Thursday, November 11, 2004

November 4 (Thursday): Flat-Top Tony And The Purple Canoes. Early doors this morning and it begins with some MSN with/from Phoebe Toronto. No real grand updates from Canada, she’s getting her shit together and wondering what I am up to.

Again this morning I make it into work on time and I’m beginning to feel really proud of myself and my new ability to actually get into work on time (grief). Shouldn’t have bothered, the highlight of the morning is just when I see/catch some bloke writing down the registration numbers of the cars (the partner’s cars) in the car park. If I cared about the rich kids’ cars, I would have confronted him. Being that the cars average twice my annual salary though (and some not that far from the cost of my home/flat), whatever.

And the other highlight of the morning turns out to be the client who looks like Chewbacca, prompting much wookie humour within the office. I text Staff in order to blag a guest place for tonight’s show and mission accomplished, Staff gets me in/on.

At lunchtime I stagger around town doing another lunch on the cheap. Will I always be this poor? Working for this company, I guess I will.

In the afternoon, I have to do my English homework as I have had absolutely no time out of work (at home) to get it done. As it is accountancy related, I have no qualms about spending a spare half hour on it at work (its not as if my bosses have given me enough work to keep me amused for the whole of today). Stevo however takes it upon himself to act like Manager Steve and take exception to this. And come several minutes past five, when I am rushing to print off my work, Steve takes it upon himself to print off a very lengthy set of intercompany balance reports for a group of seven companies. And this is nine copies entering my print queue on my printer. I roll my eyes and put up with it. Eventually with time flying by too much, finally I get him to agree to stop printing off so many copies and when I check print manager, he has set the print count to 99! 99 problems, Christ what a stitch up.

Eventually I get home and have that long needed bath while also burning off a CD for Staff of Polaris and Empire Builder tracks (I like to give something in return to guest list places, especially in the light of being unable to pay the entrance fee/price itself).

Just as I’m leaving the flat for my English class my phone rings. I expect it to be a cold call, especially when the caller asks “is this Mr Graham?”. It actually turns out to be the hospital and admin trying to tie me down for a date for my operation/procedure/circumcision. I don’t want any of this and the woman is trying to tie me into a date for late November. Nope, I don’t fancy going through my exams and Christmas with cock pain and my fella cut to shreds. I manage to get things put off but the big day now gets set for 20 January 2005. I quake in my pants.

I get to my class, almost arriving late. Tonight is a good lesson, we have now moved off poetry onto language/literature which is something I am much more interested in. We are given four examples of contexts to review and these are Raymond Chandler, Graham Greene, CS Lewis and some modern writer called Max Barry. This all seems a bit more in my district of interest.

After class, I head/fly over with Emma to the Arts Centre for the first night of the Full Bleed season of gigs in November. I guest it in and hang out with Adam (Cats Against The Bomb) who is DJing along with Justin (Bad Hand) who is down from London for the show. Also in the house is Richard (Wem) who I used to go to school with.

It’s a strange vibe; Staff and the Arts Centre really manage to make the evening into some kind of event, not least for having words stamped on our hands upon arrival/entry with view to using it as an open door to interact with other types with similar wordings. The people behind this it seems are a group called Frenchmottershead.

The night starts out well when I slightly sozzled Justin says that he wants to make me an offer and invites me to get involved with Bad Hand Records. This is music to my ears because as of late I have really been digging getting involved in music and “the scene” again. I get really excited and almost physically jump for joy.

The first band/act I see tonight are a group called Fast Lady. Just as they start performing I begin a conversation Richard (from school) but soon I am drawn away from that, into the spectacle that is Fast Lady. Fast Lady are three faceless men, robed menacingly like monks or druids but out for a good time. Their spiel and act is akin to a religious sect heavy metal version of Goldie Lookin’ Chain. There is no band or musicians however, all the putrid sound emits from one lone Laptop. And those sounds, they’re the sound of arena rock being sung over in the stylee of Iron Maiden by three clowns onstage. And these clowns sure know how to work an audience, allowing the listener to indulge in things most Donnington without feeling the least bit of guilty pleasure. The three frontmen fronting nothing but bytes act like Def Leppard in a monastery whilst enthusing topics akin to Beavis And Butthead working the crowd into a frenzy akin to the showmanship of Freddie Mercury. The Darkness can suck their cock.

Beyond their set, I resume my conversation with my old school chum. Its laboured and freaking as yet once more I suffer from Friends Reunited flashbacks in the same way that Rambo would flashback to ‘Nam.

