Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Realizing a Lovely Sort of Death

I am a guy who goes to shows. When I'm at home and I blow my nose I don't use magazines, I use the sink as it saves paper. I did give some magazines and CDs (Pascal Comelade, Slumberwood, AU and Illuminati) to Flaming Lips drummer Kliph at around 4pm and I hope they read them and listen to them before despoiling them with bodily fluids!
I was a man on a mission. Mine was to win if it killed them. I was going to get into the flaming Lips gig come HELL or high water. High water will drown Manchester in the near future as predicted by the late Ian Curtis; "Maybe drowning soon, this is the start of it all."

Contact had been made! A man in the theatre behind the Academy was enjoying an early evening drink with his two friends. I'd been around The Oxford and Big Hands asking everyone if they had a spare ticket for the gig. Back at temporary home base where I'd earlier dined on very spicy sweet potato soup, my mission was accomplished. I'd found a man with a spare ticket who was happy to sell it to me for twenty slowly deflating British pounds (what it had cost him).

The touts liked my skull mask and tried to take a photo of me, but they couldn't work their camera. They told me they were asking £40 for a ticket, more reasonable than internet ebay.con rip off merchants.

Inside a support band who might as well have been called Flaming Lips Jr had just come onstage. Roadies cleared up the slippery semen so Wayne's ball didn't slip in it. Is there much point in reviewing the gig when there is probably a cameraphone bootleg up the line already? I guess my favourite songs were "Convinced of the Hex" and "Yoshimi" where I hollered way too many hoo hoos. It has to be mentioned that "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" is a badrillion times more powerful live than the lacklustre album rendition, and Drozd's opus "Pompeii am Gotterdamerung" was a monstrous smoky apocalyptic epic. Last came "Do You Realise?" swollen way beyond embryonic gestation. There was lots of confetti and big balloons and Wayne did one song sat upon a gorilla, which doesn't happen at that many gigs I go to, although I'd go see the Fall again if Mark E Smith rode about on an elephant like Hannibal.

The most moving part of the gig was when they played "Evil" against a looped backdrop of a trapped monkey about to be tortured, endlessly repeating the moment in time that the racing scientist, working for the god of corporate financial gain, had to decide whether to perpetrate a foul deed or not. How many obese gluttons could be saved from diabetes by feeding mice less sugar? How many pigs should be shot to find out if lead bullets really are harmful to mammals? How many times would the torturer relive the moment when he could have decided not to squirt chemicals in a primate's eye so that some dumb bimbo can safely keep her hair blonde? Just like the guards on the trains to Aushwitz, maybe he was only doing his job?

Its a shame SJM cashbuckgigs used a venue that was smaller than the one the Lips played on their two previous visits to Interzone II. This meant people who wanted to go maybe couldn't. How many names were on the guestlist but didn't turn up? How many people bought tickets but didn't make it to the gig because their kitten had a seizure or their car exploded due to the terrorist threat? How many tickets were sold on the day they went on sale to moneygrubbing net nerds whose sole intention was to swell their coughers via ebay.con?

In the aftermath I found a posh computer phone and a packet of fags. As I don't smoke I gave the fags to my friends Helen and Kev (whose fine band Last Harbour you should check out if you like Nick Cave and Tom Waits). Outside the phone began to vibrate and we soon returned it to its owner and got a fiver for our HELLp. So I guess I can effectively knock the price of my ticket down to fifteen devalued quids.

November Noise

Here are the new album releases from 2009 that I listened to and enjoyed for the first time in the month of November. Time is money, and with many CDs now selling for less than the cost of postage, there is no time.

