usually end up playing for 15 minutes and then turning off the console.

A few modern games developers have coined on to this fact; the latest GTA games seem to only require a short loading between missions, and a 30 second or so load time at the outset enables the gamer to roam Liberty City without any breaks in play.  Modern Warfare 2, I noticed, glazed over load times by using them to display FMVs and information about the upcoming mission.  Even older PlayStation games like Ridge Racer used to cover load screens with minigames, an easy-to-implement tactic that other developers would do their best to emulate, had Namco not patented the technique...

From Wikipedia: 


Some games have even included minigames in their loading screen, notably Skyline Attack for the Commodore 64 and Joe Blade 2 on the ZX Spectrum.
Namco owns the US Patent for the use of minigames during the initial loading screen,[3] and have included variations of their old arcade games (Galaxian or Rally-X for example) as loading screens when first booting up many of their early PlayStation releases. Even to this day, their PlayStation 2 games, like Tekken 5, still use the games to keep people busy while the game initially boots up.

Still, this, I believe, is the very least that we should expect from the games of today in terms of loading times.

This probably sounds like an inane problem and something which is completely of my own invention, and it may well be.  I just find it hard to believe that in today's hi-tech consoles there isn't the ability to quickly suspend, reboot or swap games.  I used to love playing games from the hard drive of my original (modded) Xbox; the ease of which I could end one game and begin another without even having to get up, coupled with the increased speed of load times from a hard drive rather than optical media was a joy to work with.  I can see why games consoles don't allow this sort of operation as standard, even though some have started to allow the copying of optical data to their internal hard drives for decreased load times.  But it's still not good enough, in my eyes.  I only hope that future consoles begin to show these traits, putting the power back in the hands of the gamers.  I think we need to remember that we play them, not the other way around....

2009 in Awards

The 'Play It Again, Sam' Award:

  1. Left4Dead 2
  2. Modern Warfare 2
  3. The Ballad of Gay Tony
  4. Assassin's Creed 2
  5. Street Fighter IV

I absolutely loved Gay Tony's exploits.  It was a much more 'cartoony' chapter of GTA, and I like a healthy dose of slapstick unreality in my games, so I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Modern Warfare 2 is one of the only games I've completed in one sitting; a combination of the stunning visuals, non-stop action mixed with a pinch of realism made it impossible to put down.  I'm only beginning to get into Assassin's Creed II but already I'm confident they've buried most of the bugs that marred the first iteration.

Left4Dead 2 however just manages to rise to the top in my opinion.  One of the only online games I've ever been truly excited about, they've taken everything that was done right in the first one and merely built upon it.  However, as great as the game is, we probably shouldn't forget that it's the friends that make the experience in any co-op game (add me - peanutismint).

The 'Cinema Club' Films of 2009:
  1. Fantastic Mr Fox
  2. Star Trek
  3. Watchmen
  4. Avatar
  5. Terminator Salvation
  6. The Hurt Locker
  7. District 9
  8. The Wrestler
  9. Inglorious Basterds
  10. Moon

One of my favourite directors makes my favourite film of 2009.  I love that it's a Wes Anderson movie to its very core, but it's a Wes Anderson movie I could take my kids to, had I any.  He really seemed to 'get' the book and Roald Dahl's quirky style; this is probably the first film-of-a-book I've ever seen after reading the book, and I was in no way disappointed.  Spike Jonze also managed to pull this off with 'Wild Things', but it juuuust missed out on my list - suffice to say if there were an '11th' film, it would be on there.

