Monday, 25 July 2011

Maximo Park - The Cluny, Newcastle upon Tyne, 21 July 2011

Monday, 25 July 2011
And so on Friday night, I found myself – brace yourself – at the MetroCentre. 

On purpose!

I know, I know.  I hear you tsk-ing and tutting.  Even from here I can feel the displacement of air from the collective shaking of all of your heads.  I hate the place.  The teenagers!  The pushchairs!  The stores full of clothes that will never fit my arse!  But anyway – I was there for the movies, and had to go to the mobile phone shop.  I was in the middle of trying the patience of the man who worked there, attempting to get an impossibly jammed SIM card out of an unfeasibly cheap phone, when he says to me, “NO WAY! WERE YOU AT THE CLUNY LAST NIGHT?!?”

“HAHA!” I say, “YES, I WAS.”  Never one to pass up an opportunity for a demonstration of  inadequately disguised smug-twat-music-snobbery, with a glint in my eye I ask him, “Did you WANT to be at The Cluny last night?”

I let him wax persecuted about shop rotas for a little – I may have even affectionately traced my hand stamp while he was moaning, you know, for dramatic effect (I know, I’m AWFUL).  Eventually, came the inevitable question:  what were Maximo Park like?

Now, if for some reason you didn’t know about the spontaneous Maximo Park gig at The Cluny last Thursday night, allow me to present you with this useful timeline: 

  • Tuesday:   The Cluny on Twitter announces a ‘secret’ gig.
  • Tuesday, point oh-two-four seconds later:  Twitter blabs the secret.
  • Shortly after that:  The Cluny tells us all we have to queue up Thursday lunchtime if we want a ticket.
  • Immediately following:  I start looking for hard things to bash my forehead up against because, as you may recall, I do not enjoy being stuck at work when I need to be in queues for things. 
Right.  Are we all up to speed? 

I spend most of Tuesday and Wednesday lamenting – in varying degrees and volumes – about the fact that I can’t go.  BUT THEN!  One of our warehouse lads – at work we affectionately call him “The Small Boy” – said he would go and stand in the queue for me.  Hurrah!  Hero!  I love The Small Boy! 

The gig is BLOODY brilliant.  I have to miss the opening band (sorry) as I am quite extremely busy drinking some pints.  But when the right time rolls around, I squash my way down into the teeny tiny sweatbox that is The Cluny.  I say that with pure unadulterated admiration and joy – give me teeny tiny sweatboxes over stadia for live music any day of the week.  If you’ve been there before you will appreciate that I managed to secure a prime spot -- on the bottom step of the steps toward the front.  Behold – a whole new concert viewing experience!   This is what it must be like to be that obnoxious tall guy that always stands in front of me at a show!  

I’ve sat on this review for a few days, deliberately, trying to give my opinions chance to distil themselves into words potent enough to adequately convey how I felt, there in The Cluny, one of just a lucky couple of hundred people getting off on feeling the kick drum in our belly buttons, not minding the amalgamation of several dozen other people’s sweat up our backs and on our shoulders.  We were all rapt – Smith and his comrades could have trotted us all down the Ouseburn like Hamelin’s rats and we’d all have gone without remonstration.  I went to bed that night feeling electrically charged – buzzing skin, ringing ears, fuzzy soul. 

What a show!  I’ve never seen Maximo Park before:  a combination of the hype, the pints and not least the delectable back catalogue put me in pretty good stead for some fairly high expectations.  And every single one of those was smashed to bits with one eargasm after another, punctuated with judo-chop dance move brilliance from the cute and sweaty inimitable Paul Smith.  What a stage presence!  His enthusiasm is something else -- I don’t mind telling you, dear readers, that I (ahem) really particularly enjoyed (AHEM) watching him. 

*reflective pause*

Oh, who am I kidding?  The ripe old age of 35 is not the time to try and quell a lifelong propensity to fall instantly in love with sweaty lead singers.  He was LOVELY. 

The set was a considered mix of old and new; featuring the staple singles mixed with even some b-sides to appease the token diehards.  I was gripped from start to finish -- you’ll find the setlist here.
So the answer, Mr. Mobile Phone Shop Man, to your question?  How was Maximo Park?  It absolutely rocked my tits off.

Enjoy this -- it's my favourite favourite:


Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Pole - UPDATE

Sunday, 10 July 2011
The Pole is mended.  I repeat:  The Pole is mended.

I know you all must have been pretty worried given last week's comedy of errors... but we're okay.

I'm pretty pleased with our handiwork.  Our marriage, like our drywall, remains in tact.  Who'd a thunk it?

I even hemmed them so they wouldn't billow on the floor.

Oh, yes.  Yes, I did.

Jason... like... using a tool or something.

It's up! With screws! Real screws! HUZZAH!

Bedtime at Proctor Towers is sweeter with the privacy of curtains.  Straight-hanging ones.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Evan Dando - The Cluny, Newcastle, 30 June 2011

Monday, 4 July 2011
Evening, all.  Giggy No Mates here.  Here are a few snaps from Evan Dando, which was last week, which means I am totally rubbish for not getting these up sooner.

Wait a minute - is it 1994 again? PLEASE let it be 1994 again!
Evan Dando, The Cluny, Newcastle, 30 June 2011
Great Big No.

Couldn't BELIEVE he sang this - a cover of Smudge's "Impractical Joke"... I knew that I knew it, but couldn't remember from where... then I came home and Googled it and VOILA!!  What a great song.  Here is a link to the original, if you are interested.  Sorry the sound is crap - I must have had my finger on the microphone!!  Duh.....

It was a great show - he played loads of things that I didn't know, but lots of old Lemonheads greats as well.  The Cluny is a great little venue, but if I had one criticism, it's that I stood quite close to the bar, and TONS of people were talking through his set, which was quite distracting.  It was really packed and I had a rubbish view -- fortunately I ran into some friends there, and we decided to move a little closer to get a better view...

Right before I took this picture I got yelled at by a girl who said, "Excuse me, I was standing there."  Oh, you paid for this specific 2 square feet of The Cluny did you?  Silly girl!  :-)

He did a cover of Gram Parson's "A Song for You" as well, which was quite nice ... fairly representative of the whole chilled out vibe he had going on.  The audience were singing right along with him, and it was a damn fine way of spending a Thursday night.  Completely opposite to the first and only other time I'd seen him (which, weirdly enough, was 17 years almost to the day -- on 1 July 1994 according to my Gig List) at Ontario Place Forum in Toronto.  What a weird venue.  The stage was circular, kind of Roman amphitheatre style... and it was revolving.  There was no security, so when scrummy delish Evan Dando came on the stage, loads of girls jumped over the barriers to give him a sneaky cuddle -- so I'm glad that this time, no one mobbed him and he could just get on with the business of transporting us all back to our our twenties.  And a good job he did of it, too. 

Into Your Arms

It's A Shame About Ray
Wish I could have stood a little closer to the front -- but I really enjoyed it.  Thanks to Helen and Dave for saving me from certain lonely loser fate. :-)