Archive for the ‘Brixton Academy’ Category

Black Crowes


Christ knows, really.

I guess they seemed like a proper kick-ass rock and roll band, and someone must have offered me a spare. I can’t remember who.

All I can remember about this show is how very, very much it dragged on.

I should have left early; as it was I just got angry.

This was quite a messy time in my life, but at the same time it was the beginning of the end of all that.

The job was I working was the one where I’d meet my wife, and I was just about to have my flat renovated, so this was my final little period of falling apart.

Thus the Black Crowes on a Wednesday.

High: obviously not nearly enough

Drinking: at what, two pints an hour, I feel like I’d have got through maybe ten?

Thinking: I should be a bit more discerning about who I agree to go and see…




In 1999, when this record was breaking, I’d just started a job I’d keep for nearly six years.

For the first year or so, it was probably the best year of my career.

This album was played a lot that year, by everyone.

But before that, at the end of 1998 I’d resigned my first ever proper job.

A two year relationship with the girl I’d known from college had fallen apart in the Autumn, with us both doing a great deal of damage to each other.

Everything became a bit of a mess.

It wasn’t helped by the fact that the agency had a heavily subsidised bar.

In retrospect, this is when the drinking started to become habitual.

And there was obviously the cocaine.

Because: London; advertising; late 90s.

One bright light, though, was when a friend from work introduced me to one of her old school friends.

She was very compassionate.

She was very thin.

She had two dogs who she loved very, very much.

I still think of her when I hear Jeff Buckley’s Lover You Should Have Come Over.

She’s the reason I bought Grace.

She’s the girl I took to this Travis show.

Somehow I’d managed to ask her out at the start of ’99.

I took her to a restaurant that I’d been to once before on a work thing.

This was important – it let me feel OK about what I could expect when we walked in, and what might be on the menu.

It was all very, very embarrassing. We should have gone to a pub, I took her to Alistair Little.

I paid far too much for far too formal a meal (well over £100 –the first time I’d ever done that), and then we took the bus back to hers and went to bed.

It was all very, very awkward.

I didn’t realise that nothing would ever happen again, and everything that followed was down to her being a good person to someone who needed support.

Every week I’d call her from the office. And I’m someone who can’t really use the phone.

And every week, it took a huge amount of psyching up.

I often wrote the script of what I’d say.

If I got the answering machine, I’d hang up, write a specific script and then call back just to read it out .

I think I preferred the answering machine.

I felt I’d achieved something without feeling awkward.

Sometime that summer she let me take her to see Rushmore when it opened at the Screen on Baker St.

And then, at the end of 1999, a week before Christmas, I took her to see Travis.

It remains the only time I’ve sat on the balcony at Brixton.

They were amazing.

Driftwood and Reach You were about as definitive of the end of the 90s as Oasis and Radiohead.

It meant something.

They ended with their cover of Baby One More Time.

And after the show, through the light city snow, (SNOW! AT CHRISTMAS! AFTER A TRAVIS SHOW!) she drove us back up to her part of North London, to a pub near hers.

That’s where I had a meeting with an old colleague who sold me a quarter ounce of cocaine and who I then stayed out with a while when she went home.

A fortnight later, on new year’s eve I spent a really quite sedate evening at her flat with her and the friend who’d introduced us.

That was my millennium eve.

She got married a few years later.

I went to the Jewish wedding ceremony and the big party afterwards at an out of town country club.

Two children later, they were divorced.

High: Writing to Reach You. It’s what I felt I was doing.

Drinking: not at the show

Thinking: I think I know this isn’t going to happen but it means so much to me that you let me pretend it could.



I came to the Smiths late.

I got the first album second hand about the time that I was doing my GCSEs, and I followed that with Louder than Bombs.

I never owned any others on vinyl, which now seems a little embarrassing.

I lent that first album to my best friend, and he fell very heavily for them. He was a Meat is Murder guy. He also bought all the solo albums,

The two of us went to this show together, and it was honestly thrilling.

You could feel the fanaticism in the audience.

Libertines supported. Bit of a shambles, frankly, but still… Morrissey….

