Saturday, 16 August 2014

Poliça/Rescue Rooms, Nottingham/14th August 2014

They came on the stage while the post-support, pre-gig record spun on. Took their places. Both drummers to the rear, bassist stage right, vocals remaining left.

The wails start and the worries are ignited. I’m not concerned about Channy’s voice though – on no. My fears of that failing were unfounded.                                   I’m worried when I remember that wails are a main feature of the Poliça production, that I was here for another one-and-a-half hours, and that I hadn’t noticed track 1 slide surreptitiously into song 2, nor had I caught a lyric or even a word.

But something else I didn’t notice until the second the music paused for breath was that I was moving


Awkwardly, alternating my shoulder blades in time to Drew’s drumbeat.


And then it was Channy’s body sinuously jerking to meet me at the centre of the stage, not quite daring to greet us head on, then making a prowling retreat. Under her Dad’s jeans and a cowboy’s boyfriend’s shirt, her bones rumbled to Chris’s energetic bassline. His neck flexes back and forth and his shirt begins to darken after he asks for more bass and drives on, facing the audience, the all-important gateway between band and crowd.

The brass in Dark Star blares out. Except of course there is no section in sight; musicians as well as production geniuses, Poliça maintain the zone they are in, that they share with the audience, without allowing it to be infiltrated. The audience is permitted to continue its steady, angular bobbing without disturbance or disappointment. The less the music sounds like a song, the more intense, a scarf flowing around the audience and holding them in. By moving the vocals on Lay Your Cards Out away from the recording, the group lauds Channy’s voice as much more than a lyrical motor, rather as a finely tuned, technically trained instrument.

Timed to precision &
Poliça do what they do and they do it well,
and that’s not an evening singalong 

Saturday, 31 August 2013

When was music great?

1969, 34 years since?

No, no, you protest - 70s rock surely, 80s synth of course, 90s Britpop was the peak of modern music, 00s dance, it has to be, you cry.

But isn’t the issue here tense? The ‘w’ interrogative? The grammar’s all off-key. Music Today is great, and to assure all those fearing that it’s gathering speed down a one-way, -80° degree gradient track, Future Music will be great too.

We’re just looking for it in the wrong places. Most local music stations are KO’ed without a chance of revival, dredging up last year’s Rihanna between every advert break. MTV hasn’t got it either. But it’s the law of nature, and the rules of business, that the giant doesn’t take care of the ant, however hard it works. And whatever happened to NME?

It’s just all easy access, neatly arranged on the TV or page before you, no leg work required. To find great music, crawl deep into the web and allow yourself to become entwined in its gossamer. Then gamble gig costs and make the journey; that’s where the future of music lies: in one of the ever-dwindling areas channels in which acts make their pennies.

And it’s hard to convince your peers that your latest Indie find is better than any act on stage at Bethel. But with nostalgia, sprinklings of tragedy and a good helping of Zeitgeist attributed to that period, of course such claims would be blasphemous.

So what will it be in 2047? The same: but this time the prison-worthy offence will be the suggestion that Blake’s loops are anything less than pivotal, or that Alex Turner’s regional accent is inferior to computerised vocals. Why ever not.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

To a Lady

Exuding piercing utterances;
Mindless drivel.
Put the dinky digital down –
Come on, let’s be civil.

A polite request:
Enjoy yourself.
Do not bore others
With tomorrow night’s silent show;
Blurred image
Upon image
Of a snapped music set.

Oh concert-goer.
Shot after shot.
Read up on gig etiquette:
Be engrossed, and be reasonable,
Thanks a lot.
You’re not paid by the press,
Don’t make this a chore –
Instead: stay at home,
Have a chat, maybe tea?
YouTube’s showing’s just the same,
I’m sure.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Death of the Musician?

I spent some months of my youth thinking Puressence vocalist James Mudriczk was a woman, and at some point naively believed that Nina Simone was male. My embarrassment as I watched a compact jazz advert featuring black and white images of a beautiful, rather feminine artist was unprecedented.

This experience changed everything about Feeling Good for me. It was just different from then on. But would my blissful ignorance mot have better permitted me to enjoy the exquisite orchestral arrangement and Nina’s unearthly notes for what they create: an extraordinary piece of music?

Two minutes glancing over Joy Division’s Wikipedia page will inform its reader of Curtis’ untimely and tragic suicide. But sitting in the dark enshrouded in Unknown Pleasures before tapping away in Google’s search bar should surely inform any attentive listener that

something wasn’t right there…

The reverse and you’re imagining something that isn’t there. Project yourself onto the sounds, rather than the unenlightened views of pale, one-track cyberspace faces.

Feel the mind in the dark.


Journalists love to press new talent for their ‘inspiration’. New talent loves responses like “a purple-spotted hedgehog” or, “a line from a classic book” (or from an elaborate brass-framed six feet tall hall mirror). The twisted tones of psychadelia or the richness of glam rock are often enough to suggest the latter, without turning the pages of NME or pouring over Pitchfork.

It’s all very well winning first prize in your local’s Sunday night Music Quiz for knowing dates and years, but it doesn’t mean you appreciate artists’ works any more than the daily punter propping himself up on the bar. If the music itself doesn’t tell you it’s from 1969, or that the band’s front man is dressed from head to toe in sequins, or that its inspiration is a dreary Manchester estate, then that might not be what matters to the artist. So why try to make that matter to you? If you’ve ears, shut your eyes and use them.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Sometimes it's just not meant to be...

The River Tame slips through Uppermill park calmly and freely. I received a phone call from the top of Pots and Pans two evenings ago without a blip . Some people have but to wave and their lights obey accordingly. But why is it that when it comes to communicating with the service providers themselves, there is no such thing as simply clicking your fingers (or a mouse) and achieving the desired effect?

At the eleventh hour (in the eleventh month) of my twelve-month contract, I finally snapped. We both knew it had been coming since the late-night, hour-long calls had begun to take their toll. He accused me of not telling her everything, I told her it was too little too late. He told me we had to cut this short, I told her it shouldn't be me who has to pay. This time it was me who caved: "I can't deal with this right now".

A surly farewell and a dead dial tone.

It didn't have to be like this. Some humility and better communication could have made it last out. But perseverance just wouldn't cut the mustard. Apparently the only way to deal with a sham of a company like my ISP is to shame them over Twitter. Suddenly it's emails, refunds, it's cards and flowers.

Well, not quite...

                              but the dial tone was no longer dead.