Records of 2009:

  1. U2 – No Line On The Horizon
  2. Maximo Park – Quicken The Heart
  3. Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing
  4. Mute Math - Armistice
  5. Airborne Toxic Event
  6. Brand New – Daisy
  7. A Silent Film – The City That Sleeps
  8. Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions
  9. Them Crooked Vultures
  10. Weezer – Raditude

I almost feel bad about putting U2 at the number one spot.  Not because of any shame in being a U2 fan or anything like that (I think my enjoyment of U2 as a band has been mentioned many times, and as with my other 'guilty' pleasure, 'Coldplay', I no longer feel any sense of remorse in my unconditional enjoyment and support of these bands), but i guess more because I don't feel U2 need to sit at the top of anyone's 'list' anymore.  Nevertheless, this is a great album, made all the more pertinent by their amazing string of live dates over the summer (but more about that later...).
As with many great records, my first impression of 2009's 'No Line On The Horizon' was that of mediocrity, and possibly even slight disappointment.  However, it was when I stopped looking for the album to end all albums and started simply listening to the songs for what they were, I really began to love this record.

Maximo, similarly, made a great record; the end of their 'pop' trilogy, perhaps.  Excited to see where they go from here.  I hadn't even heard of Manchester Orchestra before 2009, but they've fast become one of my favourite bands of the moment.  Great, swelling, emotional songs - easily on a par with Airborne Toxic Event, who I'm sure are destined for further greatness.  Mute Math's sophomore LP was also a grower; although I don't feel it was quite as chock-full of pop hooks as their eponymous debut, it definitely has some things to say, and sounds like the kind of self-produced record I'd love to make someday.  Brand New's 'Daisy' was possibly not what I was expecting, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

The record I'd recommend by the band who may or may not ever reach the public consciousness is A Silent Film's 'The City That Sleeps'.  Time and time again this year I've returned to this record; it's like the childhood memory that keeps coming back.  Listen to it.

Finally - more astute readers may notice I've left my favourite band Switchfoot's recent independent debut off the list - I'm desperate for it to grow on me (which it unfortunately hasn't yet) so I chose to leave it out of all this business.

The Spotify ‘Background Music’ Award:

  1. Friendly Fires
  2. Harlem Shakes – Technicolor Health
  3. Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone
  4. Air Traffic – Fractured Life
  5. YYYs – It’s Blitz
  6. Regina Spektor – Far
  7. Thrice - Beggars
  8. Imogen Heap - Ellipse
  9. Jet – Shaka Rock
  10. Johnny Foreigner - Grace & The Bigger Picture

First off, I want to express my deepest condolences towards 'Harlem Shakes'.  GREAT record, but now they've gone their separate ways, and we may never know what greatness they could create together.  R.I.P.

Dananananaykroyd get the award for best small gig for their Los Campesinos-upstaging Swn performance, complete with the dreaded 'wall of hugs'.  Johnny Foreigner continue to go from strength to strength - 2010 might well be their year.

The ‘Thanks but No Thanks’ Award for salmon-swimming-against-the-current-like disinterest in the face of widespread public approval:
  1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
  2. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
  3. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
  4. White Lies – To Lose My Life
  5. Florence & The Machine – Lungs

Sorry - I really don't get it.  Florence nearly wasn't on this list but for me, talent + catchy songs doesn't always equal success.  Not that she cares what I think, she's massive right now.

The ‘I’d Rather Drink Wasps’ Award for most annoying pop culture of the year:
  1. X Factor
  2. Sugababes
  3. Twilight

The ‘What Just Happened??’ Award:

These are records which may well grow on me, given time, but that failed grabbed me from the getgo.

  1. Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
  2. Muse – The Resistance
  3. The Cribs – Ignore The Ignorant
Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with these records or artists, this award just goes to artists with new releases this past year that were nothing I hoped them to be, or at least not compared to their former glories in my eyes.

The Artists of 2010 Award:
  1. Delphic
  2. Everything Everything
  3. Darwin Deez
  4. The Drums

I also hope Field Music's return will be a mega-triumphant one.

The Q.I. 'Fact of the Year':

A single sperm has 37.5MB of DNA info. Ejaculation represents a data transfer of 1,587.5TB.


it could only be

U2 360° TOUR


There are always little defining moments in life that all future events are measured up to.  U2's 360° show at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was probably the grandest show I've ever seen.  The lights, the sound, the music, the talent - I've never seen a show that big feel so intimate.   And I may never again...