MELT BANANA LITE Live Ver 0.0 (A-Zap) £12.99
This was advertised as being released on the ninth at a special low price of £9.99 by Piccadilly Records. I bought it there about a week earlier. This must be the only time I can remember an album coming out early. Maybe MxBx lite experiments are causing time anomalies? Time is money and it was still at a special low price, but now the special low price was £11.99. Martin short changed me by a quid, but I didn't care as Vinyl Exchange usually knock a couple of quid off my purchases so it all balances out. Maybe Piccadilly are charging a 'booking fee' on compact discs now? The only criticism that could be thrown at this brilliant band is that this live mutation is less than half an hour of sheer noisy bliss. This album therefore confirms the general theory of capitalist boredom that less time equals more money. Much better than that mediocre Sonic Youth album that everyone at Piccadilly Records was wanking themselves silly to.

CALIFONE All My Friends Are Funeral Singers (Dead Oceans) £10
I doubt they'll ever surpass the sheer majesty of "Roots and Crowns" but this is still superb and I've played it a hell of a lot. Vinyl Exchange had promos without the very nice cover for a mere four quid! Any journalist who sold this deserves a burning fag in the eyeball.

FLAMING LIPS Embryonic £7 plus £3 exchange on an Ivor Cutler CD
The twits at Pomona PR who inundate my inbox with information about boring bands I'm not interested in couldn't be bothered to spare me a paltry CDR despite sending an unrequested oversized scan of the cover, so I went to a shop and bought a long slowburner that could turn out to be the best Flaming Lips album since their "Zaireeka" zenith.

MUDHONEY Live at El Sol £6
Promo copy some asshole journalist who probably prefers dweeb Doherty or gay disco flogged for drug money. I got it so keep it outta your face. Bird flu? What's new?

EVANGELISTA Prince of Truth (Constellation) £6
Unopened promo, yet more proof that many music journalists should be shot when the revolution comes. Still, the poor dears need to fuel their addictions to smelly cash crops.

THE COURTESY GROUP Tradesman's Entrance FREE from Cargo
Promo sent to me by Cargo with Githead and my second copy of Mission of Burma's brilliant album. Sounds exactly like The Ex, only not as good. I've played it just once as of 13/11. One of these days I hope to play it again, but preferably not in Birmingham.

BLK JKS After Robots CDR 50p
I thought I'd check this South African quartet out as the blurb Ciaran sent before he put them on at the Mill was intriguing and a CDR promo was handily flogged to Vinyl Exchange for fuck all. They are quite original and good fun live.

Yet another CDR promo that an idiot at the eNMEy didn't listen to. I have given it one spin as of 13/11 and rather enjoyed it.

Robin and I have helped a landmine victim a little. Might be more use if we just blew up the factories that make the mines. This is pleasant, in a late night Radio Two kind of way. Peter Buck plays guitar, if you care about shit like that.

LOU BARLOW Goodnight Unknwn 20p
Way better than later Sebadoh or Folk Implosion, but not as great as the awesome Dinosaur Jr reformation, this promo remains the property of Domino Recording co, so I live in fear that Laurence Bell will break into my home to steal it back any day now. Lou has also helped a cripple buy a bowl of rice for a day. Thanks Mr Barlow!

FOOT VILLAGE Friendship Nation £10 vinyl!
Bought this from this manic four drum assault group from LA when they blasted the dust out of The Corner. If Laurence Bell tries to take it they'll kick his ass!

DIGITAL LEATHER Warm Brother FREE from Gold Star
CDR promo that I miraculously found enough time to listen to and didn't sell for 15p. I thought it sounded a bit like Pavement but not as good. Is that too many words for a review, editor?

ALLEN TOUSSAINT The Bright Mississippi 20p
More paltry help for landmine victims and a woogie boogie rest for my ears after a hard days Therapy? nostalgia.

JOKER'S DAUGHTER The Last Laugh 50p
Domino Recording Co. has the last laugh but gave it away. I paid half a quid for it and they think they still own it. What's up with that Mr Bell? You can have this one back if you must, but can I keep that nice Lou Barlow CD please? Bell is the law!

