Review – The Velvet Underground (Documentary by Todd Haynes)

I think this documentary ended up posing more questions than it answered. 

Firstly, it doesn’t sugarcoat the notion of Lou Reed being….well…actually perhaps they DO sugarcoat it. Because what became obvious was that to label Reed “troubled” is somewhat of an understatement. I actually started to wonder how anyone managed to work with him. Certainly John Cale was finding it difficult towards the end of his part in the Velvet Underground story “if you were nice to him, he only treated you worse”.

The one thing I’d say to Jim after seeing this film is when you say you’re not worthy of tying Lou Reed’s bootlaces – you do yourself a MASSIVE disservice, Jim Kerr. You really do! 

The film starts with a quote from Baudelaire – “Music fathoms the sky.” That immediately had me thinking of Jim for in the New Gold Dream tour program, he’s given the name “Kid Baudelaire” in brackets. Attributed from Adam Sweeting? A nickname the rest of the guys give him? Who knows?

A Warhol film image of Lou Reed appears fairly early on. Just that straight-at-the-lens, nowhere-to-hide portrait shot, the camera rolling for several minutes. A childhood that didn’t sound overly loving, but they talk to his sister Merrill and she makes the counter argument of it being easy to pin all of Lou’s troubles on his childhood and upbringing. 

Several minutes later we move on to a similar half of the screen moving image portrait of John Cale. This is how little I admit to knowing about The Velvet Underground and its individual members – I hear John Cale speak and….he sounds like he usually sounds….with a New York twang. And then, he speaks again and sounds WELSH! Like, a proper Valley boy-o! 

I know! I should know better than this. I should be more knowledgeable. A lot of the time I do feel incredibly ignorant about a lot of things. 

A lot of the film centred towards PRE-VU. Lou and John and how they got into music the way they did, their influences, and how they met and formed The Primitives. 

All of that I found good. Sterling Morrison remains a mystery. Moe Tucker seems a very lovely woman. Doug Yule seemed a very fitting replacement for John Cale. 

It flowed well up to the point we got to when Warhol became involved and Nico joined the group. Then, for me, the documentary became a bit…rushed. It spent a lot of time on the preamble but then not much time on the Velvet Underground itself, once a modicum of success came.

Also, whenever they played Venus In Furs, it was DEAFENING! Venus In Furs was ssooo much louder than anything else within the audio, other Velvet songs, people speaking, etc, etc. It was a real wallop to the ears.

I kind of came away a bit…unfulfilled by the experience. I wanted more and something different. I probably wanted to learn more about Lou Reed than I did. I certainly wanted to learn more about the band than I felt I did. 

What I did learn though (or had confirmed to me) is:

  • The Velvet Underground are definitely punk. They are the TRUE pioneers of punk. Forget the “avant garde” schtick, although that does apply too. They’re punk.
  • John Cale is Welsh (I know! Lol).
  • Lou Reed was a douche canoe (at least at that time) and I honestly don’t know how anyone worked with him.
  • Delmore Schwartz was a massive influence on Reed.
  • Jonathan Richman is a sweetheart, and just about the only person to say something nice about Lou. And it explained why The Modern Lovers’ Roadrunner is ssooo much like Rock ‘n’ Roll to me. (Though it is meant to be a homage to Sister Ray – shows you how familiar I am with Sister Ray!)
  • Nico was a drifter. Lost, trying to find purpose in her life.
  • Warhol gave us “celebrity” and fame for fame’s sake. He’d love Love Island and Big Brother, and probably Gogglebox too.
  • Without Warhol no one outside of NYC would have heard of VU.

So, last night, in bed. Wanting to listen to some music to help me drift off to sleep, did I choose the “Banana Album”? Or White Light/White Heat? Or The Velvet Underground (aka album three)? Or Loaded? 

Nope!

I chose to listen to The Modern Lovers – the original set of recordings from 1972 that were finally released in 1976. 

And to paraphrase words from Roadrunner “I’m in love with Jonathan Richman”. We could all do with keeping that childlike wonder. Oh, man. Even in the documentary – you just want to reach in through the screen and hug him!

In summary of the Velvet Underground documentary. Did I enjoy it? To a degree. Did I find it insightful? Again, to a degree. Did I enjoy it as much as the previous music documentary I saw (The Sparks Brothers)? Naw.

