Tuesday 30 May 2023

Lucky for some

I went to see The Wedding Present at the weekend, for what my Songkick gigography tells me is the thirteenth time. By my reckoning, on at least eight of those occasions, including last Saturday, I've been accompanied by The Man Of Cheese. Indeed, in recent times it's become something of an annual pilgrimage for us. Gedge and whatever three musicians he's assembled around him always seem to deliver. This time out recent lead guitarist Jon Stewart was absent, as he was gigging with his day job, Sleeper, so a substitute guitarist was on duty, identified only as Rachel. She was mighty fine. Flanking David on the other wing was recent ever-present bassist Melanie Howard who, to her credit, has been in the band now longer than most in their storied history.

I'm not going to review the gig, or the night out. You know I love The Wedding Present, and you know that nights out with my oldest friend are always excellent. But I will bore you with some frankly low-quality phone camera shots from my usual perch off to one side of the stage, and the observation that although David is now 63, he can still give it some welly. Long may he continue.

Setlist.fm tells me that there was a good spread of songs during the evening, with only five coming from the recent 24 Songs, and with plenty of 80s and 90s classic to keep the long-time fans happy. Mel does the setlists, and she never lets us down.

The Wedding Present Setlist Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, England 2023

And finally, a video for which I can take no credit, other than finding it on YouTube. Much as I love the new material, you still can't beat the full-on thrashed jangle of early tracks like these. Remember, people - you should always keep in touch with your friends.

Friday 19 May 2023

Andy Rourke, RIP

The briefest of posts because I am away from the laptop, and there are only so many words I can type on my phone before losing the will. But I have just heard this morning, via an Instagram post from Johnny Marr, that Andy Rourke has died. He was only 59, and had been struggling with pancreatic cancer for some time.

This is not even his greatest bass line but it is probably the best known, and a wonderful live performance too. 

Rest in peace, Andy Rourke - one indispensable quarter of a band that changed my life, and countless others.

BBC obituary

All gone to look for America

Thursday 18 May 2023

Airport purchases

It's a scarcely believable (to me, at least) nineteen years and one month since I went to Australia. Today's track was all over the radio when I was there, seemingly always somewhere in the background. So much so that I bought it on CD single at Melbourne Airport before I headed home. It's not necessarily my usual cup of tea, but it certainly gets in your head, and is a great example of how to do a cover version (it's a Lead Belly track that I bet you haven't heard, made famous by the 1977 cover by Ram Jam, that I bet you have). It's also Spiderbait's commercial highpoint, hitting #1 in the Oz chart, and even getting picked up for use in film and computer games, I think. They followed it up with a track called Fucken Awesome, which wasn't.

Anyway, because I can't believe nineteen years and one month have passed, here's my airport purchase; it does fizz along, doesn't it? And who doesn't like a bit of slide banjo?

Wednesday 10 May 2023

Because 'later' never comes

As I've mentioned before, I stash videos away in my YouTube "Watch Later" list that I plan to blog about when the right time comes around. Except the right time never comes along, "watch later" becomes "watch never" and the list just gets longer and longer.

You know what's coming, don't you?

It's time to prune the list, so here's a YouTube smörgåsbord.

First up, a song from REM's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for which they were reunited with drummer Bill Berry. No monster hit performance for them, oh no - they went right back to their roots instead.

How to follow such excellence? How about some peak Pulp, doing The Fear live on Later? I'll be seeing them live in July and can only hope they are this good.

So what next? How about a mini "new to NA" post-ette, with Scratchcard Lanyard by Dry Cleaning? As well as rather liking the track and its slightly 80s lo-fi wobbliness, the video is very satisfying too - I love that someone had that idea.

Talking of the 80s, here's a track I very nearly made a Clandestine Classic once, only prevented by the fact that it chartly very highly and so can hardly be considered clandestine. It's easy to dismiss Haircut 100 with a lazy "disposal 80s pop" tag but close your eyes, crank the volume and really listen to Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl). It's properly funky. Forget the ill-advised cable-knit sweater and plus-fours ensemble, and the fact that Nick was a bit of a teen idol to the young girls of 1981, there's real musicianship on display here. This grooves.... and if you don't agree, you're wrong. Play loud, remember...

How to reclaim my serious-man-of-indie cool after that? Well, not with this. These songs are two of Amusement Minor's current favourites... but the video interpretations are my choice. Some people have too much time on their hands...

Right, that's it. Expect another one of these "watch later" posts next time I run out of blogworthy material.

Wednesday 3 May 2023

Only half afloat

I went to a gig last week, to see From The Jam. Songkick tells me it's the ninth time I've seen them. On more than half those occasions I've been accompanied in my nostalgia by The Man Of Cheese, and so I was again last week. We were also joined this time by Roachford (not the Cuddly Toy singer, it's just another very-mature-indeed nickname). The venue was a hangar-like hall on the seafront of a coastal town that has been through the recession cycle (trendy, popular, unpopular, broken, rough as, forgot to bomb, trendy again, popular again) and is emerging up into the light. So what can I tell you about the night?

Well, support came from what's left of Buzzcocks - another band I've seen multiple times, but this was the first time I'd seen them since Pete Shelley died. Steve Diggle has moved across the stage to take up lead vocal duties, his space on the right wing taken by new guitarist Mani Perazzoli (thanks Wikipedia). Diggle gave it his all, and rattled through the expected hits well enough, as you'd expect. He wasn't helped by the atrocious acoustics, but even in a different venue I think we'd still have missed Pete. Predictably, the band closed with Harmony In My Head, one of the tracks that has always been Steve's to sing. You can't blame him, I'd have done the same. I mean, he wrote that one, after all.

I'm not going to review From The Jam. I've blogged about them before, several times and (incredibly) as long as sixteen years ago, so you know what I think about them already. In summary then: yes, only one third of the actual Jam are involved in this; yes, the one new song in the set sticks out like a sore thumb, but fair play to them for trying; yes, most of the crowd know all the words to every song; no, Russell Hastings is not Paul Weller; and no, you're not going to see anything new. But you are going to have a good night (even with poor acoustics) and this really is as close as you're going to get to the real McCoy. I can only recommend them.

Anyway, we stumbled out of the venue, ears humming, other senses slightly dulled by beer and vodka. The last train home beckoned ... until Roachford suggested we had time for a last quick drink in the pub next door... which led to us not even trying to get the last train... which led to us moving on to another pub up the road which had a DJ on... and the DJ's set seemed specifically designed for Buzzcocks and Jam gig-goers, being crammed as it was with late 70s and early 80s new wave, ska, mod and punk tunes. Ideal, in other words.

I'm not going to post a Buzzcocks song, or a Jam song either. Instead, here's a tune that got myself and The Man Of Cheese dancing around that small coastal pub like we were forty years younger. I know this, despite the alcoholic haze, because Roachford captured us on camera. The next day, as I watched his video for the first time, I looked at a man that was wearing my clothes but that I didn't really recognise and thought, "God, what a state." Slightly bald, slightly fat, slightly grey, slightly old. Slightly someone else. Not remotely me. Except it was me, of course. The Man Of Cheese summarised it better though, as he usually does, when he noted that it was quite scary to see the reality against what's in your head: how you think you look compared to how you actually are. Putting aside my conceit though, what the video really shows is me and and my dearest friend, doing our best impersonation of Suggs's best impersonation of a rude-boy skank, like we were twelve at a school disco, and with not a care in the world...

I can smile about it now, of course, and it's a great reminder of a brilliant night with my oldest friends. That said, the video won't be going public any time soon... nor will I be dancing in public any time soon either. Well, not until the next time, anyway. Until then, here's what got us moving...