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Where did our love go?

November 24th

My highlights from Saturday night:

* "Love Is The Stick You Throw" by Pocketbooks. I know they were nervous about this gig beforehand, but you couldn't tell at all from their performance. They sounded wonderful, as sparkling and joyous as their debut album, and this track (criminally not on "Flight Paths") is rapidly becoming my favourite Pocketbooks song.
* "Saturday Night, The Loneliest Night Of The Week" by God Help The Girl. I'm a fan of the album, but the songs really came alive in concert, with Catherine Ireton proving herself not only to be a superb singer, but a bit of a star as well, an endearing mixture of nervousness and happiness and a dry wit when required too. This song isn't on the album - apparently they'd only been rehearsing it for a few days - but, as Stuart noted, "it has handclaps", and I reckon it's up there with "I'll Have To Dance With Cassie". A hit!
* "Last Train To Clarksville" by The Four Tops. Choo-choo! Superdanceable cover of the Monkees classic from the Motown legends.
* "Lost Weekend" by Lloyd Cole And The Commotions. An inspired request, for my favourite Lloyd Cole song.
* "Love's Gone Bad" by Chris Clark. It has handclaps too! Utterly magnificent, organ-driven, blue-eyed soul.
* "Union City Blue" by Blondie. I'd been looking forward to playing this all night. And it went down a storm, of course.
* "Save Me" by Nina Simone. That voice tied to a shuffle and hustle and the finest reading of this song for my money.

October 12th

Thanks to everyone who came to the John Peel Day gig on Saturday. It was a wonderful night, with some superb performances from the bands - my picks were the bonkers but brilliant Golden Animals, and energetic and fun sets by Tender Trap and Allo Darlin - and we raised £1900 for the DEC Disasters Appeal for Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. It felt very good to honour the memory and spirit of John Peel, but I think the best bit was the way everyone - all the promoters, bands and DJs - worked together, in a very friendly and professional manner. Huge respect to George Damnably and Rachel Silver Rocket for pulling the whole night together, and to everyone else involved. There is power in a union! Three cheers for our side!

August 10th

Well, what a night we had in Brixton last Friday. Maybe everyone was up for going out post-Indietracks, or perhaps there was just nothing else on that night, but everyone came out en masse, including lots of old faces who haven't been to the club for a while. It felt like a classic HDIF - just a great, friendly atmosphere, and people really going for it on the dancefloor, clapping, cheering, and just dancing themselves giddy. Chris and Gill from Offbeat turned in an excellent set as always, and I had a couple of half-decent moments too. My highlights:
* "Let's Go Surfing" by The Drums. An indie dancefloor smash with whistling in it, you say? Haven't we been here before? Maybe so, but this cool NYC import is utterly fantastic.
* "She's Looking Good" by Rodger Collins. This raw, horn-driven soul dancer sounded glorious.
* "I Don't Love You Any More" by Magnetic Fields followed by "Henry Rollins Don't Dance" followed by "Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones.
* "Higher And Higher" by Dusty, "Promised Land" by Johnnie Allan, and "The Clapping Song" by Shirley Ellis. Two of the songs that were interrupted when the PA cut out in the HDIF tent at Indietracks, this time played in full! And "The Clapping Song" again too.
* "Rock Lobster" by B-52s. A very very rare appearance for this at HDIF, but my it flew!
* "Do You Have That Soul" by Geno Washington. Fleet-footed soul shuffler!
* "God Only Knows", "Lazy Line Painter Jane", "I Second That Emotion" to end. It was one of those nights!

