Something cool.

19th April 2010

Event details. It’s going to be wild.

[setlist]

Chris says something.

[/setlist]

Dreamy day in London City

17th April 2010
Sky 100% blue. No planes = no vapour trails.

Record Store Day

17th April 2010
Records Store Day and blue skies, so it’s the bike all the way to Brick Lane to see what’s happening at Rough Trade East. And it’s happening. A queue 30 minutes long snakes past the Japanese fast food stand and Big Chill Bar, disappearing round the corner. Nobody seems to know what we’re queuing for but queuing we are.

Near the front earnest looking men and women examine their purchases, drawing prized new possessions from their white plastic bags, vinyl mostly, shrink-wrapped and shiny albums by Neu and Caribou; sweet 7â€s by Foals and Paul Weller.

Inside bands play and entertain the throngs, flicking through the racks like it’s the 20th century again. People smile and mingle and jostle for position at the listening stations; the truly faithful take up their positions stage-front for the next show. There is a faint festival atmosphere, a unity, we’re all here because we love music, proper music, not the stuff of Magic and Heart, real music with soul, or noise, or edge, or passion, or all of those mashed together in a whole new way. Music that makes us go wow, I’m so glad to be alive today, I’m so glad to be able to be here listening to this.

So I queue, and for once don’t really mind, I try to shoot the queue but fail, I mingle, pick up a couple of CDs and head home via Pure Groove. A record shop that isn’t really a record shop anymore. It’s a cafe and a bar and a live music space that sells CDs and vinyl too. And it’s packed, the drinkers spill out into the sunlight, occupying the far side of the road by the market. Inside there’s a Blur quiz with DVDs and CDs as prizes.

And it all makes me feel optimistic again. And it makes me feel that it is all worth it, this creative life, there is still a way to make and do and sell a bit and get by. There are still thousands of people passionate about what they listen to and interested in what it means and keen to share that interest, that love, that passion with the world.

There are record shops that still work, they just have to adapt to survive. Everything is always changing and our little musical world is no different from any other business. We have to find new ways to enjoy what we do and make it work. Record Store Day is one little way to do that.

There’s poetry in the news today:

16th April 2010

VOLCANIC ASH CLOUD SHUTS ALL AIRPORTS LAVENDER SUNSET OVER LONDON You can’t make this stuff up. This is the joy of living in this city. Where is Ballard when we need him most?

And there’s poetry in the menu too. Ash floating overhead, kohrabi, pennywort, celeriac and dandelion in our heads. It must be spring.

Speak fucking English!

11th April 2010
There are so many cities in every single city, says the book I am reading heading out on the Jubilee. Today my city in the city is spreading out westward, past the edge of what I would call city to the flatlands, the rolling plains of suburbia, or, more specifically, to Wembley Park, for the FA Cup semi final, the mighty Blues versus the not so mighty but still no pushover – Aston Villa. I love that walk down Wembley Way, the anticipation, the tension, grown men acting like children and chanting in the underpass (well it does sound better with the built-in reverb), the scent of victory mingling with the stench of burning burger meat and spilt beer and sweat and sick and piss.

It’s amazing how a sport like football, so focused on skill and fitness, has a fan base that appears to be, to a large extent, fat and drunk and more than a little clueless when it comes to the basics like eating, talking and walking for more than a few hundred metres.

Today, of course, I am part of the beer swilling stream, the burger munching herd, happy to call any one of them friend as long as they are wearing the right shade of blue, which is, of course, the colour.

Wembley itself is still too big to take in. It’s widescreen, surround sound, CGI, so many people it almost feels like you’re not really there. Up on Level Five it’s not so much the high life as purely vertiginous. In Row Eight I feel a mixture of air sick, because of the height, and sea sick, because of the waving blue waves. Is there such a thing as size sick? Like car sick but much, much bigger?

On the wall next to the toilets a poster tells us to text ASBO to 41138 if we see any antisocial behaviour. Actually i made that bit up. We must text SMOKE for smoking, HPO for homophobic chanting, presumably because homophobic is hard to spell and it’s probably not in predictive text, STAND for standing, STAB for knife crime, STINK for bad smells, JT for adultery and CGI for slight feelings of disconnection due to the size of the arena.

The people in charge will endeavour to send help as soon as possible because this is England, our England, the culture, the land of fair play and rules made to be broken, and that is how things are, how they always have been, how they always will be. Amen.

Game on and the first half is a stalemate. So there’s plenty of time to stare menacingly at the opposition supporters, even if we can’t quite see the whites of their eyes, or even what they look like atall, and spit and snarl through damaged teeth and shout angrily, because some of them probably have funny Brummie accents – speak fucking English, why don’t you speak fucking English!

And I’m thinking, if we hate Villa because they are northern bastards, by whom we will never be mastered, and they are only 120 miles up the M40. And if we hate Tottenham, which we surely do, with a passion and they are only on the other side of the city. Then what is this merrie England that we will be supporting this Summer in the World Cup?

What is this England that the FA (sponsored by Eon) is shouting about, that Carlsberg (a famously Danish lager) is encouraging us to text about? Way down below, in the arena, on one of those moving electronic billboards there is a text from John in Redbridge, sent to Carlsberg and it says: COME ON ENGLAND< YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU. Country, what country? The country’s all city now mate and that’s divided and riven and fat and ugly and drunk and probably beats up it’s wife or at least cheats on her like our gladiatorial hero JT or at least would if it got the chance but it never does because it’s so fucking fat.