I have also been enjoying listening to older albums by Hot Snakes, Yo La Tengo, Oxbow, Bellini, Hugh Cornwell, Kinski, Frank Black, Beach House, Speck Mountain, Screaming Trees, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, The Fall, Jawbox, Jeffrey Lewis Crass covers, Dead C, Shipping News, Will Oldham, Philip Jeck, No Man, Kristin Hersh, Tanya Donelly, White Magic, Stiff Little Fingers, Therapy? and the Jesus Lizard, each costing between 20p and £15.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Winter Gigs in Manchester

Do You Realise?
It is time for stormy weather!
Pickin' up a lot of empty coca cola cans and there sure are a lot of 'em round here!

15 Night Marchers - Night and Day
15 Tickly Feather - Smelly Retrobar
16 Flaming Lips SOLD OUT venue too small idiot promoter! Tickets going for £65 on ebay.con
17 Joe Lally / Serpentine Pad - Roadhouse
17 Ingo Vauk - Cross Street Chapel
19 Naomi Kashiwagi - Central Library FREE 8pm
19 Furthur (out there disco) - Star and Garter (Golden Lab)
19 Blood Moon - Roadhouse
20 Plank - Krobar
20 The Last Hedge w/Starless and Bible Black - Carlton Club
20 Day for Airstrikes - Roadhouse
21 Plank / Easter / The Marder - Roadhouse (Chairs Missing)
22 Gnod / Teeth of the Sea / Thoughtforms / Factory Star / Sandells - Islington Mill, Salford; 6pm
25 MayMing - Islington Mill
26 Factory Star - Kings Arms
27 Plank / Worried About Satan - Fuel (Bad Uncle); 9pm
27 Hugh Cornwell - Academy 3 (playing Rattus Norvegicus)
27 Volcano the Bear - Islington Mill
27 The Gilded Palace of Sin - Ruby Lounge FREE
28 Orange Goblin / Charger - Roadhouse
28 Cop Out / OK Pilot - Retrobar
28 Quartet from:Phil Marks (percussion)Stephen Grew (synth/keys)Maxwell Sterling (bass)Matthew Robinson (clarinent)
Trio from:Joshua Koper├žek (piano)Rodrigo Constanzo (percusssion)David Birchall (guitar)
8pm @ Cross St. Chapel, Cross St, Manchester £4/£5
more info http://www.davidmbirchall.wordpress.com/
29 Drunk in Hell - The Corner
30 Campaign for Real Action on Climate Change social - Nexus
30 Nursing Home - Tiger Lounge (The Big Dig)

2 Josh Pearson / The Gilded Palace of Sin / Anna Kashfi - Ruby Lounge
2 Early Day miners / FTSE 100 - smelly Retrobar
3 Six Organs of Admittance / Gnod / Cyril Snear / Irma Vep - Islington Mill (Wotgodforgot)
6 Drunk in Hell / Sump / Klaus Kinski / Ergon Carousel - the Corner, Fallowfield, £5
7 J Mascis and the Fog - Moho
7 Battles £5 more than last time due to credit lunch promoter army inflation!
8 Sunn O))) / BJ Nilsen - Islington Mill (Lamb and Wolf) ...sold out!
8 Sleepy Sun / Serpentine Pad - Retrobar
9 Lightning Bolt / Tweak Bird - Islington Mill
10 Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Dead Institute; venue too small!?! Smaller venue means £5 extra on ticket price! Probably sold out unless promoter is useless!
10 Vuk / Denis Jones / Caro Snatch - Kings Arms
12 Nancy Elizabeth / Hannah Peel - St Margaret's Church, Whalley Range
12 Manchester Zap (lots of bands all dayer) - Islington Mill (Golden Lab)
15 Omar Puente & Martin Smith / Jazz & the Civil Rights Movement - Music Box
19 Stray Light / Serpentine Pad - Kings Arms, Salford
19 Plank - Deaf Institute (Chips with Everything)
20 Oi Polloi - Star and Garter
21 Hot Club de Paris / The Gateway District - Retrobar
22 Gideon Conn - Moho
26 Nursing Home / Easter - ?