June 22nd

Phew! After the saga of the Moz specials at the Canterbury, I was worried that no one was ever going to come to HDIF ever again, but we were back right on track on Saturday night. A great turn out, an excellent set by Dickon, who never ever disappoints with his DJ slots, lots of rooms to dance on the dancefloor thanks to the new reduced capacity (due to a council ruling, the Phoenix is now 200 capacity rather than 230, and I think it's done us the power of good), and my bit was fun too. My highlights:
* "Wish I Was Skinny" by The Boo Radleys followed by "Alone Again Or" by Love. First HDIF airing for the gorgeous jangle pop of "Wish I Was Skinny" and it sounded wonderful. Does playing it flout the no-Britpop rule? Probably, but who cares?
* "Mixed Up Shook Up Girl" by Patty And The Emblems followed by "A Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill by Jens Lekman followed by "The Nitty Gritty" by Shirley Ellis - three songs with crowd noises in them, run together to make one big cheering, clapping happy party. Or at least that's how it sounded in my head anyway.
* "P.U.N.K. Girl" by Heavenly - haven't played this for years and years. Sounded glorious.
* "Good Lovin'" by The Young Rascals. Jump up beat pop from 1966.
* "Just Got Lucky" by Jo-Boxers. I've been bringing this to HDIF for over a year and a half, but have never had the bottle to play it before now. Everything seemed to be going really well and I wanted to see Dickon's reaction when I stuck it on - and sure enough, this self-proclaimed 21 century fop rather uncharacteristically ran up to me, squealed with delight and then bounced off into the crowd. It was a joy to behold.
* "For Your Love" by The Yardbirds. Another HDIF debut - sounded fantastic.
* "Looking At You Is Like Looking At The Sun" by Juni Jarvi. This super suave Swede isn't sure if he wants to be Jens Lekman or Stephin Merritt, so he has a fair stab at combining the two. Played in honour of the London Ukulele Festival, which was also happening on Saturday.
* "Can I Get A Witness" by Dusty Springfield. Excellent reading of the Marvin Gaye classic from Dusty.
* Two Tullycraft songs in a row! Forgive me, I was having a moment and I couldn't resist. "Wild Bikini" followed by "Rumble With The Gang Debs"
* "Eight Days A Week" by The Beatles. Debut HDIF airing for this swinging classic.
* "We're Not Deep" by The Housemartins. Just wonderful.
Ooops - I better stop before I list the entire set!

June 15th

I guess the story of the last Friday is really tied into the story of the Morrissey specials, so if you don't mind I'll write about them all.

Halfway through the second of the Moz specials, a bloke came up to me at the bar. "I really admire you for going through with these specials," he said, as I forlornly surveyed the half-empty Canterbury Arms. "This has been your grand folly, hasn't it?"

It was, I have to admit, an ambitious undertaking. Three nights at the Canterbury Arms, to coincide with Morrissey's three nights at the Brixton Academy. It was the weekend of Primavera Sound, so lots of our regulars would be sunning themselves in Barcelona, but no matter - there'd be plenty of Morrissey fans looking for something to do after the shows, and we'd be fine. What could possibly go wrong?

When Morrissey cancelled Thursday night, I was tempted to cancel too. But after talking to a few people who'd bought tickets and Jon Slade, our guest DJ, who was still happy to travel up to London from Brighton, even though we knew it would be a relatively quiet night, I decided to go ahead anyway. In for a penny and all that. And it was a lovely night, shared with a handful of people. I think there was possibly 20 there at one point - definitely 17. If you look at the photos from the night, and count up everyone who was there, and add in Zoe, Drew and the woman who didn't want her photo taken, that was everyone. Jon was typically good-natured about the whole affair, and we had fun hanging out, and it was a nice night with friends, all things considered. The biggest song of the evening was "Cross The Line" by Pocketbooks. To which an entire six people danced. The Canterbury asked us to call it a night at 12.30am, and we did just that. Tomorrow night would be different.

And it was. It was still fairly quiet for a Friday night HDIF - about 100 in - but there were enough people there for people to not feel self-conscious about dancing, and this time the Moz fans had turned out for a dance. Just before I played all of "Your Arsenal", a chant of "Morrissey, Morrissey" went up, and the album went down a storm. The run of "Certain People I Know", "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" and "You're The One For Me, Fatty" was pretty unbeatable, and the regular HDIF set afterwards went well too. There were cheers for "The Mighty Ship" by the Housemartins, "California Dreaming" by the Mamas And The Papas was just glorious - one of those right song at the right time moments - and "Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow" towards the end felt like an old friend. All was well.

At about 9.15pm the next night, a guy stuck his head round the door. "Is this where the Morrissey impersonator's on?" Um...well. I should have said: "No, I'm afraid he's cancelled". But, alas, we just mumbled something about playing all of "Vauxhall And I", and off he disappeared into the night. All told, we had about 100 in again, but it took a while and by the time Paul Court turned up to DJ it was still pretty quiet. I was fearful of another rerun of Thursday night, but Paul took it all in his stride and played a fantastic set of sixties dancers, all off seven inch, that had everyone up on the dancefloor. Standing at the bar, I felt like I'd stumbled upon a secret club - a pristine selection of music, and a lovely atmosphere.

But that all had to end.

I knew "Vauxhall And I" was going to die a death. It was exactly the last thing you'd want to hear if you'd just spent an hour getting on the goodfoot to some cool soul and garage tunes. It isn't an upbeat album by any means - it's an emotional, intense, dramatic masterpiece, that would have made for a spectacular experience in a packed club after seeing its author across the road. But right there, right then...

