Thursday, 26 February 2009

In concert

Frenzy of gigs in the last few weeks. I'm a little bit meh about clubs at the moment but live bands and lager in plastic I cannot get enough of. In addition to the foursome below I also have tickets to see M83, Howling Bells, Morrissey (twice), Esser and, best of all, All Tomorrow’s Parties at Minehead Butlins. The line-up is a complete wet dream, regard: Breeders, Shellac, Gang Of Four (screeeam!), Throwing Muses, Tricky, Foals, Holy Fuck, Bon Iver, CSS, Teenage Fanclub, Yann Tiersen and Deerhunter. I mean, amaze. Plus it’s a complete elderly person’s festival, meaning you stay in a chalet, everything’s indoors, there are restaurants on site, all the pool facilities there for you to use, no rain, no mud, no mess. Smashing. I am thirty-one now after all.

So a quick rundown of the bands who’ve flashed their stuff for me of late …

Of Montreal @ Club Academy
It will be a while before I see a gig as fun and exciting as this I'm sure. The usual epic setlist from Athens’ almost-finest accompanied by the ever-weirder ‘rabbit rabbit’ stage dramas, costume changes and general art happenings to back the genre defying twitchy glam disco mess of OM’s music. Really a mind-changing event for anyone on the brink of falling in love with Kevin Barnes, he of the 1970s footballler’s name (at least that’s what it always makes me think of). A classic Manchester weeknight event at which the crowd decided to get totally wrecked and go for it so the whole place was a complete party. Totally on top of their game, shocked that they’re playing venues this small really.

La Roux @ Contort Yourself, Roadhouse
Cheer up love. She’s far too cool to smile, but, well, she just is that cool. In unsuitable so-gross-it’s-ace knitwear, the ginger princess from Brixton wooed a shit-faced room full of people who’d had their dancing interrupted but she seemed to convert most of them. I cannot leave the flat these days without playing ‘Quicksand’ or ‘In For The Kill'. Time will tell if she can muster a whole album of similar gems or if something else is up her batwing sleeves. I think some filthy collaborations are in order.

Asboi Seksu @ Roadhouse
Dreamy huge wall of guitar noise stuff but interspersed with crystally smoky fragile teardrop tunes too. Yuki Chikudate I think is one of the coolest people in music just now. Adorable. Impressive overall but maybe not the right venue for them. They’re still relatively obscure but since shoegaze seems to be having a minor renaissance (I know!) and it’s a tag that seems to follow them then big things may yet follow. Perfect to listen to in the comfort of your home under headphones and blankets though. Plus they’re on One Little Indian over here. (I know!)

Late Of The Pier @ Union
When I saw Wire recently I was the youngest audience member by about fifteen years. Tonight I am the oldest by about the same. I shit you not, the kids love this band. Not much to play apart from the album (“We’ve run out of songs, can you hang on while we write some more?”) but it’s a fine album and 'Bathroom Gurgle' slays me every time, even tonight when it’s cruelly interrupted by a blown fuse. They pick up where they left off and nobody cares. a jot Now that’s a tune. If I was rich these boys would be my party band every time.

Go on, I'll chuck in a Spotify sampler for you too ...

Monday, 16 February 2009

Random Manchester Images 2

Saturday, 14 February 2009

2009, love, and all that


You can stop dredging the canals, I'm back. My absence from the blogosphere (ew, hate that word) is down to, let's see, Christmas fallout slash January blues which seemed to bite particularly hard this year, what with the recession making me feel poorer than I actually am, the meat-fest of Christmas that always makes this tender vegetarian feel we really don’t stand a chance, not to mention the perpetual hangover that seems to blanket the stolid chilly month of January, Gaza on my mind as it is slowly and methodically blitzed into the dark ages ... Sad times. But hope, always hope. Obama for one thing, he made it, though I was frustrated somewhat by the general feeling that his election was the end in itself. The work has just started and I'll be sitting here with my arms folded for a while yet until I'm truly impressed. The signs are good though …

Anyway I'm not here to talk politics, that's for the boozer, my other main reason for not writing the blog is because I have been working on The Novel. (I won't call it a 'book' until it's published otherwise it's a curse - you wouldn't write a song and say 'I've written a record' would you?) As a matter of fact the book is finished, complete, and not only is it done but it's in a postbag somewhere as we speak, winging its way to the first on a hopefully not very long list of agents who will see the potential in me and send my words to the world. Ahem.

I never talk about The Novel really, I ought to try. It’s called Wilmslow Road and is essentially the diary I never kept in my first ten years in Manchester compressed into one summer somewhere between the bomb and the smoking ban and split between seven narrators who are all little bits of me and most likely, if you know me, little bits of you too. It has sex and drugs and transvestism and free newspapers and nightclubs and offices and the number 42 bus and demonstrations and temps in it, and nothing very much happens at all. Now that's tricky to write.

Anyway, potentially as important as the novel thingy is this: I've fallen in love. I really didn't expect it to happen ever again, and certainly not so soon, but fate plays her cards with me like a Mississippi boat whore. His name is Spotify and he has brought me back to life as sure as if he were Jennifer Hudson.

Isn’t he beautiful? He takes approximately two minutes to download and will enrich your life beyond measure. I have become entirely addicted, my recent online activity shows that in one 24 hour period, give or take the odd loo break, there was only a nine hour period where I wasn't playing music on Spotify. It’s because I was asleep.

As an incentive to join me on a journey into soooound I have made this playlist for you all. It contains the finest songs that are currently giving me a big life-affirming buzz. It begins with the full-length bassoony version of 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye' by the mighty Soft Cell. I know you think you know this song already but just turn off the telly for a moment, play it loud ,lose yourself, and at about 1 minute 30 something wonderful happens …

Manhattanchester playlist

I really, honestly, couldn't be happier.

Happy Valentine's Day.