There was a brilliant First of the Gang to Die, which I don’t think was released at the time.

There was Suedehead, and Sunday.

There was a Light that Never Went Out.

High: Hand in Glove

Drinking: Obviously not too much, because the memories are strong.

Thinking: If a double decker bus….

Setlist on



So yeah, they were kind of ruined – but also kind of made – by Bohemian Like You in a Vodafone advert.

But our favourite on that record was Godless. Or maybe Horse Pills.

Before that, Dandy Warhols Come Down was a big album when we were all starting first jobs and starting to get high in agency bars and Soho pub toilets.

I thought that Every Day Should be a Holiday had a Duran Duran vibe, so it made perfect sense that Nick Rhodes of Duran produced Welcome to the Monkey House.

It’s a properly great album.

It’s has the aching Evan Dando co-write on You Were the Last High.

It has We Used to Be Friends, which about a year later would become the theme to Veronica Mars.

I loved that show.

It filled a Buffy-shaped hole for me.

But live, this show had too many TV-ad-singing beer boys, and I think that the band reacted to that and they went into full on drone mode to avoid being frat boy party rock.

They pushed it a bit too far.

High: The first “Come on now honey, bring it on, bring it on…”

Drinking: Lots. It was a very long show and it had its low spots. So yeah, lots.

Thinking: Are they finishing yet?

Why: I loved this band when their first stuff came out. Really loved them. Tulips was my favourite, and I thought they were about the most exciting guitar band in London.

But that was 2004-2005, this was 2007. I’d liked the Weekend in the City album, but it was no Silent Alarm. Didn’t stop me going though, and the job I was working at the time was full of younger kids who liked trendy rock music. What wasn’t to like?

High: None, it seems. Just did a search on my Gmail to check my memory on who exactly I went with, and I turned up a one line GChat to a girl I’d met through friends years before who something might once have properly developed with. (It didn’t, but she’s still a friend).

“Just back from Bloc Party at Brixton,” it reads, “Strangely disappointing.”

Drinking: A Friday night, so all about the Brixton lager with the kids from work.

Thinking: What’s with the ‘more mature, less spiky’ sound guys? This isn’t going to end well.

Gig on Songkick

Setlist on Setlist.FM

Why: I love Neil. He’s a hero of mine. But it doesn’t mean he’s always great live. Prior to this I’d seen one great show (with band) and one hellish show (solo). Luckily this was with a band…

I’d originally booked tickets for the previous night and ended up with seats way back on the balcony, and I was going to take the secretary from the office I was casually seeing – but then I got a better offer.

A month beforehand I’d been introduced to an ex-indie star turned indie band manager who lived round the corner from me. I’d already taken advantage of his recommendation for a builder to do some work on my flat (“Call him now, he’s just finishing a job lowering Jamie Klaxon’s floor…”) and now he was able to get me row K seats at Hammersmith.

Even better, also in his posse for the show – and sitting next to me – was the phenomenally attractive scandinavian singer of a band who’d put out one of my favourite records that year.

High: Ambulance Blues? Powderfinger? Like a Hurricane? Mr Soul? (MR FUCKING SOUL!!!!!) Most of it basically…

And then, just to wrap up the night, as band manager and I shared a cab back home and talked about our favourite records of the moment, he phoned up a favourite singer of mine who he’d used to date and put her on speakerphone. Fantastic night.

Drinking: Maybe only two pints…

Thinking: Neil, you’re phenomenal. So much so that I’ll forgive you the guy painting an interpretative picture live on stage…

Gig on Songkick

Setlist on

Why: So I just had to go through my old emails to see why I went to this show – I’d seen them in 2003 and they just didn’t do it for me. Seems I was offered a cheap ticket to this one by my stoner rock mate Nick and decided to go on the grounds that maybe the reason I didn’t enjoy them the last time round had been all the blow I’d taken.

High: None. Much as I appreciate them, I just don’t like them live that much.

Drinking: At the bar for the final half of the show.

Thinking: OK, it wasn’t just the drugs….

Gig on Songkick

Setlist on