If I was to give it a mark out of 10 – where the Sparks Brothers doc gets a firm 10/10. The Velvet Underground documentary gets a 7/10. The best bits were the interviews with John Cale, Moe Tucker, Jonathan Richman and Mary Woronov. 

It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for or anticipated. For one I didn’t expect to come out of a Velvet Underground documentary thinking “Aawww, Jonathan Richman – he’s sssooo sweet!” Lol

Can I recommend it? I guess. If you’re a REAL diehard Velvets fan, it probably isn’t going to give you much more of an insight in all honesty. Novices interested in the band and the period and wanting to know more…you might learn some stuff, but for me personally, it didn’t completely fill the remit.

And so, I shall leave you with this, influence of an influence that leads to an influence. And I love a fade-in!

Minds Music Monday – Disconnected

I have been back listening to a random shuffle mode playlist of Minds songs over the past couple of nights. Perhaps my “Seven Year Itch” has been quelled? 

Sometimes I get distracted. My thoughts wander. As I am so familiar with some of the tunes, and this will sound awful – but….you can “zone out”, if you know what I mean? Definitely not confined to Simple Minds songs! Mostly they just insight a thought or a memory and the mind wanders off in thought.

As it did last night. 

I admit to not being the biggest fan of the album Cry. I find it hit and miss. Many fans see it as the first “return to form”, yet bizarrely for me, I see it more as the dip … almost like they are trying too hard to get back to fluid creativity. It feels … forced. Which makes sense, given where we are in the Simple Minds timeline. For me, the next album (Black And white 050505) is the “return to form” that exponentially builds up to Walk Between Worlds.

As for the Cry album, there are exceptions – I ADORE Spaceface. It is my “go to” happy song. That should have been my “drugs song” choice for Billy’s show last weekend. I’m sure Jim would say it actually isn’t about drugs…but the lines within “she don’t need no rocket ship / just close(s) her eyes and takes a trip / baby’s big on aviation / baby loves a levitation” and the chorus, “she’s a spaceface floating round / she’s never coming down” NEVER COMING DOWN (ie: she’s as high as the proverbial kite, man)

Spaceface makes ME “high”. It’s awesome. 

The other song on the album I have grown to love is Disconnected. 

So, last night it plays and I am listening to the words, thinking “everybody needs to feel respected / not disconnected” – I wish! I do wish…Mr Kerr. “I don’t wanna hear the sound of your wide world when it comes crashing down” – okay then. Block your ears, Kerr! “I can only help you if you’re sure you wanna keep me hanging round” DUH!!!!! Like you have to ask, boy-o! 

And then I start thinking … this is all a bit of a contradiction, isn’t it? “Everybody needs to feel respected” – but then “I don’t wanna hear the sound of your wide world when it comes crashing down”…??? What happened to “Everybody needs to feel respected”???? 

I ended up thinking about it quite philosophically in the end. And came away from it feeling like the “Everybody needs to feel respected / not disconnected” line was a MASSIVE oxymoron compared to the rest of the lyrics. 

I guess I’m not meant to take them LITERALLY – us overthinkers tend to do that kind of shit, eh? We’re a bit of a drain and a drag like that. 

So…the only line I feel I can take from it is “Only in my dreams I feel protected / this is reflected in all that I believe” – not even sure I can take the second part of the line  – just that first bit. And when I talk of “dreams”, I think I mean the word very differently to how Jim interprets it and uses it. Dreams are on a par with ambitions for him, I think. Whereas for me? Dreams are “pie in the sky” wishes that will never come to fruition – or those actual “nocturnal visions” that happen to many of us somewhere, some time in our lives (as I appreciate that not everyone believes they dream, or feels they have dreams…as in actual visions during sleep).

Would I be “respected” for my own definition of dreams, I wonder? 

I am still pondering the “meek and unambitious” post as well. That left a mark. I felt the same things happening when listening to Disconnected, as the feelings that happened with the “Ambition” post. 

Ambition isn’t a dirty word. And I fully understand why the word “ruthless” is placed with it. To be “unambitious” may indeed be “unsavoury” – but it is usually, as far as I see it…a side effect of ill mental health. I don’t know anyone who sets out to be DELIBERATELY “unambitious” …. but hey ho. What do I know? I’m not a psychiatrist. 