16 The Stupids / Revenge of the Psychotronic Man - Retrobar, beach party;
bring your own sand.
20 Baroness - Islington Mill

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"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."George Orwell, 1945

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Daniel Johnston's Revolution; Thank You!

Taking an uncomfortable seat on the end of a closely packed row in a spacious grandiose room in the ostentatious town hall, I tried to listen to Laura Marling. I was quite near the front and I could see her just fine; a blonde lady dressed in blue and grey, playing an acoustic guitar which I could hear. The words were more difficult to make out as a siren somewhere kept wailing. After about half her set of quiet folky songs, it finally aborted to lyrically reveal a man who didn't speak until judgement day. "I'll freak out and cut my hair, didn't grow back for a good few years," went another song.

It's funny that Manchester City Council can harrass people for listening to music in their own homes, legalising theft in order to fail to create 'respect,' yet when there is a gig in the town hall it isn't loud enough to obliterate ambient noise attack. Even more ironic is the fact that the City Council has attempted to shut down various venues due to noise complaints, but is powerless to stop real noise pollution from sirens and alarms that pollute the city with their vile US cop show howling. Some halfwit from the council told me there was nothing worse than hearing other people's music. I asked her if she would prefer to contract AIDS or have a nuclear bomb explode in Manchester, which flustered her greatly. I'd argue that stupid sirens interrupting music are worse too, especially in the hall of the body that tries to stop the music whilst hyping the city for its music scene, of which it is thankfully mostly ignorant. It turned out that the siren had been accidentally set off by Daniel Johnston's backing band the Wave Pictures who had arrived late in a hire van whose pointless alarm system was unfamilar to them.

Daniel Johnston came in alone and sang three songs of heartbreak, strumming a very small guitar in an idiosyncratic tuning. He put down the guitar and was joined by a friend who backed him on acoustic guitar. Without an instrument, Daniel's arms hung at his side, shaking as if they wanted to strum strings or hit keys. "Everybody's wearin' a frown, waitin' for Santa to come to town," was a funny line to hear in the bureaucratic building whose annual guilding was a silly inflatable Santa. Hell, they can't keep the streets clean, but they can put a fake fat old man on the roof! Daniel is also quite fat, and dressed in red but he didn't sport a fake beard as it might have obscured his heartfelt singing, and for twenty pounds on the door that wouldn't have done. Fortunately no sirens went off outside the inadequately soundproofed room, so Daniel could pay repeated homage to his heroes the Beatles: "Hey Jack! Get back!" Just before they split for a short break, they went the whole hog and played a John Lennon song, "Hide Your Love Away."

On returning, Daniel was joined by the Wave Pictures as backing band. He told us he'd had a dream about a guy sentenced to death for attempting to commit suicide, which seemed to me like the kind of idiotic law that council bureaucrats would be willing to enforce, as they are only doing their jobs after all, just like the guards on trains to death camps. He was not too bothered about promoting the new album as I think he only played one song from it. After stumbling over a "Bloody Rainbow" to find only more heartbreak he announced the song he assumed we all wanted to hear, a revved up and rockin' "Speeding Motorcycle." The Wave Pictures made a good backing band for him, with low key backing vocals, Jonathan Richman rock'n'roll restraint, and drums hit with brushes. The acoustic guitarist rejoined them towards the end, and they played another Beatles song, "Revolution." The best and loudest was almost last, a rock'roll redemption song where the Beatles don't just inspire the man, but save his very soul.

Everyone was clapping, not exactly going rock'n'roll wild as the venue bylaws probably wouldn't permit too much joyful abandon. Daniel graced us with his presence one more time, but seemed a little confused, thinking he was in a church and asking if it was a Catholic one. Someome set him straight, fortunately before the council could slap a Catholic Abatement Order on him and confiscate his Holy Water, and he announced a Christmas song. Alone again the way he came into our world, he left us with the wish that, "True Love Will Find You in the End."

