All images are the property of Tim Phillips-White (2012/13)
What can compensate for a damp, dank and unseasonably warm November evening in Birmingham? Three brilliant bands for only fifteen pounds, that’s what. In terms of value alone, this could at the very least be described as the very best of Monday nights.
So, I was extremely excited about seeing Frightened Rabbit and then I discovered that one of my favourite bands from the last few years were supporting, namely the fantastic Lanterns on the Lake; quite possibly the best thing to come out of Newcastle since, well I don’t know when.
First up we had Paul Thomas Saunders – unfortunately due to pub related activities we only caught the second part of his set; however we were all very impressed – well worth having a listen to his latest EP ‘Descartes Highlands’.
Next the ever wonderful Lanterns on the Lake – two albums in and after a slight line up change, the North East’s finest just keep getting better and better. Bitter sweet and sometimes fraught lyrics delivered with a musical intensity that moves – all topped off with the spellbinding and beautiful vocals of Hazel Wilde. Exciting to end with my personal favourite, ‘ I Love You Sleepyhead’ – both their albums are essential purchases.
As for Frightened Rabbit – what can one say? They certainly didn’t disappoint – it makes a rare change to find a band that really connects with their audience – this was demonstrated to perfection. As for the music, well this was powerful and sublime. Scott Hutchison is a brilliant frontman; joking with the crowd before launching into a series of intense and sometimes heartbreaking songs. The moment that he turned of the amplification and sand acoustically at the front of the stage to complete silence and reverence from the crowd will stay with me for a long time indeed.
Some would say that I have fairly dubious tastes in music, however, and how can I put this, those people are completely fucking wrong. What you will hear below is what happens when you combine the genius of the late, and very much missed Alex Chilton, alongside the national treasures that are otherwise known as Teenage Fanclub.
Pure pop perfection, this song completely sums up those first feelings that come crashing in when you fall in love; and unless you’ve somehow mislaid your soul along the way, you’ll be singing the chorus to this song for bloody ages. This song was never recorded or released, so all we have is this live recording. It’s a belter….!
Alex Chilton and Teenage Fanclub – You’re So Fine
I’m trying to post something everyday or so at the moment, even if it’s complete drivel. Tonight though, I’m just too tired; a week without much sleep has left me almost brain-dead, and I really need to go to bed and pass out.
So, tonight, I will communicate what’s going on in my head via the medium of music….
Teenage Fanclub – Don’t Hide
Paul Weller – Time Passes
Graham Coxon – Love You
Brett Anderson – The Wild Ones
How best to describe the performance from Mogwai last Thursday night at the Institute? It was the first time I’d seen them play live, however, I already had high expectations, and they didn’t disappoint me.
This turned out to be one of the most intense and moving musical performances that I have had the privilege of watching during the twenty odd years that I’ve been watching live music.
I was prepared for loudness, the Institutes acoustics are perfect for this, however as the evening progressed this became more like a prolonged attack on my central nervous system, like having your stomach jumped upon repeatedly by a very large, unforgiving man. Despite the gut wrenching sound attack, you cant help but be taken in by the sheer depth and beauty of their sound. To those who know and love their music, Mogwai are not your average band; they very rarely use vocals, and yet this seems perfectly normal.
Highlight of the evening for me was an amazing performance of “How to be a werewolf”, (see below), however this was just one of many high points during what turned out to be an awesome night. Amazing sonic soundscapes, sometimes brutal, always beautiful.
This is a band not to be missed on any count. Hopefully their commercial success will soon match their critical reputation.
Their latest album, “Hardcore will never die, but you will” is out now.
Mogwai – “How to be a werewolf”
Mogwai – “Letters to the Metro”
The Field Mice – “Anyone else isn’t you”
The Field Mice – “Between Hello and Goodbye”
Love…. The power of love. The destructive power of love that can sometimes leave one torn apart and as empty as a recently flushed toilet.
Please excuse me if I continue this post in the ‘third person’. I fear that this could end up as some rambling discourse on the human condition; a tale of broken and mended hearts. A story of despair, tears, even more despair, hopelessness and then nothing.
Nothing but an empty, sinking feeling. Coupled with a massive amount of regret….
Is this a love story? No. Is it a warning tale? Possibly. Don’t forget though, none of this really ever happened. I’m just tossing a few ideas and thoughts around my over active mind.
How a fool begins…
Love won and love lost. The pain, the absolute agony of falling in love. The juxtaposition between thrilling excitement and the worst feeling in the world. The nervousness, the dry mouth; out of which the words you always meant to say fail to appear. A stolen moment, a kiss. Looking into eyes you feel you’ve known forever.
Little things you never forget, however hard you try. Hair, shimmering in the early evening sun. Hands, fingers, eyes. Her smile, her laugh. These things will always stay long after she has gone.
Lying awake at night; your thoughts taken over by one person. The tears, the anger, the sickness at the pit of your stomach. The ‘not knowing’, the anguish, the pain, work suffering, health failing, empty bottles increasing….