Anyway, this is getting overly-philosophical for a MMM post. Let’s just enjoy Disconnected.

Minds Music Monday – Ritchie’s Club – New Orleans – 27/04/1983

Ghost Dancer (aka Stuart Greaves) has shared another gem of a bootleg, this time of SM some seven months into the New Gold Dream tour of ‘82/‘83 – midway through the North American leg of the tour in April/May of 1983.

Playing the Ritchie’s Club in New Orleans, Louisiana. Recorded by a member of the crowd – hearing audible bits like the guy telling the girl next to him to stop talking to him as he’s recording the show. Lol (You tell her, pal!) The recording is a good one coming from the crowd as it does. Some people obviously managed to sneak in some great recording equipment to these gigs. Mates who were working as road crew on the night or some such? No idea how they did it, but kudos for doing so.

As for the band themselves and the gig? Well, as you’d expect by now, we hear all of the New Gold Dream album (Somebody Up There Likes You as their walk-on intro music), plus stonking versions of I travel, Celebrate, The American and Love Song. There’s a little of the set lost (changing the tape over in the recorder, I’m guessing?) where the ending of Hunter And The Hunted cuts off and we return about a third of the way through Promised You A Miracle.

It feels as though Jim is going through the motions a little bit at times. He wavers a little, especially towards to tail end of the set. There’s a bit of banter that happens. I’m guessing fans are asking for certain songs to be played. At one point Jim says “Naw. It’s too old.” But usually it is just “Thank you.” And an intro of the next song. I guess I am odd to miss that Jim, right? The one who never seemed overly engaging with the crowd? I guess I miss …. the intensity. Can one miss what they never truly experienced? I do love the ease of engaging “older statesman” Jim now though. He knows how to get the fans in a frenzy still, just with less “whirling dervish” manoeuvres and brooding frontman intensity and more “banter” and acknowledgement of the crowd.

Having said all that…if that was young Jim on an “off night”…imagine him when he was fully up for it?! ERMAGERRRRRD! I’d say he was 70/30 that night. 70 on, 30 off. Or there abouts.

Anyway, it is definitely a gig I’d listen to again.

Enjoy!

Review: Field Music – St Luke’s – Glasgow – 8/10/2021

Last night’s gig for me was as highly anticipated as the Scritti Politti gig was just a couple of weeks back. It has been somewhat of a slow burn in relative terms, my love for Field Music. Meandering through other channels. Initially coming via getting into Warm Digits – whom I first got to be aware of by listening to Paul Smith from Maximo Park presenting a show on BBC 6 Music about bands and music from the North East of England (Newcastle, Sunderland, and the general vicinity). He played a track from Warm Digits on the show and I immediately sought them out and have been a solid fan ever since. I don’t remember him playing any Field Music on that same show, but I’m sure he must have done. Anyway, as a consequence of my love for Warm Digits, my love has also grown for Field Music, solidified further by seeing them perform the whole of the Making A New World album at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in January 2020. (Ah, pre-Covid days! Remember those?)

I have been suffering from a gammy knee for about the past week or so. I honestly don’t know what’s brought it on but my right knee feels in a constant state of dislocation. Like it just wants to crack back into place all the time. And if I try and walk at any kind of pace when it feels like this, my leg feels like it is going to buckle from under me from the knee down. It righted itself a couple of days ago, only for me to stretch my leg out in bed on Wednesday night for it to go out of alignment again. Friday’s forecast had been looking iffy for most of the week, but by midday yesterday it seemed as though from around 5pm onwards the skies would be relatively clear and dry so I decided to get the train in and walk to St Luke’s from Queen Street. BAD IDEA! Just as we (the OH accompanied me into the city) got into Gallowgate, my knee gave an almighty crack and went from under me. Determined not to miss the gig, I hobbled past the Morrisons, precariously crossed the road and made it around the corner to Bain Street where I sat my butt down on one of the stone blocks outside St Luke’s.

