Dave Hill | The Guardian: Interview: London First chair Jo Valentine on the capital’s future

An influential spokesperson for London’s biggest employers calls for more devolution, more road-pricing, more house-building and more listening on transport policy

It’s worth recalling why London became something more than an Italian imperial fortress on a hill. The Thames was a watery corridor of commerce, its north bank was where traders, many from far-flung places, did their deals. Yes, the Romans eventually shipped out and, yes, there have been plagues and revolts and other pivotal events along the way. But little that’s happened since the earliest settlement can be explained without reference to the capital as a wellspring of business activity, largely of the international kind. Today, that spring gushes wealth and taxes – at least 22% of the UK’s GDP, 18.5% of its tax take. The challenge this presents is twofold; one, how best to maintain the torrent; two, how best to channel its flow.

Jo Valentine chairs London First, the membership organisation representing the capital’s biggest employers in financial services, property, transport, hospitality and retail, along with its universities. Its stated aim is “to make London the best city in the world in which to do business.” That means lobbying and campaigning at national and local levels and getting in the earhole of the mayor. Both Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone have listened. The next mayor would be daft not to do the same. The concerns of London First coincide with core areas of mayoral responsibility: housing, planning and transport as well as oiling the profit machine. Valentine – Baroness Valentine of Putney, if we’re being grand – has a case to make in all these areas. She has a big picture vision too:

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John Naughton: If Steve Jobs’s death didn’t ruin Apple, the iCar surely will

The tech firm has prospered under its new boss, but a move into the auto industry is a wrong turn

When Steve Jobs was alive it was tempting to draw analogies between Apple and a religious cult. Product launches in the Moscone centre in San Francisco seemed more like evangelist congregations than capitalist rituals. And in the days before the revered new products actually appeared in the cult’s retail outlets, excited worshippers could be seen camping out in surrounding streets.

I remember once being in a British shopping arcade on the day that the local Apple Store opened for the first time. Long queues had formed from the moment the arcade gates had been unlocked that morning. Then came the magic moment: the glass doors opened, a hush fell on the assembled crowd, a group of T-shirted staff walked out, formed a human avenue leading into the store and then clapped rhythmically as the mob surged in. It was a truly extraordinary moment in which the conventional marketing mantra about the customer being king was turned on its head. In the case of Apple, it seemed, the customers felt privileged to be allowed to enter the store.

Related: An Apple car? Computer firm hires automotive engineers

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Dave Hill | The Guardian: How Arsenal won the Cup – in 1936

Newsreel footage of the north London club’s second FA Cup triumph at Wembley 79 years ago captures something of the spirit of that age

Arsenal’s 4-o win over Aston Villa on Saturday was a record 12th FA Cup triumph. Their first was against Huddersfield Town in 1930. If film footage of that occasion at the old Wembley stadium exists it’s yet to find its way on to You Tube. But coverage of the Gunners’ second Cup win is there. Sheffield United were the losers that time. As you’ll see, Pathe Gazette had limited access to the action, but made the best of capturing the mood of the day. This vintage newsreel is worth watching for the players’ haircuts alone.

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Our somewhat delayed final round up of Liverpool’s Sound City saw us dash about the festival site with greater haste than Eric Pickles at a free buffet as we tried to take in as many bands as possible … below are some, but not all of our highlights  ( You can see loads more pictures HERE from all three days)

 NINA – The Cavern Stage


We started the day with a serving sophisticated, moody synth pop from Berlin-born NINA, who won the ‘most precarious heels’ award this year.  Her mix of pulsing electronic with soaring vocals, which was as shimmering as her splendid silver trousers  elegantly set us up for the day ahead.

SASKWATCH – The Record Store


There’d been a bit of a buzz growing following Saskwatch’s well received set at Sounds Australia’s now legendary Aussie Barbeque showcase the previous evening.  This time we caught them on the cramped Record Store stage, and they’d just about managed to squeeze all six members on the small make shift stage.  It’s a good job they aren’t still a nine piece, but their mix of upbeat tunes , great musicianship and Nkechi Anele’s timeless soulful (and amazing) voice demonstrated perfectly why the band have been making such waves.  For many Saskwatch were their “find” of the festival, and on this evidence with good reason.

