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I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

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watching the pigeon detectives

the only time the waterfront has got emptier as the night got longer. I’m not sure where everybody went but huge spaces opened up as the night drew on. when I arrived there wasn’t space to swing a glow stick and just enough of a thoroughfare in front of the mixing desk to stumble over a number of pairs of converse and court shoes to the bar where it was strangely empty and while a man who looked like he tried very hard was holding his guitar in the air I shouted for a pint of stella which I didn’t really need but that’s what I do when I arrive.

not 30 minutes earlier I had been up to 2865b and witnessed the most efficient back garden firework display of modern times which latest longer then the ones from the plantation garden which we saw from the bedroom window and after a swift baked potato I shot up the earlham road to find that everybody else was looking for a parking space where actually nearly every parking space is a resident’s space and that audi a3 will get a ticket later ho ho I’ll go in the car park up the road how much is that blimey.

back inside, there was a strange propensity of upturned collars which must be the way you wear them these days although I though it went out with eric cantona kung fu kicks but then that was before most of the people in here were born apart from me and that bloke over there who looks like he should be security but he’s only looking after his girlfriend tonight excuse me mate sorry nice tattoo is that your neck sorry mate and there’s another I hope I don’t look like that he’s supposed to wait outside for his daughter not come in and wait for her. the pillar placement in the old warehouse for that’s where we are was perplexing some people and strange it is with at least 2 empty v shapes of blind spot in the middle of the floor where the occasional group of 16 year olds will delight in finding only to discover its the worst place in the building to be standing even though you’re only 5 feet from the stage that you can’t see so I’m positioned left of pillar #1 spotting the mic stand front centre which is the kind of uninteresting detail you fixate yourself with when you’re in between bands on your own with a pint of stella wondering if all the short people can see alright but then not really caring too much because you can and you’ve set your feet on the floor in such a way that you won’t move for anything even if the celebrity deathmatching starts which is doesn’t anyway not tonight a bit subdued

I’m not sorry no I’m not sorry no I’m not sorry no I’m not sorry. I saw that Ash a few days ago and that was alright in a kind of I wish charlotte hatherley was still there kind of way although that one they did at the end about twilight was enormous and he’s still got it and there was some good arm fighting going on got pushed right to the back of the pit and everything but tonight was more like it even though it seems to me that every band I see these days is just too good at what they do to be that exciting. once they rattled through the album and a couple of b sides that was it and so they left, sans encore, and so did we. they came round on the shuffle on my walkman the next day and I thought oh yes they were quite good and oh, funny how you sometimes get a genre run on shuffle at random and I got distracted and forgot everything. we are scientists on tuesday. then its double maths on wednesday. hahahahaaahaahaaa.

its a bit twangy

no. its them again. with that singer that can only be described as dave tong incarnate. I nearly actually liked them this time but only very nearly. there was that one song at the beginning that was pretty good and as I’ve heard it 3 times in the last few weeks I’ve almost got used to it. but he looks like dave. can’t get over that.

as the ripples of one hand clapping bade little man tate farewell back up to sheffield or wherever they come from I just picked sheffield because that’s probably true which in fact it is, so the strangely empty pit began to swell slightly. and then a bit more. and then a bit more. but nothing too menacing. lots of short little stoners behaving themselves which I hadn’t really expected I thought at least there’d be a travelling minibus full of lacostes from wolverhampton openly flauting the smoking ban. oh. here they are. much like the banter that befell the 6 foot 7 young man at the enemy, this lot took ownership of their immediate area with some carefully placed ribbing of hapless students and middle class ‘dads picking me up after’ types who were no match for their untrained wit. their sword of glib swathed a path through the throng like a pencil flitting over a betting slip until they found their nirvana – a spot a bit to the left, behind some nervous teenage first timers. truth be told, these are the kind of people you like to see at the uea because they open their mouths occasionally and are wantonly up for it. without them each performance ends up being greeted by the faint sound of someone in the offices upstairs buttering a snackajack and a 12-year-old wooping like a girl, which they are.

