The Afghan Whigs at Nottingham Rescue Rooms

The Afghan Whigs, Ed Harcourt – Rescue Rooms – Nottingham – 15 August 2017

Billy no mates at the Rescue Rooms. My friends can’t make it and I have two spares, but no one comes to gigs like this on spec anymore.

The Afghan Whigs are a band back from a 16 year hiatus for a second phase, with two great albums in recent years back on top form. I’ve seen them three times before. Once circa 1999, when I’d play their then new album “1965” whenever I got a turn on the decks in the record shop where I then worked.

I saw them again at the Electric Ballroom in 2014, I happened to be passing through London and managed to buy a spare on the door.

This year, in May, I went to Manchester hoping to see them play The Cathedral. In the wake of the Arena bombing the show was moved to the Ritz, becoming all the more powerful for harnessing the defiant mood of the city less than a week after the atrocity.

Their albums “Do To The Beast” and this year’s “In Spades” have taken up residence in my headphones (when other records get dumped from the over-burdened memory.) They’ve become go-to listening for late night journeys. The Whigs world is a dark one, but full of soul.

Outside the venue too early to go in, three blokes loiter by the door, this band’s version of a queue. Hair that might once have been a quiff, band t-shirts carefully chosen. We are the walking wreckage of our former selves. And only when it’s nearly too late do we realise we were actually alright all along.

I chat with a couple who share my table. The geezer talks over his wife to demonstrate his knowledge of obscure tracks (even though, I discover, he’s not actually got around to seeing the band before). I ration my beer, hide in my notebook, I’m early for doors. I’m trying to raise some takers for my spare tickets, but the demographic is such that using social media is a fool’s errand. You don’t see many young people (unless they’ve been dragged along by their parents) at these shows. But we’re all Zineagers.

Say what you like about the over 35s, they’re efficient with their time. I’m either spectacularly early or so late I arrive only just in time for the very first note. Less concerned about cool too, not to say there aren’t a few very cool looking folks here, suited and booted.

These days I’m getting jaded, skint. Picky. I have time to get another beer, deposit the spares on the door with the instructions to give them away to the last to show up (employing what I like to think of as Ticket Karma) and I still walk straight to the barrier!

Ed Harcourt is touring as opener and also playing as an honorary Whig. He constructs a loop and plays “Occupational Hazard” from 2016’s “Furnaces”, he picks out notes on a Beastatone guitar, layered and stark. He’s become a good fit for the headliners, tattoo’d and cowboy booted. Black-clad and ready to explore the dark side. He announces that he turned 40 yesterday and warns that he’s facing “the fear” after 48 hours of drowning it out. But he rises above it, crooning “Until Tomorrow Then” to a “blue birds on my shoulder” glissando finale.

Greg Dulli, Whig in chief, sets the ball rolling. Picking his way onto the crowded stage to replicate “In Spades” opener “Birdland” (complete with audible sniff) before the rest of the band join him for a breathless trilogy – “Arabian Heights”, “Matamoros”, and the ever sexy “Somethin’ Hot” (which for lesser bands would be peaking early). They’re funky in a low down fashion, no nonsense without clichés that aren’t their own, blending the older material with the new like they never went away. They lead a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for Harcourt, and play their ominous and faultless cover of Pleasure Club’s “You Want Love”.

“You want to go back?” asks Dulli, “I’m willing to go back half my life for you.” And they play “Honky’s Ladder” from 1996’s “Black Love”.

Dulli stops and summons a couple of women from the crowd to the front. “You and you…” he reaches over and hands them what at first look like dubious packages, but as they pass over my shoulder I realise that they are freshly wrapped earplugs from a stash in his pocket. Volume dealt with they plough on.

Between legs of this tour, long-time guitarist and fellow member of Dulli’s other band The Twilight Singers, Dave Rosser, passed away after suffering from cancer. “Can Rova”, a song about leaving, becomes a tribute. “You don’t see me any more.” Rosser will always be with them (and still gets to take his applause at the end of the show).