HONEYBLOOD – The Baltic Stage


Bit of mix up here – as we tried to access the photo pit a stern faced security guard, and charm school refugee with a disposition that could curdle milk informed us nobody was allowed in the pit. Apparently he cared not one jot that we had photo passes, he had no desire to read what the photo passes said and indeed even if we were even THE POPE HIMSELF, he wouldn’t let us into the photo pit, not now, not ever.  Not sure if the Pope is a Honeyblood fan but he should be, their sound is really developing and maturing, it’s still loud and melodic, but their newer songs have an added layer of sophistication.  You had to marvel at the fact that despite the fact there are just two members of Honeyblood, and yet they filled every inch of the cavernous warehouse with their brand of crunching guitar pop.

 THE PROBES – The Cavern Stage


The Probes were one of our highlights of last year’s Sound City festival, and again the foursome from Liverpool produced a stellar set full of menace and melody.  Chiming guitars, psychedelic flourishes and a plethora of new tunes, which at times sounded like a psych version of Joy Divison proved the The Probes, are one of the best young bands in the city and shouldn’t be dismissed as just another guitar band. Hopefully now they’ve finished college we’ll be hearing much more from them in the future.

 JANE WEAVER – Atlantic Stage


We were disappointed to miss Jane’s conference speech this year because as a singer, songwriter guitarist, label owner Jane has built her own creative microclimate, which has sustained her as an independent artist for around 20 years.  It’s a testament to her talent, determination, and artistic vision that she has carved out her own niche in music so successfully for so long.  Her performance at Sound City, despite a strong Mersey breeze highlighted her enduring appeal, with a set that was seductive, hypnotic and demonstrated her unique ability to keep producing music that always seems on trend without every following trends.  We will add one caveat; the set would have probably sounded a whole lot better in the warehouse stage.



We miss the end of Jane’s set to catch Allusondrugs after recommendations that the band are ‘mental’ live.  Moreover, we can’t argue with that rather un PC assertion, we’re not sure if we can recall seeing a band hurl themselves around with quite so much gusto before.  The resembled brightly coloured musical pinballs as they ricocheted about the stage somehow contriving not to collide with each other.  It’s Loud frenetic fun


BILL RYDER – JONES – Atlantic Stage


We catch the end of Bill’s set, and the Tranmere Rovers scarf on stage is probably seeing its biggest audience for quite some time.  His new songs do certainly have an atmospheric, timeless quality, and never lapse into pastiche, which is something many Liverpool artists have had a tendency to do over the years.  Mind you as Bill would probably point out he’s not from Liverpool, he’s from the Wirral.

MOON KING – Baltic Stage


Moon King made up of the core song-writing duo of Daniel Benjamin and singer/guitarist Maddy Wilde, are a fabulous live act.  Their songs, which are often centred on weighty themes such as loss, emotional torment, redemption, are delivered with the sort of intensity you’d expect.  Despite the subject matter, there’s nothing bleak about Moon King’s music and their performance on the Baltic warehouse stage is passionate and mesmeric.


JOHNNY SANDS – Cargo Stage


Johnny’s recent single has garnered a lot of attention from blogs, radio stations, and sounds like an artist stepping up to the plate to take things up to the next level.  As is the way with these sort of events we don’t have time to catch his full set , but see enough to know he’s got plenty more tunes in his arsenal to ensure he reaches a bigger audience this year.



FINDLAY – Cargo Stage

FINDLAY - Live - Liverpool Sound City 2015F*cking hell how good is Findlay?  Seriously, this is another massive highlight of this year’s Sound City.  Her latest material may have added more electronic flourishes than her earlier releases but live Natalie and her band are as huge sounding and intense as ever.  ‘Electric Bones’ and ‘Wolfback’ sound far rockier live whilst ‘Off and On’ is greeted with howls of delight and even induces some early evening moshing from the audience.



