Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Uncle Bob is 50

Happy birthday!

"Congratulations on becoming a grandfather." -

"Thanks, man. But I'm never gonna make mature music. I'm going to make albums, and it's gonna sound like it did when I was a fucking teenager. My voice might change a little bit, but not the spirit. Because I really don't know how to do anything else."


"I hope that after I die," he says, "I can continue to write songs there too."

Miami New Times

Friday, October 26, 2007

Three gigs in two weeks: Bad Brains, Brett Anderson, Siouxsie

Heroes are Zeros. The past is gone. Well, not quite. .. I'm inherently a fairly conservative person. Once you've touched me somewhere I'll remember forever. It's the same impulse that made me look out and eventually find the 2-gig-drummer of my first band recently. He lives in Huddersfield (!). Now if only i could find that other bandmate with the all too common and therefore virtually un-google-able name too. This is more than 20 years ago but part of me still remembers these days very fondly. It's cool, really...

Anyway, the Bad Brains. A one off. I heard mixed reports. Apparently people thought HR should move about a bit more. WTF? He's not a young rasta punk kid anymore... As soon as i entered the Astoria (first time i've been there since the smoking ban came in and deffo a nice change) i felt the charged atmosphere. Just before they came on, people were going mental. I mean, really mad, and not just the front rows. they came on and played "I Against I". The place erupted. I had to put my watch away, it was that bad/good. moshing like no tomorrow. HR stood on stage with a suitcase at his side, head wrapped in a shawl, shades, smiling the whole time, noting that we were "a bit lively" (and that was a bit of an understatement!) saying "thank you" in a cheeky voice, his voice still.. there, though he didn't let himself go through quite the same, admittedly *insane* vocal acrobatics of the past. He was still singing the words, and the band played the songs. I was screaming like a girl at a Beatles concert when "At The Movies" came on! in a way it felt like the audience's frantic reaction to hearing the songs played live again overwhelmed the band too. there were moments when i definitely heard it in my head while they were playing and reacted to it, it was like a strong chemical reaction.

Brett: I didn't really follow anything he did since Suede too closely but I still like it. But this evening was mostly about Suede anyway. At the Queen Elizabeth Hall, mostly Brett on guitar or piano, singing the songs, and a small (female) string orchestra supporting him on some tunes. He did about two solo songs then it went straight into the back catalogue. Admission wasn't cheap but he knew how to deliver the goods so it worked in everyone's favour really. The first set closed with "The Asphalt World". Later he encouraged people to be as loud as they wanted (even though the very efficient and ever so corporate looking Live Nation team recorded it) which eventually lead to a semi lenghty series of shouted requests for old Suede numbers, the most prominent being "The Beautiful Ones" I think. Slumping in my chair at the back i couldn't help shouting a request for "Killing of A Flash Boy", which seemed to be clear enough for the whole fucking room to hear and was followed by a huge cheer from the other part of the room and Brett asking, in his still ever so camp voice, "What sort of gig this" before good naturedly announcing "He's Gone", probably one of the four or five tracks John Darnielle rates on the much maligned "Head Music" album. All these slow burners and downbeat ballads worked very well in this setting, I'd never heard them like that before, and Brett was very efficient on the piano and guitar. "Europe is our playground", "Two of Us", "Still Life"... For the encore he encouraged people to come down to the front, for three more classics, "So Young", "The Wild Ones" and, this was a bit of a surprise, "Trash". Don't know where he's going with these shows, does it signal a possible return of Suede, but it was nevertheless very beautiful and well put together, and a real treat for fans, and it was mainly old fans by the looks of it. I like that sort of thing...

... which leads to Siouxsie at the John Peel night of the Electric Proms, at the Elextric Ballroom, the perfect setting really. It was just like the old Friday nights at the Ballroom, only with one of the place's perennial icons actually in the house performing. She's without Budgie now, they've divorced, which is definitely a bit sad and unusual for me, as he was always part of the experience. Instead she's got a very efficient band that is much heavier on guitars and generally a more rounded band sound than previous incarnations that were getting increasingly percussion based (The Creatures were often just voice and percussion, and for the Dreamshow they had a Japanese kodo drummer joining Budgie as well). She looks great still, big black hair and a fairly clubby low key outfit that works well for the Ballroom. Three old songs, one of them Hong Kong Garden, the Banshees' first single that was apparently first played on a Peel show. And then for the most part of the set her (really good) new stuff. It is essentially more Siouxsie, very efficient, and I need to get it, if only there weren't a hundred and one more things that I should get and our house wouldn't be full of lotsa stuff already. But I probably will get it anyway...

Last song is "Hello I love you" by the Doors. My friend Steve reckons the new material is "more 2007" and I ask him what he means by that so he says its a bit "like Garbage" which would make it "more 1994" in my book and in a way, if Siouxsie was now influenced by Shirley Manson something would come full circle, since Ms Manson is such a huge old Siouxsie fan. In truth, I'm not convinced it does sound that much like Garbage, but it is more streamlined, more guitar-based and maybe a little less experimental than previous outings. But it works... it was good to see her on a stage again, and I think she enjoyed it too, even though she complained of being knackered in the end.

...p.s. Some of my favourite gigs these days are little shows that cost little or nothing on the door and feature some youngsters or at least young at hearts (like us really) pretending they're still stuck in a time machine, either in the early 90s or the post punk years, or a weird combination of those two. These gigs happen around here on a daily basis. There are edgy, noisy, quiet, average and ocasionally outstanding unknown or less known or hot bands, bands, bands everywhere these days. It is very difficult to book a rehearsal space in London less than 5 weeks in advance right now. Is that a good thing?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

is there anyone in here? the hutch opens to one side. as I keep running you adjust the visor and see it in a clear daylight dream sequence. a hut for you and me. you couldn't believe it now. keep running, I say. keep running until the next reststop. let me take that burden off your shoulders. don't talk to me about the past that's hidden in those little lines. all those years swirling through the walls, orange circular stonepaths crisscrossing the land, circling every single face to say goodbye