11/27/2005 06:51:00 PM|W|P|dan|W|P|I heard a statistic (can't remember where, so bear in mind that this post may be based on nothing more scientific than "this bloke down the pub said") the other day that the average person has heard more new music for the first time before they're 30 then they will hear for the rest of their life. Wow. I know I'm lucky because of my job, but....Like it's not bad enough turning thirty without having the additional realisation that those moments when you hear something great for the first time, and the goosebumps go up, and you can't do anything but get up and jump around the front room of your flat are only going to get fewer and further apart until they just peter out. Rubbish.
We saw Patricia Vonne a few weeks back at the Barfly. She's the sister of film director Robert Rodriguez, and even had a small part in Sin City, but also fronts a tasty rockabilly band. A few songs are sung in Spanish, and she occasionally gets the castanets out, but more than anything else I was reminded of the Blasters. Really strong, driving old fashioned rock n roll. She put on a good show, despite a paltry attendance, and seemed unfeasibly pleased to be playing to a crowd of about thirty on a cold Monday night in Cardiff. Maybe Texas isn't all it's cracked up to be. Going out for a couple of drinks and watching a rocking band is so much a part of what I like to do that I can't imagine ever being one of those people from my statistic.
And now for the music that I definitely heard for the first time before I was thirty - a long time before. There's a moment in the newly released DVD of Bruce Springsteen live at Hammersmith in 1975 that gets me every time I watch it. It comes right at the beginning, during the opening "Thunder Road". Bruce is singing the familiar words, accompanied only by a piano this time out. Partway through, he pauses and looks up to the ceiling. I like to think that just for a minute there he can see everything that's coming. The success of Born To Run after the two flop records, the 80s phenomenon, the stadiums, even the two dodgy early 90s albums and his creative rebirth at the tail end of the century. He looks up, sees it and decides to take it, to just go for it, because for the rest of the gig he and the E Street Band play like demons. Statistics be damned, just because it's been around for a while doesn't make it bad.|W|P|113309033625320035|W|P|It Ain't No Sin To Be Glad You're Alive|W|Pemail@example.com/14/2005 03:56:00 AM|W|P|dan|W|P|Thanks to Marcus, I have been prompted to blog about Neil Gaiman's latest Anansi Boys. I didn't really like it. Firstly the subject matter is pure Gaiman by numbers. If authors had tribute bands, one of them could have come up with this. Ancient gods walking around in a modern setting again, confused but ultimately succesful hero who knows more than he realises, plucky female comes along and saves the day. Put Neverwhere and American Gods in a blender and you'd come up with something like this. Then the dialogue is full of that same smug self satisfaction that made Buffy so unbearable. You know the sort of thing I mean - all the "clever" lines that the bullied kids at school wished they'd had the balls to say while, or indeed shortly before, they were getting beaten up by the rugby team, delivered with a knowing wink to the reader that serves only to pull you out of the story and let you know how pleased the author is with himself. There's a huge problem with tone as well. I think it was supposed to be a comedy, or at least vaguely humourous, but the whole thing is written with such a condescending mother knows best voice that you could almost mistake it for a Narnia book (and don't even get me started on the wave of CS Lewis retroconning that is going to be going on around the launch of Disney's naked attempt to grab themselves some of that nice Lord Of The Rings cash. If you found anything to enjoy in that sanitised, polite condensed milk tin of a book, then you probably grew up to live in Dorking, read the Daily Telegraph, think that Harry Potter is amazingly imaginative and won't be anywhere near this blog. But I digress...). This telling, not showing, trap is the the last one I would expect someone who's written some decent children's books to fall into - those little buggers are much less tolerant of that kind of thing than we evidently are. Gaiman is a talent, and I still think Sandman is the high water mark of comics in the last, ooooh, ever, but he has badly misfired this time.
Some better reading was found in Jan Morris' wonderful (non-fiction) trilogy about the British Empire, comprising Heaven's Command, Pax Britannica and Farewell The Trumpets. In these liberal early 21st century times, it's going to be difficult to find an unabashed cheerleader for the notion of empire - although anyone who thinks that we are now living in a post-imperial age obviously doesn't think very hard, or has never seen pictures of Sangatte or of the bombers flying east (cf the lyrics to New Model Army's "Another Imperial Day") - but Morris does remind us of the terrific achievements of Empire, without ever descending to any talk as crass as "we civilized 'em", and certainly doesn't shy away from the ghastlier side. Lest that sound like I have been spending too much time chin stroking, I should also mention that I caught up on the last half dozen issues of The Walking Dead, and still love it's depiction of the survivors of a zombie infested world slowly unravelling (clue: the walking dead of the title aren't the zombies).
On a gig tip, I finally fulfilled a small ambition that dates back five or six years when I got to see Eileen Rose play at the Barfly. She's a country-ish, rootsy singer songwriter who used to knock around with Alabama 3 before moving back to the US. This gig was just her and her husband, and I enjoyed it - but I still want to see her with a full band. They were supporting Jonathan Rice, another singer songwriter who had a small buzz about him earlier this year. Now, singer songwriters normally leave me cold (two years of living in Dublin will do that to a man - you can't chuck a brick without hitting one there), and Rice's album is no exception. It's the sort of maudlin minor chord misery that bores me to tears, and we were thinking about leaving the gig before he came on. But we hung on, and weren't we rewarded! He had a band called Death Valley backing him, who were notable for two reasons - firstly the bass player looked like the result you'd get if you photoshopped Dot Cotton and Ian Brown together, and secondly they rocked like total bastards. A potential evening of acoustic whining turned into some great Crazy Horse-esque rock n roll, which finished with Jonathan teaching us the chorus to a new song catchily called "We're Stuck Out In The Desert And We're All Gonna Die, Wipe The Salt And Sweat From Your Blistering Eye". I can still sing it now....
Tune in next time when I talk about the promise of Bruce Springsteen, and review tomorrow night's Patricia Vonne gig.
I am blogging to: Isaac Hayes|W|P|113191207208168874|W|P|Why I Didn't Like Anansi Boys (for Marcus)|W|Pfirstname.lastname@example.org/15/2005 05:30:00 AM|W|P|Marcus|W|P|So you didn't like it then?
When you off to Japan?