by his own admission, the singer was feeling ‘a little rof’ as he had a throat infection and the first number was slightly encumbered by technical spasms so it was all rather ignominious and I was wondering if top gear was repeated on bbc3 tonight when things got better largely fuelled by the lager and brandy washing around on stage and notwithstanding the washing-up water sound system in the lower common room it all got subliminally marvellous. by the the time they cracked into ‘either way’ I was barking along with the wolves stoners, with my best EEVER WAYE, EEVER WAYE and the occasional I LUV YA spontaneous outburst and by now I really had no care whether I looked like an embarrassing dad at a wedding disco because I had the epiphinal feeling that them up there wouldn’t care. I mean, they were largely off their faces, but we were avin a parrtee.

incidentally, the guitarist who suffered good natured finger-poking throughout for being a miserable perfectionist was a one-man niagra of sound who should be stuck on a huge column somewhere and gold plated. he was smiling about it all by the end, like we all were.

NME 2007

alright norwich la, I ope lethal bizzle warmed you up good and proper yeah <small woop> we’re from liverpool 1 2 3 4. what? warmed you up? it’s 10 past 8. and anyway, since when should it have been wombats/milburn/holloways/pigeon detectives/other bunch of students on after lethal bizzle? I’m about as interested in the wombats as I was about the mystery jets who opened the NME tour last year who I missed because I was at a parent’s evening or something but lethal bizzle sounded like he might at least be a bit interesting even if he does just kind of shout about running away from the filth after he’s crashed his joyride up that london or wherever it is. but never mind

its not busy in the Lethargic Cramped Ruin like it was last year either, but that’s because there isn’t the same wet pants frenzy around the enemy as there was around arctic monkeys so even though its chocked up with 15 year olds there’s a satisfyingly healthy contingent of stoners and boners who look like they might have a fight later, which, coincidentally, they do. even as the wombats tread pedestrianly through their me too english eccentricities there’s loads of space to wander down to the sticky wooden floor. you’d even say it was a bit empty really. the thing about the NME tours is that they don’t turn up the house lights in between the acts, so you’re never quite sure how many people are in and what their demographic is, but in the main, everybody is short tonight, except for the occasional 6 foot 7 20 year old who’s getting lambasted by small groups of carlsberg exports for just being tall which isn’t funny really but they’ve got that pissed-up local turn of phase that I still think is funny even when they’re lobbing a pint of watery lager at your head.

after the adverts for the NME have scrolled around on the projected backdrop about a million times and we’re all wondering what the shock might be about the new radiohead album the lights that there are go dim and there’s a small ripple of enemy, enemy, enemy, after which more projection, but very loud this time, and that cleverly pitched (old idea, new audience) railway station noticeboard rattle begins as it flips through a number of provincial towns until it finally settles on norwich, which elicits a deafening “norwich, har, look, norwich, thass good hint ut” and then today’s date. it’s cringingly basic, but splendid all the same. and then the jam come on stage and do in the city a few times.

if last year was faux shakespearian ponderings from sheffield and reading, then this year is cmon norwich lets see what you’re made of up for it no f**kin abaht from the heart of the empire, erm, coventry. the enemy are quite angry about stuff, mainly inner city decay and provincial apathy and the loss of identity and the hopelessness of youth and slashed seat affairs and travelling on buses etc., but they are wantonly uplifting and undeniably up for it. I’d tell you more about them, but their web site is currently just a black page with nothing on, which is probably appropriate. I mean, they are the jam reincarnate, but without the red wellerism. not sure what else you would need to know. they shouted most of the album and there were nice fights going on between delirious stoners and petrified students in the circle of death. the sound was terrible and it was all over by about 10:30. I watched a programme about sharks and hitler when I got home.