Despite my pain and worry that I’d round the corner and already see a queue as long as your arm outside, I was about the first person to be queuing up. Only one other couple were outside, seated on one of the other stone blocks. Doors were opening at 7pm and it was already 6.35pm. Something made me double check with one of the security personnel at the door what the time the gig was due to finish. I took just a cursory glance at the relevant info for the gig posted by the promoters earlier in the afternoon and something had me recalling that it said “Finish: 10pm” – I had booked a cab to collect me at 11pm – thinking the gig would end between 10.30-10.45 as most gigs do. The security guy confirmed that the gig was ending at 10pm so I called the cab firm and altered my collection time to 10.15.

I got myself positioned front and centre once the doors were open, thankful to be at the barrier so I could at least stand on my dodgy leg without too much discomfort. Sadly the support act had to pull out of the gig earlier in the day. I was really looking forward to seeing Galaxians who I have also had exposure to from them being label mates of both Warm Digits and Field Music. I recommend you check out the talent Memphis Industries have on their excellent label. Galaxians had suffered a broken down van the night before in Aberdeen and then yesterday their drummer was experiencing Covid symptoms so they had to pull out of the Glasgow gig. 

UPDATE: Drummer Matt has tested positive for Covid, so the rest of their tour is postponed. Sad news. I hope Matt has only a mild case and will be fully recovered soon. 

At short notice local act, Raveloe, stepped in. Kim Grant played a solo set last night. Usually accompanied by a drummer and bassist, I’m guessing that at such short notice she had to play solo. I enjoyed her set. She has a lovely voice. She finished the set with the band’s latest single New House.

Some dismantling and resetting of mics, some tuning of guitars, etc and it was all set for Field Music by 8.30pm. Then it was 8.35. Then 8.40 and I am starting to think “Should I have altered my taxi pick up to 10.30?”, but just before 8.45pm the band arrived on stage. The Glasgow crowd at St Luke’s always incredibly welcoming. 

The set started with a track from their latest album Flat White Moon called Do Me A Favour. Next up was Disappointed, which I just love the ending of. 

At this point in proceedings, I am starting to feel rather fraudulent and a horrible “fair weather” fan for although I could make out some of the tracks from Flat White Moon and I recognised Disappointed and knew Money Is A Memory from Making A New World, other tracks performed were fairly alien to me. I wasn’t alone – and Peter Brewis could feel it from the crowd too. That the crowd were largely unfamiliar with most of the material on offer. It has given me the extra impetus to continue to listen to them regularly and stop being so fair weathered! 

Continuing on with the bad fan fair weathered nature, I recorded a song to share for my review and had to search through tracks to get the name of it. The song is called I’m Glad and is from their 2016 album, Commontime, the same album Disappointed appears on.

David and Peter Brewis take turns in the drum and guitar parts, alternating in lead vocal parts also as a result. They had foam muffs on their mics as a way of adding a layer of protection for when they were swapping around. David’s muff was red, Peter’s was blue. Every time they swapped over, they had to make sure they took their muffs with them. 

All the swapping and retuning instruments meant that banter ensued – especially between the brothers. David initially goading Peter, having snide little digs at him, but Peter gave back as good as he got. Brotherly love, eh? I hope it was all tongue-in-cheek banter and things are all fine between the Brewis brothers. They are both such lovely guys, with a fantastic sense of humour and always wonderfully engaging with the crowd.

I have to give a special mention to Liz Corney who is absolutely fantastic with them. A great keyboardist and always so happy and in her element on the stage. She’s absolutely fab. She was like sunshine last night. 

The drumming – I honestly don’t know who I love more with the drumming parts – David or Peter. David whacks the shit out of the drums, but Peter has a bit more finesse. I honestly can’t decide. They’re both so good! From what I remember of talking to them both after the Kelvingrove gig, I’m sure David told me that Peter taught him the drums. So I guess on that basis, Peter should win the battle of Brewis brothers drummers.

As much as I was saying before that I am unfamiliar with a lot of Field Music’s…music, I could tell that they performed several other tracks from Flat White Moon, including No Pressure, Meant To Be and Not When You’re In Love. 

I found myself keeping an eye on the time, worried that I had booked my cab home too early. But as we got to around 9.45, Peter declares that they have just two songs in the set to go. Lots of sighs from the crowd who have been loving every tune. And rightly so! Just because the majority of us weren’t overly familiar with the material, it didn’t mean we were any less appreciative of it.

