I don’t give two fucks about your review

According to Will Page of the MCRS-PRS, the music industry is more than making back the money it’s losing from recording on live performance. That wasn’t in the Digital Britain Report, now was it? We’re doing our best. Meanwhile, MailWatch makes me think there’s probably space for a blog devoted to reviewing films it’s not seen, books it hasn’t read, bands it’s never heard, gigs it didn’t go to. This one is roughly the same, but with politics, so why not? Still, there’s more to life than snark, so I’ll do a review of one I did go to.

A good gig for a Monday night at the Festival Hall. Oddly enough that is the only review I’ve seen anywhere; they are entirely right about Marianne’s punctuality – no Austrian schlamperei there – and the dodgy sound early on. I could lean back, and hear the vocal, or lean forward, and hear the band, but not both. Fluid dynamics is a bit difficult, they say. Anyway, they fixed it, and perhaps it was a handy moment to have the backline slightly out of kilter while getting warmed up.

With a killer session band, faceless and expert like Australian rugby league players, the influence of all that late 70s new wave/postpunk/punkfunk stuff on every band going since about 2002 was only pointed out; it’s probably time for a Broken English revival. They absolutely nailed that one, thrown out early doors in a confident old trick, before moving on to cover a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club song. See what I mean? BRMC certainly come under “memories of the Bush Administration”, and it integrated with the rest of the set near perfectly. The band gave a dark, jazzy/punky edge to everything from Randy Newman to Why’d You Do It.

A good gig for cynics, then. Perhaps that was why there were so many men in the crowd who looked remarkably like Peter Mandelson, First Secretary and Chairman of the Expediency Council? I imagined some nightmare new subculture; Mandies. Just the right lapels and red silk ties, a sort of hyper-Mod flamboyant restraint, perhaps a taste for baile funk? You can probably bet they’re out there; Rule 34 applies. I’d get an Urban Dictionary or Wikipedia definition up quicksmart, but I’m scared that someone else already has. At least the Mandies probably weren’t the ones who kept howling after each song until they got what they wanted, which was to be ordered to “calm down” in suitably Hampstead & Heath Society tones.

The rest of us got away with being pressed into service as a mirror to fix her lipstick; no-one yelled “Up a bit!” but then, it was the first time we’d been a mirror and we’d probably be more fun next time. She’d already remarked that “it’s wonderful how this song has come with us all these years…every time I sing it, there’s another war on”, which set the tone for the rest of the show – dry as a cat’s tongue, like her voice.

Later in the week, Wynton Marsalis played the Barbican; technically fascinating, but I couldn’t help feeling that he talked a very good game about how nothing that didn’t swing could be described as jazz. Whatever could be said for this lot, they swung like an Excel workbook; and the place is perhaps the only situation in the world where paying £4.50 for a pint of beer is a valid economic decision, chiefly because they charge £3.50 for a half. Yes, I’m unfair, but I didn’t have any emotional response to them at all – it really was like reading very good code. You can see the intelligence, self discipline, and cultural depth, but there’s a gut ghost required which I just don’t get. Yet.


  1. Cian O'Connor

    The couple of times I’ve heard Marsalis play, I’ve felt like I was watching a very good covers band. I’m pretty obsessive about jazz, but Marsalis just bores me. He wants to keep jazz in aspic I think, and that’s how his music sounds to me. Jazz always used to be about the new; technique, chord structure, rhythm. Marsalis would have been railing at the Bebop players back in the day, he’s just a boring cultural conservative.

    His efforts to police the acceptable boundaries of Jazz disgust me, but that’s kind of tangential to the music.




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