Dulli takes to the piano for three more songs, including their take on the Bonnie and Clyde story (somewhere between Serge Gainsbourg and Beyonce & Jay Z’s version) “Going To Town (Slight Return)”. They go way back to their debut LP for “Son Of The South”, sprawling and epic and storm the place with “Into The Floor”.

Telling off someone in the balcony for filming, this is a strictly no flash photography gig, Dulli says, “Pay attention, this might be the last time you ever see us.” I hope not, I hope they’re here to stay.

Use your time wisely, for one day you will be too old for this, but not yet. Not quite yet.

Back for more, making us work for it, the encore treats the loyal with “Summer’s Kiss” and “Faded”. I hope someone used my spares.

Left Lion: Radioheadcase

After a pint with their Literature Correspondent, when I was still in somewhat of a state of post-tour euphoria, it was decided to feature my Radiohead blog in Nottingham’s premier cultural free paper, Left Lion.

Here’s the Q&A and some extracts from the blog, which finds it’s new home here.

I dug out my old “Creep” badge and had my photo taken by David Baird and put James Walker in his place about infering that fans are crazy…
 

 

 

All You Have to do is say YES: Radiohead, Roundhouse, London 2016

I’ve been going to see Radiohead live since 1993 and I’ve been writing about them ever since. Prior to the tour dates in May 2016, I’d been compiling my experiences into a blog, from which I will be publishing extracts. First, my report on the three gigs they played at London’s Roundhouse Thursday 26th, Friday 27th & Saturday 28th May 2016.

Radiohead have been opening their recent live sets with an excerpt from an interview with the great Nina Simone.

Interviewer: “What’s ‘free’ to you?”

Nina Simone: “What’s ‘free’ to me? Same thing it is to you, you tell me.”

Interviewer: “No, you tell me!”

Nina Simone: “It’s just a feeling, it’s just a feeling…  I’ll tell you what freedom is to me – No fear! I mean really, no fear!

I’d been to see the opening shows of this short Radiohead tour in Amsterdam, then been home for a couple of days.

WEDNESDAY

I find myself calling 999 for a man making a delivery at work, we think he’s having a heart attack. I stay on the phone, relaying instructions, watching colleagues give him CPR. I can’t panic, everything moves too fast and is too important. Ambulances and a helicopter arrive and he is whisked to hospital, it’s quite possible that he just died in front of us, may not come round, even though they have forced him to breath again.

It’s shocking and sobering, too much fucking perspective, but oddly after something so awful gets lifted off you, there is a feeling that anything can happen. That anything is possible and that you should do it now, for you could go at any time.

THURSDAY

I head to London and to the Roundhouse for the first of three more shows.

At Chalk Farm (Camden) the queue is still fairly small by 4pm. I see old friends who have been travelling the world for this band, for years, but not as many of the usual crew because the tickets have been so hard to come by. Security are checking ID and wrist-banding people in the queue, ready to enter and have tickets scanned inside.

Thursday

Through the magic of Radiohead we end up at the front of the crowd. I’m in the middle of the barrier, which no matter how much I try to convince myself is not the be all and end all, is the best thing that could have happened. The Roundhouse is a lot smaller inside than I expected, the stage taking up almost one third of the space. After the ambulance adventure yesterday, I’m almost preternaturally calm, which is a strange feeling. I try to stay loose through Holly Herndon’s set, but being at the front, right in the middle, makes you self conscious.

Radiohead play the first five tracks from A Moon Shaped Pool as they have each night of the tour so far, then Lotus Flower, and Talk Show Host – a much loved, and exceptionally funky B side. They drop My Iron Lung, like they know what I like. Gloaming. Exit Music (not a personal fave but always a bit of a moment in the set, Phil audible on backing vocals). Separator (which for some reason has been really hitting me on this tour) Identikit, The Numbers, a down and dirty Myxomatosis, a minimal Reckoner, ravey Idioteque and a broken up Everything In Its Right Place.