The set ended with the lead single of the Flat White Moon album – Orion From The Street, reproduced perfectly live, and where Liz truly came out to shine. Beautiful! 

All the music was top class and this band is stellar live. The reason I kept on clock watching was because I didn’t want the gig to end at 10pm! I really didn’t! I’d have happily stayed on until 11pm to watch them. 

But after a single song encore, the gig was over at 10pm sharp! A few minutes to try and get my now totally screwed legs working, put my mask back on and slowly shuffle on out the front doors. A short wait for 10.15pm to tick over and right on cue my taxi arrived and I was home at 10.30pm – which just blows my mind! I had only ever experienced that joy just the once in Luton when Ruts DC came to play the Hat Factory in March, 2018. It was bliss! Usually great gigs by big names meant trips to Cambridge, or London, or perhaps if you were lucky, Milton Keynes or Bedford, or St Albans, Watford or Hemel Hempstead. 

Glasgow is just…such a gem! It really is. And what gigs this city gets! I love it! The only thing that would have made this night better was that there had been nothing wrong with my leg. Other than that, it was a perfect evening. I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment of it. Field Music are top notch!

New Memes – Heavy Night

Off topic for a reputed Simple Minds blog but… I think this band is just about my favourite of the young Glasgow bands about at the moment and ONE DAY I’ll brave going to see them live.

Over the past couple of years they’ve released several singles. Billy Sloan has been a champion of them and that’s how I got to hear of them initially. New single is out today called “Heavy Night”. The video is awesome as well. Who disnae like to have a wee dance around the Clyde with a paper bag over their heid? Lol

Anyway, enjoy Memes with “Heavy Night”. It’s a catchy little fucker.

Bowie Talk – Missing Jim – Sexy Songs – Minds Music Monday – Lightning

I miss Monday’s the way they used to be. Actually, I miss just about how every day would start a few years back. When I was getting into Simple Minds and getting myself involved in the fanbase, the thing that always seemed to make every day feel like it started off on the right note was Jim’s posts on Facebook. 

And I didn’t care what he talked about. It didn’t have to be SM specific, or even music related. Damn, it could even be about football! Lol. I didn’t care. Whatever the subject, he always made it engaging. And he’d engage with us about it. 

There’d be a little kind of game. If you caught the post early enough, he’d seemingly hang about for a few minutes, waiting for replies to come in and if someone commented with something that piqued his interest, he’d respond. 

It sounds SSOO mundane – I know! But I miss it. I miss it SO much. This morning I awoke just thinking about it, lamenting on what was. Thinking, “Oh, Jim made Monday’s feel fun. Actually he made every morning feel good. Every day was a New Sunshine Morning back then.” I cannae help but feel like I came along on the tail end of everything.

But, one can’t go back. One must move forward – esp. In the Kerr world. There’s no room for nostalgia (it’s a dirty word!) or for back-peddling, or for reminiscing. 

I should be thankful he even posts at all these days.

I’d love to ask him if he’s had the chance to hear the Toy version of “You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving” and what he thinks of the endless Bowie content that has been released since David’s death. But I guess why should I care what Jim Kerr thinks, eh? Again…it’s just a silly nostalgic thing. Me feeling some kind of silly “bond” from having had some banter with him in the past on the subject of David Bowie. Deluding myself there has been “conversation” between us. 

So, perhaps I’ll pose it to you lot? The three regular visitors to the blog. What do you guys think of the whole Bowie “legacy”? To me it feels like it’s being milked like the most overfilled dairy cow. There have been so many releases in the past five years, I have lost count! Myriad compilations and box sets, both as sets of studio albums and as live albums. A lot of the live content previously unreleased, granted, but it does feel like a sad money grab sometimes. And does the Bowie estate REALLY need the money? And I do wonder how it would all sit with David himself. 

Having said that, I do feel mildly excited about Toy getting a release. I remember news of it at the time and being intrigued by the prospect of what he was doing. Then he seemed to ditch the project in favour of working on Heathen, which I am incredibly thankful for because, along with Low, it is my favourite David Bowie album. 

