January, broken resolutions, six weeks without pay. February, money in your pocket but nowhere to go cos it’s so freakin’ cold (even if it is your birthday, it was, I’m 32, I don’t want to talk about it). March is where it’s at, and I think, what am I saying, I know, I’ve just had the best March since records began. Wanna hear?
Kicks off with the Morrissey and Smiths Disco at the Star & Garter, about which I have blogged before. Above all nights that I have loved over the years, Jenks, Indiego, Molotov Pop, Suicide, Poptastic, Homoelectric, Keep It Unreal, Electric Chair, Friends & Family, Bollox, Clique … above all of these, the Smiths Disco is the place I truly belong. I am what I am.
The Friday after that I have my best night in a pub for AGES at the old reliable Briton’s Protection, and it’s a proper treat, it’s all bars and clubs these days, I miss pubs. Especially as I get to spend the evening with some of the finest and funniest people you could ever hope to meet in this or any other city. Fact.
The Friday after that it’s off to Manchester Cathedral to hear Midget Emperor of Glum, Stephin Merritt lead his Magnetic Fields in a superb semi-acoustic trawl through an astonishingly long and eclectic setlist in beautiful surroundings.
After the gig it’s off to Bollox where THINGS OFFICIALLY GO TOO FAR. Late on in the night Stephin Merritt walks through the door and I accost him. The exchange goes thusly:
Me: I know you! (I’m shouting, he has earplugs in, he is very short, I am spitting on the earplugs …)
Stephin: You know me?
Me: Yeah, we came to see you play earlier tonight, I’ve never seen you play before, you were really good, amazing, thanks!
Stephin: But you don’t actually know me?
Needless to say, we haven’t kept in touch.
The next day’s hangover etc. is BLEAK, just right for watching Matthew Dunster’s adaptation of 1984 at the Royal Exchange. I go from thinking it’s the most irritating thing I’ve seen in ages to being somewhat in awe, particularly of the staging which is slick and disorientating and tight, but also of Paul Moriarty and Richard Clews, distressing and inspiring performances both.
At Thomas’ Chop House afterwards, Dee and I neck a medicinal pint and discuss the alienating aspects of late capitalism. I daren’t go home alone so I go to a party in Hulme instead, drink wine and argue about Lady Gaga till two in the morning. (Late capitalism has its comforts too).
The next day not only does my boy come to stay but we go to watch Suede play the warm-up for their Albert Hall gig at The Ritz. Warm up my arse, this is the real deal. It’s one of the best Suede gigs I’ve ever been to and I’ve been to plenty. Is it possible to be happier? They opened with ‘Europe Is Our Playground.’ Just scream why don’t you.
A couple of fleeting and forgettable days at work then it’s off to London for more Suede who blow the roof off the Albert Hall. Brett brings tears to my eyes with a solo rendition of ‘The Living Dead’. The gig is up there with Blur at Hyde Park and Morrissey at the Empress Ballroom. Triumphant. I have what amounts to a wet dream for my sixteen year old self when we go to the after party and meet the band who are as kind and personable as when I first met them fifteen years ago. Then we go to the after-after party and meet them some more. Whatever happened to the teenage dream? It came true, that’s what.
Next evening at the Apollo Shaftesbury with the Geordie and 1984 is knocked into a cocked hat by Mark Rylance in Jerusalem, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen on stage I reckon, the last great thing I seem to remember being Michael Maloney’s Hamlet six years ago. Blimey. Jerusalem is a three act, two interval, poetic treatise on Englishness that made me cry in front of strangers and has the most moving, funny and gutsy dialogue you’re going to hear in a theatre in your life. Jez Butterworth wrote it and he has a gift and Mark Rylance turns in a performance that should rate with Lear as THE ROLE to prove your worth. Sublime.
The best Bloody Mary I’ve ever tasted follows at Bourne & Hollingsworth at the bottom of Charlotte Street and is required to steady my nerves. I am actually a bit delirious post-theatre. We can’t talk about anything else for hours, we live off the play all night, up to and including our delish veggie feast in Chinatown.
Measure for Measure at The Almeida in Islington the following night is good, interesting, a nice turn from Victoria Lloyd as Isabella, but really Jerusalem can’t be followed so soon, not even by Shakespeare I’m afraid. Fun drinks after amongst the impossibly good looking achievers of the Blair borough.
Next day is Saturday which I spend with my brilliant friend Helen. We troll round Camden Market, stopping for gins at the Proud Gallery, then whizz round the best bits of the National and National Portrait galleries (Vin Gogh! Monet!) before downing lychee bellinis at Amuse Bouche in Soho, devouring pizzas at the Soho Pizzeria then heading out East for drinks at the Ten Bells. Helen heads home so we stick around for beers at the George & Dragon then up to the Joiners’ Arms where the music goes out the other side of ironic into just plain bad. Top top night nonetheless.
At some point I drift home to Manchester and attempt to resume normal service.
April has some serious work to do.