Call me Russ L

Blessings, misery, wildfowl

Posted in Books, Modern Living, Music by Russ L on 27 August, 2010

I’ve not been wanting to go out very much lately, but have nevertheless done so a few times and fought the overwhelming urge to just come back home again. There’s been three gigs (full list here, as always) and a couple (Lynsey Hanley & Pete Ashton) of the “Favourite Things” talks at the Ikon gallery, and – since I know already that I’ll never get around to writing about any of them in full – I present to you just a few off-the-top-of-my-head anecdotes from them:

~ My favourite song on the recent Nas & Damian Marley collaboratory album is ‘Count Your Blessings’, in spite of the ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ stylee Tory-ish “you should be pleased about the fact that you haven’t a mug to micturate in” air it has (I do really like DWBH too, in spite of that). It got an interesting reading at their Academy gig in Brum – Nas assertively shouting something that sounded a bit like “HERGADUBUH! HERGADUBUH!” (in that live hip-hop fashion that we all so love) over the top of Damian’s more gently delivered vocals had the effect of making Marley-The-Younger sound… well, unsure of himself, really. “Is it really all for the best?” he seemed to wonder. It added a whole new perspective to the song.

~ I’m willing to bet that the question you were all waiting for me to answer was “What is the best way to wind up most of the audience during the Q&A session of an artsy talk?” Evidence from the Lynsey Hanley do at The Ikon suggests that “using the words ‘misery memoir’ in relation to the book for which your speaker is renowned” might be a good answer. I’ve no idea what the bloke’s actual question was (without wanting to seem dismissive, he rambled for a while without seeming to reach his point), but I was greatly amused by the muttered chorus of “hurrumphit’snotanotamiserymemoirrhubarbrhubarb” and by the lady who felt compelled then to offer a statement in response that didn’t seem to have a fat lot to do with it at all. I, myself, think that “Estates” is an amazing book that should be far more widely read and don’t find it to contain any elements of “misery memoir” at all (obviously this depends on the definition we append to the term, but if we’re using it to describe “any text that uses any element of personal experience as an illustration of something negative” then it’s vague enough to be completely useless, and that’s the only way I can get there for this particular book. It’s a fantastic work about the ways in which housing and locality affect people’s lives, and the ways in which the same and other people view the whole matter), but I do understand the impulse to use dysphemisms for emphasis and do it far too often myself. This may or may not have been what this chap was up to: I really don’t know and he didn’t make it in any way easy to work out. A plague a’both your houses, as ever. Whichever way up: read “Estates”. It’s possibly even more important now than it was when it was published, given that our present government has openly and disgustingly declared that it considers council houses to be some sort of temporary hostels.

~ I don’t know what I actually did expect Simeon Coxe of Silver Apples to be like, but I certainly didn’t expect The Demon Headmaster Wearing A Cowboy Hat.

~ So I finally got around to seeing the new version of the Midland Arts Centre (on the occasion of Tunng’s gig there), and it’s very different indeed to the old one. It seems much bigger, but all… empty in the middle. The outside amphitheatre was meant to be the venue for this do, but rain forced it to be moved into the theatre space, which had a definite air of school assembly hall about it.

~ Gigs are at their best when you can go outside and look at the wildfowl on the pond between bands.

~ Tunng are just so very uplifting and fun live. They’re definitely one of my favourite bands of recent years.

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