Sunday, 24 November 2013

Iggy Pop festival at the ICA

An excellent evening of Iggy Pop celebration at the ICA recently. Firstly, a showing of a film of an early 1990s concert in Paris, followed up with discussion and input from its director, Tim Pope.

The rare prospect of witnessing Tim Pope in conversation was quite the draw for me, I must admit (I am that obsessed with The Cure. Also, I like Pope's Syd Barrett style song about a tree). I wouldn't go so far as to use the word 'fan' about Iggy Pop anymore, but I have liked Iggy Pop and the Stooges over a long time, plus it's always nice to hang out at the ICA.

During the film, as warned, there was full footage of old James Osterberg in the throes of things with quite a few moments of writhing and jumping about naked. I couldn't help but find amusement when Iggy had his pants and trousers down on his knees, whilst still managing to play guitar wildly... and as he was seemingly about to plonk the guitar down, a soundman came rushing over. It almost looked like he was going to pull up Iggy Pop's pants and trousers for him, rather than pick up the strewn guitar.

It kept occurring to me throughout the concert footage: does this man even know where he is? Funnily enough, this got discussed afterwards, and it turns out Iggy Pop not only had no idea where he was in the moment; but that he had absolutely no recollection of getting his bits out.

There's that incredible TV interview Iggy Pop did, a sample of which made it onto a Mogwai song. It came to mind when I was watching the live performance. How reverently he spoke about music being so powerful, and how when he is in the grips of it it's all beyond his control.

The film was blasted out almost at live concert levels of sound, and lots of audience members were whooping and clapping and dancing about. I wondered who else might inspire such a fervent display without their being present.

The film was called Kiss My Blood. There were quite a few bloody scrapes to Iggy Pop's skin throughout the concert. At one point he went down to the front row and sang: 'Don't you wanna kiss my blood?', which a female fan promptly did without hesitation, which I found a bit surprising and grim whichever rock demi-god it could possibly be - mindboggling how far some fans might go. It was amusing at one point to see Iggy rush down to the front row, inspire a bunch of people to sing and pump fists along to one song, and to note one girl at the front inches away from the man himself - looking utterly unfazed and bored !

As a treat after the live concert, we got bestowed a special video message from Osterberg himself. Tim Pope kept saying what a shy and charming man he is, which I hadn't heard about, to be honest. Though his wackiness in a second video we were sent over was unsurprising; involving Iggy Pop talking to himself via the medium of a walking stick with a face and moveable arms attached (known as 'Stiggy Pop' or something), and lots of silly voices. I can imagine he's one of those people who might lark about referring to himself grandly in the third person as he goes about what he does. I realised I have never read a biography by or about Iggy Pop, so I ought to fix that soon.

Tim Pope came across as really amusing and kindly. Lots of interesting anecdotes for us. I loved hearing about the first Iggy Pop show that Tim Pope went to in 1977, at the Rainbow in Finsbury Park, along with Robert Smith. During the Q and A, I was secretly hoping to try to fit in a cheeky question about if he and Robert Smith see much of each other these days, any recent stories, but there was only room for two questions from the gallery.

Tim Pope relayed to us the tale of the sequel to the film The Crow, which apparently involves Iggy Pop in a gutter with his nether regions on fire. Tim Pope directed the whole thing, and it was his personal job to joyfully commit to the lighting up as well!

Pope also led us through a bunch of photos from his personal collection, of he and Iggy Pop. The second photo in, he apologised - as it was a still of Rod Hull and Emu! It was a thoroughly entertaining and fascinating, fun night. Shame that the house was only about half full, as stuff like this ought to be a huge inspiration for getting people to the cinema. Thanks to all involved for a cracking night.

If you head to Tim Pope's website, there are a bunch of his films on there, if you're curious. The documentary about Tim Pope as a music video director, from last year, is up in its entirety to watch too. It's interesting, and if you're as obsessed as me about Cure minutae, it is well worth watching for the five or ten minute section on Cure videos he directed - as well as wonderful anecdotes about the band plus lovely interview time from Robert Smith.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Best Coast to beat the blues

Nothing beats when you're blue and you know you can go to a music shop for guaranteed cure. The other day, I was drawn to my nearest HMV and I knew which album I needed to buy:

