Friday, 9 June 2017

Everything Is Happening At Once


I am at/have been/will go to The Louisiana many times.  I will first play there in 1999, and I’ve seen several great gigs there.  The sound is/was/will be always superb. 
I am here “now”, watching The Dessert, Alba and Wovoka Gentle, presumably in that order.
When I watched this show, I will have already experienced it and described it on a recording which will not be available until after the show has happened.  When I watch the show, I will have not seen it having discussed it, but if you hear the recording, I will have seen it when you hear me discussing having seen it.  I am seeing it now.
Wovoka Gentle (no, I don’t know what the name means) have an impressive array of equipment; I understand none of it.  Hoppy gamely tries to talk me through it, but I’m quickly overwhelmed.  There are a lot of pads with buttons on, and a couple of synths.  I step up on to the stage to get a sneaky look at the most intriguing item: it looks like a sort of electric auto-harp, but could just as easily be a toy instrument.
(If I were writing a review of the set, I would have said that there are three members of the band and that two of them are twins who look a little bit like the comedian Bridget Christie, but that really isn’t important so I didn’t say it.  I won’t even write it.)
I will enjoy their set, but I did also think that the vocals should have been more prominent, but will find them just slightly too effected (yes, effected, as in Effects/FX Pedals), and, indeed, affected, to cut through the soundscapes they are creating.  The whole thing still sounds great, but it’s a shame not to hear more of the vocals.  Because they are great.
The group rectify this with their encore, for which they get off stage and walk into the middle of the room with an acoustic guitar.  They sing, in beautiful three-part harmony, a song written by someone else and subsequently made famous by John Prine (I think – as I say, they were off-mic at this point).
It is the perfect ending to the evening.  I think it happened at the end, anyway.  (Of course, after that I went home, so I suppose maybe that was the end of the evening.  Although, really, for me, the end was when I went to sleep, which was a while after I got home….there aren’t really any endings in real life, are there?)
When I am there I will re-experience/reimagine (you could call it remembering) being here as a spotty nineteen year-old with an arrow shaved into my head, clutching a microphone in my teeth and screaming.
For the record, The Dessert are here playing their first show, not that anyone could have guessed that from their lush sound and polished performance.  The drumming is sensitive.  Yes, sensitive.  The synth/guitar player has given himself a lot to do, but manages it all ably.  The singer’s voice sits on top of the soundscape perfectly.  It’s an unusual and pleasing mix of influences and sounds.
Alba plays with her band, and she is angelic.  She has, just like me, “always wanted to play here…”
“For Harry, as always.”
The love in the room is almost palpable; many of the crew are here, and supporting their friends; but no one is doing any favours.  The music, from any other mouths, would taste as sweet.
This will, at some point in the future, give me the experience of the past memory of someone else’s memory of someone else, who saw the infamous Radiohead performance at Glastonbury in 1997 (yes, that’s the one, just after the release of OK Computer), which I will not see and will not have seen, who describes it thusly: “Moving.  Very moving.  I cried.  Twice.”
I am experiencing being onstage here and feeling the love in the room just as I am experiencing the love in the room now as I watch the bands onstage, from offstage.  It was almost overwhelming, it’s like everything is happening at once.

The day after this blog is published, Scotland will play England at Hampden. 
England will almost certainly win, probably comfortably.  If history is any sort of guide, England will win comfortably without being good.  And Scotland will try hard and be passionate without being good.  If there is any good luck to be had in the game, it will not favour Scotland.  But Scotland are getting better, and a lot of their supporters are enthused again.  And their manager is popular, espousing a traditional emphasis on teamwork and fairness for the postmodern game. 
England are offering the same old turgid shit as always, which has, depressingly often, been enough to see them beat their rivals.  But the England manager may just have over-stretched himself here, read his own press too much, been too arrogant about the chances of a Scotland team cheered on by their vocal and increasingly confident fans.  Anything less than the big win predicted by cheer-leading journalists will be seen as a failure.
And there will be lots of talk about the whole thing, with precious little insight troubling the mountain of bullshit.  And I am experiencing it already.  And I have experienced it already.  And I will be experiencing it. 
But I will also experience the time Scotland beat England at Wembley, when England were recently-crowned World Champions.  And Scotland ripped the piss out of them and stuffed them 3-2, and were therefore, definitely, by a long way, the best team in the world.  But even then, we knew, didn’t we, that that was not the end of it, that Scotland (best team in the world though they undoubtedly were, in 1967) could not rest on their laurels, that they would need to fight again – their fans could not simply stop turning up for games, having seen their team become – indisputably, remember – The Best In The World.  The fans needed to go again, didn’t they?  And every time, as they still do now, in remembrance of that brilliant day when they skelped the arses of the would-be World Champions. 
And that Scotland team went on to create the NHS and the welfare state, remember.
But I also will experience the nightmare of Euro 96, when the domestic abuser and alcoholic Paul Gascoigne scored to give England a thoroughly undeserved victory over a gallant Scotland side, Gascoigne having achieved an unassailable level of popularity by aping the humour and language of his Scottish opponents (having been playing his club football in Scotland), and delighting the tabloid press who had previously waged a smear campaign against him and his colleagues.
And Paul Gascoigne went on to launch the 2003 war in Iraq, remember.
It will be almost overwhelming, it’s like everything is happening at once.

Toyface are demonic and angelic, sacred and profane, funny and dark, innocent and raunchy, florid and reserved.  They are playing at The Gallimaufry on Gloucester Road, where I have been and will be again.  And I will be having had many experiences here before.
(For example, I have experienced now the baffled cynicism of a teenage know-all at the excitement over the election of Tony Blair, who will go on to vindicate my low opinion of him.  I will later experience the resentful smugness of a university graduate know-all at same.)
This is their “last ever” gig, we are told (the veracity of this claim will be discussed but not resolved tonight).  I will be disappointed, in the future, not to see them play again.  I am not now, however, because I am watching and enjoying it.
If Radiohead were a jazz trio fronted by a cool woman who is a wee bit awkward instead of an experimental jazz-inflected electronic rock quintet fronted by a very awkward man who is a wee bit cool....they would sound like this.  One has to be oneself, though, doesn’t one?  That’s the appeal of both these bands.  (I’m not sure why I’m thinking about Radiohead, though.)
“This is about having an existential crisis in your mid-20s, but I’m nearly 32 so it worked out…”
I do not know much, Dear Reader, but I can confirm that The Frontwoman does indeed still exist.  And I can relate, being also a (materially, at least) existing being.
I am thinking “Moving.  Very moving.” but I cannot recall where I am recalling that from.
Come to think of it, I think it was at The Fleece, the time I screamed into a dentally-gripped mic…
"Just hope propelling our dreams...", The Frontwoman sings. 
Sometimes love can feel tangible.  Sometimes, I think We might just be alright.
It’s almost overwhelming, it’s like everything is happening at once.

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