Thursday 21 May 2020

remembering live music no.3

LCD Soundsystem, Magna Centre, Rotherham, 13 November 2010


This gig was at a crazy venue - Magna Science Adventure Centre just outside Rotherham. Thankfully all the interactive exhibits were safely away by the time the gig started.

I loved - and I still love - LCD Soundsystem. I wouldn't say they were strictly dance music per se (Mrs D, who is a bit of dance-music officianado, sometimes dismisses them as 'indie dance'). But they're probably as close as I'll get (chip on my shoulder caused by bad experiences at university combined with my own snobbery).

And the Sound of Silver album is one of my all-time faves - a concept album (kind of?) about careening towards middle-age (hmmm, why would this possibly resonate with me?)

So as soon as the tour with Hot Chip was announced - LCDs FINAL tour, no less - I knew I had to get tickets for me and Mrs D. By the time the gig rolled around, she was pregnant with Little Ms D so my brother was more than happy to tag along.

The tour was a co-headlining-deal with the two bands taking turns to headline - on this night, LCD were on first.

I've always been the sort of gig-goer who doesn't like to be too near the front. The only times I've been in the "pit" are Galaxie 500 (which was never going to be too raucous!), Fugazi (politest, most respectful mosh-pit EVER) and this gig.

Now I have pretty short hair. But when the beat kicked in after the intro of Dance Yrself Clean, it was so LOUD that it moved my hair. I remember my brother and I danced our butts off throughout their set.

Yet again, as a live band they were ferociously tight. Even when one of Nancy Whang's antique synths went haywire near the start of the set they kept it going.

And I don't think there's anything better than watching a brilliant drummer. And Pat Mahoney was - if you'll excuse the language - fucking amazing. He was like a frigging machine, just holding it down throughout the set. Evan when James Murphy wandered over to play bits of his kit in a way which must have been off-putting. If not bloody annoying.

I can't argue with this time - it certainly tallies with my memory, anyway. But I can't believe they turfed out All My Friends so early in the set.

Long time visitors to this blog will know that I'm a massively soppy bugger. One of the things which can set me off are songs about home.

Talking Heads' This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) is a particular killer. Even Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Our House can set me off if I'm in the right mood.

So when LCD ended their set with Home - the last track from their final album at one of their final ever UK gigs - it was just perfect.

I mean, I wasn't anywhere near as bad as this guy from the DVD of their FINAL EVER gig at Madison Square Garden in 2011 but it was pretty powerful nonetheless.

It was so good that we didn't stay for all of Hot Chip's set. It just wasn't able to come anywhere near the majesty of LCD Soundsytem going out at the top of their game.

Except they didn't. Because a few short years later they reformed.

And I couldn't even be mad at them, especially not when I saw them perform Call the Police on SNL.

But imagine being by this guy!

At least he was at the MSG gig.

Thursday 14 May 2020

remembering live music no.2

Pixies, Rock City Nottingham, April 25 1989

Picture young Steve, aged 15, attending only his second ever gig, going to see what was at that time his favourite band. Live music after this point was basically ruined for me.

My (older) brother had seen them play the previous year and we'd got tapes of Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa. Obsessed.

Excitement was only increased by their second Peel session (which I taped, obviously) and this awesome appearance on SNUB TV (which we kept on video until the tape wore out) - I remember telling people at school to watch it.

How can people who look so ordinary - square, even - make a sound so wild? Look at their little faces, they look almost embarrassed to be on TV. Kim had only just stopped going by the nom de disque Mrs John Murphy. Couldn't Black Francis get a clean top?

In advance of the release of Doolittle, John Peel was playing a different song every night on his Radio 1 show. I'd even managed to get hold of a one-sided promo record with four songs on it. I was primed and ready to go.

Which is why it's so disappointing that I can remember so little about the gig!
  • They started with "Into The White" which hadn't been released at that point. It had a very literal (and blinding) light show.
  • Early in the set they played the (similarly unreleased) UK Surf version of "Wave of Mutilation" - I was convinced they were playing it so slowly because they were f*cked off - too many cries of "You fat bastard" from the more *excitable* and *refreshed* members of the audience?
  • "No. 13 Baby" was the only song from Doolittle I'd not heard before I got the album the week before this gig. It's still my favourite track on the album. The light show was awesome for the long instrumental coda.
  • And regardless of what says, I have a vivid memory of them playing "Vamos". Joey Santiago playing much of the solo with a beer can as a slide - and I've just remembered he had a teeny tiny guitar amp!
Kim was pretty much the only Pixie to speak to the audience ("Thanks!" and not much else).
Regardless, I do know that they were bloody brilliant. So loud, so incredibly tight and just completely on it.

A few short years later they were hanging out with Bowie and U2, barely speaking to each other and having band promo pictures taken in their sunglasses.

Thursday 7 May 2020

remembering live music no.1

Do people really need another blog about living with MS in the times of COVID-19? Thought not!

Kind-of inspired by those Facebook posts about "10 books / albums / *delete as necessary that made me", I'm going to be posting about the best gigs I ever saw.

Why? Because reasons. But mostly as a reminder of something which none of us will be doing for some while.

Lemonheads, Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham, May 23 1990

The Lemonheads in 1992. Photograph: Ebet Roberts/Redferns
Starting off with a gig which I still maintain is the best I have ever seen. This was in a tiny room just next to the student bar at the old Trent Polytechnic, like a glorified recreation room. It was a glorious summer night and I went with my brother and my first actual girlfriend.

The Lemonheads (or as my gig ticket had it, The Lemon Heads) had recently trimmed down from a fractious five-piece line up to the classic power trio which would go on to record Lovey. At this gig they played stuff that would show up on that album, along with loads of songs from Lick (in my - unreliable - memory they started their set with Mallo Cup). 

They played so long that after a handful of encores Evan Dando said they didn't have any more songs. But the audience wouldn't let them off the stage (the room was so small that they had to push through the front rows to get on and off the stage).

Eventually Evan Dando said (and please remember that I'm paraphrasing based on my aged fading memory so I may have totally misremembered / embellished it all), "I wrote this song today, and after this we've got nothing". He then played a solo version of Ride With Me, still one of my favourite Lemonheads songs.

Like I mentioned earlier, if I ever had to say what was the best gig I ever saw, this was it. It was just a great example of the "simple" pleasure of great songs played well, and the unmistakeable heft of classic power trio. Plus the feeling when you're at a gig where everyone is loving it, and you're all there before a band goes supernova.

"I was there", indeed.

FUN FACT: Lemonheads are also responsible for the worst gig I ever saw. This was in Sheffield on the Car Button Cloth tour with Murph from Dinosaur Jr on drums. This was (I *think*) 1996-7 and Evan was deep into his crack years. Not pretty.

He encored by turning his back on the audience and feeding his guitar back for what seemed like 15 minutes.

Challenging. And more than a little sad.