Music. Every song reminds you in some way. Still, you listen to them even more. All the time. Keeping busy; time spent doing nothing is just more time when they fill your stupid head. You travel to work on the early train, you look at the fields change through the seasons. From summer to autumn; it seems to have a strange significance. The fields change from the golden glow of July and August, to the dark browns of September. Leaves turning; fluttering down to the ground. No longer shielding your eyes from the bright sun.
Confidence. Increased and then destroyed. Smashed to tiny pieces like a million shards of shattered glass. Heart racing. You feel alive when you’re with them; although you keep telling yourself that you can’t go through this again. Please not again…
To face the truth. The awful truth; the inevitable truth. You cry; but would never admit it. At 3am you lie there feeling as helpless and exposed as a new born baby. You think, “This can’t be happening to me”. It is though; so what do you do? Ignore the feelings deep inside you? Train ones heart to become as cold as ice? Then you see them; you see them again and you melt. Keep it together. For fucks sake keep it together this time. Please don’t lose the plot again. You try to appear aloof, distant, not giving a shit. Of course you just end up looking stupid… Again and again and again…
Life. Time stretches on; moving so quickly. Days to weeks; weeks to months. The slow, painful process of repair begins. Renewal; you start again. The false dawn; the setbacks, one step forward, one thousand steps back. Time heals; stolen time, wasted time, a time you can’t forget. Time to move on; make a new start, move forward, no looking back, don’t look back. Never look back….
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Paradise found down by the still waters
Joined in the race to the rainbow’s end
No fears no worries just a golden country
Woke at sunrise, went home at sunset……
Innocence. The loss of simpler times; of a golden age and those carefree days spent running wild. These are memories that I have spent time pondering in recent days; and more importantly, trying to pin-point that moment in time when that simple, child-like innocence departed and set me upon the path towards the man I have now become.
There comes a time when the harsh realities of life begin to become all too plain to us; when the magic and wonder depart and the truth becomes clear. I look back and wonder if anything remains of the happy child I once was; is he still there within me somewhere, or like time, has he gone forever, left in the past, never to return.
As is the case with many of us, the first blow to my magical world came when I first realised life’s most harsh reality. Death. I remember all too clearly the moment when I first realised that sooner or later all of us must die. I remember the shock, the emptiness and, most of all the fear. Even at such a young age, nothing is really ever the same again once this has been revealed to you. However, adulthood, or your concept of it, seem a lifetime away; it gets pushed to the back of ones mind, and you carry on. Before I had discovered this though, I had unknowingly had my first experience with death. One of my earliest memories is of myself and my parents rushing at some haste to my maternal Grandmothers house one summer afternoon in 1977. I can still recall seeing my Grandmother there, sitting in the chair, seemingly asleep; and of course, this is what I was told. This moment has always stayed with me; and sitting here, thirty-three years later, it is still as clear as a perfect blue sky in my mind.
This protection, of certain truths being kept from you, is the main thing that sustains ones innocence. My memories of my early childhood are in the main, happy, fun-filled ones. Days of sun, bicycles, games and running down lanes and through woods and fields. Days that seemed to go on and on, and where holidays seemed to last forever. Days that were filled with imagination and adventure, where anything seemed possible. Days where I felt totally fearless. Days that I thought would never end.
After moving around over the years, I now live a few short miles from where I grew up. Every once in a while I go back there; not just to the small town, but back to the lanes and forest tracks that I once knew so well. I’m not sure what I hope to find there; many years have passed, but the landscape remains the same and I can still hear the ghosts of my childhood calling me; the birds singing, the chime of the ice cream van on a Sunday afternoon, the rumble of the steam trains from across the river,the smell of hay, the lambs calling to their mothers in the fields beyond our garden. I go there in the hope that I can find myself again, that I can reconnect, that I can rediscover the lost magic…..
Bring you a tale from the pastel fields
Where we ran when we were young
This is a tale from the water meadows
Trying to spread some hope into your heart
It’s mixed with happiness – it’s mixed with tears
Both life and death are carried in this stream
That open space you could run for miles
Now you don’t get so many to the pound…..
Whilst I’m not in any way one to live in the past; the time I spend revisiting the lanes, streams and fields of my childhood is never misspent. Life, as we all find out, is a serious matter; time is short and there are moments when I long for a simpler, more carefree existence. Walking along the river, on a summer’s evening, I find it.
I don’t envy children growing up today. Too many distractions, and what would seem to be a unnessesary pressure to grow up far too quickly. The media play a huge part in this; whipping up hysteria and fear, causing parents to become ‘over protective’ of their children. This wasn’t the case during my childhood; my parents where strict, but I was allowed the freedom the be able to play and enjoy being a child. Of course, I was fortunate, and I do realise this; I grew up in a very small Worcestershire town on the edge of farmland and a forest. Life in a city would have been very different.
