Thanks to everyone who came to The Loves' Rock'N'Roll
Circus on Thursday night. I knew it was gong to be a night to remember
when a woman turned up around 6.30pm and asked if it was OK for her
to rehearse in the room next door. Thinking she was part of the orchestra
that was going to open the show, I said "Of course, go ahead".
Only after a bit more of a chat did it transpire that she was here to
rehearse a play with some friends. "We were told it would be OK".
As we were in the middle of soundchecking four bands, a tapdancer and
an orchestra, I wasn't so sure it would be the right environment for
them. "But OK...if you can!"
It was only later that I realised I should have asked if they wanted
to perform an except from their play as part of our night. Five minutes
of dialogue from a production we had no prior knowledge of wouldn't
have been any more random than the entertainment that was on display
during the circus. We started with Simon Love, the compere for the evening,
wandering in and saying to me: "Have you started yet?" No
Simon, we're waiting for you to open the show. He was accompanied by
Matt Kauffman, our resident mime for the evening, decked out in white
gloves and a red jumper with a deer on it, who, for reasons best known
to himself, didn't perform any mime at all throughout the night. Instead
he just stood there looking a bit embarrassed. All acting, of course.
Simon and Matt introduced A Little Orchestra, headed by Monster Bobby
of The Pipettes fame, who performed Michael Nyman's "Chasing Sheep
is Best Left to Shepherds". They were followed by the electro pop
oddity of the Funsize Lions, who not only featured singer China hoisting
aloft what looked like a voodoo puppet guitarist, but also boasted Stephen,
who stood in front of an open suitcase, waving a glowing crystal from
side to side, like he was summoning the songs from another dimension.
Maybe he was.
This was followed by Simon and Matt doing an "acting masterclass".
Simon named an emotion and Matt acted it. Only Matt's expression for
each emotion was a curious mixture of bemusement and uncertainty, as
if he was wondering exactly how he'd managed to end up onstage at an
event like this. Simon then threw the masterclass open to the audience
for suggestions. "Embarrassed!" was the obvious opening salvo.
"Awkward!" Then the sucker punch. "Failure!"
After this, King And The Olive Fields were their usual brilliant mixture
of Calvin Johnson and Magnetic Fields, after which myself and sound
man extraordinaire Stuart fiddled around with a ladder and Jamm's ceiling-mounted
projectors, in preparation for Mr Solo. Offstage, just before his slot,
Mr Solo was a mild mannered chap in a sensible jacket, who only looked
slightly out of place because of his heavily kohl-ed up eyes. One quick
costume change and a bewigging later, he was a Vegas performer beamed
directly from the dimension a hop and a skip along from the one responsible
for Funsize Lions' songs. Dressed in a sparkling catsuit, his monstrous
quiff reaching for the heavens and his foot on the monitors like a true
rock'n'roll hero, he performed alongside a film for a song about Facebook,
amongst other stuff, which saw everyone singing along. And as soon as
he'd arrived, he'd gone. Five minutes of eccentricity turned up to eleven
and a half.
After this, The Mai 68s kicked off a set of Mary Chain-ish fuzz pop
with singer Julie intoning a poem about Dada to swathes of noise, and
then asking for help with that day's Guardian crossword. But that wasn't
a bizarre as what was to follow.
On paper, Lucienne Cole's act is unusual but straightforward. She tapdances
to "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" by The Smiths. But the
reality is something else again. Dressed very neatly in a diamond patterned
jumper and dark trousers, she looked like she was about to chair a local
civic meeting rather than perform at a Rock'N'Roll Circus. And her demeanour
throughout the dance was detached, deadpan, as if she were just doing
a daily chore. And this wasn't expansive showbizzy tap. It was light,
delicate, each step taken for a reason. Halfway through the backing
tape cut out, which she'd warned me was all part of the performance.
At this point, she usually complete her routine to silence. But a room
full of Smiths fans was always going to sing along, so she finshed off
to a rousing sing song, whoops and huge applause. Take a look for yourself,
as the entire routine is up on YouTube.
After which, The Loves were their usual, fantastic, rock'n'roll selves,
with Matt Kauffman, expertly playing the part of a man having a whale
of a time, leaping around onstage with them. And that was that, save
for drinking and chatting afterwards to a soundtrack provided by DJs
Tamla Tim and Phoenix Phil of Pop Art, who mistakenly played "Seymour
Stein" instead of a more upbeat B&S song afterwards. Yet another
random act perhaps, but somehow the slow, emotional perfection of Stevie's
ode to missed opportunities and fleeting stardom seemed an extremely
fitting ending. It made me very happy, anyway.
Thanks to everyone who came to HDIF at the Phoenix on Saturday. It was
a wonderful night, one of the best in my opinion. Darren's set of songs
that inspired "We Love The City" was superb, and you can read
his set list, along with some comments from Darren here - http://www.howdoesitfeel.co.uk/darren.html
- And my bit went OK too. My highlights:
* "The World To Me" by The Field Mice. Super danceable, upbeat
pop, played from vinyl, just as it should be.
* "Burnt Toast And Black Coffee" by Mike Pedicin. Incredible
* "Throw Aggi From The Bridge" by Black Tambourine. Glorious!
* "Be My Baby" followed by "Just Like Honey". Joined
at the opening drumbeat!
* "Razzle Dazzle Rose" by Camera Obscura. I love playing this,
it always feels very emotional.
* "Jim Dandy" by LaVern Baker. Just one of those songs you
have to dance to.
* "When I'm With You" by Best Coast. Brand new, super lovable
* "Rubber Ring" by The Smith. Ah, the songs that saved your
Here's the results of the HDIF Poll for 2009!
Album Of The Year
Butcher Boy, "React Or Die"
Camera Obscura, "My Maudlin Career"
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, "The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart"
God Help The Girl, "God Help The Girl"
Yo La Tengo, "Popular Songs"
Wave Pictures, "If You Leave It Alone"
Slow Club, "Yeah So"
The XX, "XX"
Pocketbooks, "Flight Paths"
Pens, "Hey Friend What You Doing?"
Single Of The Year
Camera Obscura, "Frency Navy"
Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, "Come Saturday"
Cats On Fire, "Tears In Your Cup"
God Help The Girl, "Stills EP"
Wave Pictures, "Strawberry Cables"
Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, "Young Adult Friction"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Zero"
Allo Darlin', "Henry Rollins Don't Dance"
Morrissey, "Something Is Squeezing My Skull"
Betty And The Werewolves, "David Cassidy"
Gig Of The Year
God Help The Girl at 100 Club
Edwyn Collins and Teenage Fanclub at Mono
Blur at Hyde Park
Allo Darlin, This Many Boyfriends, Of Mice And Mental Arithmetic, King
And The Olive Fields at Jamm
Yo La Tengo at QEH
Butcher Boy at Glasgow Film Theatre
Wave Pictures at ICA
New York Dolls at 100 Club
Tender Trap at Jamm
Guest DJ Of The Year
Who You'd Like To See DJ at HDIF
Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Liz and Ryan from The School
Tom from Indie-MP3
The 'Scared to Dance' Lot
This Many Boyfriends
Helen "Splinx" Llewelyn of Product 19 records
Paul "The Cat" Johnston from Kirkcaldy VRN 1287's "Where
The Action Is"
Bid from the Monochrome Set.
2009's weblog is right here
2008's weblog is right here
2007's weblog is right here
2006's weblog is right here
2005's weblog is right here
2004's weblog is right
2003's weblog is right
2002's weblog is right