Call me Russ L

Ah right, Ted.

Posted in Music by Russ L on 8 January, 2006

Originally posted on 24/12/4.

‘Twas my fourth gig in four nights (“that ain’t a marathon mate, this is a marathon…“), and I was surprisingly untired. Sunday the 18th of December, so it was, with The Pogues and the Dropkick Murphys at the NIA.

I’ve spoken before about how I don’t quite hate arenas as much as most sensible people. Even though everything about them is horrible, I generally get quite excited about the thought of going to the big concert, the proper event. This time that wasn’t really the case – my anticipation was purely for the bands I was due to see. I hope that this turns out to be a one-off ‘cos the thought of buying hugely overpriced drinks in an aircraft hanger offers little appeal otherwise.

Oh, that reminds me – this may be the first time I’ve seen The Pogues, but it was the fourth time I’ve seen the Murphys. Why has none of these times been in a venue where I’d trust the barstaff to poor me a pint of stout? Why, oh Lord and Lord’s son’s mother (this was an Irish-themed gig, we need to bring the Catholicism) do you mock me?

The crowd were not as I expected. Not only was the average age younger than one might have reasonably anticipated, but there weren’t hordes of students called ‘Tarquin’ and ‘Oliver’ from Solihull and Sutton bringing the irritating faux-Gaelic imitations either. That’s good, because I really was dreading that. I didn’t see a single inflatable pint of Guinness all night.

Dropkick Murphys, then. I could see both ’em working and not working over the huge distances of the NIA. On one hand they do take a lot from the vibe of the crowd when they play, but on the other their songs are on the whole very anthemic and that sort of thing frequently comes across as better in the arenas. In the end, it was a bit of both – not the best time I’ve seen them and not the worst either, but a middling performance from the Dropkick Murphys is still a lot of fun. They managed to convey the energy they created to at least as far back as where I was, and as ever “Barroom Hero” is a tune-and-a-half (they didn’t finish with the customary “Skinhead on the MBTA,” though, which surprised me). They even did their ‘get a load of women out of the crowd to dance onstage’ spot, which I didn’t expect at this particular venue. I always like that, not for simple lechery but more to spot the girl who thought it was a good idea until she actually got up there and see what she does. There’s always one. It’s a bit cruel of me to be amused by it, I suppose.

When you think about it it’s crueller still to derive enjoyment from the state of Shane MacGowan. Obviously you expect it, but Lord o’ Mercy was he drunk. “Beerrrr sheeeeeerrrrrrrr gweeerrrrrrsssshhhh,” as he so wisely noted himself. Throughout he’d slur some little bon mot into the mic before wandering offstage for a bit, as though going for a whole ten minutes without a slug of whiskey would strip him of his magical powers. I’d have bought my drink onstage if I’d have been him, but our man MacGowan has too much self-respect for that. He’s a professional. That’s evident from the fact that even given the state he was in, he still wore a tie. It was draped around his neck and not tied up, but it’s the idea that counts.

I thought as many “what a character, what a card, I love him” thoughts as the next man, but if we stop to reflect it is chilling. Gaining our amusement from someone killing themselves doesn’t represent humankind’s finer instincts, but we do it all the time. I don’t really think that can be glibly justified simply with the fact that there have been and continue to be plenty willing to dance this danse macabre.

At Christmastime my thoughts naturally turn to ideas of redemption, and there’s possibly more than simple marketing or stupidity to the million rock ‘n’ roll bands who have adopted a mini-messianic pose for their fans to worship. Essentially, they destroy themselves so we don’t have to destroy ourselves: martyrdom for vices rather than sins. I once knew someone who became a very young alcoholic largely because people expected him to drink and play the drunken fool. That’s not the only reason, of course, but there are various ways that problems can be handled – I don’t think any of us would deliberately encourage someone towards a self-destructive method if we were aware of what we were doing. Why should things be different because the victim is in a position of greater public acclaim?

Dunno. They shouldn’t, I suppose. What can we do to change the situation? Again, I dunno.

I’m pretty confident that MacGowan is indestructible, anyway, so we don’t need to worry too much in his case. He was an odd one to spark of these maudling thoughts, really.

The Pogues, anyway, were absolutely excellent. “The Old Main Drag” was a highlight, Shane’s drunken slur adding a great deal to it (Hmmmm. What was I just saying about all this again?), and “Fairytale Of New York” was just great, with an appropriately feisty Kirsty Macoll substitute. The band other than Shane were tight as hell (I gather all the rest of them have sobered up), and rarity of rarities a bit of atmosphere descended over the NIA – a jumpin’ jiggin’ party sort of air. Lots and lots of fun was had.

* * *

It’s CHRISTMAS EVE~! I’m so excited. I’ve been very very good indeed, so I hope Santa will come.

Merry Christmas to one and all. Enjoy yourselves, my comrades.

~ Russ L

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One Response

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  1. Tom said, on 30 January, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    off-topic: You can actually edit the datestamp on your posts, allthough the permalink might take a bit of a bashing.


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