Saturday, 30 March 2013

Windmill dog / all-day Easter gig at Brixton Windmill

This big creature was keenly overseeing the free barbecue at The Windmill in Brixton yesterday!

Good to go to an afternoon-into-evening gig on a Good Friday. It was much too cold to be having a barbecue, but on arrival we managed to eat vegetarian burgers and salads in the freezing outdoor garden - my friend with gloves on! There were about three terrifyingly large dargs on the roof as we ate, plus we got unwanted conversation from someone with a musical Noddy doll, which made for an unsettling start.

It was excellent to see Viv Albertine once again, though. Small wonder that she is playing somewhere as compact as this. She was greeted like a legend, by many, rightly, though. Her songs and lyrics are so off-kilter, funny, clever, political, great. She said she had arrived feeling grumpy, and had multiple technical problems - including us witnessing her getting electric shocks on her mouth so bad, she resorted to putting what looked like a sock over her mic. But her smile was as sunny as this Easter day in April should have been. She was inspiring and entertaining to watch, really reaffirmed my faith in things. I must definitely buy some of her albums at next financial opportunity.

Interestingly, I bought some old music magazines on a market recently - one of which was an edition of Q from late last year. Inside, there was a mock image of a cover of Q with Viv Albertine on the cover, saying if the magazine had been around in the late 70s, that's how it would've looked. Hello, Q! Viv Albertine is very much alive, performing, and kicking - so what's your excuse ?

(Above photo of Viv Albertine from the Strummerville event I went to a few years ago as didn't get to take any photos at the Windmill gig).

EDIT: Since I wrote this post, it's been announced that Viv Albertine has written an autobiography! This will be utterly superb, and I cannot wait. We need many more female rock musician biographies, there are not so many.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Two of my favourite openings to songs are -

'Bless my cotton socks, I'm in the news'


'I wrote a poem on a dog biscuit - but your dog refused to look at it'

Just perfect!

(from Reward by The Teardrop Explodes, and The 4th of July by Galaxie 500)

Monday, 11 March 2013

There are few gigs I genuinely can/want to go to nowadays, so it's really sad to find that one I have already bought tickets for (British Sea Power) clashes with another I was so passionate about going to - A Hawk and a Hacksaw ! I double checked the dates, and am so deflated. They seldom play live in this country, as they're from Albuquerque (even though they make eastern european sounds, and for ages I thought they were so obviously from Russia). I have seen them live once, years ago, and it was a sort of crazed accordion-led/boozed up hoe-down. Oh well, I shall have to buy all those albums of theirs that I never got onto pursuing, instead.

Speaking of gig venues, I am still sorely disappointed at news that The Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, one of the last sticky-floored indie hide-aways of my youth, is going to not only become one of those horrible dining rooms where you can't feasibly sit and have a pint; but it will also lose its music venue. The music venue that has broken many a tiny band (including Coldplay, if you must!), or quite simply just been a vital little platform for indie rock bands in their infancy for years and years.

I shall be going to as many gigs there as I can before it closes in May, but before that, I went to the pub as soon as I possibly could after hearing the news, for pints. So many memories, gigs, pints. It's a pub I have always felt glad to see standing in its same old ways whenever in Kentish Town - because it's a pub and venue that seemed to continue to defy stupid gastropub fads and any kind of large, ugly, corporate branded enterntainment format or trended style. It was a good old pub, a good old venue.

Immediately on being served at the bar the other week, I found myself having a really decent chat with the landlord about what had happened. He said the place had been up for sale for a few years, and how not one person from the music industry had come forward with an offer to take it over. How shameful.

But he did bear the good news that the pub would have to retain its decor and architecture, because it is Grade II listed. So there is a sliver of hope. Because the pub's history and the place as a building is so important too. Opposite The Bull and Gate, you have a glassy estate agents (probably a big part of the change in the area, catering for/aiming at new sorts of people), and a really soulless looking glassy eating place (I forget its name), plus The Assembly Rooms seem to have lost the feel of a relaxed pub and are now more like swish dining rooms themselves.

I despise gentrification. I will always love history and character. I would always rather a bit of paint peeling and a touch of scruff to show a place has been lived in/enjoyed, than permanently pristine/new looking places that are essentially only for the wealthy. Poorer people need pubs too! Pubs should welcome anyone, but when The Bull and Gate becomes a gastro pub many people will be alienated or simply no longer welcome. Club Fandango (Fierce Panda Record lable's clubnight) will move on, but this is still such a huge loss to the indie music world.

And what of the Grade II listed pub's side-sign that boasts the word VENUE?