Music 2009

THIS NIGHT HAS OPENED MINE EYES
 
On Attending Morrissey gig, Killarney, 28/4/09
 
 
The rain falls hard on a humdrum town….  Well actually, it had only rained until we got to the Kerry border.  Killarney is ho-hum humdrum though.  Who cares?  At 8.50pm Steven Patrick strolled on stage to applause from the sparse crowd (600 or so punters, not one of whom had to worry about baby-sitting – you’ve got to leave your bedroom and meet people to have children after all).  His first words were “Punctured bicycle on a hillside desolate”.  To hear Morrissey singing “This Charming Man” is to drink deep from the fountain of wonder.  If somebody can name a better song I’ll call around to your house and shampoo your carpets.  What?  No suggestions?  Of course not…
 
Sadly, Moz’s inexorable slide of morphing into your smelly, bachelor uncle continues.  The quiff has given up the ghost; the sensible cardie and too-big jeans are Ken Barlow cast-offs; and the stomach has been visited by many tofu kebabs – You’re the one for me Fatty, indeed.  The backing band looked like trainee male hairdressers.  Tight as a crewcut to boot.  There was a big gong behind the drummer which got a good slapping at the end of the next highlight, “How Soon is Now?”  What a song, eh?  “I am human and I need to be looo-oooved”.  Such words so lightly thrown.  What a man.  And there were 600(!) people in the crowd.  Ireland has sank in a sea of ignorance as thick as pigsh!te.
 
There were three more Smiths songs.  “Girlfriend in a Coma” was as lightweight and jaunty as ever.  Not my fave song but still a gas to see him sing it.  For “Ask” he phoned in the vocals, looking utterly bored.  However “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” was wondrous.  He changed the lyrics of the second verse (no mention of Antony and Cleopatra) but repeated “Send me your pillow, The one that you dream on” tons of times.  Heaven knows I’m ecstatic now.
 
Of the solo stuff, “Irish Blood, English Heart” was rollicking; “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” tastefully melodramatic; “Something is Squeezing my Skull” triumphant; “Let Me Kiss You” moving.  The rest was stodgy enough with occasional glowing flickers.  And then we had WifeGate.
 
Before “The World is Full of Crashing Bores”, Moz said how “you may have read in the papers that I’ve been accepted as a contestant on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.  The band started playing but he shushed them after 5 seconds.  He marched over to the side of the stage and angrily asked some punter “What’s your point?”  He handed him the microphone (we later learned that the moron had roared ‘This is Ireland’ when Moz mentioned ‘Britain’s Got Talent’).  Mic in hand, the dweeb said “Morrissey, this is my wife.  We’re your biggest…” 
 
At which point Moz went to take back the mic but ungallantly our Honey Monster-tonsilled friend growled again “This is my wife”.  Before another syllable could push past the Sugar Puffs in his throat Moz had wrenched the mic free.  “Bigmouth Strikes Again” – one of our posse claimed that had the mic been profferd to him his chosen words would have been “You’re right Morrissey, Meat is Murder.  I’ve got Swine Flu”.
 
A truly stonking “First of the Gang to Die” was the only encore.  1 hour and 20 minutes after arriving, Moz was gone for good.  “That’s Life” was played on the PA.  That’s life for sure.  You are Morrissey.  Oh, the provincial towns you jog ‘round to ply your trade.  Some nights are better than others but in the end What Difference Does it Make?  I’m still fond of you.
 
Ralph Mexico
 
 
OXEGEN FOR OLD FOGEYS 
 
On Attending Oxegen, 12/7/09 
 
 
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.  The rain in Kildare falls bloody everywhere.  And certainly during The Specials set it was really coming down, raining cats and hounds.  Some water from the sky couldn’t detract from a terrific performance, however.  Expectations had been obscenely high and they were surpassed in spades.  Ending with the immortal pairing of “Do Nothing” and “Ghostown” was astonishing but all the top tunes prior to these had been utterly wonderful.  Skanking in the deluge to “Gangsters”, “A Message To You, Rudy”, “Rat Race” etc. was the best fun in the world.  Yet curiously it was the plaintive yearing of “Doesn’t Make It Alright” that stunned the most.  The Specials – the reason for attending Oxegen; Special by name – absolutely sensational by nature.
 
