Archive for the ‘2008’ 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…




Between 2006 and 2008 I worked three jobs.

One year at a time.

In the second one there was a group of us who liked our music.

I wasn’t the oldest of us, but I was the oldest without a family a partner or commitments.

It was good to be with younger people. I was 34 and tthe guys were maybe 27, 28.

I liked that the guys were into new, young guitar bands.

We listened to a lot of people who even then were being tagged as Landfill Indie.

Most of us liked the View, (well, at least Wasted Little DJs) and even the Pigeon Detectives were once played out in the office.

But the Rifles were clearly cool, and I thought Local Boy was genuinely brilliant.

I still do –  though it wasn’t till recently that my wife pointed out that it’s basically the chords to Just Like Heaven,l.

Anyway, by the time this show came around I’d left that second of the one year jobs, and moved to the third.

So this was a suggestion by email from people I hadn’t seen in a while.

I bought a ticket but I didn’t go in the end.

High: n/a

Drinking: n/a

Thinking: Maybe I’m not as young as I thought.



Like everyone else, back in the 80s if you didn’t hear bands on the radio you’d form a preference or prejudice based on the the basics – their name, their album titles and the sleeves you’d see when you browsed the racks at the record shop.

My biggest mistakes in my early teens? Deciding that I wouldn’t like Motorhead.

Best success? Falling in Love with Kiss through the cover to Destroyer.

It’s not the kind of mistake that should happen in the days of the internet.

But it happened to me with Okkervil River.

A colleague, knowing my taste made the recommendation in the early 00’s. I just didn’t like their name enough to check them out.

This would have been around the time that Black Sheep Boy came out, so I came to that record late. The one I came to in real time was 2007’s The Stage Names.

It was one of those records of the mid-2000s that I became obsessed with.

Like the Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America.

I played it to everyone.

One of those people was someone I was working closely with that year.

I remember the two of us moving into new office space at the start of 2008.

A lovely big studio of an office where there were just the two of us and the managing director’s PA at a big desk in the back.

She had no problem when we commandeered some speakers from elsewhere in the office and put on Our Life is Not a Movie to mark our first day of moving in and starting a new project together.

So that was the friend I took to see this show.

By the time that job ended a year later, my friend would be starting a descent into mental illness that finally hit bottom a couple of years later.

Me, I descended into a strange and short-lived drink and drug fuelled thing with the 25 year old PA that bottomed-out within two months.

She’d wanted me, she said, from the first day she saw me.

That day when all I wanted to do was to find some speakers and play her my favourite record by a band called Okkervil River.

She’d loved that record too.

High: Our Life Is Not a Movie

Drinking: Double fisted double vodka tonics and Red Stripes in the upstairs bar, before standing on the balcony all gig to be close to re-fills.

Thinking: Or maybe?

Gig on Songkick

Why: Because by now they’d properly broken in the UK, and the NME put them on for a second time.

I can’t begin to tell you how much this album meant to me, and still does.

I’m editing this post in 2017. I’m wearing the T-Shirt I bought in Brooklyn earlier this year when I went over to see the tenth anniversary shows for this record.

The album meant so much to me.

High: Stuck Between Stations. Stuck Between Stations. Stuck between Stations.

Drinking: Beer for the Steady. Always beer.

Thinking: Here’s a guy a couple years older than me who can sing about his drinking and somehow make it sound joyous and celebratory as well as heartbreakingly sad.

Gig on Songkick

Why: So, my first ever proper girlfriend was staying with me during a break-up with her partner. We’d originally met in the summer of ’92 on pills round a fire in a back garden somewhere in Oxfordshire and bonded over the Grateful Dead, but she’d rapidly moved on from acid cowboys to funk cowboys and Funkadelic were always a favourite. It was good to be close to her again.

For me, Funkadelic were never as good as the first two albums (the only ones I kept on vinyl) but I thought I’d cheer her up with with third row seats for the p-Funk allstars playing the Massive Attack curated Meltdown festival.

High: Everything played by the late, great dapper diaper-wearing Garry Shider and of course the Maggot Brain solo.

Drinking: Only a couple of pints, far too hard to take our eyes off the stage.

Thinking: I’ve probably made someone I care about happier in 2 hours than I did in 3 months a decade and a half ago….

Gig on Songkick

Why: When I was at school, all My Bloody Valentine meant to me was a name on the back of a denim jacket owned by a guy called Glenn in the year above me. I bumped into him at university a couple of years afterwards and told him I’d just discovered Loveless and he was deeply unimpressed.

Anyway, like the rest of trendy gig-going London it was inevitable I’d be going to the reunion shows. For the record, I didn’t avail myself of the earplugs on offer.

High: Soon

Drinking: With a friend’s wife in the bar to take breaks from the wall of sound.

Thinking: Yeah, it’s great – but the noise is really just a gimmick, isn’t it, and this is an event not a show. Somehow not very rock & roll. Maybe that was the point all along?

Gig on Songkick

Setlist on

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