I was there!


I recall listening to Aladdin Sane and being pretty shocked by the w-word in the second verse of Time (“wanking”, not “whore”). Swearing in songs was unusual before Sex Pistols’ Bodies removed any remaining shock value: five “fuck”s in a 13-word couplet probably still wins the Grammy for concentrated sweariness in a tune.

Where does time go? It’s been nearly half a century since that Bowie classic was released in 1973. 45 years to be precise. 45 years before that it was 1928; the Great Depression hadn’t yet started and World War Two was still over a decade away. The Ford Model T had ceased production only one year earlier.

My last blog was 7-Up which was nearly four months ago but to me seems like four weeks. It’s not as if I’ve been sitting on my hands waiting for inspiration though. I retired from my job in London at the end of July at the same time as moving home to north-west Wales. Then there were IKEA wardrobes to build and loads of other assorted household jobs. Since my retirement I’ve been busier than I have been in years.

In the meantime things haven’t stopped on the music front. Deadtime were in Sheffield’s Tesla Studios at the end of August to record a new AA single Testify (Dues paid in full) / Hardlines – the tunes are currently being mastered and they sound superb! To launch them the band are playing three gigs in November – catch them if you can, you’ll have a great evening. I’m the band’s driver for the mini-tour on the condition that I get to choose the on-the-road playlist.

What are your tour playlist recommendations ? Let me know. (If it helps, I wouldn’t choose any of Spotify’s “top driving songs”). Arrggh!

Proof that “greatest” is subjective

I’m really looking forward to Deadtime’s gigs, not just because it’s my first time travelling with a band but because they’re brilliant live – and I’m a fan. Live music is a great description. It’s devoid of the purity of the process of recording, mastering and duplicating a song (as essential as that is) but retains all the creative freshness that was in the musicians’ heads when the songs were formed. And it’s a two-way thing, musicians feeding off the audience and vice versa.

I’ve rarely been to a crap gig; I love the feeling of ‘being there’. The “I was there when” moments that, more often than not, have great personal resonance and memories. Everyone’s heard about when Sex Pistols played Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976 and future members of Joy Division, The Fall and The Smiths were in the audience (I wasn’t). But that’s bragging rights rather than memories. I was there in 1989 at the Barras watching fledgling Happy Mondays support New Order on their Technique tour. I remember thinking about the strange ‘frontman’ who didn’t sing, played maracas and brought ‘vibes’. Seems things were interesting behind stage too.

Often it’s the smaller, more intimate crowds that make a difference. I remember when Fad Gadget swung from the speaker gantry and nearly garrotted himself on his mic cable at Night Moves. I watched Chemical Brothers taking the roof off the “dance tent” at V97 shortly after the release of Dig Your Own Hole. A few years later, at V2000, I was there when Coldplay played a mid-afternoon slot on the secondary stage in front of a few hundred folk just weeks after their first album was released. Yes. They were dull.

(By the way if you want the definitive “I heard..” song listen to LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge”. Check out the lyrics too … how cool that the Fire Engines made it onto this list!)

It’s all about context with music. Burial’s Untrue is for playing in a car at 4:30am or in a quiet, dark room with headphones on. And some bands are just born to play live.

Long live music.

I wonder what the place will look like in another 45 years?