Archive for the ‘2003’ Category



So I love Neil Young.

Have done since I first bought a Buffalo Springfield best of at 16, and then followed that with Decade.

And then the rest.

But being a fan can be painful sometimes.

Part of the Neil Young myth is the Tonight’s the Night tour in 1973.

A tequila-soaked Neil comes on to a crowd expecting some mellow Harvesting, only to hear a set of songs that sound nothing like the hits, and none of which they’ve ever heard before.

And I think all of us have heard those tapes and said, “Man, I’d have loved to have been there.”

But it’s not so funny to show up to a very pricey show 20 years later only for Neil to play all of the Greendale album.

To a seated audience.

If you get up to use the bathroom you’re not allowed back till the break for polite applause.

Only in the encore does Neil play some of the hits.

It was so frustrating. Not the evening with the school-friend and fellow fan that I’d wanted.

The whole thing is up on YouTube.

See if you can stand it.

High: finally hearing the opening chords of Lotta Love, one hour and 45 minutes into the show.

Drinking: go to the bar and get back in? You’d be lucky.

Thinking: maybe history will be kind to this tour. But who’s played Greendale in the last 15 years or so? Not me.


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.

flaming lips


Because if you’d seen them on the Soft Bulletin tour, you’d be mad not to see them when they toured Yoshimi.

It was very much an album of its time, and the live show was rightly legendary.

We were close enough to see the sweat on Wayne’s face, but not close enough to have his hamster ball go over our heads.

They still opened with Race for the Prize, and they still played Superman.

But now they had Do You Realise too, and Golden Path which was insane live, and everyone – everyone – was deliriously drunk.

I have no idea at all who I was there with.


Superman. Always superman.

Drinking: double vodka tonics with the beers to minimise time on toilet breaks.

Thinking: you do your thing really, really well.



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?

Rat Dog


Rat Dog is Bobby’s band. I loved Bobby.

Sugar Magnolia is all tied up for me with my first ever girlfriend at college.

It may have only lasted a couple of months one summer, but until I met my wife it was one of only two ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’  relationships I think I ever had.

When I told her six or seven years ago that I still couldn’t hear that song without thinking of me she just said “Well of course.”

And it’s not as if they toured outside the US a lot.

This seemed like a big deal, so I got myself two tickets.

I didn’t know who I’d take.

On the evening itself, it’s a sunny Friday and it starts like so any at the time with me and two managers heading off from the office in my boss’s car.

We headed down the Euston Rd towards West London where all of us lived then.

The plan (as it was for so many Friday’s in those days) was to score some blow locally, have a drink together.

The two of them would then go home to their wives and blame me if they were busted for being high.

Both of them are now divorced.

So we’re outside by the canal at the Grand Union in Westbourne terrace. And we’ve been joined by some other people that they know and I semi-know.

My boss’s younger brother is there.

And it’s still sunny and we’re still high. So when some other friends of mine, some music, and some college, call me at random I have them join us.

It’s good to feel confident enough to pick up the phone and feel that you’re at the heart of social arrangements.

Obviously, Rat Dog doesn’t happen. Which is a shame. The set’s up on and it’s way, way better than the Dead show I’d seen ten years earlier.

But what does happen that night casts something of a shadow over my life for years to come.

A group of us go back to mine.

By about 02:00am there are just me, the friend who sells me weed sleeping on my sofa, and the girlfriend of another friend.

And she and I go to bed, and basically stay there till the Sunday.

It starts a period of my life when I felt simultaneously happy and exploited. She meant the world to me but also made me think I was a terrible person.

You should never get involved with someone in a relationship.

Let alone in a relationship with someone you respect.

But there were drugs involved.

And I was very, very lonely.

And she was very forgiving and tolerant of me.

She thought I was pretty.

It made me desperately unhappy. And guilty.

You couldn’t call it a relationship. But until I met my wife, it was the longest relationship I ever had.

I was proud that it was mine.

I made a point of never calling her over the years that this went on.

But I’d always reply if she called, or messaged, drunk and she’d always come round. We’d drink a lot. We’d take my valium. We worked well together in bed.

In the end I think we caused each other so much pain.

I almost wish I’d seen the band instead.

When I spoke to a psychiatrist as part of the process of being diagnosed as autistic last year he also told me I had a problem with alcohol.

Even with the amount I was drinking then – as a ‘responsible married man and father’ – he told me I “shouldn’t trust any judgement call you make”.

(“difficulties with alcohol” was what it said on the diagnosis letter, which obviously I edited out before sending a copy to my company HR team…)

Well, this was a series of judgement calls I shouldn’t have made, over a number of years.

Every entry on this blog from this point on to sometime around 2008 is coloured by this relationship.

Maybe I was there with her, alone or with mutual friends pretending we weren’t sleeping with each other.

Maybe she was there and I’d see her in the bar with her boyfriend and I’d make for the other end of the venue.

Maybe I was looking for someone else.

High: for all the pain later, that weekend felt amazing. As if I’d made a real connection. Really amazing.

Drinking: forever.

Thinking: sorry Bobby.



I discovered the Donnas through their cover versions.

I still think their Keep on Loving You is genius.

And in 2003 the Donnas were having a moment.

Spend the Night was out, and some of the other guys at work were into it as much as I was.

We worked near Kings Cross too, so it was a local show as well.

We got drunk, we got in there, and to my surprise we managed to get in down the front.

Scala’s a great venue if you’re at the front (regardless of whether you feel a bit wrong about being one of many men in the mosh pit who are older than the girls on stage).

The band were loud.

And they were incredibly compelling.

I remember backing up to get the bar about halfway through and seeing the other guys still bobbing in the thrash, huge grins on their faces.

I still think it’s a shame that the band never really made it.

High: Take it Off.

Drinking: Hell yeah.

Thinking: Will you marry me, Donna R?



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