I didn’t get caught up in the whole live box set saga. There was only one album out of those I wanted. I listened to it on Spotify, enjoyed it, and so I invested in it. My only purchase of them all was to get a copy of Ouvrez Le Chien. I thought about investing in Metrobolist as well but, for what? So I’d have a copy of it under what was meant to be its original title? We lived with it for 50 years as The Man Who Sold The World, what’s the point in now referring to it as Metrobolist? 

I will probably invest in a copy of Toy though. We’ll see. 

Now on to this week’s MMM. As I discussed previously, I haven’t been in much of a mood to listen to any Simple Minds of late. Certainly not to the degree that I have done for the past seven years! I listen to bits here and there. Not much. 

I was listening to a few random tunes a few nights ago. Just ones I have thought I hadn’t listened to in a while and I wanted to hear again. Silent Kiss was one of them. And there I was inwardly thinking “Why, oh, why, oh, why did you have to make it a bonus track on Walk Between Worlds so it never gets performed live?! Am I destined to have ALL my very favourite Simple Minds songs be tracks that NEVER end up on a set list?” It seems so…

We had that little “exchange”, Jim and I. Me saying to him “Sexy songs are the best”, and him replying with “Agreed!”. It took me ages to try and work out the song that brought that little exchange into being but then I did some digging to finally discover it was Silent Kiss. But it isn’t just sexy, it’s yearning. It’s beautiful. 

After Silent Kiss played I was thinking about what other songs that I hadn’t listened to for a long time I considered to be sexy. And I decided on this! I think it is an incredibly underrated song. I find it sexy as hell, even though I admit I somewhat misinterpreted what the song was about initially – but if anyone can make a song about a suicide bomber bloody sexy, then it’s Jim Kerr!

So for this week’s Minds Music Monday, may I present to you… Lightning

The Velvet Underground Documentary – Coming Soon

UPDATE: Oct 5th – saw a review in the latest Rolling Stone. Thought I’d post it here.

Looking into what was coming up for viewing at the Glasgow Film Theatre, I spied this!

When I was at the Living Proof screening last week, I decided to secure a ticket for one of the screenings of it. I’ll be seeing it in a couple of weeks time and I’m looking forward to it. And if I’m honest, I am also looking forward to being able to enjoy being in a cinema or theatre without having to wear a fucking mask all the time! I know it’s for the greater good and I genuinely have no problem with that. But I need to wear distance glasses these days and so I either put up with my glasses fogging up or I decide to take them off so I can “see” a bit better. That bit of it really sucks. And…it does still feel really breath inhibiting to be indoors for a few hours and wearing a mask. It just does.

Anyway, just thought I’d mention this Velvets documentary here as we all know what a massive influence the Velvets and Lou Reed has been on a certain James Kerr, esq. and to the music of Simple Minds as a whole.

This is STILL my favourite SM cover along with Street Hassle. The emotion in Jim’s voice is just beautiful. It just proves what an influence that the Velvets and Lou have been on them for my fave SM covers to be VU and Lou Reed compositions.

She Rag Doll And Beautiful James

I was catching up with Billy Sloan’s radio show last night. I haven’t listened in for….a few months now. I think I got a bit overwhelmed by him referring to me as one of his “most loyal” listeners. And to be honest, I wasn’t at that point, though I would listen most weeks. But that statement from him – I guess it kind of put the mockers on it. I didn’t feel worthy of such a thing and then weirdly it kind of then … I dunno. Weird, eh?

Anyway, the previous week he had been asking for favourite songs that mentioned mens names in the lyrics or title. Earlier in the week when he first asked the question the song I chose hadn’t entered my head, even though it had been an earworm for days on end already. By Saturday evening, it was there swirling around as Billy posed the question again just before show time. Of course I put in my choice of “Oh, Jim”. I didn’t end up listening to the show that night. I was chatting away to a friend and ended up “otherwise engaged” but I was intrigued to see if my choice got mentioned. It did. And it seemed Billy had missed me! Bless him! I didn’t expect that at all. Well, I’ve missed him too. He puts on a great show week after week and there’s always something that particularly piques the interest – more on that shortly. 

