[Oops – fidgety phone pressing at Bethnal Green station as the train pulled in meant this was originally published prematurely…how shameful…my methods revealed…the horror…the pain…Yes, I’ve just finished a book by Céline…my apologies]
It felt odd this evening to recapitulate a portion of my old commute, this time for enjoyment. Hearing the pausing 106 bus lady with her Green Lanes and her Listria Park. Someone in front of me was escorting three young kids in martial arts costumes, and she explained to them that
the best time to practice the splits is during your karate
When I went in the lady insisted on pressing the stamp to my right wrist, ignoring what I offered. Perhaps my upper hands weren’t suitable ground for the impression.
In contrast to my opera and theatre experiences, I was very much in what Hank would call the older demographic at this event. As part of this segment I felt happy to have taken up a bench seat towards the back. The room was so small that I didn’t even put on my glasses for the support act. Auto-tsk.
There were some other older people present. Maybe record company types or journalists? What was my excuse?
The support act was Fun Adults, whose vocal technique was a little like Edwyn Collins, while the music had a little taste of math rock and David Sylvian, with frequent instrument and position changes. They acknowledged the whooping from members of their record label, Handsome Dad. It seems there are few guitar-only bands these days. They all have some keybs or laptop or similar. I didn’t know them at all and enjoyed their set – which is a pretty good compliment, I think. There are three songs here.
As expected there was a late surge of people for the headliners, Money. I’d heard them a few times on the Mary-Anne Hobbs 6 Music show, which I hear now that I’m so old I can’t even lie in bed pretending to sleep anymore at the weekend. They sounded interesting and they had a Manchester connection and I had recently been shamed by a friend’s reaction to a music-related confession, so I was organised enough to buy a ticket well before they sold out.
Their performance started when the singer started to sing, at the bar. He continued singing, the end of phrases coming back to “paradise”, walking through the crowd, engaging people as he went, standing at the side, singing at people in the face, then arriving on stage. I enjoyed the look of slightly alarmed elation on the young types’ faces.
The rest of the band came on and they started. I was surprised how good the sound was, in such a small room. There were five of them, with two and occasionally three guitars, if the keybs man at the left swapped himself. For once the multiple frets were worthwhile (so often wasted). I liked their hunger and arrogance, self-assurance and brazenness. Heating up, the singer took off his jacket and shirt, not joined by the others. They played Bluebell Fields, the song I’d heard, in an extended version, which was (again to my surprise) just as good as what I’d heard on the radio, with an extended, more rhythm-driven section in the middle. The crowd recognised other songs of course, including the last one, which I think was The Sea, during which the singer moved his microphone and stand into the middle of the audience, performing from there. You can imagine, of course, the flurry of phone activity when this transpired (to my mystification, some people near me at the back were fiddling with their phones, to read messages, while the band were playing – rude). He kept moving the stand up and down as he sang and played. Unusually, I was able to verify that he doesn’t have many fillings, certainly in his upper teeth. Well done. More than I can claim.
It was a pretty stunning performance.