Archive for the ‘2001’ Category



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.




I was really quite obsessive about this band.

My book club just read a novel where one of the characters has a bumper sticker with the words “I Hate My Life” on it.

His mother wants to borrow his car, and she tries to scrape the sticker off: “I’m not driving it with this on,” she protests. “It’s ridiculous. It’s so negative.”

“It’s a song,” her son replies. “From the Pernice Brothers.”

But it’s not. It’s actually from the album Joe Pernice brought out as Chappaquidick Skyline in 2000.

I didn’t have the bumper sticker, but I had the t-shirt. I wore it a lot through till about 2009 when I met my wife.

I put it on for book club the other week, but they never got to saw it as I’d gone out drinking at lunchtime and by the time I tried to get there I was incapable.

In 2001 the Pernice Brothers had their second album out, The World Won’t End.

It may be their best. It opens with Working Girls. It’s majestic.

I went to this show with a colleague. He was someone I’d been working with for about a year.

Over the next decade I’d work with him again in three other jobs.

At the time he was close to being made redundant from this one.

The dotcom bubble had burst and our company was downsizing.

It didn’t help that he had a little problem with heroin at the time.

In that book club book, there’s a suicide.

The way it was written, all I could think of was this friend who ended up making two attempts sometime around 2011/2012.

We lost touch after that.

At this show we were hammered.

I remember him getting into an argument with someone, for being very tall and jumping around down the front.

Security got involved.

High: Monkey Suit

Drinking: really heavily. Before, during and after.

Thinking: bloody student venues.



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.


Strokes Heaven


This is a story about a girl I met outside the Garage on Highbury Corner some time in the late summer of the year 2000, when I was 27.

I’d been out with friends, and in the cab rank at kicking-out time she approached me and basically picked me up.

Her line was that I looked like John Squire of the Stone Roses.

I didn’t.

Maybe the hair was a bit rock and roll, but I didn’t look like John Squire at all.

We went back to hers in Stamford Hill.

We sat up in her garden getting stoned and drinking wine.

We both knew we’d go to bed, we just wanted to feel that we knew each other first.

But, when we did, I had some problems –  despite her best attempts, (and despite her amyl nitrate, which never came out again).

The next morning we went for a pub lunch, and kept drinking and talking.

She was an accountant but she played guitar.

She was cool but she was still responsible.

She was warm and soft, and she smelled nice.

We liked each other.

Maybe two weeks after that first night I got an email from her.

The subject line was “All I Need is a Little Discourage.”

She asked me for a drink in Islington.

After that we’d see each other in pubs, then go back to hers – or far less frequently to mine.

I don’t think we ever actually had dinner together, and I never went back to trying to sleep with her properly – it was always just giving her head and cuddling.

I loved the long lunches afterwards.

I remember a pizza place with outside tables on Stoke Newington Church Street. I remember a Sunday Roast in a pub called the Birdcage.

I remember walking her to the bus stop in the morning on a work day and her telling me that Autumn was her favourite season.

I wished I saw her more often, but I’ve never been good with the phone, so I’d just wait for her to email me.

And if she hadn’t emailed me for a while, then I’d buy tickets for bands and suggest that she came with me, as much for an excuse to write as to actually see the band.

But this was a band we both wanted to see. After all, who didn’t love the Strokes in the summer of 2001?

I remember the two of us listening to the Modern Age and New York City Cops on the top deck of a bus up to her place.

We were drunk and happy, and we played those songs on repeat.

In a world where the Strokes had just put out Is This It?  this was how to live.

To be in London in your twenties, with your own home and a good job.

To have a beer buzz, a shared pair of headphones and your arm round someone’s shoulder on the top deck of the 73 bus.

I’d already seen the Strokes on this short tour.

I’d gone up to see them play in Oxford the week before and I’d bought a t-shirt.The red one, with their logo in white.

I still have it.

Still wear it too.

About a week later we’d taken bus down from hers to Camden for a Saturday lunch.

So there I am, I’m wearing this t-shirt, and we’re walking down past the Stables, and on the other side of the road we see Julian and Nick from the band.

They see us too.

They see my t-shirt and they come over.

And I’m so embarrassed I still can’t believe it.

They start to talk to us, and I just walk away.

She stays and chats.

The Heaven show is about a week later.

It’s amazing.

But then it’s ruined for us.

We wait around as the venue empties, and when there are only about 10 or 20 people left, the band are out in the crowd talking to people.

And she goes up to Nick (who’s got some model looking girls around him), says hi and asks if he remember her.

She’s doesn’t look anything like those other girls and he blanks her.

We go for a drink round the corner.

I’m supposed to be flying for a holiday with my flatmate in the early hours of that morning (package holiday to Corfu) and I’m really nervous about it.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this stressed about something”, she says.

I wished I was going on holiday with her instead.

I’m trying to put a finger on when it all ran its course.

I think it was after an Idlewild show.

Ever since that first email subject line, they were a band that made me think of her.

They still do.

They were doing an acoustic show somewhere – a friend who worked in radio had got me the tickets – and of course I’d emailed her about it.

And afterwards she wasn’t going to take me home, even though I asked. I may have cried.

After that, we saw each other in passing at the Engineer in Primrose Hill in maybe 2005-6.

She was with a guy who looked older than me.

Then, at a show by the View at Brixton in 2007, I saw her coming out of a bathroom and called her name.

She came over.

She was with the same guy, and he seemed really nice.

I think he’s the same guy who posts all the family photos of the two of them and their son on the Facebook page she invited me to at the end of last year.

“She’s told me all about you”, he said when he heard my name.

I still wonder what it was she’d said.

High: always, always Hard to Explain

Drinking: the perfect amount

Thinking: why did you have to be such a dick, Nick Valensi?

Setlist on

Marilyn Manson, London Arena 2001

Why: Marilyn got a bad press for far too long. But I liked him back then.

The other guitarist in my 90s band liked to jam on Beautiful People in rehearsal.  And I honestly enjoyed Mechanical Animals.

More importantly, I’d also read the Neil Strauss co-write autobiography “Long Hard Road Out of Hell.”

While not up to what Strauss would accomplish with The Dirt, it’s a brilliant read and – in all honesty – I identified with Manson.

Anyway, I convinced my flatmate at the time to go and because life was good then – we’d just bought a London flat, work was good, and everything felt positive, we thought we’d get properly high for it.

Little did we know that you couldn’t get high enough to deal with the little kids that the Antichrist attracted to his show.

Or high enough to deal with support act Disturbed who seemed to rip off an Alice Cooper electric chair routine to the cheers of teens who’d probably never heard of Alice.

High: The keyboard on a spring. Genius.

Drinking: shitloads of lager to deal with the coke.

Thinking: Is it the drugs, or are we really a head taller than almost everyone else here?

Gig on Songkick 

Setlist at

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 

Low: Shepherd’s Bush Empire – March 22nd, 2001

Why: A good mate loved them, and he’d played me Dinosaur Act which put me in mind of Neil Young which sounded good to me.

High: Dinosaur Act .

Drinking: Heavily, with a lot of hash.

Thinking: OK, no songs as good as Dinosaur Act…

Gig on Songkick