poke the editors

I’ll be out at about 8 but that’s fine so I can do that I’ll be quick ok get ready lets try it you see its the same both times except the three notes at the end so you see where he’s put the fingers on the different strings that’s what you play yes you see you can do it its just a bit different at the end don’t worry its a lesson its not a test I didn’t learn to do it this way I just made it up so that’s why I don’t know where ‘A’ is so you should do it this way there thats right anyway little and often little and often its only been three weeks right? don’t worry. it doesn’t matter. yes, I need to go out now. I’ll just do the washing up

I expect it’ll be better this time because they’ll have got his guitar up in the mix so it’ll sound right and anyway they’ll put on a show with big lights and bits of mdf or something so whatever it’ll be busy anyway so I want to get there soon enough to tailgate some drab couple in matching latitude shirts onto the floor just one pint these shoes aren’t quite right I don’t know why I changed them the other ones were fine no one ever sees your feet that’s what I always say its true why am I wearing these then. why’s the car park so busy must be one of the literary evenings here as well look there’s half of mill hill road trying to work out how the car park barrier works that must be why there’s nowhere to park in this poxy car park oh its alright right back here that’s fine I’ll just have to run at the end.

it’s not that busy I’ll have that space at the bar please no I always have a ten pound note everyone has a ten pound note carlsberg that’ll be it for the night its only half eight who the hell are these sub-arcade fireites all I can hear is “that cello player she’s fit” I haven’t got my glasses on not getting them out now oh that bass player is annoying that song is alright your voice is terrible that’s over. good. so come on then. hurrah. and there they are got more hair of course straight into whatever that song’s called oh straight into another never really sure that’s a good idea and bullets right ok done that now.

silence. little clap. beery leer.

and that’s the strength of it for the next hour I mean they’re good and everything but there’s only so many times you can step up to the monitor and pull that clown face although I like it when you all get mental and swing around like apes but I think you’re just pretending really and what’s with your guitar again I can’t hear it at all this time stupid. “thanks” “yey” “you’ve been very welcoming” in the same way a dentist’s waiting room is welcoming but you’re at the uea what do you expect. “that ricky ross from deacon blue, he really knows how to work a crowd I mean there was no atmosphere” which somebody actually said as we were walking out which made me kind of want to kick her but I was distracted by the fact that she said there was no atmosphere when they sound a bit like joy division. crossed with camel. or something. I won the guess the encore competition I was having with myself in my head. and then I get home and watched the andromeda strain. it just gets rained away. fancy that.

now entering madina lake

ooh. its dark outside. I can barely see my keyboard

if you go down to the waterfront today, well, yesterday, you’re sure for a big surprise, because you forgot its the first week of university and this is the first night out in their lives for about 700 16-year-olds who can’t see because of the sticky black hair diagonally across their face, which, coincidentally, they’re off, due to the 3 bottles of wkd cider they hid in their shoulder bag. welcome to the memo event of the month – two pairs of twins shouting at you about some nonsense about not being part of a scene or caring about the haircuts they’ve crafted especially its just the music man nobody can tell you what you like alright man its just so your f**kin life man we do this BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU MAN AND WE ALL LOVE MUSIC MAN WE LOVE YOU NORWICH YOU’RE SO AWESOME.

it was all a bit spinal woodstock in a funny way but the ear-splitting screeches of 700 wet students that responded suggested that the feeling was mutual and, this being norwich, as I am wont to point out, anything more energetic than a grunt of appreciation is about as rare as apocalypse sauce. having endured 3, yes 3 support acts who all sounded a bit like a cross between linkin park, stryper and your first band at school who played cover versions of atticus in assembly, madina lake took to the stage well after 10 just as people were thinking about the last bus home. the waterfront is a very funny place to see a band. as its so small, they have to be their own roadies, mostly, so just before they start their pompous stage entrance with gothic backing track and puffs of smoke (and a tiny stonehendge if they could), they’ve already just been on to adjust the screws on a high hat, accompanied by a small ripple of girl squeaking coming from a few people who actually know who they are.

