Placebo at Blackpool

So long since I’ve blogged. Bad me.

Anyway, Placebo at the Empress Ballroom, Blackpool. I went with NM from the Monday Night Group, our P disliking Placebo. I like to think I’d have gone on my own otherwise, but probably I wouldn’t have bothered. So thank you NM! It was great.

We got there just as the doors opened, but there was a huge slow-moving queue, so we wandered around for a bit and then went to a bar next to the Winter Gardens, which was playing Placebo amongst other things. It was fun watching everyone trail past the window, though it did make me feel a bit old (average Placebo fan maybe 20? tops?)

The support was a band called White Rose Movement, who had great hair. The music was OK, I mean nothing surprising, but it certainly worked in that setting and the crowd were all for them. Well, not quite all. There were a couple of lurikeen bainshees behind NM and I, screaming “SCRUBBERS! at the top of their tiny lungs and laughing hysterically all the way through the set. I felt like kicking them, but I was good, dear reader, I was good.

I abandoned my escort and battled my way towards the front for Placebo. Stupid soft-top trainers meant I couldn’t risk the really rough areas. And there were plenty of those, so it was a bit hairy just staying upright and not getting my toes broken. Fun though! It’s been years since I was in a crowd like that – rough, almost wild, but very good-natured with it. There was no aggression. Most everybody looked like the sort of people you wouldn’t mind having a drink with; proving, I suppose, that Placebo attracts a certain kind of fan and they are not the type that spits on people.

Molko sweated and smoked, Stefan leapt about and waved his skinny self at us, and we went crazy.

They played a lot of songs from the new album, all of which stood up. ‘Meds’ was a terrific opener and ‘Song to Say Goodbye’ came over very well too. They didn’t play ‘Pierrot’, boo hiss. They played some early tracks with slow arrangements, 36 Degrees worked particularly well, but I think that’s a slightly odd choice versus playing some of the early slow songs (what I wouldn’t have given for WYIN…) Running Up That Hill was a nice surprise. Couple of old ones played the right way really made the moshpit dangerous: Special K (‘I don’t like this song but I think you guys like it so…’) and Nancy Boy.

I was exhausted afterwards and v. grateful to NM for driving me home where I could sluice the alien sweat from my body (and my own of course), grab some toast before waking P up getting into bed. Poor old P. Abandoned, and I forgot to tape Battlestar Galactica for him on Tuesday so he didn’t even have anything to do.

Johnny Marr Plays Guitar

…and sings like a godlike being.

Saturday was the Manchester v Cancer gig at the Arena, Andy Rourke’s chums all overcoming their differences in the name of charidee. But that’s not being fair; it was a terrific night and most of the performers seemed pretty sincere, even if it came very close to spilling over into self-parody at times; sort of a Manchester Music 101 for anyone who wasn’t here at the time (and I’m guessing we all were).

We arrived in the middle of Bez’s band’s set, which was predicatably messy, and the relatively tuneful yelpings of the skinny redheaded woman co-vocalist only highlighted Bez’s own tuneless incoherence. Bad Idea, kids. Then we got a worthwhile contribution from Utah Saints (didn’t know they were local) before a set from the majestic 808 State and MC Tunes, for FAR TOO SHORT A TIME. Then Stephen Fretwell (or he might have been before, or later, I forget), then some geezers called Nine Black Alps, who I hadn’t heard of. They were a bit boring. Then I think Elbow, then I think it was Badly Drawn Boy, who looked all cute in his woolly hat and forgot the words. Andy Rourke came on and played bass on a number, and goodness me, he looked just like our Shane with a mullet.

Mani from the Roses spun a couple of Mondays singles. He was enthusiastic but I got the impression he hadn’t DJ’d before. Never mind, the crowd loved him. Then came the suckerpunch. Johnny Marr’s band, The Healers, wandered on, Johnny introduced them, and then came the deadly, dreadfully familiar strains of ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, and when Johnny sang take me out tonight it brought tears to my eyes. I’m not talking about one or two discreet dampnesses in the corner of the eye here, I’m talking Proper Crying, the best kind, where the tears flow freely, without any pain or raggedness of breath. From time to time it happens, I lose myself, and the emotions get so big they just spill out every which way, and not only do I lose control, I do it ecstatically.

After a handful of Healers songs, pretty fine but not godlike, Andy Rourke joined them for ‘How Soon Is Now’. The Smiths have had the capacity to knock me off balance for a long time. I told P on the way home, about having to get away from the music when ‘This Charming Man’ came on at a party, and although I have since managed to sit through that and other songs in places like Fab Cafe, it’s only with a certain amount of nerve. If you’d asked me in 1988 whether the Smiths or the Cure were more important to me, I’d have said the Cure, but dammit, the force of just 2 original Smiths playing just 2 Smiths songs, all these years later, was like some tremendous monster; something squamous pressing against the fabric of reality, threatening to come through and change everything.

