Sunday, 21 June 2009

The gig-athon is over!

Four out of four gigs now done and dusted, so what has my Meltdown gig-athon taught me? Well, I attempted to write the review of Monday's Yo La Tengo gig on the night of the gig but ended up with my brain scrambled after two paragraphs and tiredness beating any coherent sentences out of my tiny mind. At least I tried though. The review eventually went live on Wednesday which you can read here: Yo La Tengo @ Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Moby’s gig at the Royal Festival Hall was good but veered more towards his downtempo chilled side, as does his new album 'Wait For Me', rather than his more uptempo, frantic dance side, which he last unleashed on previous album 'Last Night'. This decision could have been down to the atmosphere of the all-seater venue but when he did play 'Go', for instance, everyone leapt up and danced anyway.

Well almost everyone. I now know that hacks are placed next to the aisles at the RFH and QEH. I shall keep an eye on them in future to see if any of their empty soulless husks show any kind of flicker of enjoyment when they're doing the job thousands would happily wring their necks for...

Being in a catatonic state at a gig is almost forgiveable compared to what happened at Thursday's Mike Patton and Fred Frith gig though. Yes the gig was extremely experimental, self-indulgent and at times unlistenable. This changed however when hugely talented beatboxer Shlomo came on to assist but the lazy jaded hacks in front of us had long since fled and missed this. Surely this resulted in a poorly written, inaccurate review?

I just want to know who was sitting in Row E, seats 12 and 13 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Thursday night. I reckon they should be named and shamed! These people are paid to do their jobs and I'm not getting paid a bean for this and being more professional. If this is indicative of the level of commitment and professionalism among journalists within the newspaper industry then perhaps it's a good thing many of them are looking over their shoulders and wondering if they’ll still have a job in a year’s time. It may make them a bit more committed to the cause and more willing to prove their worth.

Anyway, back to the gig. The girl next to me sneezes. Does it add to the music? Brian Eno, who pioneered the concept of ambient music in the seventies, may well have said it did. The background noise is a relevant as the music itself, part of the music even. At the risk of disappearing up my own arse though, I have to say that while I'm glad I witnessed Patton and Frith jamming to their hearts' content, I am glad I didn't pay to get in. Paying £35 to watch a set that is only an hour long and contains no discernible music would have left me feeling short-changed, especially when you bear in mind that everyone needs to look after their pennies at the moment. In a way it was inspiring but then I can afford to be inspired by something I haven't paid for can't I?!

Last night was again hugely experimental as Kieran Hebden (AKA Four Tet) teamed up with his serial collaborator, jazz drummer Steve Reid. Mesmerising stuff it was too. Review to follow. UPDATE - here it is!

Overall I had a realisation this week. Staying up till silly o'clock to write a review that I'm not even being paid for is ridiculous, especially when I am snowed under in my day job at present and need to be alert and focussed during the day. This may sound blasé but I think I'll stick to writing a review of a gig the night after it happens in future. It means it'll get published just a few hours after one written by a fully paid, full time journalist who couldn't even be arsed to stay for the whole gig. I don't think it’s my journalistic professionalism that should come into question when you look at it like that, do you?!

Useless music fact #4: Brian Eno came up with the concept of ambient when he was lying in a hospital bed recovering from a serious accident. He asked a visiting friend to put some music on before they left but after they left the room and the music started the volume was very low. Eno noticed how the sound of the rain falling outside merged with the music he was listening to and so was born the concept of ambient music.

Originally posted on on 21 June 2009.

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