What a difference a day makes. Today was a day of positives. Aimless wandering down previously uncharted streets and photographing the usual kind of nonsense is always guaranteed to make me feel better. I found a great peeling billboard and some fantastic old weathered shuttering near Smithfield Market which made me ridiculously happy. Yes, yes, my life is that sad.
Tonight’s show is excellent too and makes my heart leap and skip like a pacemaker on speed. Sure, it isn’t exactly pretty, but it sure is righteous and raucous, and that’s a million times more appealing than tentative and twee. Because I’ve had just about enough of sweet. So the Patty Winters Show have atrocious dress sense, but within the space of a song win me over with their stabbing, Stebbing guitar, rifle crack drum and tube train rumbling and rolling bass. The duotone vocal assault is cool too. What’s more they keep it short and, if not sweet, at least bitter and biting. I even buy their single.
I don’t buy anything by Smokers Die Younger, but when I’m back home I’m going to fire up the Paypal account and snag me their 7” and CD releases on the uberhip Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation label. I just hope that the records can do justice to their monstrous live noise. Halfway through their set I’m texting Carrie to tell her I’m watching what looks like a bunch of Year 11 geeks making a shocking hardcore Krautrock meets Black Flag riot of clattering mayhem. That’s really unfair though, because they look more like Year 13’s at least. Or maybe I’ve just reached that point in life where anyone under thirty looks like a kid. You know, that point when you think all the policemen are thirteen. And if you don’t know then ah, you have that delight to look forward to. Just you wait. Anyway, back to the point: Smokers Die Young remind me of the fabulous Uter with overloading amps and a delirious disregard for the volume knob. They make my ears ring and I want to shake their sweaty hands in thanks. Of course I don’t because I’m not, as a rule, a fan of sweaty handshakes and anyway want to stay in my shadowy corner of the room. But theoretically…
Now theoretically, the new Darren Hayman And The Secondary Modern album is a generally relaxed, occasionally spiky, electronically tinged country folk Pop album. Actually, not even theoretically. It kind of just IS. It’s also rather delicious and though some may think this the talk of a heretic, I kind of prefer it to pretty much anything that Hefner ever recorded. Live, however, the songs performed tonight take on a different character. They growl and soar, turn up the volume and roar. They sound magnificent, especially on opener ‘Art and Design’ which makes me crack a smile. Yes! In public! Good job everyone is looking at the stage and therefore doesn’t see it. And ‘Let’s Go Stealing’ is just too tasty for words. I swear to god it sounds like a magical hard/soft Pop gem that takes off for the ceiling and doesn’t stop until it is snogging the galaxies. Lucky galaxies, is all I can say. As for ‘The Pupil Most Likely’, well, on record it is a melancholic haunting of a tune, and if live it loses that soft, sad touch, then there is a knowing nod and wink that replaces it that is almost as delightful. Darren has always been a great writer of observant ‘character’ songs, and this new album has some of his best yet. Of course maybe I just feel a certain extra warmth towards it because many of the songs make reference to schools and teachers, but whatever. I’d actually really love to see Darren in front of a class. He’d be a natural teacher. I can just see him telling a class of Year 10 about the chord that they play in Neighbours when something tragic happens. Learning made entertaining! Result!
Anyway, a rambunctious ‘Pull Yourself Together’ and the rollicking sweetness of ‘Good Fruit’ notwithstanding, I still think that it’s the new songs that are the highlights of the set. And no, I’m not just being the class swot.
Well, maybe just a little.
So it is then that I head out into the sweet September night of Bethnal Green and make my way westwards, ever westwards with a heart that skips with a lighter beat and a head that is focused and true. There are things to make and do. There are ideas and intentions bubbling. Pasts dissolve and reconstruct themselves with a surer resolve. The kids are alright. And so are the grumpy old duffers.