After that, the rest of the evening was a comedown. Doves played a great set, and sweetly gave up stage space to guest stars, having the guy from Elbow, Damon Gough and Johnny Marr back, and Barney from New Order. Mr Scruff kept it real (a bit too real for P, who felt no need for Ian Dury in a DJ set). Or, you know, that might have been earlier, it’s all a bit of a muddle in me head. ‘Cause we had Graeme Park on the decks at some point as well, and he was top banana.

New Order, for some reason, decided only to play Joy Division songs. Transmission, Twenty-Four Hours, She’s Lost Control, (I’m missing some here I didn’t catch the titles of, or recognise – P would know), Love Will Tear Us Apart and Ceremony. All huge and chilling and wonderful, but pretty damn wierd in an arena setting. The crowd seemed kinda stunned, and mostly stood very still.

Lots of people obviously had to go catch last trains/buses, because they scrambled out of their seats after the New Order set, even though the house lights hadn’t come up. Some people half-heartedly chanted ‘Manchester, Lalala’ (possibly the lamest chant in the world evah), and the foot stamping never got co-ordinated. Is foot-stamping a lost art? The gigs of my teenage years were always graced with a rousing round of stamping and clapping before the encore, which always always managed to sweep the entire crowd into a united rhythm that shook the walls. It doesn’t seem to happen any more.

Eventually Manchester’s finest shuffled back on to the stage, a great line of scruffy men with guitars, who all seemed more or less clueless as to what was going on. They sputtered into the riff from ‘Wrote For Luck’, and just as we were thinking “Oh no, surely Bez isn’t going to sing again”, La Ryder shows up, face completely covered by a hood, like the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, in scally form. It went on a long time. It was amusing to watch, but I was outside of myself by that point. I had no euphoria left. (It’s possible that seeing Shaun Ryder eating chips off a bin in Whythenshawe that one night has rendered me incapable of hero-worhip. It shouldn’t outweigh those incredible gigs at ULU when I came home black and blue after the Mondays deliberately started fights in/with the audience. But.)

Take me out tonight
Where there’s music and there’s people
and they’re young and alive

Trying to write

Thursday, house is cold, but I have a warm cat on my knee, to help take the edge off it for both of us.

I’m now alternating So Red the Rose with Meds, the new Placebo album, which, thanks be to evil album leakers, I have downloaded and can now adore to my heart’s content. It’s not like I won’t still buy it. And would have even if it had proved to be patchy like the last two. Which it’s not. Actually it’s rather fab. After 3 listenings I don’t think there are any real stand-out tracks on it that could compare to Bitter End or Special K, but it’s a solid album without any dud tracks, so I can just loop it and be happy. It’s noticeably more lo-fi than Sleeping With Ghosts, and the better for it.

My deadline for submitting my 5000 words for peer review has been put back from today until tomorrow, so I’m procrastinating, which is bad. I’ve spent a couple of hours on it, and there’s stuff there I can submit, I’m just not sure if I should. Anyway, I’d better screw my courage to the sticky keys and get on with it. Here’s something pretty, for inspiration.

Japan are Fantastic, Oh Yes They Are

My god Japan are fantastic. A week of listening to nothing but Duran Duran, and that’s the conclusion I’ve come to.

Not that Duran Duran are not, in and of themselves, fantastic. It’s just that I’m through with being surprised by how fantastic the Durans are, whereas I don’t listen to Japan nearly as much as they deserve.

It’s been a funny old week. A combination of the Duran Duran gig on Sunday night and the lack of classes & fixed RVR nights (term has finished and the gank group has logged off for christmas) has kicked me into that zone where, having spent too much time alone, obsessing about things, you feel like you have a bubble of something fizzy growing in your head and you don’t know what to do about it. I have written some on the novel. I’ve put on a lot of eyeliner. I feel like I’m about to fly apart, and it’s the most wierdly wonderful feeling. I don’t want the bubble to burst, I don’t want it to collapse back in on itself and leave me tired (what usually happens) I just want to stay, perfectly balanced, surface tension keeping me taut and shining, fragile as a breath.

Well, we’ll see. We’re off to Putters tomorrow to see the family for a week, and it will be difficult to hold onto any non-familyxmashurrahcake state of mind. Thank heavens for iPods and having an excuse to be anti-social. Yay novel!

No Tokyo

OK so things are getting back to normal and I’m starting to have the energy to think about writing again. Well, I’m burning to do something now that the wedding is over and (so far) there’s no move to Tokyo to organise. Intensity, intensity, something to make sense of me…

‘Sleeping With Ghosts’ of course fuelling the creative lust; new music one can fall in love with always sets it alight. Getting married terribly sexy, quite unexpected. Doesn’t make one feel older at all, though perhaps does bring a creeping realisation that the NME will really really never put me on the front cover. Shane still dying to get the band back together. Worth it? Who knows. Hold your breath and count to ten then fall apart and start again.