They go off and come back on. “Shall we just stay and play everything? You don’t have anywhere to be right?” This band are more relaxed than I’ve ever seen them. Magpie, 2 +2 = 5, Nude

A harmonica noise comes from Jonny’s side of the stage and Thom chides him; “What’s up boss?” They start again, not missing a note. Planet Telex pleases this old fan and still sounds great. There There… and there is more.

Back for The Present Tense“We’re gonna play a new song coz it’s like hitsville” says Thom, then they drag the piano out for You And Whose Army and finally Paranoid Android “before your vegan kebab”.

The crowd is as into this as the band are, making final bows to us in the centre, Thom mimes going to sleep. Like a douche I’m trying to wink and shut my eyes. I’ve missed something. The Italian girls next to me squeal and my friend, Keiko, nudges me, Thom just pointed at me. Yeah well, I have been here a few times before!

I can’t explain how this feels and heaven knows I have tried. It’s the same feeling back again, THIS, the most important thing. And they know.

FRIDAY

Late afternoon I head back to Camden. My ticket for tonight has been bought by another old friend who won’t arrive until 5pm. I decompress in a pub near Camden Lock and “The Wibble Factor” kicks in; I talk fast, my hands shake, my eyes are wide. Things are out of my hands tonight and I’m nervous in a weird charged way that only happens at Radiohead gigs.

We hole up in the Roundhouse bar, check which entrance we have to use, and order more beer. I try to relax a little and talk to some long time fans. It’s easy to start trading stories once you discover what this band means to people.

We arrive in the auditorium half way through the support set, but saunter over to the far end of the stage, Jonny-side. The view is not as good as last night, but we’re still enough in the thick of it to see and to feel part of the show. It hurts less, not having to stand completely still, being able to get in and out and to move.

Friday 1

The new songs are getting into my system. Then they blow it up with Airbag and Kid A. Separator doesn’t kill me this time, but No Surprises tries.

Then Glass Eyes, just Thom on electric piano. Pyramid Song (one of my favourites) with Jonny bowing his guitar. National Anthem, The Numbers, Identikit, Myxomatosis again, Thom enjoying the rant of it, smiling like I’ve never quite seen before, he’s free up there. Bloom, Present Tense, Everything, Tinker Tailor, Arpeggi… they go off and back on for Bodysnatchers, Jonny punishing his guitar, trying to beat the ghosts out of it.

They end on Karma Police, the others leave the stage but Thom stands on the lip, still clutching his acoustic, willing the audience to keep singing (has he ever done it quite like that before?). He wants us to keep going. For a minute there I lost myself.

We tumble to the foyer, oh look up there is Nick Cave looking for a place to smoke his fag. I run into Jonny who says I looked like I fainted last night. I refute the accusation – I was just bending my knees. “You look like you’re enjoying yourselves up there”.

“Yeah,” he says, “We realised it’s fun at last.” We spot the actor Toby Jones, in a pork pie hat (apparently there were more famous folk somewhere else  – reports of Kate Bush, PJ Harvey and Benedict Cumberbatch do the rounds later).

Stumbling out into the night, rather soaked in gin, I pass a man in biking gear talking on his phone. Double take and realise it’s Chris Morris, and he’s just exited the back of the Roundhouse. Wonder if he’s been in the back talking Blue Jam with Thom?

SATURDAY

I don’t have a ticket for tonight, but I call in a favour and show up in time for doors opening to wait and see if one can be made to appear. We feel it will happen. The same girl from security is on the gate, she is used to me by now. I hang around, standing back to let the increasingly star studded guest list inside. Samantha Morton, Polly Harvey again, at least two Peaky Blinders and a ridiculously cool looking fella, who on second glance is Mad Men’s John Hamm (in mirrored shades, jeans on just right, he couldn’t look more like a movie star if he tried).