much like I’m from barcelona had got about 15 people to clap louder than they had ever tried to before, madina lake enthused the crowd (who would probably have danced to a pin dropping by this point) so much so that there was even moshing down the front. I mean proper, arms flailing about, throwing yourself at random people in a 2 metre radius with no shirt on moshing. we haven’t seen it done properly here since theatre of hate came in the eighties and monkey brought his crowbar, so it was nice to see. there was also a healthy amount of crowd surfing going on, which, despite the legal notices around the venue, goes pretty much unchecked at the waterfront. notwithstanding all that, we also got a complimentary top-of-the-speaker-stack swallow dive into the crowd from the lead singer and copious bottle throwing. ask yourself the last time you remember seeing any of that happening in any no-cameras no-drinks no-surfing no-moshing no-dancing no-clapping no-standing no-smoking no-exit no-entry no-fun venue you go to these days (geoff, this is a cue for you to remind yourself of some north-eastern sweat hole in the late 70s). I think the music was alright but I can’t remember.

for some reason, everybody who spilled out of the place at the end just stopped outside and hung around like there was something to hang around for. having brought the megane scenic with me tonight, I headed up the road to where I’d left it. I must have passed at least 25 dads waiting on the other side of the road, arms crossed with a bunch of car keys hanging from one of their impatient fingers, ready to take jessica and her new friends home to cringleford. most of them were about my age. I shed a little tear of self-congratulation for being so tragically hip and reminded myself that, if I needed reminding, which I don’t right now, that life is too short. I’ll see you all at editors on monday

I’m from barcelona

door 6
door 6 by Tim Caynes

while two heads were as good as one I wandered wearily through the back of the cultural quarter past reclaimed tv studios and old kebabs there was a sniff of arcade fire although only 27 people were witness. a man from london town squawked in tune and had polite guitaring reflects in his glasses which were thick and heavy with the age of twenty but he’s good, hint he. by the time we’d scratched together about a hundred of us, they were tying balloons to mic stands as we were mysteriously clouded by diagonal hair and man bags from the metropolis. I was almost anticipating

avoiding the inevitable comparison with the fire, they were a bit like the fire, except they didn’t have wasps in their trousers and faces like the revolution. in fact, they had faces like the magic roundabout. in particularly, the man with the pink air bed crowd-surfing into security had a face exactly like the organ player at the end of the magic roundabout and everything. also, they didn’t sing about northern hemisphere middle class angst scenario back catalogue art rock student philisophy, but they sang about chicken pox. in fact there wasn’t really much comparison, except there were about eleven of them, which, at the waterfront, is like a telephone box trick (smile if you’re over 30, oh, you all are) and all the song sounded the same. most impressively of all, by the end, they had those there present all baying like a pack of mad pigeons for more for a full 3 minutes, which, in norwich, is as rare as 5 fingers, after which they encored straight into a laptop dj set which had 79 people in a circular conga (I was kind of wanting to leave by then, but I had to wait until someone fell over a crisp).

I’m off to the amazon when I collapse my spreadsheet. tiny cracks.

shoot the drummer

van morriso n 1
van morriso n 1 by Tim Caynes

he missed the click track. I didn’t notice, but kelly jones bit his head off and spat it into a bucket. it was all good natured head biting off though and after half way through the set everyone was laughing at the funniness of everything – here we are in the 1500 capacity UEA with the stereophonics, who start a real tour in november in stadiums with 25000 capacities but somehow they took a wrong turn on the way to nottingham or something and ended up here which if fine because you’ll never see them here again and very rarely see them outside of a stadium tour so here we are on a sound system obviously creaking at the seams as local boy in the photograph wails out and 1500 people or shouting back and you’ve never quite heard so much noise after a song here, well, for about 10 seconds, but this is norwich, so of course after that 10 seconds, notwithstanding the fact that this band is huge, there is a period of silence punctuated only by a bemused lead singer walking up to the mic and saying er, yeah, thanks very much, thinking he must have missed 5 minutes of his life somehow, and a couple of stoners in the pit shouting YEEEAH, GOORN THEN, PLAY SUFFUN!

