Friday 30 August 2019

Blue Friday: Let The Waves Carry You

Since I have spent so much of the last three weeks thinking about Martin Rossiter, and am now having such bittersweet feelings following his announcement... well, this seems appropriate. From the essential Defenestration of St Martin, this is a beautiful slice of melancholia.

Thursday 29 August 2019

"Dear God, what a carnival..."

...except that in the end, it only took 7,179 days.

I've banged on about Years and Years on Twitter before now. If you didn't watch it, head over to the iPlayer for it this very second.

Also, if you haven't already done so, make haste to Bagging Area to read Swiss Adam's excellent piece on the true cost of Brexit, prorogation and the rest of the sorry mess...

Tuesday 27 August 2019

I Can't Help Myself

So, a couple of weeks ago I posted my pet theory concerning the increasingly frequent but wilfully obtuse social media posts from Martin Rossiter. Basically, despite the strength of his past opposition to reuniting Gene and unambiguous views on bands that have reunited, I dared to dream that the impossible might actually be happening - a Gene gig was on the cards, right?

Except slowly, ever so slowly, the wheels started to come off that wagon. Firstly, an even more plausible theory than mine surfaced on my corner of the Internet that Gene would be the "to be announced" act playing a classic album in full on this year's Star Shaped tour. This appeared at about the same time as the long-dormant Gene fan site Olympians Online sparked back into life, with a single lyric quote, "Oh, I've been waiting a long time...," followed by the date of Martin's announcement, 26th August. Fans everywhere, myself included, got very busy putting two and two together to make five. But closer inspection of a slightly-premature Star Shaped poster revealed that the "to be announced" act was, in fact, Dodgy, playing Homegrown. And then Rozzer himself, who had further stoked the fire by explicitly ruling out re-issues, posted a cropped close-up of his solo album cover, The Defenestration of St Martin... which rather put a spanner in the works of the Gene reunion theorists.

In a rare moment of optimism, I was still hopeful, right up to 9.59am yesterday. But then the announcement came. This announcement:

I've got to be honest, I have mixed emotions about this. We are promised a 2+ hour set covering Gene and his solo material, which will be wonderful... but career-closing? Farewell show? My God...

Of course there have been equally mixed reactions from other fans. Some (most?) seem happy just to have one more chance to hear the songs live, delivered by the lyricist in the voice that means so much to so many. But a fair proportion are not impressed. Now when Martin did some limited touring in support of his solo album, he played a few Gene songs too, but just accompanied by the piano. Now here he is, promising a career retrospective with full band... to which the immediate, and very understandable, response seems to be, "Why can't that full band be Matt, Steve and Kevin?" Indeed, the rest of Gene (who, until this point had maintained radio silence - and that was a clue in itself, in retrospect) have felt suitably moved to pen this statement on Facebook:

Ouch. Of course, Martin has responded.

All of which is a little unseemly, and a bit of a shame. And Olympians Online wasted no time updating their homepage...

And they are, of course, entitled to their view. I guess the bottom lines, for me at least, are these:

  • Would I have preferred a full Gene reunion? Yes, of course.
  • Is that ever going to happen? No, Martin is too principled and this little to-and-fro with his old band-mates would be too hard to come back from.
  • Am I gutted that this one-off show is billed as career-closing? Yes, indescribably.
  • Do I accept that Martin has valid reasons for wanting to retire on his own terms? Sniff... s'pose so.
  • Will I be going to this show anyway? Er... yeah! Do you want to ask me about the Pope's Catholicism, or bears' woods-based toilet habits, whilst you're at it? Because yes, I would not miss this for the world, and will be in the ticket queue as soon as it opens, earlier if I can wheedle my way onto a pre-sale list. And of course I'll be getting two tickets, because no Gene or Rozzer gig would be complete without the irreplaceable company of The Man Of Cheese.

Because you see, it's not just a neat segué into my favourite version of my favourite Gene track - I really can't help myself...

All things being well, see you there on the 13th of June...

Monday 26 August 2019

Bank Holiday

A wonderful curio. Even Britpop gods had to rehearse... and clock the Pistols riff around 33 seconds in.

Monday 19 August 2019

Monday long song: Pictures of You

Bob and the boys seem to have had a bit of a resurgence this year - Glastonbury no doubt helped. All the excuse I need to wheel out this.

Sunday 18 August 2019

Sunday shorts: If You Found This It's Probably Too Late

" Now we concentrate on being off the cuff, not sure if we're ready but we're probably rough, frightened that honesty isn't enough, and its nothing on the early stuff..."