Anyway, that’s a looong preamble to say…I am back listening to Billy Sloan’s show. I didn’t hear it go out live but caught up with it via BBC Sounds last night. The topic was … what do you think is the greatest song of all time? One choice! Mine is “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted?” by Jimmy Ruffin. It’s both sadly melancholic but ultimately uplifting. 

Around midway through the show, Billy played “River Deep, Mountain High” and it had me thinking about Jim’s post a few days back about “songs of home” and him talking about Nutbush City Limits – another Ike and Tina Turner song. As River Deep, Mountain High was playing, I am taking in the words as I usually do with the songs I listen to. I always try to pay attention to the lyrics. Not always easy as singers’ diction when they sing can vary wildly so it isn’t always easy to decipher lyrics. Hence the long litany of misheard lyrics. Lol. Nothing wrong with Tina’s diction though. I was taking in the lines “when you were a young boy did you have a puppy?” and then my brain backtracked and was thinking about the first lines of “when I was a little girl I had a rag doll” and “I love you just the way I loved that rag doll” and started thinking… “Hang about? Is THIS the genesis for ‘she rag doll’ in Celebrate?”

I have been in recent times debating this line (one could deem it a “mass debate”, perhaps? Though no…not between just two people it ain’t. Lol) with a friend of mine about the true meaning of that “she rag doll” line. Rather unusually for me, I interpreted rather “innocently” – my version of innocent anyway. More a kind of “canoodling” way….a bit kind of “post-coital spooning” kind of way. My friend informed me that a “rag doll” can be seen much more sexualised than that even. I never considered it to have such potency. I found it potent enough with my interpretation of it to be honest. And if one ponders the lyrics further then “she rag doll, keeps him warm / but this negative shows no form” – then I guess a “rag doll” in its most sexualised sense would NOT show any true form on a negative. My word! 

Either way, it’s damn sexy! And it is why I love Celebrate so much. Celebrate, when you get down to the heart of it, is a kind of love song. Well, maybe not a LOVE song – but a song of desire. The desire for lust and life. “A lust for life.” And it’s certainly uplifting. That “dark light” of theirs. Of Jim’s lyrics. Give it a dark heart but make it ultimately “feel good”. God, he’s good at it!

Anyway, River Deep Mountain High seems like the most innocent thing in the world now compared to Celebrate! Lol

Also on Billy’s show, he played this – the new Placebo single. It immediately piqued my interest before it even played as Billy said the title of it is “Beautiful James”. And what a chorus! “Beautiful James / I don’t wanna wake you” – how goddamn beautiful is that?! That’s me right there picturing Jim sleeping and just enjoying the sheer beauty of it. Gorgeous. Just so we end on a rather more innocent note than we could have done on the dirty ditty of Celebrate.

Review: Scritti Politti + Alexis Taylor – St Luke’s – Glasgow – 27/09/2021

The last gig I went to prior to this was March 10th, 2020. The “two gigs in one night” show of Simple Minds at Store Vega in Copenhagen. My last gig SHOULD have been two days later seeing King Creosote at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on March 12th but the return flight home from Copenhagen ended up so delayed I missed the gig. And my first gig back SHOULD have been John Grant on September 9th at Barrowland Ballroom, but I was attending the gig alone and was too anxious about it to attend.

So…it has been a long time between gigs! Esp. for me as I am these days as I now attend gigs on a fairly regular basis.

I was still very anxious about last night. All through the day I was wondering if I should be going and questioning whether I even WANTED to go! Speaking of weather – I love Glasgow but fuck me! The weather is ssoooo unpredictable here! I was worried that we’d get pissed upon getting there, so we booked a cab mid afternoon, only for it to be basking in sunshine when the driver collected us at around 5.40pm. We were at St Luke’s 10 minutes later.

There was going to be a bit of a wait. The doors weren’t opening until 7pm. Thankfully the weather stayed dry for the queue outside. But dry also tends to mean flipping cold at this time of year. I wanted to travel as light as possible, so I had no big coat with me to keep me warm. I was freezing! 

Once the doors opened, we got in fairly quickly. It was a bit of clamour to get in. A loose queue had formed outside and we were fourth (and fifth) in the queue, but were third (and fourth) to be let in as the guy ahead of us was refused entry for not having a mask. He had his vaccine passport with him – but “no mask, no entry” was also the policy. So he had to go off and buy one to be allowed entry later on. 