they did play suffun for about an hour and a half and finished up with dakota which made some young girls collapse in front of me. I met up with a couple of friends there who had secured a place on the steps in front of the mixing desk, so they had a nice time. I spent the evening in the pit with my ears bleeding, as usual, so by the end I was stuck to the parquet watching the lights come on as everyone rushed to the car park. when I eventually got back to the megane scenic, someone had left a couple of stereophonics tickets on my windscreen, which I tried to work out all the way home. I was parked as far away as possible and was pretty much back to my car before anyone else in that part of the car park, so they must have been put there either by someone who had left early, or by someone who had found them on the floor near the scenic and thought I must of dropped them and so, like you do with gloves, they put them in the most visible place near to the scene of the find, which happened to be under my windscreen wipers. if the latter was true, 2 people didn’t see the stereophonics, and one of them had probably been beaten up by the other for being so stupid as to just put them in their back pocket so that they fell out when they got their mobile phone out to check for a text they hadn’t got. they missed a good show. I lost some ear cells apparently, as that’s what ringing means, I know that because I watched children of men the next day and when the cafe explodes, clive owen’s ears ring too and someone else tells him that means his ears are dying but I can’t remember who it was that said it probably his old girlfriend.

I’m from barcelona tomorrow night. I mean, that’s who I’m going to see. I’m not going to be from barcelona. obviously. or maybe not.< no, wednesday. what day is it. isn’t the football on then? oh.

get me some dexys

me 26
me 26 by Tim Caynes

not tonight I can’t be bothered the kids are away for half term and Ive grown a beard look I recorded the big weekend and it’s just got to bloc party what am I gonna do its 8 o’clock it’ll take me 20 minutes to walk down there but its not raining I suppose I’ll get back and do that stuff later the sheets are probably dry now I won’t be staying up that late again but does june 1st mean 00:00 june 1st or sometime around lunchtime. hang on, steam is in the US. that means about 3 o’clock. I’ll have to do work instead

tonight is the thing that last year was sh*tdisco datarock and the klaxons but this time it isn’t but everybody is having a nice time anyway. the little ones are like a mexican street band is it just me? pull tiger tail have one of those thin blokes who remind you of yourself 20 years ago but better so they’re good but I don’t recognize anything and I’m thinking actually he reminds me of the bloke from the klaxons and then the rumble strips come on and do a cover of an entire dexy’s midnight runners gig which is borderline norwich sound of the 80s and if they were fatter they could be serious drinking screen 3 and someone else all rolled into one but with a good voice like they all seem to have these days don’t anyone just shout like what they used to fair collection of two-toners and stoners where do they come from mind you it’s a cheap night out I just worked that out and here I am pint of stella.

bloc party claustrophobia engine

‘its great to be here you’re our most vociferous audience’. that’s not something I would have heard coming from Alex Turner’s curled lips. I mean, he might of said something about it being ‘right mental an that”, but he wouldn’t have stretched into the guardian educational supplement territory of crowd participation in quite the same way as the sweaty stick body of Matt Tong. such was the squall of intellectualism in the air last night as it was sucked into the lungs of 15 year olds with leather handbags and a propensity to text their mates through the second album and mingled with marlboro lights and blown straight back into the vault of the lower claustrophobia room for the rest of us in ingest as we combusted spontaneously with every wave of our arms.

not since the NME tour was there as many first timers squeezed into that space ‘so excited they might just do a little wee’ and as things progressed towards their artsy denouement we were collectively scanning for escape routes as we honestly felt we may not actually survive the next 90 minutes with having our miserable lives crushed out of us and what would mum do she’ll be waiting by the car park. we’d endured something like a support act and we just wanted to get on with it (‘dad, hold my jumper, I’m goon down the front with Mel’) notwithstanding some impressive displays of ‘3 pints in plastic glasses carried above my head through a bunch of students crammed into a sweatbox’ which were hugely entertaining even though I knew they’d be throwing it all over my head in the next 5 minutes as the place erupted into darkness.