Childhood,is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows….. (John Betjeman)
The ‘dark hour of reason’. The loss of innocence. A feeling that time has passed; that the moment has gone. In many ways, that feeling never really leaves you; there are moments in life where you feel that something that you want so much might just happen. Sometimes you can even pin-point a time when the thing you wanted so much, should have happened. These moments last for but a second, and afterwards, when the moment has passed, you know in your heart that this was the chance you’d been waiting for. Of course, all too often we let these chances in life pass without acting upon them, but by then it’s far too late, and one is forced to move on. Like a fly trapped in amber however, these moments stay with you.
It’s hard to pin-point when innocence finally goes. It’s a gradual process. As you get older, you become more exposed to life around you and the truth surrounding your own life becomes all too clear. In my case, I began to realise that perhaps everything at home wasn’t as perfect as I’d once thought; as I started to grow, I became more aware of the money problems, of the fighting between my parents, and finally the day when they separated. When faced with these ‘grown up’ problems I really didn’t know where to turn; my poor Mother was forced to work two jobs in order to put food on the table and pay the bills. On top of this, I began to struggle at school, I became a victim of a few stupid bullies and soon learned to stick up for myself. However, it was a very painful period of time, and during those few short years the last traces of childhood wonder and magic vanished from within me……
The sunny sand we ran along
Everyday began upon
The summer’s kiss of love and adventure
And every June that we fell into
Left a mark upon us too
Etched forever as a moment we’d remember
And we’d remember
The empty woods where we played
Every hour of every day
The holidays went on forever
And in the woods was a soldier’s tomb
The ghost of which looked over you
And God was there amongst the trees
We felt his whisper as the summer’s breeze
And every night and every day
I learnt to love it in a special way
As I remember
What it’s like to walk amongst butterflies……
I’m often accused of being grumpy or miserable. To which I normally reply: ‘Good, now fuck off and let me go about my day’. You see, being grumpy is not the same as being ‘unhappy’, or ‘depressed’. It really isn’t….
Yet all to often this is a concept that far too many people fail to grasp. Let’s make something clear; yes I get unhappy at times, just like all of us do. There are things in my life that make me sad; things that have made me deeply unhappy.
That is not the same as being grumpy. I often think that I’ve made a career out of being grumpy; so much so that it’s almost an art form; almost a performance. It might also be true that I use my grumpy outlook as a wall against the rest of the world, to prevent some people from getting too close to me.
It’s also true that I’m grumpy because I care. There are a lot of things in the world that piss me off, and I hate the fact that sometimes I can’t do anything, or very little, to change them.
I’m not an unhappy man. All things considered, I’ve led a normal, lucky life; and for that I’m very thankful. I’ve got a job, a roof over my head, great friends and for most of my life, until this year at least, good health. These things are important to me and make me happy, and hopeful for the future.
So, with that in mind, here are some examples of life’s little piss takes that really fuck me off:
1. Annoyingly happy people: Life is not THAT perfect! I do not want to listen to your inane drivel ALL day!
2. Loud school children on my train in the morning: Just because you go to a nice, private school doesn’t give you permission to act like a bunch of little fuck-wits.
3. David Cameron.
4. X-Factor: (see also Big Brother and any other pile of rancid shit on tv.)
5. Fools who insist on phoning me at two in the morning. You should know how much I love sleeping, or if you didn’t, you sure as hell do now.
6. Americanisms: You live in the UK for fucks sake!
7. Rude shop assistants: Look me in the eye when you’re serving me! I don’t want your ever lasting gratitude, just some basic good manners would be a start.
8. Cruelty to animals – including foxes.
9) Lazy people: Do something, ANYTHING with your lives!
10. Anyone who works in sales: I can spot these twunts from miles away. If I need something, I’ll come and buy it from you; until then, you’re nothing more than a ridiculous hair cut to me.
11. People who insist on talking about their children – constantly. I understand how much you love them, but I don’t need to know.
12. Office Christmas parties – why do I have to pretend that I’m having a good time with people I spend far too much time with in the first place?!
14. Arrogance (see salespeople)
15. Chain coffee shops: When I say large, I mean large, not some other stupid fucking word that you describe the word ‘large’ as!
16. The BNP: Along with any other buffoons out there with racist, fascist or disgusting views.
18. ‘Two Faced’ people: If you don’t like me, don’t pretend that you do; I really don’t care!
19. Religion: Feel free to believe in anything you want; just don’t EVER try to force your views upon me.
20. Dirty people: Have a wash for fucks sake! It’s not that hard!
This list could go on and on; believe me it really could. This is just an example though, and as such It’s served it’s purpose.
The point is this though, if you know me, do not mistake my grumpy facade as unhappiness – it’s not. I tend to keep those thoughts to myself, where they belong…….
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As I’m one of those moods where I find myself thinking too much about things; here’s one of my favourite songs at the moment – the type of song where you relate to the lyrics perhaps too closely….