They’re closing the gates and I’m starting to lose hope, when my contact comes to ask if I have cash on me. I’m whisked to the box office and sold one of the very last tickets in the place. The door staff are starting their final countdown to stage time and I just have time to rush to the toilet (my need to pee was becoming stronger than my need to see the band at this point) and they spark up Burn The Witch just as I make it inside.

Saturday

A Saturday night crowd in full effect: I’m stuck at the periphery of the space where people are drinking and talking, not necessarily as enraptured as those nearest the stage. It’s frustrating but at least I’m in. I try to see, I try to hear, I try to get out of the way of the bloody pillars that hold the roof up. I get beer and dodge other people, trying to have MY gig, but surrendering to it being THEIR gig. I nearly have a stand up row with two blokes in front, who are incessantly talking. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if they were saying something meaningful but it’s a pub chat, a slight disenchantment with the new songs. I pull faces until one of them turns on me.

“I just want to know why you would pay £65 to talk to your mate?” I ask. He does that thing which middle aged blokes do, and tries to sound like he knows better than little old me. They saw Richard Ashcroft here last week from the front row, and this is crap compared to that. I want to ask him why the hell he’s bothered coming. Getting tickets for this show was an effort for everyone. But I hold myself back.  I could tell him how many times I’ve seen this band, but I don’t want a conversation, I want some fucking respect.

I move to the bar and find myself among more cheerful types, who hug me when they find out I’ve been at all three shows. They sing along, are happy to hear the old ones, I let it wash over me, I dance, I stop straining to see. They can’t top last night and I don’t want them to. But there’s Like Spinning Plates and there’s my boys again.

I meet some more of the old crew, their kids now grown up and at the gigs with them. More drinks and I get a bit emotional, it always hits me at the end. I should keep my eyes open. It’s just a feeling, it’s just a feeling. Radiohead gigs are where I am most alive and where I am completely free – so don’t tell me where to stand, don’t drown out the best voice of his generation, don’t push me around, because you can’t hurt me, you can’t spoil it.

“Half my life, no fear,” says Nina in the interview.

“Half my life,” says Thom, backwards at the end of Daydreaming.

Half my life (well a bit more) I’ve been coming out for this band, and they still hit me harder than anything else.

What is free to me? THIS THIS THIS.

This blog was originally published by The Zine, creators united by passion!
Afterword: The casualty mentioned in this blog is now thankfully recovering.

Strange Wales: The Laugharne Weekend

“The Strangest Town in Wales” was how Dylan Thomas first described his adopted home of Laugharne (pronounced Larn – the ‘laugh’ is silent).

This “beguiling island of a town”, a “legendary lazy little black-magical bedlam by the sea” has some unusual characteristics conferred by retaining the last surviving medieval corporation in Britain. It also has some impressive Georgian mansions, a ruined castle and beautiful views of Thomas’s beloved “heron priested” shore of the Taf Estuary.

sunny view from laugharne castle

View of the estuary from Laugharne Castle

Stumbling upon the Strange Wales festival weekend in spite of their rather jumbled online presence (usually there is one Laugharne Weekend, this year for Thomas’s Centenary there are three), I headed out of my comfort zone to see what unpredictable happenings were taking place.

At first it felt like a product of the special festival atmosphere, but one gets the feeling that Laugharne is like this most weekends – folks tumbling out of pubs and taking their pints into the church; the Tin Shed, casually billed as a 1940s experience doubling as a bar, handy for the gigs in the Millennium Hall.

Cate Le Bon at Millennium Hall, Laugharne

Cate Le Bon at Millennium Hall, Laugharne

The celebrated Browns Hotel, and at least three more pubs makes for an interesting route through town. The Georgian scale of many of the buildings, larger than those usually found in a similarly sized Welsh village, are the legacy of a history as a busy cockeling port and the Castle, ruined by Cromwell’s soldiers during the civil war. Eccentricity is embraced here, creativity encouraged and there is a looseness to proceedings that means nothing is ever quite on time.