and so it was. they said hello. literally just like that. ‘hello’. not ‘hello Norwich!’ or something shouty and incomprehensible, just ‘hello’. they had the temerity to then launch into at least 2 songs from the new album that people pretended to know intimately even though it’s not out yet like those people who do reviews on amazon and say ‘I’ve heard the demo tapes and they were AMAZING’ from their lonely bedroom in Penge and we all stand still for a while waiting for spaces to show up that we can sidle into and take our first breath in about 10 minutes. after that, they do the whole of Silent Alarm backwards and the usual stoners melee to the front trampling young deer in their path who are struggling back to go to the toilet in the corner and we’re all pleasantly entertained by the whole thing. we even clap a bit, which is unheard of around here, and those nice boys on stage tell us what a great crowd we are during the stoney silence between each song, prompting the occasional ear-splitting shrieks for a second or two before we just all stand around in the increasingly large gaps in the floor waiting for them to do that one where they stand next to each other. I mean, it was fine. that album was the best of 2005. but I’m looking at my watch.

they looked like they were enjoying it though. they probably had a a triple word score using Q and J and a nice cup of rooibush after. rock on!

peter buck smile challenge

venus 3
venus 3 by Tim Caynes

we were almost just sitting around and having a nice cup of tea in the dark as waily captain beefheart lookalike departed the stage to a single clap and relative to a norwich appreciation level that was a deafening roar considering there must have been at most 90 of us packed into the waterfront with maybe 10 square feet each to ourselves so when it all kicked off and we thronged, guardian reader-like, to the crush barriers at the front, I almost knocked someone’s deck chair over and woke them up.

we assembled as usual at the altar of Robyn Hitchcock looking our customary socially inadequate and middle-class dad selves and all did that little nod and hopelessly off time dance step which doesn’t involve much more than moving your head backwards and forwards and occasionally punching the air at waist height while ironically and whimsically smiling to yourself because you know all the words to the songs from Perspex Island. only this time is wasn’t just a guitar and morris slapping the bongos in falsetto, it was the latest roving incarnation of a rock royalty support band in the shape of the Venus 3, who, as Robyn points out, are 3/4 of R.E.M. and 3/5 of the Minus 5 or something as it is made up of Peter Buck, Bill Rieflin and Scott McCaughey who all feature on the Olé Tarantula album which made up about a quarter of the set which also included a selection box of previous solos and enough Soft Boys to keep the hardcore, which in this case means old, happy, and the usual rambling english intellectual twitness from one of the archetypal english eccentrics, who happens to have most of the others featured on the album or co-writing

as R.E.M. are having a year off, most of them are touring tiny clubs as the Venus 3 in front of about 100 people at a time and when do you get to stand 10 feet from Peter Buck as he changes electric 12-strings for fun and rips power chords and byrdsy twangdangles looking like he wishes he could do it like this all the time? well, actually, he looked like somebody had just told him his cat had been sucked into an irony vortex and the challenge for the evening was to see if he ever curled his lip. but he never does. even after the gig when he’s stood behind a formica table with a few robyn cds because they left the merchandise in brighton and is surrounded by about 15 of us telling him how great it was, he still looks like he’s been slapped by the invisible man. I mean, I know he’s having a ball really.

it’s not about R.E.M. though. long before things went all Green, R.E.M. and Robyn were already mutually respectual, as the Virtual Brighton magazine notes: Beginning as a strummer in Cambridge’s folk clubs, Hitchcock developed into a bandleader, heading up folk-pop iconoclasts the Soft Boys, one of alternative rock’s least sung but most influential bands. Yet by the time bands like R.E.M. and the Replacements quoted the Soft Boys as a major influence, Hitchcock had moved on to what would become his distinguished solo career. In other words, people were here to see Robyn Hitchcock. The support band were something of a novelty. a good one though. The BBC Oxford site sums up the whole things pretty nicely, but then again, Michael Stipe joined them on stage at the Zodiac and Thom Yorke was in the audience.

humph.

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