Fortunately such a rut is broken when a shabbily dressed gentleman takes to the stage. He looks a right mess and therefore is obviously a student. He mentions Nigel Planer and announces to the crowd that he is going to do some poetry. The man is called Richard Dedomenici resembles a young/healthy Rik Mayall and creates an obvious Comic Strip vibe, like twenty years previous in Soho. I actually warm to the guy as his deadpan delivery and nonchalance cracks me up and he accomplishes the feat of actually making me laugh out loud when he declares “I am so desperate, I’ve been putting rohypnol in my own drinks”. Ultimately the guy has a real hard crowd to work on and does it with a sarcastic smirk of aggression, which later scares me away from approaching him. God he was good.

Late on, the headliners take the place. And the headliners resemble a man in a pig mask acting rather fucking pissed off at the world. V/VM hail from Leeds but resemble nothing akin to the pikey punk scene that the Fracture hailing Leeds6 scene ever produced. Instead, here is a solo artist looking to confront each and every person in the audience. Things begin fairly well/even tempered as the man introduces himself to the crowd and speaks highly of our blessed town but still this is a man with a pig mask attached tightly to his face telling you that tonight he wants to be Elton John. V/VM announces that tonight will be their/his last show “for a while” and so tonight (Matthew) he WILL be Elton John. And with that he launches into Nikita, the first of three scheduled tunes for the evening. All audio emits from another laptop and basically the gig/show/set appears to have started out as a man in a pig mask (I realise I’m laboured that point) doing karaoke. And this turns out to be the point that the world and its audience realises just how fucking LONG Elton John songs are. The first track becomes a gruel, a torture and when it ceases, we all breath a sigh of relief. However, this is not it as Mr Pigface proceeds to nose around in the rest of Mr John’s back catalogue. All finger crossed for Candle In The Wind promptly uncross as something unrecognisably Elton comes darting out of the PA. Interest begins to wane but then fortunately V/VM also appears to gets bored of all this shit and abandons the song halfway, choosing instead to rev up the Ace Of Spades and proceed to jump/fly off the stage and writhe about on the dancefloor of the venue like a human hoover for several minutes, tearing up a huge air of tension, unease and even fear throughout the crowd. By the time the track ends, the man in the pig mask is just lying there, passed out or passed away; we can all but mass debate. Braver members of the audience than I begin prodding the body with sticks and eventually he rises and his Northern accent slips into the microphone “I needed that”. The set now continues with a distinct air of unease but also one of confusion, feasibly causing it all to fall flat. You sense this is noted on stage as V/VM disappears backstage for a few minutes only to return with members of Fast Lady, fully robed for a good (fast) time. The set really gets back into its groove when Eye Of The Tiger gets requested by an audience in the know and suddenly the sight of a skinny man in a pig mask punching the air and ground, drumming up an audience adds to only more surrealist sensations, Clubber Lang. From there, the set only moves into further absurdity as V/VM and Fast Lady mingle amongst the crowd for some audience participation and general goodwill to man, all against a backdrop of the soundtrack to hell. By the time they return to the stage, the freakshow is dancing to a heavily distorted version of “Grandpa We Love You” which then later transforms into Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” and a performance straight out of the Brit Awards as all artists involved take their time out to hug and greet every single member of the audience inside the church. It is such a good job that Jarvis Cocker was not around to ruin the cheer. For a finale, nope these guys were not finished, all calls around were made for the entire audience to get on stage. Obviously many (certain) members of the audience take very little persuasion in complying but others show somewhat more restraint, looking over at security as if to ask “is this true? Is this all right?”. Like sheep dogs and herders, gradually the good time boys round everyone up on stage, at times having to physically carry and dump screaming young ladies (Emma) on the stage. I come SO close to avoiding the stage but eventually, the druids catch me and persuade me to stand onstage like a lemon as the (now) band does its performance on the dance floor as it all gets recorded on camcorder and crowd goons fly around like insane patients, like a scene from The Cramps movie of the show set in a mental facility. Management and security look really uneasy as I look equally uneasy as the stage beneath my feet begins to quake and I fear for my wellbeing. God only alone knows what song we all find ourselves participating in as the whole artist/listener barrier gets broken down in the name of extreme audience participation, the best example being of Staff (the promoter and Blitter) somewhere, somehow cracking his fucking head open and bleeding profusely down his cranium. Not before time (but before the stage gives way) the set ends with a ghastly silence, everyone (sober) feeling shocked and sober, wondering if that really really is it.

I come away shellshocked and impressed that things like this still happen in live music. Selfishly, I observe as Staff is advised to A&E for his headwound and I scarper before a request is put in for a lift to the hospital, hey I don’t want fucking blood all over my car. I do however make sure I say “good night” to the blood, to which he responds “yeah, see ya, take care of yourself”. Insania.

np: The Constantines – National Hum


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