The venue closest to the town hall is Tiger Lounge and Thank You, a trio on Thrill Jockey records, were playing there. I thought I could probably catch at least half their set but I was in luck, they hadn't even started when I descended into Manchester's most kitsch venue. FTSE 100 had supported but a body can't be in two places at once. Nate from Oxes was doing sound for Thank You and DJing by playing eighties chart hits at slow speed. I asked him if Oxes were still going and he told me that they were intending to make a new record but it was slow moving as he no longer lives in Baltimore. Thank You instantly revealed themselves as American by having manic rhythms nailed by a drummer wearing dungarees. The other guys played double guitars or double keyboards, to make a joyful racket. Sometimes they'd sing nonsense to raise the roof a bit higher. After all sense can't be made, it can only be sensed, as former Johnston Shimmy Disc labelmate John S. Hall once pronounced.

Halloween at The Mill

Up on the fifth floor candles illuminated the pathway in, past an accelerated dark cloudy sky. Two men with hands for heads and big hard ons did battle before two portals into an illuminated cardboard universe where a couple of genetic mutations labelled 'mankind' stumbled clumsily onto a new world outside their primitive moonlander. A top secret saucer shaped 'UFO' had landed in a desert looking just like nothing on earth, lights flashing, get frequent now and then. An invasion of cardboard wings bursting from trash led by an insectoid being made of rope and light bulbs was defeated by the invocation of a flaming skull demon summoned by the tarot card death. No need to burn books when you can burn your family! Who makes the nazis?

Down the winding stairwell in the white room, Rachael Goodyear, face painted white and clothed in black, drew on the wall. Lee Patterson fed the sounds of pencil scrawl and sharpening from her wired wrist into an experimental ambient soundscape for two repressive time divisions humans call 'hours.' Rachael drew a disintegratiing skull with teeth wired in red thread; some black hooded clones of herself tethered to a fling seagull; another seagull perched upon a post to which her drawing wrist was also tethered, and a nude self portrait entangled in flowers. Lee made wine glasses hum, coaxed low key dissonance from numerous gadgets and reacted occasionally to peripheral clanks and shuffles in the room from the attentive observers. Occasionally he let silence fail to fall.

Rachael's wall drawings seemed highly narcissistic, which to unenlightened rationalists might be a negative trait. I'd argue that the narcissistic character asserts its own self-esteem and autonomy over repressive time dominated authority and its repressive control mechanisms, including mythical tales. The Greek youth Narcissus mutated into a beautiful flower, which reproduced its image repeatedly beyond one truncated lifetime. The last image on the white wall was a pink rose, still there days after the event was over.

Back up the stairs a five piece rock band known as Headless Check In blasted out a set of Misfits covers. They dressed as the undead and brought a small posse of dancing fans who were to follow them howling into the night as they journeyed through the Mancunian underworld on a quest to play five gigs in five different locations on one night.

In the big gig room DJs got the gathering throng dancing. Zombies, skeletons, a lady with a knife in her head who'd gouged away her Bad Uncle's eyeball, pervy bishops and The Lord of Darkness himself pranced and cavorted to Gang Gang Dance and other dance.

Beyond the smoking yard in the room that was once home to the Ting Tings, a cafe served tapas and warm grog. Gnod body Paddy, in full Arab Sheikh regalia, and Fliss of Golden Lab had a dansette to spin some tunes and Gnod themselves played a severely Butthole Surfer damaged psyche barrage in quartet formation. Despite his guitar amp dying in a bid to lie in the graveyard, Paddy jabbered some garbled gibberish over a two bass pileup and stand up drums battered by a mummy in shades. It was a just a shame they didn't play a bit longer, but nevermind, London beat combo The Oscillation soon cranked out more loud psyche rock in the big gig room, as the place filled up with booze guzzling children of the night. The sun came up and still the music played, in eternal denial of the tyranny of the clock, which had broken because some trickster had poured lager slops over it.