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Give me music and give me noise....

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The lost art of gig photography

The lost art of gig photography has, I'm sure you will agree, been recaptured in this shot of The Lost Rivers splashing about in their gales of sound in Nottingham last night. Stay tuned to this blog for more "click and hope" snaps of this calibre ... 

The Lost Rivers:
Chameleon Arts Cafe, Nottingham 24/11/12

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Richter scale

Girlfriend has had this on the piano of late. Clearly she's been practising her scales. In fact, I reckon she's hit no.4 on the Richter scale. (Ahem). 

Hush yo mouth: stop banging on about loud gigs

The other week The Guardian had one of those oh-so-clearly-brainstormed "ideas for a blog": What are the loudest gigs you've been to? Go on. You know you want to ...

Nope. I'm not getting drawn into this mine-was-louder-than-yours macho nonsense. High-decibel gigs are often rubbish anyway, and the sort of people who like this "louder than bombs" stuff are ... well, probably not the sort of people I'm going to have much in common with musically. Stay away from the speakers you big idiot ...

Anyway, as it happens in recent years some of my best gigs have been easy-on-the-volume ones. Especially good have been the really tender moments in low-wattage performances from George Thomas, Turner Cody, David Tattersall, Josephine Foster, David Thomas Broughton, Jeffrey Greene, Herman Dune, The Santa Dads, and ... er, lots of other people who don't hide behind their oversized Marshalls.

Josephine Foster behind a big speaker in Coventry earlier this month

Shhh! Quiet music being played. Shut your motherfuckin' mouth. No, I also like the stomach-pulsatingly loud gigs. I'm not ... er, dead. But the web traffic-generating idea of discussing loud concerts I've attended with a bunch of people reminiscing about "The Ramones at the Barrowlands in 1982" (or somesuch) is making this blogger reach for the kill switch. [Off]

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

How things are, Podcast #87 (Oct 2012)

Ban the bomb, I say. Or at least drop the bomb (in a Trouble Funk sense only of course).

No, what I mean to say is, get thee behind me satan, because papa's got a brand new podcast.

1: Simon Love’s Cock & Balls, Motherfuckers
2: Tunji Oyelana, Lisabi egba
3: The Very Things, The bushes scream while my daddy prunes
4: Apes On Tapes, Quarter pounder with jizz
5: Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Whe me dib?
6: Mother Cunt, Suk my hole
7: Small Radio, Leaf shaped feelings (Coco Bryce remix)
8: A very long time
9: Cats On Fire, Poor students dream of Marx
10: Collection Of The Late Howell Bend, Splendor
11: The Pharmacy, Coldest morning light
12: Theee Bat, Batman (Windmill, 10/10/12)
13: Burl Ives, Billy boy
14: Kissed my mother’s forehead
15: Crash Paris, Vogue India
16: Athletico Spizz 80, Clocks are big
17: The New Mystical Troubadours, Chamber blues’ tidal band …
18: How things are
19: The Ikettes, Blue on blue
20: Jesus & His Judgemental Father, Cunt
21: Noun Verb Adjective, Everything’s not perfect
22: Bad Habit Vs Strange Rollers, Ghost town
23: Anarchistwood, ? (Taylor Johns, 13/10/12)
24: Linval Thompson & The Upsetters, Fu Kung man
25: The Decapitated Head, We r going 2 die 2 nite
26: Brain Washington, ? (Windmill, 10/10/12)
27: Alex Chilton, Bangkok
28: Doesn’t just fill it
29: Not Right, Balls

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Punk 365: that essence rare

It's undeniably compulsive. I spent a couple of hours yesterday slightly obsessively going through Holly George-Warren's Punk 365 photo book

It's one of those chunky brick-books. A sort of modern variant on the coffee-table offerings. But yeah, as I sip my own coffee here and now (a drop of espresso seeing as you ask, not as nice as in Italy, but OK ...) I can only reflect - for the 127th time - that this is a major part of what punk has become. Another product ...

Slap that down on your coffee table 

But then again, punk itself always knew that, was that, played with the idea of being that. It's a form of poetic justice. Like those Sex Pistols badges and cash-in albums after Sid Vicious' death. Capitalism's revenge, the market having the last laugh - it's all part of the story of punk, but it was also part of punk as well and it wasn't always clear what was subversive, playful or cynical. Either then or now.

So, on the one hand it's nice to gaze at pix of Tom Verlaine or Richard Hell strolling along St Mark's Place in New York in 1976 (not least because Hell in particular is amazingly good looking). And you get little bursts of info about the bands and the context along with the photographs. Fine. But at the same time it's a downer. St Mark's Place is more or less a tourist trap now, flogging posters of "classic" punk bands or Nirvana gear. Punk has eaten itself.

Richard Hell, complete with branding 

This doesn't matter in itself, but the merchandised depiction of a "scene" through tourist paraphernalia is all too similar to what's going on with the book. The book (being a book) contains only the faintest traces of the energy of the music (despite all those miraculous images of people like Jimmy Pursey jumping a metre and a half above the stage during a performance) and instead you get a lot of the back-stage "manner". Bands with bottles or cans in their hands. Fags. Attitude. Trying to look surly or - more ridiculously - pouting or doing a Billy Idol lip snarl. It's OK up to a point, but it's also wearing and somehow depressing.

On this blog I've often found myself railing against the impulse to reduce punk to any one thing or set of things. On the one hand Punk 365 is a prime example of reductionism - snap, snap, snap. But to be fair, its sheer volume means there's enough variety to avoid this. Sort of. As I was saying recently about Simon Barker's exhibition of punk photos, there's always something haunting about images of people frozen in time (something the French photographer Jean-Loup Lafont alludes to here), and the book conveys some of this. Not only that, seeing things like Bowery street scenes outside CBGBs is itself interesting (cars - and indeed early 70s hairstyles - straight out of Scorcese's Mean Streets).

I think Richard Hell's two-page intro to Punk 365 gets it about right though. "Punk is an idea, not a band". It doesn't matter how many photos you see of The Ramones or The Clash, these are not going to give you much sense of what punk was - or is. There's no "essence" here. Hell goes through a list of attributes as if to convey the spirit of punk - "honesty, anger, frustration, obnoxiousness" etc - but even as he does so he's basically saying that no list is going to do that. 

When I first opened Punk 356 I thought I'd found that essence rare. ("It's what I looked for / I knew I'd get what I asked for"). Except, I didn't.