“It’s all well that The Specials were magnificent” I hear you yodel, “But what about the mud, the drunken teens, the rain and the mud”?  Reports had been filtering back of Somme mud over the Friday and Saturday and while it was pretty messy it was a long way from a First World War battlefield.  Wellingtons were worn, raincoats were donned and the rain was accepted with the same shrug as greeted the €9 price-tag on the first pint.  After Tony had bought cigarettes for a 17 year-old(!) we watched Calvin Harris boom out what it was like to be “Born in the Eighties…the Eighties”.  In my lack of down-with-the-kids-suss I had thought Harris was a black American.  It was a surprise to see a white Scotsman on stage.  It was a bigger surprise to be well impressed by the cut of his jib.  Next up were reclusive Swedish dance boffins Fever Ray (or Swine Flu Ray as the wag behind us called them) in a sparsely populated dance tent.  Their music was gloomy, dark and other-worldly – exactly like their costumes.  Not quite what was sought from the Fun Boy Three at that stage so we hot-footed over to the Main Stage to hopefully hear Lady Gaga talk dirty to us and bare her arse.  Most people had the same idea so we were standing well back.  The big screen gave us a good picture of her revealing outfits but her small talk was lost to a muddy, murky sound – and I’m not talking about the “encouragement” I was offering to her at the top of my voice…
 
White Lies were trekked to and the rain subsided.  Being well-acquainted with the Joy Division catalogue there was nothing really to see here except gape at the young people copping off with each other as they sang their ickle hearts out to the anthemic (Unknown to us) Pleasures.  We got a thrilling half an hour from Friendly Fires that saw the Heineken tent blitzed.  These crew have the makings of a great band.  Arcade Fire at Electric Picnic in 2005 are the closest comparison.  That’s a major compliment by the way.  A bit of a sit-down was taken after this and a few punters were chatted to.  A large lady in a “Donnie Darko” mask plonked herself on my knee for a photo.  I had to apologise for my arthritis when my knee gave way.  It wasn’t like this in the old days.  The rain in Kildare falls bloody everywhere but during The Specials we didn’t care (see paragraph one).
 
The walk to tent on t’hill for Of Montreal was a worthwhile journey.  They sounded superb and we got a good position for Florence and the Machine as the tent became rammed awaiting her entrance.  We waited.  And waited.  Twenty minutes after her listed start time we had waited long enough so we fought our way out of the hot zone.  Along the way Tony told a few people that she had cancelled due to a sore throat.  This story was passed along within earshot at such speed that by the end of our voyage clear of the crowd we could overhear the kids repeating the sore throat mantra as if it was gospel.  Gullible kids?  Evil old man?  Make up your own mind…
 
Passing the o2 stage we saw a bare-chested Perry Farrell lead his Jane’s Addiction mob through some rawk that was way too heavy for the time of day.  We sought sanctuary in the Dance Tent where Felix Da Housecat was blasting out the electro with a vengeance.  Loudest cheers were for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  Second loudest cheers were for one of our number who wore sunglasses throughout in the dark tent.  And at midnight it was all over.  The music part of the day had passed and we now had to get home.  A walk, a bus to Naas and a taxi to Athy took care of all this without too much hassle.  After the long day the sensible thing would have been to head away to bed once we got home but even in our dotage we just can’t seem to ever Start Making Sense.
 
Ralph Mexico 
 
 
PILLS & HOPE
 
On Attending Pills For My Nerves gig, Slatterys, Rathmines, 6/6/09
 
 
Bono said all he wanted was ‘A red guitar, three chords and the truth’.  Bono can f*&% off.  Pills For My Nerves don’t deal with truth.  They don’t deal with three chords too often either.  And that’s AOK with me.  They just turn their (non-red) guitars to scuzz; ramp the amps up to 10.5 and sing about girls, drinking, fighting and how life sucks ‘cos all the drinking fighting girls are taken and all that’s left are Coldplay-loving virgins.  How’s that for a line on your horizon, Sh!thead Hewson?
 
To start, controversially enough, at the start – support act Daniel Jones warmed the crowd up with the deftness of a hot whiskey.  A well-judged set mingling choice covers with the pick of tunes from his pair of eps brought rapturous applause.  He ended with “Moonlight Mile”, as weather-worn and Parsons-loving as Jones’ fender guitar.
 
Pills For My Nerves?  Thrills For The Girls more like, as the four handsome men exploded on-stage.  By my count they rattled off sixteen of their own songs.  If you didn’t fancy one it was no problem – there’d be another one on in a minute.  Someone at the bar said afterwards “I’d have got up and left only they were gone before I had the chance”.  Here’s a song about girls.  Yeah!  Here’s a song about fighting.  Yeah!!  Here’s a song about the socio-economic conditions in Tanzania now that Chomsky’s warning about globalisation has come to pass.  Wha?!?!?  Only kidding – Here’s a song about drinking.  Yeah!!!  Joey Ramone gave his blessing from the pool-hall in paradise.
 
And brudder, could the boys in the band play.  Chopin teaching Michael Chopra “Chopsticks” in a chopper in choppy weather couldn’t have displayed more chops.  They were tighter than Jack Charlton having dinner with Silas Mariner.  They set the controls for the heart of Stun and were using their instruments as sorcerers’ sabres.  Outside the rain battered the pavement while inside the band sent sweat cascading down the walls in a cacophony of riffs and ballast.
 
Pills For My Nerves – Here’s where to get your prescription filled.  Overdosing might never be such fun again.
 
Ralph Mexico
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