On Friday I arrive in time to catch the night’s Millennium Hall gig – Sweet Baboo with some campervan inspired acoustic indie then Cate Le Bon, playing most of her album Mug Museum, the end of a long tour which leads to some hi-jinks with carrots, and a closing cover of a Thin Lizzie number which sees the band relax.

In the congregational church up the road there is a woozy late showing of Gruff Rhys’ film American Interior, where the Super Furry Animals songwriter traces his ancestor John Evans’ journey across the states in search of a mythical Welsh-speaking tribe of Native Americans.

The Boathouse, where Dylan and Caitlin Thomas lived

The Boathouse, where Dylan and Caitlin Thomas lived

Left to my own devices on Saturday, I head first to the Boathouse, the house where Dylan Thomas lived from 1949 until his death in 1953. Here he wrote some of the major works of his late career including Under Milk Wood (which Laugharne inhabitants likes to claim is based on the characters of the town). After taking in the views and old HTV documentary, I peer into the recreation of his writing shed, perched on the cliff edge and decorated with pictures of his influences and dozens of crumbled papers beneath the writing desk. A walk along tree looped lanes finds the Poet’s grave, an unassuming flimsy white cross heading a plot scattered with cheap boozers trinkets and tributes from all over the world.

Dylan Thomas's writing shed.

Dylan Thomas’s writing shed.

Back at to the unofficial festival hub, a reconditioned mobile library dubbed the Book Bus, where a few of the literati are gathered to browse through DT aficionado Jeff Towns’ collection of Dylan-iana. Then into church again to catch the last half of the 1997 film Twin Town.

Following up on his debut’s anarchic spirit, director Kevin Allen has returned to Wales to film Under Milk Wood. Here he presents a teaser trailer. Sharing some cast members with Twin Town, including Rhys Ifans, it promises to be a surreal, dream-like romp, filmed in both English and Welsh language versions. Allen takes questions from the audience, many of whom took part in the filming as extras. He claims that the somewhat bawdy play, originally written for radio, will gain a new audience from his highly visual interpretation and if he had his way the poster would bare the legend “it’s all about the shagging”.

A quick dash to the Rugby Club to catch the end of a noisy set by young Cardiff-based band Joanna Gruesome, then it’s back to Browns for a few pints with some new friends. The rest of the evening – Krautrock from two man outfit R. Seiliog and then luminaries of the Post Punk scene Young Marble Giants take to the stage for the first time since 1979 – goes by in a pleasant haze.

On Sunday, a restorative B&B breakfast and it’s back down to the explore the castle in the sunshine. An unassuming summer house in the grounds provides another writers bolt hole, once owned by Richard Hughes (author of A High Wind In Jamaica) and also used by Dylan Thomas.

"Gonzo Bookselling: 1. Find An Event, 2. Immerse Yourself, 3. Become the Story."

“Gonzo Bookselling: 1. Find An Event, 2. Immerse Yourself, 3. Become the Story.”

Hannah Ellis, the poet’s granddaughter, teacher- turned advocate of creativity in education, speaks eloquently on her hopes for a future Dylan Thomas Foundation, to bring his work to a new generation. Dylan failed at school, his imagination and creativity perceived as bad behaviour. Wandering around Laugharne, getting into mischief, exploring and going with the flow helps one realise how constrained one can be by such convention.

The unseasonal late sunshine is too bright to give up for a Wickerman-esq documentary in the church and soon the lure of golden ales and a John Martin tribute draw us back to the Tin Shed.