It was a bit of a wait before support act Alexis Taylor started his set. I wasn’t sure of set timings and I don’t think Alexis started his set until 8.15pm, allowing enough time for the checks at the door to be done and for the punters to gain entry. He played the set either completely solo or with fellow Hot Chip (and Scritti Politti) band member Robert Smoughton (aka Grovesnor). It was a short set but very good. Taylor has a great voice and a really nice style of guitar playing. A nice mix of synths and Mellotron played through the tracks as well. He complimented what was to come with the SP set very well.

A short reset of the stage setup and then the main affair were on shortly after 9pm. 

The crowd were very receptive as Green and Co hit the stage. This gig had been hotly anticipated by all who came to see it. 

We started things off with a little rusty but by no means unenjoyable rendition of The Sweetest Girl. Several other hits and SP faves were performed in the lead up to the main event – the playing of the whole of Cupid And Psyche 85. A fabulous rendition of “Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy)”, also great versions of Day Late And A Dollar Short and Skank Bloc Bologna as well as my favourites from the pre-Cupid And Psyche set – The Boom Boom Bap and Trentavious White.

Then with a call of “Are we ready? Right, let’s go” from Green…in comes The Word Girl. At the end of the song…well, the place was in raptures. Before that, even. The Glasgow crowd don’t disappoint in terms of getting behind people they love. And Green was certainly feeling the love last night. I think he was quite overwhelmed by the reception he was getting.

You can always feel how much of a very scary thing it is for him to be up there on that stage still. But he’s so deflective and self-effacing with it. He is such a sweet man and such an incredible performer, you cannae help but be swept by the emotion of it. But all in a very positive way. The music is so funky and uplifting and joyous and there was just such a buzz in the crowd and so much positivity around.

And on and on we went through the rest of the album. Fabulous versions of Absolute (see snippet above) and Perfect Way. The cheers and gratitude displayed by the crowd just built and built after each song.

Then comes Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) and you can’t help but be gobsmacked by how incredibly like the album version they get it. Green’s voice is … magic. There’s no other superlative for it! The man is 66 years old! For one, he doesn’t LOOK 66 – he’s aged incredibly well – but also vocally, to have that voice. To be able to replicate your voice on record from nearly 40 years ago is nothing short of astounding! 

The crowd were singing along to Wood Beez – I’ll give it to the Glaswegians, they can hold a tune when it comes to crowd singing. It was quite beautiful really. That same crowd went MENTAL at the end of Wood Beez. They…WE…(I was in the crowd too, duh!) were sssooo appreciative of hearing it and the way it was performed.

Final track of the night was Hypnotize and Green was sounding like he could sing all night. 

The crowd gave a final incredible round of applause and appreciation to Green Gartside, Rhodri Marsden, Dicky Moore and Robert Smoughton for a great performance.

Just a few minutes of waiting. A begging crowd asking for more received a single song encore. Alexis Taylor joined the band on stage. I had my suspicions and hopes for what was about to happen – and I wasn’t disappointed. As soon as Green started his intro of it with “The song we’re going to do was originally recorded by Chic”, I knew what was coming and grabbed my phone out from its holder. I had rued not recording this when seeing Green Gartside and Alexis Taylor at Bedford Esquires back in 2017, so I was NOT going to miss it this time. It was beautiful the last time and it was just as beautiful this time. At Last I Am Free – true to Robert Wyatt’s rendition of it. Stunning!

Any negatives to report from the night? Only slight niggles. A bit of reverb that could have been sorted better. The guitars were maybe a little too low in the mix. Green’s vocal also a little too lost in the mix sometimes. Some stupid c***s deciding to have a natter midway through Alexis Taylor’s set. Grrr! And another short chat during the main Scritti Politti set – which is just fucking outrageous! But honestly…minor bugbears – nothing to take away the overall enjoyment of the gig.

For all the anxiety I was feeling prior to the gig, I am so thankful I pushed myself to go and get out there and enjoy it, because it was wonderful. I could not have wished for a better gig to return to.

*Crappy sound quality of clips is down to my crappy phone. Records great video but shit sound with it unfortunately.

Crowd photo curtesy of Rhodri Marsden. I’m on the left.