Wednesday, 26 September 2012
What a dreadful evening. Not the music. That was a-okay. No complaints to make about any of the sets witnessed from my dark corner. But dreadful in that I had one of those moments of despair that I used to get back in the day when I was more anxious and oldschool and depressed. Tonight felt as if despite all efforts I would never fit the bill, never match up, never be good enough at whatever it is I am meant to be doing. In short, it was a write-off. The more I do things, the more I get filled with regret. Where is the joy? Seeing all the freshers - so lively, so interested in everything and each other - made me want to start again. At the beginning. When I was bumbling round halls like a nonce asking people what Kingdom was. I can't remember feeling like that anymore, though I'm pretty sure I felt it once. I really miss when things were fresh and new. I miss laughter. I miss you, whoever you are. I have failed. Maybe my mistake was to go out without an aim. It would have been fine if only I'd brought some kind of memory. Something worth the exchange. Maybe I should just keep quiet until I have something to say. That doesn't suck.
Monday, 17 September 2012
Music critics can be really mean. Fact. However, here's another fact: those worth their salt are as a rule fully aware at the time of viewing in any venue in any faculty, that whether the music floats their boat or not, it is unlikely they would be capable of reproducing something of equal calibre, when push came to skooch. So, that being said we can assume that about a good say, thirty percent of the audience shared my gut feeling of unease when Daevid Allen of Gong fame, aged approx 84, armed with 120 minutes of new material, stepped up to the stage of the Greystones pub, and promptly yet gracefully, forgot how to play his songs. The performance had begun slow and delicate, with a long poem about smoking in airports, minor scrapes, children, and all the other things that an ancient rocker would want to talk about. Delightful, but not quite enough to assuage that unsettling feeling that this legend of psychedelia was in fact about to do some sort of kamikaze cadenza and pop his elven clogs right there in front of us. He was doddering, like the tin man. He joined his companions Graham Clark (Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere) and Mark Robson (Kangaroo Moon) on stage in an -almost-- tentative manner as if resigned to being overshadowed and outnumbered by his fellow band members. The audience clapped politely at the end of the solo poetry piece, pleasantly surprised, though expectant of something more full throttle. Perhaps a new rendition of Have a Cup of Tea or some shamanism shenanigans. When it transpired that the band were in fact, if not under rehearsed, then a little less than confident, a sort of cold mist seemed to enshroud the room. Everyone was sharing a communal feeling of minor panic: that the golden age of musical experimentation was dying in this very room as this elderly musician of a by-gone age struggled to remember the first three chords of his set. In the deathly quiet as the guitar strings stubbornly refused to become attuned, audience members coughed, looked down, shuffled in their seats and tried not to meet each other's eyes. It was a strange musical awkwardness that, in retrospect was really quite beautiful, and something that can only come from the unfortunate and organic moments of nervousness. You'll be pleased to know (if you have ever had any appreciation for Gong and its offshoots) that the set 'grew'. Thankfully, Sheffield being Sheffield those who had ventured out to see this rare performance were not the type to poo poo something straight off. Patience, though tried, paid-off in the end. Eventually a varied and understated collection of songs came to fruition backed by Allen and Robson's fiery writing. Lyrical content touched fearlessly upon taboos of the century such as political warfare, slavery and burning rainforests. Sublime digereedoo fuelled the rhythmic trance and Clark's truly ethereal violin weaved in and out to produce a weird tapestry that was as sturdy as it was loose.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
I am not new to this album. It is familiar to me. Especially because of the several occasions when I've been reclined in the park listening to 'Perfect Day'. (Not the Trainspotting version.) There's not a lot I can say about it except that it has fond memories. It is interesting the many ways that new music can be discovered. In my most desperate hours it is not out of the question for me to switch on either of my three radio channels of choice (Radio 6, Sheffield Live, Radio 3) and avidly scribble down the names as I hear them. But for me it's those heart strings that contain the best musical memory for me. It's the reason I only occasionally listen to Radiohead, and why I can never listen to Fleetwood Mac -- see last Tuesday's entry for further details. I suppose what I'm talking about touches upon other things like music psychology. It's something I could spend years talking about; indeed there are some people who have and still are devoting much time into learning more about it. Just read 'Musicophilia' by Oliver Sachs. For me music, especially re-treading areas of music heard previously at some point in the past - unleashes small yet pivotal memories and meanings. Like when you're in between two frames of mind but as yet undecided as to which party you should belong with. Everyone has that moment when you are watching Doctor Who and your friends decide that they are going to the pub but you've lost the ability to move until you know whether the dalek is catching up. Obviously I wouldn't be listening to the radio at the same time as watching Doctor Who, that would be excessive, but that is sort of thing that certain songs remind me of. Not the action, but the gradual process that lead to the point of he action.