Later, after a minimal electro set from newcomers Trwbadour, local bookshop owner and former music journalist George Tremlett is upstairs at The Cross Inn talking about his co-authorship with the poet’s widow Caitlin of a definitive biography – his involvement suggested by Ted Hughes after reading his interviews with 1970s pop names including Marc Bolan and David Bowie. Thomas was rock ‘n’ roll ahead of time and his influence had been weaving a spell over Tremlett for years before his involvement with the project. He goes on to debunk myths about the circumstances of the poet’s death and to suggest that we shouldn’t allow reputation to stand in the way of the immortality of the work.

Islet at The Millennium Hall, Laugharne

Islet at The Millennium Hall, Laugharne

Back down at the Millennium Hall, Islet take the stage banging on a variety of percussive bars, bells and drums. They are a band full of energy and invention, gestures and rhythms and it makes for the best performance of the weekend.

Gruff Rhys, this time in person, is in contrast a whimsical, witty presence and tells the story of John Evans complete with his specially commissioned puppet, through a selection of songs and anecdotes which slips from English to Welsh and back again so smoothly that it’s almost possible feel like you’re learning some scraps of the language as he goes along.

Outside, the weather has turned cold and skipping more films in lieu of a lift back up the road, the B&B beckons once more.

Waking up to one more over the top breakfast and the odour of egg and bacon, there is time for then one more look at the gloriously shiny bay before taking a bus to the relative normality of Carmarthan – so different Laugharne already seems like a fevered dream.

View from Laugharne Castle

View from Laugharne Castle

 

 

 

 

 

Queens Park Music Club

Queens Park Music Club Vol. 1

Glasgow International (GI) is in full swing and the project I worked on with Queens Park Railway Club has been launched.

Queens Park Music Club Volume 1 – a digital publication comprising artists’ responses to questions about the role of music in their practice – featuring playlists, essays, illustrations and meditations on the theme – is now available to download.

Queens Park Music Club

There was a lot of discussion about what form this collection of work should take – should we embed playlists? If so what form would they take? In the end it was settled that links to the music would be placed within the text – leaving it to the internet to provide the music – rather than curating a podcast or compiling a mix. With so many issues around copyright, ownership and piracy tied up with listening to music online it was detracting from the focus of the project. I feel it demonstrates the effect that the internet has had on the breadth of people’s musical taste – almost everything is available if you can find it, indeed we found that to be the case, with the exception of only a couple of the pieces cited in the publication.

In the end, I didn’t write for the project myself but, in researching the form it would take, I did compile a piece of my own which I present below with a Mixcloud featuring the tracks under discussion.

QPRC Playlist 1: Live Tracks by Queensparkrailwayclub on Mixcloud

Live In Concert.
 

 

*track 1* Joe Cocker  – Delta Lady (Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Live Album 1970)

“Delta Lady it is my love,” With his Sheffield showing, Joe Cocker launches the closing track his 1970 live album. I have a clear memory of the gatefold sleeve, full of circus imagery and Cocker’s sweaty, crazed, stoned, gurning face in my parent’s meagre vinyl collection when I was a kid. The sound of all the drugs the band took, all the life they were living is captured on this record.

“Rock ‘n’ roll!” Cocker chuckles, like he’s almost surprised. I remember not being allowed to play with my parents records – I must have looked at the sleeve while my dad played it on the big wooden box of a hifi. My parents had some history with Cocker, attending his early pre-fame, pre-America gigs. They tell a possibly apocryphal story about him singing while standing on a table in a working men’s club. There’s another tale that they never finish involving Cocker disappearing to the toilet mid-set, presumably partaking in some recreational pursuit that parents don’t want their children to know about.

Is this where I get my need to follow bands from?

In my head I’m at some dream-version of the gig, it doesn’t match the tour film with Cocker’s crazed battery bunny drumming dance. Worn out, one more time, feeling it. The big finish. The reprise, pushing it just that bit further. They don’t want it to end.

