The thoughts and ocassional ramblings of a 30-something muso.
Hello, I’m a muso. I'm one of those guys you see digging around the racks of vinyl in London's backstreet record shops. I'm not addicted, I can give it up whenever I want. I just need to find that limited edition 7" single that the NME made single of the week. Maybe you've bumped into me in the queue for the bar at The Academy or The Astoria. There are thousands of us in London - I've seen all the regular faces in the record shops and at the gigs.

This blog is my attempt to write about the records that I love, the gigs I've been to and, well, anything else to do with music. Hopefully you'll find something here that makes you nod in agreement or rant in disagreement or maybe even laugh.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Babyshambles & Primal Scream, London Shepards Bush Empire

I booked tickets for this gig an age ago on the strength of The Scream Team, so it’s a bonus for us to get a chance to see Pete Doherty and given recent form it’s quite surprising to find out that he’s turned up to play. A little we arrive he stumbles out looking a little drunk but other wise not too worse for wear, in fact, he actually looks a lot better than most of the recent pictures I’ve seen.

We’ve actually booked tickets to see Babyshables play The Scala in September, but given that he may get a custodial sentence on 1st September for carrying a flick knife, this may be our only chance to see Pete and the band play.

At first the thought of Pete Doherty supporting a band as hedonistic as Primal Scream would seam to be a recipe for instant overdose. But then maybe Bobbie G can give Pete some advise as a front man who has been through it and come out the other side stronger.

And I really hope that Pete can pull through this and get back with The Libertines because Babyshambes are pretty average. The guitarist is pretty handy and Pete, freed from having to play guitar moves around the stage Morrissey in The Smiths era; but the songs are average, and pale in comparison to the Libs material. I guess we could say Pete without Carl Libertine is like John Lennon without Macca.

Primal Scream went through their “drug-hell” years in the 90’s between Screamadelica and Give Out but Don’t Give Up and for a while it was touch or go as to whether they would make it through to make another record. But they survived and made it out the other side stronger and more determined to make records that matter. The addition of Kevin Shields for the last album, Exterminator, added a new dynamic to the take-no-prisoners Scream Team. Tonight he gurns out from the front of the stage, his new long hair (the whole band have grown their hair with varying results ;-) ) curling up the sides of his hat – he looks like Jack Nicholson from the shinning.

Tonight’s set is pretty much the same greatest hits set they’ve been touring since the release of Exterminator two years ago, played with the usual wall-of-sound gusto that we’ve come to expect. The range of music this band can draw on from Rock and Roll (Rocks), to punk funk (Kill All Hippies; Rise), to disco (Vanishing Point; Kowalski).

And tonight’s crowd is the usual eclectic mix of Scream fans linked by the common desire to get a groove on and party like they don’t have to work tomorrow. Naturally it’s the songs from Screamadelica that get the most rapturous reception from the party people – jammed as they are into a killer encore with Jailbird and Rocks from Give Out…

One has to ask where next for Bobby and the boys? This gig is a warm up for their appearance at the V festivals and they have a co-headline gig lined up for Brixton with Spiritualized in October. The advantage of being a cult band is that you don’t have to conform and can step off of the studio-album-tour roundabout. Every Scream album is a progression and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
It's been a quiet month for gigs - we're off to see Primal Scream tomorrow night, but otherwise August has been unuually quiet for us.

In the lull we've been scouting out gigs for the Autumn. It looks like we're going to go and see Kasabian, The Duke Spirit, Franz Ferdinand, The 5,6,7,8s, The Scissor Sisters, Beth Orton and Babyshables and that's just September and October's gigs.

In order to fund this extravigant lifestyle we've take to selling tickets on ebay. Take a look and if you see anything you fancy make us an offer ;-)

Our eBay Auctions

Monday, August 02, 2004
The Subways, Ikara Colt at the Barfly

A little over a week since we saw them as competition winners at Glastonbury, and we’ve got a chance to see The Subways up close. The first thing we notice is that they are younger than they looked at Glastonbury, which means lots of men crowding around bass playing teenager Charlotte.

Things must be moving pretty fast for The Subways and I’m sure they’re having to pinch themselves to see whether all of this is true. For me they still feel like a 6th Form band. Maybe that’s just someone at my age looking at these youngsters up on stage. They seem to be learning to play the game - Charlotte and Billy (guitar/vocals) come face to face inches apart on several occasions, playing on the sexual tension in the band.

Musically, most of the songs are in the blues rock genre spearheaded by The White Stripes and The Kills so you can think of this band as the children of The White Stripes.

Ikara Colt were the darlings of the NME about 2 years ago so we can think of them as the elders of the current art-rock movement. Since then they’ve recorded a second album, which has just been released, and to be fair is pretty good.

So what are they like live? We’ll they keep us waiting (it seems to be part of the art rock movement that if it’s worth going on stage then its worth waiting until as late as possible. But we can forgive them this as when they do arrive they arrive to a thunder of drums and bass. Maybe they come on late because they are back stage arguing with The Barfly bosses as they seem to be in a real tiz about playing The Barfly - “We said we’d never play here again but we’re doing it for you, the fans” says singer Paul. He also complains about playing in front of a sponsorship banner for Virgin Mobile, so some cad at the front suggests that he pull it down. We then witness the terrible sight of a cool band loosing their cool, trying to pull down a banner that quite clearly isn’t going to remove and then having to resort to simply stating “Ikara Colt do not endorse Virgin Mobile”. It’s a sorry end to an otherwise good set and we’ll probably go and see them again, although probably not at The Barfly.

The Chalets, The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Project, at the ICA

The Chalets are a five piece from “Dublin’s fair city”. They play a half hour set, the best of which sounds like Stereolab; the rest of the set sounds a bit like Kelly Osbourne playing with Republica. All in all a bit of a mixed bag but their home made matching costumes make up for it.

The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are an art project with a capital A. They are also a family (you see, the clues are in the name!) with dad playing guitar and singing, daughter (who is only 10 years old) playing drums and mum adding percussion and controlling the slideshow (again, back to the name). The concept of TTFSP is that they find old slide collections at garage sales and write humorous songs about the content; they then perform these songs whilst showing the slides. And it’s the concept that makes this evening so entertaining – we laugh along at the slides of old dears from the 1950’s at Christmas parties – it’s certainly not the quality of the music which they just manage to hold together.

Dad (or Jason if you prefer) could ditch the whole music thing and become a stand up comedian – he’s up there with other New Yorkers like Woody Alan and, well, it’s actually Woody Alan. Rachel (that's the daughter) looks like she would rather be anywhere else than on a stage with her parents, in front of all of these drunken people with funny accents who laugh when she has to leave the stage to use the bathroom (or as dad says “consult the ghost of Keith Moon”).

The set is closed with the incredibly catchy Eggs, written about a collection of government slides showing eggs and Vietnam era soldiers. In all they’ve been on stage for about 45 minutes. Normally we’d be demanding a few more songs for our money, but tonight this seems about right – even a clever, funny piece of art can become annoying if you're exposed to it for too long.

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