I know Bruce isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there might be something wrong with you if this record doesn’t make you want to tear your clothes off and sing along at the top of your lungs — preferably while standing under a corner street light at night in the rain.
Posted in honour of the USA qualifying from the Group of Death to make the next round of the World Cup. There’s something wrong with the natural order of the universe when America is better at football than England.
Friday night I’m walking down the street toward the venue where I’m going to see Angel Olsen in concert when who should walk quickly by me in the opposite direction all on her own: none other than Ms. Olsen herself. For a second I thought she was doing a runner and wanted to shout after her “COME BACK, YOU HAVE A SHOW TO DO!” Thankfully she must have just popped out to get some smokes or something because an hour or so later there she was on stage with her band.
Olsen’s voice is so extraordinary she can silence a room by just standing there and singing, so not surprisingly the best part of the concert was when the band left her alone on stage with just that voice, a guitar, and her intense “don’t fuck with me” stare that has probably stopped several men in their tracks in the past.
Not that Angel is some deathly serious no-fun zone, she was funny and chatty which usually I enjoy but there were times when I thought she was maybe a tad too nonchalant and breezy which often undercut the emotional impact of her material. I also wish that the whole band had come back for the encore instead of just her doing a quiet solo number again. Would have been better to finish in big style with the rocking, anthemic “High Five” instead of tossing it off three songs into the set.
These are minor quibbles though, it’s quite something to hear that voice in person and wonder how something so heart-stopping and elemental could come out that sweet-looking girl in the baseball cap.
This was the first concert I’ve been too since I got my iPhone but I only took a few photos and didn’t shoot any video because I didn’t want to be one of those people. Thankfully there were very few distracting phone screens being held up (except for some twat in the front who I swear spent half the gig texting someone) but this guy to the left of me shot the video above.
In case you’re wondering about the banter at the start, someone in the audience asked her where she got her shoes so she made a joke about how smelly they were after being on a long tour.
The B-52s captured live in a small hometown club before their first album had come out. The video quality makes it look really ancient but it’s “only” 1978. Then again, that was 36 years ago. Gulp.
In the old, dirty (and cheaper) London like the 1970s of these photos you’d see concert ads like these plastered everywhere, and in areas like Camden and Ladbroke Grove with a happening music scene and a more bohemian population the walls were often like dense collages of old and new posters pasted on top of each other in thick layers.
This constantly-changing gallery was a highly visible sign of the vibrancy of the city’s music scene, and these cheaply-printed, often illegally posted posters were a very rock and roll form of advertising. More than an email alert anyway.
A couple of gigs well worth going to above, like The Police with The Cramps at the Lyceum, and Rockpile with The Specials (bottom of the bill!) at the Palais, while below on the right there is a poster advertising the strange combo of bland soft-rockers Sad Cafe with punk poet John Cooper Clarke. Think I’d rather have gone to see Motörhead at The Music Machine..
This must be the strangest one though: Prog Rockers Curved Air with the New York Dolls third on the bill. I like to think people had more eclectic tastes back then, but more than likely the Dolls got booed off or had beer cans thrown at them by angry hippies.
I’ve seen some great headliner/support combos in my day: Orange Juice/The Pale Fountains, The Pretenders/UB40, U2/Public Enemy, and Siouxsie & The Banshees/The Associates. Sadly that last one was a bit of a disaster as the punks in the audience didn’t care for their avant-garde artpop and showered Billy Mackenzie in spit and beer the whole time they were on. The poor sod just stood there in a big fur coat and took it with a massive grin on his face.
I never saw this lot in concert but the song has the word “Wall” in the title and it’s live too, so what the hell.
This was the only record by The Tubes I ever owned but I’d loved to have seen them live because their shows were (in)famous — for reasons which are clear from this clip, especially the last few minutes. I think seeing this would have blown my teenage mind.
I saw U2 at the Hammersmith Palais the same year as this clip (1981) and it might not be hip to admit it now but they were fantastic, one of the best live bands I’ve seen and one of the best rock concerts I’ve ever been to. To use the vernacular, they really tore the roof off the sucker. Bono himself said at the end that it was one of the best gigs they’d played so far outside of Dublin.
Funnily enough I only really went to see the support band: Altered Images.
I was in two minds about going to see budding pop princess Charli XCX live at a tiny club in Boston on Saturday night. Not that I think there should be an age limit on enjoying modern pop music, but I did have a nagging doubt that maybe, maybe, someone of my advanced years shouldn’t really be at the concert of a 20-year-old member of the social media generation who makes videos that look like Instagrammed Tumblr blogs and sings lines like “You were old school, I was on the new shit” where “old school” probably means music made in the 1990s. Was I just being some ridiculous oldest swinger in town?
But I love her album so I went anyway and I’m very glad I did because she was tremendous and the crowd, while leaning very young (and gay), had a smattering of more, um, senior folk too, so I wasn’t alone.
The genre of synth-heavy dancepop she works in is more of a studio medium and isn’t exactly noted for live performance, but — damn, girlfriend — Charli didn’t just have the goods vocally but as a performer she was one of the most energetic and feisty I’ve seen in years. With her intensity and wild black hair I kept thinking of a young Siouxsie Sioux singing Britney Spears songs, and the way she was jumping around for the whole show I think she must have injected herself with pure Red Bull before she hit the stage. She really got the sold-out crowd going too and, being right at the front, I found myself in a minor mosh-pit of bouncing, dancing bodies which I think I really was too old for.
I don’t have any decent video of the show I went to but this clip from the night before in Montreal is pretty much the same as the gig I was at.
My only gripe is that her set was really short and she didn’t play an encore either which surprised me considering the wild response she was getting. But then I went outside after and there she was on the street mingling with the crowd and posing for photos. Maybe the encore is too much of a conventional, rockist gesture for der kidz now, and hanging out together after the show and sharing photos is the new thing. How should I know? I’m old.