Thursday, August 04, 2005

unearthed! GBV in Memphis '94

I'm listening to the audio of the newly unearthed video someone shot of a very early GBV show, January 1994 in the Antenna Club, Memphis, one of the earliest live recordings. The person in question contacted 'Moonchief' who runs the wonderful GBV database, gbvdb.com. I watched the DVD yesterday and it brought all sorts of things up for me. I saw Guided by Voices for the first time in 1995 when they played with The Amps at the Concorde in Brighton, it's something I keep going back to and keep going on about, and wish a timemachine could take me back. The weird thing is, I didn't know their records then, so I didn't sing along to the songs or had no trainspotterish delight at recognizing the really obscure, older ones, as I would now. And noone at the time knew that Jimmy Mac Pherson and Nate Farley who played in The Amps would later join GBV, so in fact the personnel of past and future incarnations of the band were present on the same bill. It was also the only time i saw the old lineup of the band. Anyway, this video looks like an outtake of the great Watch Me Jumpstart documentary, with a half full small club and a muted but not unfriendly response, pretty much like the show i saw, except this time around, through the eyes of the camera, it's just vaguely mindblowing, even with the slightly crappy audio and video, to see the band at such an early point playing such a killer setlist (including a lot of Propeller, Vampire on Titus, Devil between my Toes even, plus a couple of tracks from Bee Thousand that wasn't even released at this stage). Bob is getting pretty drunk and is always in the spootlight in a purple/pink jacket, highkicking occasionally, but on the whole he seems a bit shy and his performance is more understated and mysterious for it, hardly anyone seems to know the songs, while Tobin Sprout is lurking in a shadowed space of his own on the right. Mitch Mitchell's got pretty short hair, his perpetual cigarette dangling from his mouth. 'Fourteen Cheerleader Coldfront' is introduced as the 'weatherforecast', and Bob mistakenly introduces 'On The Tundra', a song that has never before been found on any bootleg, as a song from 'Propeller', asking people whether they've heard this legendary album and encouraging them to sign up for their mailing list to receive a copy (worth a lot now of course). They played a lot of this old stuff on their farewell tour but here it is rawer, noisier and infinitely more mysterious to see them perform this stuff at such an early stage and before a lot of this material reached the cult status it has over the years. Really mindblowing stuff!