Friday 16 August 2019

Who likes news? Me ... I hope.

For the last four weeks or so, Martin Rossiter has been tweeting some fairly oblique references to his past as frontman of Gene. It started on the 24th of July, with this:

For absolute clarity, that's an extreme close-up of the first Gene album, Olympian, on vinyl, presented without comment or explanation. And five days later came a similar uncommented vinyl close-up of the third album, Drawn To The Deep End, thus:

Six days later, To See The Lights got similar treatment (close-up sleeve art this time) ... did Revelations (close-up vinyl again), four days after that:

Then, on August 13th, this:

Followed by this, the next day:

So fans of Gene and the Rozzer are in mild meltdown as to what all this might mean, and are counting down the days 'til the bank holiday Monday when we find out. Some are hoping it means those first four albums are getting a vinyl re-issue - something that didn't happen in the great remastering of 2014. Seems plausible, especially as Martin didn't tweet a close-up of a vinyl Libertine, the one album that did get a vinyl re-issue in 2014. Yes, very plausible indeed, and the most likely explanation.

Of course, plausibility and likelihood haven't stopped fans (including me) getting over-excited. Some hope for new solo Rossiter material, and an accompanying tour. Others (including me) hope for the holy grail... for yes, whilst Rossiter has made it very clear in the past that he would not countenance a Gene reunion ("... I would rather eat my own penis. Fried. With shallots."), there are plenty of people (including me) who wonder whether the recent successful comebacks of Rozzer-mates Sleeper and My Life Story might have swayed him somewhat. So imagine my reaction when I saw this yesterday:

"... some very special guests will be joining us ..." Because yes, if you were reconvening a band after a long, long lay-off, it would make sense to try out supporting one of your mates first, wouldn't it? And Rossiter is quite matey with MLS frontman Jake Shillingford, so...?

So, clearly I went into tenuous theory overdrive, and tweeted a response to all concerned along the lines of "Given @MartinRossiter's recent cryptic tweets, will your guests be Gene?" To which the only response, thus far, has been a "like" from the venue, the Islington Assembly Hall.

It's just a theory, and a biased theory at that - biased by years of desperation to see Gene live again. I have no proof that this is in any way right (a "like" from the venue is hardly grounds for a Q.E.D.), or that Gene are reconvening anywhere else, or even that Martin is doing something new solo. And of course I know that the vinyl re-issue explanation is by far the more likely (I'm biased, not stupid). But I also know what I hope, and that I will be keeping November 2nd free in my diary, just in case.

To close, here's one of hundreds of reasons why I love Gene so very much. Enjoy... and keep your fingers crossed.

EDIT: and tonight, this, plus a tweet denying that the news is reissue related... so is it really on? Watch this space...

Blue Friday: Ghost

No, not the Jam song (that's Ghosts plural, anyway). This is by Such Small Hands (aka Melanie Howard, bass player with The Wedding Present) and it might just be my song of the year so far. I think that "more" forty seconds in clinches it for me. I also think this would fit nicely in all manner of hipper-than-thou soundtracks.

Thursday 15 August 2019

Just for the Man of Cheese

It seems like an impossible number of years ago, but I recently found a golf scorecard highlighting my one and only hole in one. My playing partner that day was, as ever, the Man of Cheese. We didn't get to see the ball drop, because of the ridge in front of the green but, in this modern era in which we live, naturally the course in question now has drone footage of every hole so you can inspect the lie, so the speak, from the other side of the world, if you're so inclined.

It wasn't like that in our day, was it mate? As I recall, it was overcast and a bit blowy, I scuffed my tee-shot a bit (okay, quite a bit), it bounced along the fairway, over the ridge and out of sight... and to our mutual amazement, on walking up to the green, there it was, in the cup. An ace, but through no skill on my part. Bloody hell, eh?

I think I still owe you a drink for that, don't I?

Sunday 11 August 2019

Friday 9 August 2019

Blue Friday: Goodbye

Ah, Harriet Wheeler (insert obligatory sigh here). And such a joyous, trademark jangly guitar motif, at odds with the blue lyric...

Monday 5 August 2019

Monday long song: Fool's Gold

I know you all know every beat of this already, and maybe it was the beginning of the end for them... but God, it stills sounds good, doesn't it? Play loud. Oh, and read this essay about the song over on Circles of Life.

Sunday 4 August 2019

Sunday shorts - Reverend's Revenge (live)

I can't tell you how much I like this. Or how youthful it makes me momentarily feel...