Archive for the ‘Shepherd’s Bush Empire’ Category

radiohead bush


It was clearly ridiculous that Radiohead were playing Shepherd’s Bush.

They were just launching Hail to the Thief, and the album had leaked a bit before this.

The tickets were literally like gold dust, and I couldn’t believe I was offered one for free from a friend.

They worked in publishing and someone was doing something with someone in the band or something like that.

And then two of my other friends managed to buy tickets on the grey market for 100 each.

It was the first time I knew people who’d bought tickets like this.

So the downside was sitting on Level 3.

It may be a really small venue, but when you’re that high up and you can’t stand it takes something from the experience.

I remember looking down and watching Johnny work the pedals.

I remember a crowd sing-a-long to Karma police.

I remember being disappointed that it was such a short set and so much of it had very little guitar.

I think this is the first time I saw them and there wasn’t My Iron Lung.

But when they brought it to a close with the OK Computer material they proved it yet again.

You can see the whole thing here – though that’s not how it looked to me.

High: Paranoid Android

Drinking: Barely. No one wanted to move.

Thinking: I’m actually glad I didn’t pay £100 for this.


Jesse Malin


He was about to release the second album, but it was all about the debut.

That and the fact that he was known as a “Ryan Adams’ friend.”

But the debut was amazing. It had Wendy on it. Like a turbo-charged Springsteen.

It had Cigarettes and Violets.

It had Riding on the Subway.

I loved that first record.

It had Brooklyn.

The school-friend I shared my Malin-crush with moved to New York permanently around this time.

He would email (still does) with tales of “going to Jesse’s bar” or “seeing Jesse at a gig.”

My friend recently moved out of Manhattan with his second child on the way, and all I hear is that lyric: “You couldn’t live with me, so you moved to Brooklyn.”

I’ll bet he does too.

High: Wendy. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know why.

Drinking: I was sober in May 2004.

Thinking: I don’t like the way that barmen look at me when I order a soft drink. It’s like they think less of me.



Let’s be clear, I love this man.

Anyway, this is the tour that now gets remembered for Mascis, with Mike Watt on bass, basically resurrecting the career of the Stooges.

In reality, this meant Ron Asheton coming out for a frenzied thrash through Dog and No Fun at the end of the set.

And for this show, as we stood there pretending it was slightly better than it actually was, this also meant Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream getting on stage for No Fun trying to do his best Iggy.

Apparently someone near the front was underwhelmed, and (allegedly…) spat at Bobby, so Bobby started hitting him with the mic stand.

High: Honestly? Bobby Gillespie assaulting a fan during a frenzied cover of a Stooges classic. I mean, what’s not to like?

Drinking: yeah, and with a lot of coke that night.

It was a Friday and both me and my flatmate at the time were a bit too into it. We had a dealer who lived literally 500 metres from us.

Also with us was a friend who’d used to play bass for a while in the band I’d been in.

I used to take him to a lot of shows from ‘99 through 2001.

I was earning well, and I’d basically take him out for gigs – paying someone in tickets, booze and often dinner just for their company. And he was easy company.

He stopped coming out with me around this time. I think he realised it was uncool, but obviously we never spoke about it and I only worked out the dynamic relatively recently.

(As in, after I was diagnosed as autistic, 15 years after this dynamic was playing out). 

Anyway, in the end he got married and moved to Australia.

Which, for a guy who always wore black, and often a long coat – even in the summer – was something of a surprise.




This was Zwan’s only full show in the UK.

They played the Download festival later that year, but a combination of rain and late stage times cut their set short.

Zwan were Billy Corgan’s post-Pumpkins band, (supergroup, even…) and their album was way, way better than Machina.

And Honestly was an amazing single. I’m playing it now.

Still holds up.

I took the friend I’d seen the final Pumpkins show with – we were both in love with this record.

We crammed ourselves into a delirious crowd, we chanted for Billy like everyone else, and then we had our minds blown.

Seriously fantastic.

High: During an encore I look up, and in the VIP balcony on the left – and I’ll swear to this, I really will, there’s Robert Smith of the Cure and he’s on his feet applauding wildly. Honestly.

Drinking: Beforehand only. Go to the bar at a show like this and you’re never making it back to your place in the crowd.

Thinking: I’ll swear the way that he’s ending this song, with a long, slow, heavy de-tuning, is a homage to Black Diamond By Kiss.

(But I’ve just checked the tape of this show on and that song doesn’t exist. I suspect there were encores not listed on the setlist below).

Setlist on 


The Tears were Brett and Bernard from Suede, reunited for what turned out to be just the one album, but quite a bit of touring.

You’d get the impression now that they’d only done it for the money, but we didn’t think that then.

Someone I knew played with them, and we thought it was finally going to be his really big break so we went along to cheer for most of the London dates.

But this isn’t one of the ones I remember.

I remember being introduced to Bernard in the Hop Poles in Hammersmith before they played the Palais later that year.

I remember he turned away and didn’t say a word.

I remember an amazing Apollo 13 from that same show.

I remember an after party that may have been when they played at Heaven to start their tour.

But I don’t remember this at all.

I was drinking heavily again by 2005, and I wasn’t really very with it.

High: I presume so.

Drinking: very much so

Thinking: everything seems to be coming to some kind of a point and I’m not sure I like it.

Setlist on

Why: Deserter’s Songs had meant a lot to me and most of the guys I listened to music with, and I have amazing memories (and possibly a ticket somewhere) of being blown away by the band playing support to Bob Mould a couple of years earlier (I say “playing support”, “blowing off the stage” would be closer to the truth).

When this show was announced I decided to take one of those friends who’d shared my love of Deserter’s Songs. He and I had actually lived together through 1999-2000 and our relationship had taken a bit of a battering, despite going back more than a decade.

My drinking at the time hadn’t helped – particularly the time when I woke up on the sofa to find both it and myself on fire. He blamed me for nearly burning down the flat and killing us both; I blamed him for bringing back duty free Marlboro Lights – my normal roll ups would have burned out before igniting the cushions.

High: To my shame, my friend had owed me some money and paid me off for that and the ticket in particularly pure blow (back when you could get good gear in London… Ah, glory days…) so we stood at the bar in easy reach of the toilets and banged lines and yammered at each other throughout the show. I’m sure we left off briefly for Carwash Hair and Goddess on a Hi-Way, but not really a high point of my gig-going career…

Drinking: Curtailed by the need to constantly talk…

Thinking: I’m going to properly feel the loathe tomorrow…

Gig on Songkick 

Why: Very possibly my favourite band of the last 10 years. I’d seen them on them on the Alligator tour and the chance to see them play Boxer at a relatively small venue was unmissable.

High: Fake Empire a strong contender, but Mr. November live is an experience that’s almost impossible to beat. This was also the show that introduced me to the fantastic St. Vincent (supporting). I rarely do a support band if I don’t know who they are, but when I really want a good place in a standing venue I get there early. Glad I did this time.

Drinking: All the wine.

Thinking: I want you to get the recognition you deserve, but please stay small/cult enough so I can continue to think of you as mine, and continue to make people happy by introducing you to them…

Gig on Songkick

Setlist on