The lead song from Fade Away didn't seem great when I listened to its premiere online. I thought it was a too slow and by-numbers-Best-Coast. But it has hugely grown on me to the point of delightfully addicted repeat plays. The moment this song speeds up and explodes is pop joy abandon, pure sing along.
I'm not drawn by much widely-aired indie anymore, I've outgrown it or it just sounds typical, jaded to me. But Best Coast are dear in my heart. True, there is simplicity, but enthusiastically and heartfelt. Not only in melody, but I've always appreciated Beth Cosentino's candid lyrics, not afraid to sing about feeling messed up (sometimes drugs or drink) or washed up or tired and old, often in relation to fame or being on the road and in a band. That makes them sound dour (haha, they're really not, and if you know them, you know this well! but read Beth's Twitter for her repeatedly mega drinking tales for assurance, for one), but they always have me singing along, and often have me feeling like I could run along with glee; bliss. They bring a lot of sunshine, true to their name.
Beth's voice has always sounded refreshing. The heavy marketing of faux Cockney, and/or pale-and-prosaic-offensively-inoffensive-voiced female singer-songwriters that seemed to come in a neverending wake after Lily Allen set the precedent, makes Beth Cosentino a very necessary heroine, to me.

It's nice to stop and appreciate that even if I get jaded by a lot of current guitar based music, there are still indie pop bands for me to feel aglow about - moreover, that I still crave and love to go into new record shops and by new releases and rush them home. It helps a lot that a release like Fade Away by Best Coast also looks so urgently pretty to own as well; cover and disc.

Something puzzling is how many fans seem to be hankering for the Best Coast of their debut album. For me, that second album last year was strides above and beyond the first; showed how the band had grown as songwriters, to perfection. This latest mini album is an between major releases affair, so here's looking to the next album, and more Best Coast at their best.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Laetitia Sadier, Islington Union Chapel, 19th October, 2013

Holy wonderful beautiful to have Laetitia Sadier come and play at Union Chapel in Islington on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I'm not sure if she resides in London or came all the way from France, but she is formerly of electronic act Stereolab, in case you don't know, and it was a total joy for her to be performing here. Her voice soars and plays around so magically, melodic, swirly, entrancing. Hearing her solo songs with just her voice and her electric guitar so sparse, so uplifting, was really something special.

Laetitia was politically outspoken throughout the short, low-key set, which surprised and interested me - I must say, I am not overly familiar with her work beyond the obviously known Emperor Tomato Ketchup (though I did get an older Stereolab album as from the gig, as there was a superb merchandise stall). I think she must be quite thrilling to talk to, so perhaps a future interview may lie in store some time soon when we are feeling more settled down to doing the paper fanzine again!

It was really moving to have Laetitia dedicate a song to the late Trisha Keenan, singer of electronic act - and Stereolab's contemporaries - Broadcast, too.

Details of future Daylight Savings gigs on Saturday afternoons (they're free, and always great!), here:

Lou Reed on page three of my local paper

A local newspaper took it upon themselves to make Lou Reed a local story...

Could Lou Reed have been singing about Wimbledon when he penned Walk on the Wild Side?, the page three story asks in earnest.

He once resided in a house round Wimbledon village... It was quite a modern house.... But a spokesperson says that they're not sure if he would have chosen that style of armchair he once got photographed in at the house....

Details about the debut Lou album that Bowie produced - Transformer - and trips to the studio, Mick Rock as photographer....

Bowie is described as a 'space cadet' who 'took pity' on Lou Reed, the 'lucid leather clad heroin addict'.

Story ends with a quote saying Bowie chose a suit for Lou that he never wore again.

Wonderful local journalism; made me chuckle aloud to see him squeezed into local life, and I heartily approve!

I also approve of recent happenstance when I was in a cocktail bar recently for a celebration and it suddenly went from meaningless background 'chill-out' music (mixed absurdly with Santana?!) to... what became Lou Reed hour. It made us stay for more than the one cocktail we had planned, because the novelty of such a swanky, overtly commercial and mainstream place (which I normally wouldn't frequent !) could slip into this obtuse mode! - and I personally, honestly, could've ended up staying all night and ended up flat broke and not caring so long as I could hear the music right there, right then.

I conferred with a friend that Pale Blue Eyes was my favourite Velvet Underground song, and they agreed to my surprise. Reminisced about teenage moments, tired from my first job, drinking Hooch, passing out to the songs European Son... or Heroin. My beloved responded to this news by saying: 'Somewhere there is a junkie getting high to I Am A Cider Drinker'....!!!

I don't often turn to the VU's records anymore (though you'll read on here a blog from this summer where I recommended Coney Island Baby from Lou's solo canon as an evocative song, so as an artist he's never been out of mind. I was thinking to re-read the incredible Victor Bokris book about him as well, though I remember it vividly so long on from my teens) I guess VU/Reed songs are often in my head, I know them so well. So loads of old memories came flooding back, and it was just really fucking good. That velveteen voice.