Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Manics in Derby

This week a concert rolled round that I had been curiously looking forward to more than I had been expecting, going to see the Manics in Derby. I was looking forward to the gig because of the line up, Manics back on form, cracking new album coupled with support from British Sea Power, a good band in their own right - waving flags and No Lucifer were a couple of my favourite tunes last year (in no small part down to the 'Easy, Easy, Easy,' chorus for No Lucifer).

The evening panned out slightly differently to what I was expecting - firstly I set off to Derby late, a cardinal sin but never mind, only to find that Derby has a shocking one way system, and all street parking near where the Sat Nav said I wanted to be was full. Add this up with major roadworks meant that I was trolling round for a good 20 mins trying to find a car park, very poor, including driving the wrong way into some underground markets due to dodgy signage (not my driving probably). So this was a down, but then on an up, the venue was not what I was expecting, a quality non sticky carpeted big venue with balcony etc. A nicer version of the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton - and closer so back on an up.

But then a down - I walked into the Venue to the last Chord of British Sea Power good night! a downer again.

Half an hour later the Manics came on, this was the closest I have been in the flesh and it was an experience, James Dean Bradfield - sensible chap, looks like a good man to go for a beer with, Black Shirt, rolled up sleeves, jeans - yes a good sensible clothing look for the middle aged man with a bit of tummy (said from experience) and next to him Nicky Wire.

Now Nicky Wire was fascinating, long gangly legs, that gangled throughout. Hair which to his own admission looked like Robin Askwith from the Confessions series of films, wearing an old school tie, and camp sailors hat, lots of glamour really - and his head is huge compared to his body. Iconic.

The set was excellent - I've been a bit sniffy about the manics over the years, bought 4 albums, but always considered them one of Mrs P's bands (like the Beautiful South). However they have really added some quality new songs recently, really up there. The duet with Nina Perrson from the Cardigans (You're love alone)

also the new single (It's not war, just the end of love)

are both in my opinion right up there with any songs that they did at the pomp of Britpop.

So overall the gig finished on a real high, as expected, but not for the reason I was expecting.

The other thing about the Manics that makes me smile is my copy of their album this is my thruth tell me yours.

It makes me smile because the wobbly red line indicating the spelling mistake was obviously ignored in my early copy of the album purchased at Reddingtons Rare Records. 7/10 must try harder.

Friday, 1 October 2010


Looking back at the concerts I've seen over the years can be quite interesting, but this week 7 years ago was quite impressive. I had managed to wangle through work a jolly, and a massive jolly at that, I had been asked to Chicago, with work, i was second replacement so very jammy, to meet with parent company for a couple of days. The work trip was grand, lots of nice huge steaks and I learned that the followers of Green Bay Packers are called the Cheese Heads, a very glamourous Nick name but they do wear big triangular foam cheese hats to the games so fair play to them. My work was over by the Friday and having hub bed through New York this meant I could get 24 hours in the big apple which was very hard to turn down.

I stopped in a nice little hotel and looked out of the window in the morning with the hustle and bustle of NYC. It was time to get out and do stuff, whenever in a city in the US I will always grab the free papers, to find out what's going on, the local quality record shops etc and local culture. Having grabbed these I settled myself in a coffee shop, to watch the world passing by and get my thoughts together. Breakfast was suitably NY I felt having bagels and black coffee, years before I became addicted to star bucks venti black americanos. I did feel top of the world. Sitting there I read the free papers and found out a quality B Movie which was coming out in the US -Bubba HoTep,
this film caught my imagination as film that stars an aged Elvis Presley (post faked death) in an old folks home battling against a zombie just sounded exotically relevant to my trip and I logged the film away to check out later (and it did turn out to be a classic).

From here it was off to various locations, I have no idea the order, but I walked everywhere, seeing everything, with particular highlights being seeing the Dakota Building where Lennon was murdered on my birthday, and the Strawberry Fields memorial garden lots of random tourists sat around quietly, the MOMA (museum of modern art) as Mrs P's sophistication has rubbed off a little, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Chelsea Hotel where Nancy Was killed by Sid, where the twin towers used to be (to be fair just looked like a building site to me, and various record shops. Time Square was excellent, so much Neon and brands flashing everywhere, a pop into the MTV store was fun.

On the way back to my hotel I wandered past Maddison Square Gardens and decided to have a look in, having heard of this venue many times, and my luck was in, double luck in fact, REM were playing, result, but so was the fact that they had not sold out, so I bought a ticket and was back ready to watch later.

They were great, as were Sparklehorse the supper. Michael Stipe was in blue face phase, and I had a couple of young American lasses sat beside me who seemed to be impressed with my English Accent, I must have hid the Brummie well that day.

Do I remember much more, well no, but it was cracking to have had such a 24 hours before heading back to Blighty.......and there is talk of another Jolly to come, once every 7 years, bonus.

I suppose my lack of gig memory is largely due to my not having followed REM when they were cult etc, but where REM have evolved for me is from a band who did a cracking song when I was at school (Shiny Happy People) borrowing one of the B-52's who I did like a lot, and then decided that that song was not grand so they would distance themselves and not play it. It always annoyed me that they were seen as this incredibly cool band and the B-52's a bit of a novelty, to be fair perfectly justified, but then I have listened as the whole world has over the years and have come to appreciate some absolutely cracking tunes, Crush with Eyeliner is top drawer, and the end of the world at the gig to round things off (at what Stipe considered was his hometown gig) was particularly amazing.......