Category: Reviews (live)

Links to things I’ve written elsewhere.

1. ‘Crumbling Pillars of Feminine Convention’ – on Viv Albertine’s memoir Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys. Sex, punk, feminism, the usual.

2. ‘Living Fast: Revisiting Oasis’ Definitely Maybe – on Alex Niven‘s Oasis; 90s Britain (bad) and 00s Britain (slightly worse); pros and cons of ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ as life philosophy.

3. Retrospective on the 20th anniversary (!) of The Holy Bible, the summer of 1994 and the travails of being a teenage girl, available in the new issue of Planet magazine. Well worth buying a hard copy as it also contains, among other things, a fascinating article on the history of cross-dressing in protest. My piece is accompanied by the photo below, taken some time in the mid-90s when I had taken to hand-spraying a glittery hammer-and-sickle onto my dress, as was the style at the time. Outfit is not currently, as one correspondent suggested, housed in the museum of Welsh folk art.

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The outside of everything: a Howard Devoto primer.

Speaking of boredom, let’s start with Tony Wilson’s gloriously earnest and nonchalantly pretentious Buzzcocks/Magazine documentary from 1978. In many ways it seems far longer ago than that, what with girls who work in Woolworths and all that quaint smoking indoors. Don’t make ’em like this anymore, eh? Continue reading

The plugging will continue until morale improves.

Flood Theatre again. Kickstarting the comedy resistance so you don’t have to.

I apologise in advance for both these sketches’ lack of contempt for the weak – or ‘edge’, as Channel 4 call it.

Amanda Palmer live at Heaven, 02.09.11

Written for Wears the Trousers 08.09.11

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I’m loath to compare anything to a box of chocolates, but Amanda Palmer gigs do come close. The choice as to what you might get ranges from the likelihood of a soft-centred collaboration with her husband Neil Gaiman, to the slightly bitter aftertaste of something from 2010’s ill-advised Evelyn Evelyn project. Continue reading

Diminishing gigs and gigs of diminishing return.

There are times when I think that readers of this blog are simply bearing witness to the Orwellian tragedy of someone once boundlessly enthusiastic about live music slowly having it ground out of them by the suspicion that I’d be better off reading a book than spending yet another evening squashed, skint and bored in Camden while some overindulged former public schoolboy vomits down a microphone, but oh well, on with the motley.

I was sorting through some things last night – ticket stubs, diaries, anal-retentively compiled whathaveyou – and look, these are all the gigs I went to in 2004, back when Dirty Pretty Things was still a club night named after a Stephen Frears film rather than a by-word for frustratingly pedestrian musical spin-off projects:

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I Love You But You’re Wood Green: Carl Barat at the Big Green Bookshop

As Gilbert and Sullivan never quite got around to observing: Carl Barat’s lot is not a happy one. An ‘unpopular’ Home Counties childhood and ‘disappointing’ studenthood; the Libertines’ brief and glorious flicker of fame marred by burglary, breakup and breakdowns; hauling a zombie version of the band around the world on tour while Doherty languished at home pointing the finger; surgery; a solo descent into spurious “DJ”ing, club nights and generally wandering lost among Primrose Hill scenesters old enough to know better; Dirty Pretty Things – still a band of admirable, workmanlike effort but diminishing returns and an inevitable grind to a halt – and then a self-confessed ‘year of demons’. (Only a year, dude?) Even if things currently seem to have taken a deserved upturn – new girlfriend Edie Langley, incipient fatherhood, solo album and book just out – the path that got him here’s still not the sort of beat a chap would choose.
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Flood Theatre, The Suicide of the Rev. Lens, 12.07.10

Masturbation is never far from the mind when surveying the current state of mainstream British comedy, besmirched as it is with the self-absorbed and self-indulgent spatterings of established onanists. Flood’s philosophy, though, is the timely and welcome exhortation: ‘Don’t just sit in and wank’.

Flood Theatre is a new enterprise representing several young actors, directors and writers drawn predominantly from the East 15 Acting School. Their first performance of The Suicide of the Rev. Lens took place in Islington’s Old Red Lion Theatre before a respectably large and appreciative crowd. Boxed-in and wilting in relentless midsummer heat as we were, the venue’s incipiently claustrophobic atmosphere aptly set the tone for a journey into Flood’s unsettling, murky and merciless world.

The production’s titular creation is a fulminating clergyman equally cursed and blessed with the ability to detect the cardinal sin of self-love. Around this central conceit, the seven cast members weave a loose narrative of episodic sketches and musical interludes. Their material blends darkly surreal digressions with incisive dissections of socio-political absurdities, hitting the usual government and media targets but also taking in an inventory of irritants ranging from the Free Hugs campaign to homeopathy to the vagaries of mental health diagnosis.

Flood deftly take inspiration from the surrealist and satirical work of Chris Morris. The show’s curiously haunting arrangements of prog-rock and indie recall the ambience of Blue Jam, and his influence is visible too in sketches touching on incest, paedophilia and abuse within the Catholic Church, in which uncertain laughter is shocked from the audience rather than cued or coaxed.

The presiding tone is one of intelligent irreverence, avoiding both gratuitous puerility and the laboured haranguing which plagues much overtly political comedy, edged with a fine sense of the absurd and grotesque. Flood is an engaging and important new arrival.

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More information on Flood is available here.