They’re playing so hard there’s not much left of the song – that shriek, that voice almost falling apart. No meaning left but the moment. Good live albums which capture the essential transience of live performance are rare. Live albums that make you feel like you’re at a gig are rarer still. It’s impossible to talk of ‘authenticity’ after all this is a Yorkshireman singing the blues.

*track 2* Radiohead – The National Anthem (I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, 2001)

When I hear this, I am sent back to the Buddokan toilets. When Radiohead played in Tokyo in 2001, I was there. The gig that night started early and like the other shows on that tour they opened it with The National Anthem and it felt like a threat. That bass, that noise, the whole round place shook with the shiver and the panic of it. And we weren’t even in the auditorium yet. It was the manifestation of my touring anxiety dream (I get lost, I can hear the band but I can’t see them).

The way they were playing that song at that time went beyond the dark album version, it becomes something purely physical.

My muscle memory makes me twitch, I don’t hear this one I feel it. Aggression and fear and anger and all the things I take from those gigs. It’s a feeling in the pit of my stomach.

 *track 3* The Jesus & Mary Chain – Reverence (Live in Bristol, 1992 from BBC Radio Live in Concert album, 2003)

Lying in bed with headphones on in the dark. The year my taste was formed. The Mary Chain are something forbidden, their name (to a Catholic school girl, afraid of everything) the dirtiness of their noise, the sexy confidence of it. If this was a gig, then I had to go to one.

I know now that the Mary Chain wear their influences on their sleeve, but then it was my gateway to The Stooges, to Jonathan Richman, to the Phil Spector Wall of Sound. JAMC got to me first.

I was too young to go their gigs that year, and I never got the chance to see them before they split. They’ve played a few gigs in the last few years but I they’re the last band I’m yet to see. I joke that I’ll book them myself if that’s what it would take for me to be able to see them play The Barrowland.

*tracks 4 & 5* Patti Smith – Babelogue/ Rock n Roll Nigger (Easter, 1978)

Though these are from a studio album, they sound live. When I saw her play in Amsterdam, in a moment of serendipity, she adjusted the lyrics of the spoken word Babelogue to become germane to the evening. Never having seen her before, I was astonished by her energy. I thought I got it. I didn’t really get it until that moment.

It’s a call, a summons. There was unity in the room, beyond that of a mere live music show. I am a little afraid of Patti Smith, her life force amid all her tales of dead friends is an astonishing creative power.

*track 6* The Clash – The Magnificent Seven (live in Boston 1982, from From Here To Eternity: Live, 1999)

This live album was released around the same time as Joe Strummer’s first Mescaleros album. I saw that band live, but I’m too young to have seen The Clash, they’re still a massive band in my life. This album always comes out in times of crisis. It’s a fantasy gig from several recordings making up a survey of the band’s career in a way that none of their actual real gigs would have been. Its a protective cloak, an invincible strength.

*track 7* Nina Simone – Sinnerman

Just one of many tracks I could have put in by Nina Simone, another act I will never get to see play live whose work I treasure. At this fantasy concert I am in the audience and it doesn’t matter if this was recorded in a studio or at a concert because it sounds like it’s happening in front of you. “Power.”

*track 8* Jeff Buckley – Je n’en connais pas la fin (Live at Sin-e EP, 1993)

I saw Buckley play live a couple of times, when he was being lauded for his first records. Even if he’d lived, the gigs would have been special. He was ridiculously handsome, funny, with a vocal range that none of the other indie acts of the time came close to. His studio albums have that edge of over production and “classic rock” which was against my religion, but this acoustic EP was a thing of rare beauty. Every note Buckley committed to tape seems to have been released as a “special edition” it’s a cliché, but the music is immortal.

*track 9* Talking Heads – Life During Wartime (Stop Making Sense, 1984)

This is from the album of the concert film. Not really a filmed concert, more a concert as a film. There is another Talking Heads live album (The Name of This Band Is) but Stop Making Sense is the perfection of the form.