SEAWITCHES – Karken Stage


Seawitches exude a rather menacing air live, with singer Joe Herring’s eerie vocals and intense stare having you wondering if she’s about to put a hex on you. Again the difficulty with this stage was apparent as the sound bleed from other stages was apparent. Still we know they have some whopping tunes and look forward to catching them again soon.



 GAZ COOMBES -Atlantic Stage

Gaz Coombes - Sound City 2015

Ahead of headliners Belle and Sebastian, Gaz Coombes set was polished, and efficient but never quite hit the heights for us.  There were occasions when it threatened to spark into life, but maybe we were knackered, maybe we were suffering from ‘play the hits’ festival syndrome but we found ourselves drifting off and ruminating on just how the devil does Gaz manage to remain so fresh faced?  He hasn’t really changed since the days he burst onto the scene with Supergrass replete with Amos Brearly’s mighty sideburns.


Pic – Spark Drummers





Any doubts about Belle and Sebastian ability to wrap up proceedings on the festival’s main stage on a high were quickly dispelled with a masterful display from the Scottish veterans.  Stuart Murdoch, who after discarding his Frank Spencer flasher mac, looked not unlike Frank Gorsin (from the camp70’s Batman TV show) was on fine form, his days of C.F.S. seeming a distant memory as he bounced about the stage with boundless energy, chatting to the crowd like they’d been friends for years. Classics such as ‘I’m A Cuckoo’, ‘I Want The World To Stop’ ‘ The Boy In The Arab Strap’ sat comfortably alongside the surging pop of new tunes such as ‘The Party Line’ as Belle And Sebastian proved that simplicity can provide just as an effecting and ecstatic experience as Flaming Lips’ mind bending theatrics the previous evening.


 Pic – The Gramotones


There was still time for one last act and as we headed for the exit, we popped into the Baltic Stage to catch …

 PEACE – The Baltic Stage

PEACE - LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY 2015Peace are often dismissed as indie lightweights, but they have a loyal following some seriously great guitar anthems, and it must be said really do cut the mustard live.  We’ve seen then on a number of occasions in the live arena , and this is where the band really do make sense.  Their energy and intensity hasn’t yet been captured satisfactorily on any of their recorded releases yet, and they brought our visit to this year’s Sound City to an exhilarating end.



Sound City 2015 was the best and most intense yet, and has laid down the template for future events.  Yes, of course, we miss the Kaz, the Cathedral, St Georges Hall et all but things change and to evolve you have to take risks.  The teething issues of a first year in this new location require tweaks rather than a wholesale rethink.  So yes the sound bleed from stages positioned in close proximity to each other was irksome, the space taken up by the largely unused fairground could have been better utililised, more toilets, seating, fairy lights, and art installations would certainly improve the overall experience, and disabled access could have been better.  But all in all the dizzying array of talent on display, the great atmosphere, the parades, the fantastic conferences and the faded grandeur of the docklands location all combined to make this a spectacular four days that will live long in the memory.  This is just the start, anyone who knows the team behind Sound City know they are doing this for all the right reasons – and we predict 2016 will be massive!


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Owen Jones: The attack on Douglas Carswell was wrong, but that doesn’t make him right | Owen Jones

The logic of Ukip’s only MP when he dismisses anti-austerity protests is that the whole population must submit to an ‘elected dictatorship’

Confession time: I like Douglas Carswell. Sure, I abhor everything Ukip stand for: they’re a millionaire-funded party advocating privatisation and tax cuts for a thriving wealthy elite, encouraging struggling Britons to direct their fire at immigrants rather than financiers, poverty-paying employers or tax avoiders. But Carswell is a charming and thoughtful bloke more interested in technology-based libertarianism than kneejerk rightwing populism.

The son of a doctor who helped pioneer the treatment of HIV, he was clearly upset at Nigel Farage’s contemptible pre-election attempt to tap into resentment of foreign-born HIV-positive patients. His libertarianism, if implemented, would be nothing short of a social and economic disaster; but his critique of crony capitalism – of the fusion between corporate interests and the state – is one many on the left could easily identify with.

Related: Ukip MP Douglas Carswell surrounded by anti-austerity protesters in London

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