Happy birthday Iggy
(a week late, but what the hell.). Interestingly, Thee Ackurssed Witchipedia claims that Pop is one of the few famous musicians to have published in an established journal of Classical scholarship
, a claim I leave others to evaluate.
I caught a train down to London on Monday for a spot of work on Tuesday, and obviously picked up a ticket to see Neubauten in the evening. kixie
said I should go to a place nearby (Tupelo something) to meet her, zoo_music_girl
and an Aleks. When I got there - only very slightly late after dropping the camera back at Kate's - there was someone else there who seemed familiar. I thought this was just because she looked a bit like Marianne until she turned to face me and I realised it was Hellen1
. Krys now seems to think I know everyone, which isn't true. There were upwards of several people at the gig that I've never met. Anyway, it was good to catch up with (and in one case meet) people, and the food was good too.
I've not been to Koko/Camden Palace before, although I've been past it on the street plenty. I nearly went to see In The Nursery support VNV there several years ago, but assumed that because it looks like a little place from the outside it would also be small inside and it would be sold out. Big mistake. Big place - another old theatre with more balconies than you can shake a stick at. The support - The Devastations - were already playing, I think, when we arrived, and they were fairly good, but more in an intriguing way than as something to hold me immediately. I'm going to get something by them, I think.
I had a wander while they were playing and found scy11a
on the first balcony, so I stopped and had a chat with them. After that I went further up, not finding anyone else, and then went all the way to the bottom again and got collared by Steve Galbraith, who seemed very cheery. I missed him and Suzie that last couple of times they were in Edinburgh, so it was especially good to see him, at least - S and sprog were at home, although apparently also fine. He claimed as much, anyway.
I went as far forward as I could - which wasn't actually all that far - for Neubauten, and the first thing I noticed when they came on was that the sound was fairly ropy. Blixa's comments were often indecipherable and the opener - Good Morning Everybody - lacked punch. It picked up a bit during the next one (Selbstportrait mit Kater, I think) but stayed woolly right through to the end. I'm told this is a general feature of Koko gigs. A shame. Aside from this they seemed on good form, although the slower songs suffered from the lack of detail. As there was a run of these in the middle of the set, certain individuals got a bit bored, or even walked out. I enjoyed myself, but it wasn't the best I've seen them. I'm told the recording of the set's very sharp, though. I went back up by James and Sarah for the last encore, and on the way out bumped into kekhmet
- it was a good evening for unexpected meetings.
CJ fancied going for a swift half, so we went off to the Dev, and when that turned out to be closed we went round the corner to a place I think is called the Elephant Head for a quick drink before the last train - a nice place with some songs playing I hadn't heard in a while. I ended up running down the Camden Town escalator to avoid missing the last train, but there were actually at least another two after the one I caught.
On Wednesday I caught the ten train back to Edinburgh. In another unexpected reunion, I bumped into Miffy outside the National Library
. Not too long after I got back decomposingsoul
turned up, and after tea, coffee and hot chocolate (and two of those in the same mug in Milk's case - odd boy) I called nik_strychnine
but was told he had just left. It was alright, though, because he was coming round to mine to investigate the lift I'd offered him.
So we actually left in good time, and the trip over was fairly uneventful. I got to point out a few Glasgow landmarks to people (Charlotte, mainly, I think) who'd not done Glasgow before, and the Tramway itself was easy to find, in spite of the odd discrepancies between the map on the venue's website and the one on multimap. We parked on a side road just the other side of the railway station and joined the queue.
Now, I've mentioned that I'd met Hellen unexpectedly the day before. While I was in Cambridge I knew two Helens - or, rather, a Helen and Hellen. One of the reasons it was odd to see Hellen at the London concert was that Helen (fellcat
) had arranged to come up from Durham to the Glasgow one. Actually, I walked right past her in the queue because she was sitting down reading, but I did spot her from the end when she stood up. I think she was the only long-lost friend that night, although the gig scored in other ways.
I'd not been to the Tramway before. It's a converted Tram depot in Pollockshields, south of the city centre, that's been used as a venue for . . . a fair while. I didn't know (or didn't remember) that it's the site of the Hidden Garden, a project by NVA, the art organisation founded by Angus Farquhar, also of Beltane and Test Department fame, so it's already an appropriate venue even before we remember that it was the site of the Glasgow performances of Test Dept and Brith Gof's production of Y Gododdin.
Physically it's a Victorian brick shed, now divided internally. It looks battered from the outside, but is well-kept within. We went past the merch stall. which featured a bearded Japanese man who was addressed as Mr Suzuki. This was of course the great Damo Suzuki (who of course Mark E Smith is not, despite his claims otherwise), who was providing the first performance. It took a while for this to happen, during which various people turned up - Sandy, Lara, Seth, Roy, Kirstin, and the like. When the Damo Suzuki Network took the stage, the first thing I noticed was that they also had numbers on their side - Suzuki himself plus a drummer, bassist, two guitarists, a keyboard player and two saxophonists. They started playing . . . and kept playing. I'm not entirely sure whether they played one song that lasted forty-five minutes, several segued songs that added up to forty-five minutes, or whether they don't do songs in that sense at all. To be perfectly honest I couldn't make head nor tail of it. I went down the front to listen specifically to the horn players, but I couldn't understand what they were doing either - both seemed to be devotees of the squeep-gronk school of saxophony, and it didn't fit into the rest in any way I could follow. I assume this is all just Quite Advanced and was going right over my head. Ah well. They did play with energy, though. I think if it was the sort of thing I understood and liked then I'd have had a great time - I'm just not sure whether the audience members who understood it were outnumbered by the band.
After a bit they left, and the DJ was back. This was Twitch from Optimo, and was a reminder that I must pop along at some point. We got Half Life
, Mutiny in Heaven
, Incubus Succubus
and various others in that vein.
Again, the first thing I noticed when Neubauten came on and Blixa opened his mouth was the sound - it was beautifully clear. This made a big difference, especially to the quieter songs. When Andrew was dropping polystyrene packing chips during Grundstuck, the little plinks they make on impact were very distinct. I enjoyed the Glasgow set a lot more.
According to Blixa they'd never played Scotland before. They went down very well, though. Sadly the first half of the concert didn't record properly, so no live album for me. Blixa had to explain this to the audience, and ended up telling people they shouldn't blame him, as he was only making sure that they knew. They got a huge round of applause when they left, though, so I don't think anyone was holding it against them. The people I spoke to going out were all very enthusiastic. So was I. They were great. Sandy was claiming that if he'd known they were going to be that good he'd have been buying tickets to give away - as it was, none of the drummers turned up, which was a poor showing.
- Hellen of "change at Baker Street" fame, for those I've mentioned her to.