O2, ORANGES AND KEITH LEMON
When I was a young man, soon to become the adult tramp I have grown into, I remember seeing these stickers in various places. My guitar teacher (yes a professional actually taught me these three chords) definitely had one in his little hutch in his house where he kept all of his guitary stuff. I wondered ‘what on earth does this mean? Does it mean you shouldn’t listen to records? What a stupid movement and a big bunch of idiots’. I was considering my own campaigns; ‘KEEP BOOKS IN YOUR HEAD’ or ‘DON’T ALLOW ANYTHING TO TAKE A PHYSICAL FORM’. Of course I was young and naïve. I suppose all they were really saying is don’t mime and don’t, whatever you do, ever, ever, ever use pre-recorded backing tracks. Oops… sorry about that. But then again… fuck you Musicians’ Union. Fuck you! Huh ha ha.
Last week I sat and watched as much as I could bear of the annual ceremony which is essentially the UK record industry giving itself a pat on the back, The Brit Awards. I haven’t done this since around 1996 when, if you wanted to witness it broadcast live, you had to listen on the radio. Yeah! I kind of made a stand after that and refused to participate again and then that refusal turned to the just plain convenience of not having to subject myself to shit. Anyway, this year I decided to watch, as Blur would be playing and I was genuinely interested to see how it had moved on.
I wasn’t disappointed. Everything about it is still pomp and arrogance – which in itself isn’t so much a problem. I had Coldplay to get annoyed with and Noel Gallagher with Coldplay to slate and complain about and all the usual cheesy pop and whatever other shite the industry have been pimping to minors this year. That’s all fine. I’m sure in the early hours of the morning, after everyone has gone home or on to Stringfellows, the chief execs of Sony, Universal and Warner Music stood in a circle and masturbated over each other. It’s beautiful imagery, I know. Fine.
The problem I have is the venue. That massive dome in Greenwich is a vast space to do anything in. I cannot believe theatre and comedy is performed there too. The first, last and only time I watched comedy in an arena was horrendous. I would have been happier if I’d just chucked forty quid down a well. You can’t see, you can’t hear as people are constantly talking around you, people keep needing to get past you to go to the toilet, the ever so helpful staff keep shining torches at you as idiots keep losing their seats and you get the impression that you are hearing the performance 2 seconds after the performer as if it was being relayed to you via satellite. It’s not funny. It is shit.
Music in arenas I have less of a problem with as you can stand where you like and it’s generally much louder and can fill the space but still not a great experience.
For starters tickets are always more expensive to see a show at a larger venue. You’d think that would work the other way around. Like when Tesco buy a shit load of Weetabix and sell it off so cheap that you decide that you will be eating exclusively Weetabix this week and it’s definitely worth a couple of cereal farmers contemplating suicide. Surely… if they have more tickets to sell, then the price should come down?
Well, perhaps I know the answer to my own question, as in my experience, the larger the venue the higher the overheads which are obviously passed on to the consumer. Right. OK. However I am still the customer at these big shows. Since I have forked out anywhere between £40 - £80 for a ticket (depending on how big a cunt is promoting it) then surely I can expect a bit of respect.
Yeah, of course you can search my bag, frisk me, take my camera phone and lose it. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed a packet of chewing gum”. “The water? It’s in case I get thirsty. Oh – sorry about that as well then. Could I possibly go outside for a cigarette at some point? Yes?! But I would be allowed back in? OK – that’s a bit disappointing. How about if I just go and get myself some water then from one of those lovely brightly t-shirted young people over there… Excuse me? Excuse me? Excuse Me? OK. Sorry – I’ll wait for 20 minutes whilst you tend to everybody else in the building, before having a chat with your colleagues and then when you come back from your break. Mmmmm – you smell smokey. How much is that tiny bottle of warm water? Mmm hmmm… and how much is a pint of the piss you are marketing as ‘beer’? OK, I had best have the beer since I’m on a budget. £65 it cost to come here y’know. Thank you for short-changing me as well. Ha ha – they are cheeky so and so’s. Oops… I’m sorry Mister over-excited teenage boy, I appear to have been standing right in your way when you were barging past like a dick. That’s ok, I only wanted half of this beer anyway. Right compardres, shall we make our way to the main room where we can be pushed, shoved, shouted at and spat on and listen to a drunk man sing my favourite songs in my right ear for 90 minutes whilst staring at the back of the tallest man on earth? Let’s go!”
Perhaps this blog is more apt than you think as today marks the 16th anniversary of the first time I ever attended a live concert as a stupid, non-critical, non-judgemental, impressionable 12 year-old child. It was awesome!
Anyway, so Blur were playing at The Brits in this vast quarry-like arena in Greenwich sponsored by ‘Oats So Simple’ and having watched Damon Albarn’s embarrassing acceptance speech (he comes across as a vain and arrogant man) and after ITV having James Corden push Adele to one side, Blur were ready to perform. I enjoyed their 5 song set. It was nice and nostalgic and they seemed to be playing as well as they ever have. Fine. I noticed later some people on The Twitters slating the performance. Which is fine as not everything can be everyone’s cup of tea but some of the comments appeared to be made without qualification. Maybe these people are now so used to their “performers” miming and using backing tracks that they don’t understand why live music is invigorating and exciting. It is because it is NOT THE SAME AS IT IS ON THE FUCKING RECORD!!! And also because it could all fall apart at any moment. Watching a guitarist slightly fluff a note is a beautiful human sound and a singer forgetting the words is just so bloody hilarious that it is far and beyond the entertainment of when they remember them all. Not that Blur had much of this at The Brits. They were on fine form in my opinion and after I have told you that my latest album is now available on Spotify then you can listen for yourself. If you are, however, like Piers Morgan, not in a position to judge – don’t.
Above all, Keep Music LIVE! (If you want).
After a bit of complaining to the distributor they have suddenly come up with a magic way of doing something they so far were unable to do - meaning my latest Meiosis album, ‘Where Reality Ends and I Begin’ is now available on Spotify. You can listen, share and dispose of it here: http://open.spotify.com/artist/1uTftyEvgoSXGh5mcYwwKD. I hope you enjoy listening to it at least as much as I enjoyed making it, which is actually the bare minimum level of enjoyment. Tell me what you think using the contact tab on this website.
[Apologies for what could be the most irritating advertisement possible at the beginning of this. I did try to find an alternative version but I failed. At least you can imagine (in your head) punching these ladies full on in their big faces now.]
Find some more tunes and stuff from Meiosis: