Archive for the ‘Years’ Category

Dead Meadow

Why:

So, a friend I met in the early 2000s through mutual friends – and who I played guitars with for a while – had a flatmate.

This flatmate was presented as his “stoner rock” mate, and he introduced me to loads of bands, and we did loads of gigs.

Dead Meadow were the one I don’t think I’d have found the way to on my own if it hadn’t been for him.

He was a great guy.

He came to my wedding, was one of the last to leave the after-party at the hotel.

They’re a great band and this was the first time I’d seen them. In such a tiny venue the sound was immense.

As was the buzz.

Down the front, done up on weed and booze, swaying and nodding.

High: I couldn’t name a single song now, or the name of anyone in the band, but I loved it all.

Drinking: my drinking had a new lease of life in 2006.

The receptionist at the job I’d started in December the year before had convinced me that milk thistle was a thing that worked to stave off the worst of a hangover.

For a while I’ll swear it did.

That and the weed.

And the valium to put me down.

Thinking: Stoner rock – what’s not to like?

Black Crowes

Why:

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…

Travis

Why:

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.

YYYs

Why: 

So this was the age of the buzz-band.

Even though they sounded nothing like the Strokes, this was all post-Strokes.

Maps remains an amazing song, but honestly –the rest of this album was all about the art.

When a band seems more known for their singer’s stage-wear and performance than the music then I’m not sure it’s for me.

Is she trying to deep-throat the mic? Do I really care about her costume?

But then, I was seeing this gig at a bit of a remove.

I was sober, and we were sitting on a VIP table at the front of the balcony thanks to the girl I shouldn’t have been involved with but who was in the industry and who could arrange things like this.

It added an appropriate theatrical vibe to a theatrical show, and it felt as if it was important to be there because – well, they were a buzz band and we were cool people.

I was never passionate about this band.

High: Maps

Drinking: No.

Thinking: I’m honestly not quite sure what all the fuss is about.

Young Knives

Why: 

Because they were a great band, and the kids in this job loved them as much as I did, so we all went together.

It was a great boozy night out, crowded round a standing table near the back by the bar for what was supposed to be some kind of a fan ‘thank you’ show.

They were about to bring out their second album, which didn’t make nearly as much as an impression on me as the first.

Though Terra Firma is a banging tune.

Unusually, the support band make a big impression.

They’re called Pete and the Pirates.

They play a great set.

They go on, years later, to become Teleman who I see for the first time at the End of the Road festival in 2016.

They’re even better.

High: The House of Lords delivering the “I am the Prince of Wales…” riff from The Decision as the crowd screams it back at him

Drinking: socially… just socially…..

Thinking: Stupid name, Pete.

Walkabouts

In 1998 Uncut magazine put out a free cover CD called Sounds of the New West.

In those pre-internet days, this was how we discovered new music – and there was so much to discover here.

It was loosely joined by what was being called “Alt-Country.”

There was Lambchop, Josh Rouse, Neil Casal and Calexico.

There were the Burrito Bros and Emmylou for some history.

The Pernice brothers.

The Handsome family.

I’d go to see most of them.

And there were the Walkabouts (covering Neil’s On the Beach) and the Willard Grant Conspiracy (doing Evening Mass).

The Walkabouts were a band I should apparently have known.

I was told this by the guy who’d played bass in my band and who I went to see this show with.

The same guy got me into Uncle Tupelo. We saw a lot of alt-country bands together.

But I remember nothing about this evening.

High: who knows?

Drinking: the two of us would always get slightly too slaughtered before shows.

Thinking: Christ knows.

strokes

Why:

I can’t tell you what’s going on with the date on that pass.

But this was February 3rd, 2001.

Someone’s girlfriend knew someone who worked for a promoter, and we had passes.

We even had a table.

We get there early, because someone’s said we need to watch this new band called The Strokes, who are on early.

We’re not there early enough to see Peaches, but we get to the balcony where the tiny VIP tables are, and the only one that’s got no one sitting at it is held for guests of NME (it was one of their awards shows).

But we see the Strokes.

Fucking hell do we see the Strokes.

I’ve never heard them, don’t even know what to expect.

But it’s truly phenomenal.

It’s a rush.

They look amazing.

They have attitude.

It sounds amazing.

This is what a rock and roll band should be.

I’m converted on the spot.

Soon I’m one of many slightly too old guys in London rocking the Converse, suit jacket and t-shirt look. (It’s still my ‘smart’ office look when a leather jacket won’t cut it).

Rocket from the Crypt and Trail of the Dead seem like dinosaurs in comparison.

High: it’s all one big rush hanging off the balcony and watching the crowd go mental.

Drinking: with joy

Thinking: big respect to the NME team who never come to claim their table – they’re obviously too busy getting into it downstairs.