"Ian, when's it going to end?" That's regular Laura, speaking on behalf of one birthday party of regulars who were in for the night.
"I appreciate what you're doing here," this is another woman, who I think was part of the other birthday party we had in, "but the thing is, we're all very very angry with Morrissey at the moment, and this isn't what we want to hear. How long have we got left?"
I was apologetic, but I had to stick to my guns. "I'm sorry, we said we'd play all of it."
"It's because you're a man, isn't it?" said Laura.
"No..I just...we have to play all of it."
"Oh OK, then." Laura's laughing at me and with me at this point I think. "How long have we got left?"
"18 minutes..."

Of course, the regular HDIF bit after that couldn't be anything but a big success, and it was even more of a joy seeing everyone dancing than usual, most people slightly high on Blitz spirit and hysteria it seemed, myself included. "Sympathy For The Devil" by Sandie Shaw was a particular highlight - pretty much everyone seemed to be dancing, doing the woo-woos and just letting those drums run away with them.

And so that was it. Three nights. Not a single song played twice. Phew, we'd made it.
But, of course, the following week was the first Friday of the month. So we had to do it all over again. I'd asked David Gedge to DJ to give the night an extra spring in its step, but - quite understandably really - everyone thought "Well, that's enough HDIF for now", and went to the park instead. We had about 80/90 in, all told, and once again David was very understanding and happy to play, but to make matters even worse, there were two random and totally unexplainable power cuts during David's set, both lasting for five-ten minutes apiece. I think it was around then that I realised that the Morrissey specials may have been over, but the grand folly was lumbering on for one final hurrah. But - oddly enough, possibly because that I was revisted by the mild hysteria of the "Vauxhall And I" farrago - every time we managed to restore the power, I found I was enjoying myself more and more. And I think that was true throughout the Canterbury. The regulars who'd turned up had plumped themselves down at an ever-growing table, and it was nice to see people who really didn't know each other by any means other than dancing to old indiepop records, having a high old time, cheering each time the power cut out, and generally sharing my pain through the medium of laughter and taking the piss. Which is exactly how it should be, of course.

By the time it came to my set, I was faced with the smallest dancefloor I'd seen at HDIF for ages (well, since Thursday...), and I was worried I wouldn't be able to deliver a good night for everyone. But the fact that a full dancefloor was 20 or 30 people rather than 100 plus was actually really liberating, and once I'd gotten away with "Care Of Cell 44" by The Zombies - and not just gotten away with, but seen it being a really joyful experience for those who were dancing - I dug out some slightly more obscure songs, and really revisited the spirit of the early days of HDIF. And it was wonderful, and it makes me think that HDIF should be more like this in the future. More like this, my highlights:

* Atta Girl by Heavenly
* Hey Harmonica Man by Stevie Wonder
* Fire In Cairo by The Cure
* Care Of Cell 44 by The Zombies
* Everybody's Happy Nowadays by Buzzcocks
* Do It Again by Beach Boys
* Nothing To Be Done by The Pastels
* I'll Still Be There by Razorcuts

May 18th

Thanks to everyone who came to HDIF on Saturday. It took a little while to fill up, but we got there eventually and it turned out to be a lovely night. The capacity of the basement at the Phoenix has been reduced from 230 to 200, which means there's extra room to dance to the central London HDIF now, and that was really apparent on Saturday - you could see people getting on the good foot on the dancefloor, jiving, twisting and generally busting out moves and enjoying the extra space. The Wave Pictures put in another fantastic guest set, once again bringing The Rock to HDIF, and then it was me. Here's my highlights:

* Poupee De Cire followed by Puppet On A String followed by Teenage Kicks. In honour of Eurovision and the excellent Northern Ireland music documentary that aired on BBC4 the other night. And yes there is a link between the last two...!
* Every Conversation followed by You Should All Be Murdered, at 2.15am or so. It was nice seeing a full dancefloor bobbing around to the Junies.
* Witch For A Night by Sugar Pie DeSanto - from the terrific Chess Singles compilation that came out last month.
* Dark Halls by Au Revoir Simone. Such a wonderful song! The bit where the extra layer of keyboard gorgeousness kicks in about a third of the way through makes me shiver.
* Little Bitty Pretty One. Made for dancing!
* Teenage by Brilliant Corners and Shame About The Rain by The Chestertfields. Both played early doors, but I'll give them a later spin next time.
* Tears In Your Cup by Cats On Fire. Just flew tonight!
* Enjoy Yourself by The Specials. I couldn't resist!

April 20th

My highlights from Saturday night:

"Mr Pharmacist" by The Fall. What a song! Sounded gloriously noisy, ragged, and bristling with passion.
"Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay" by Peggy Lee. Brilliant upbeat version of the Marvin Gaye classic.
"Beat Him Up" by Helen Love. Bubblegum! Punk rock! Beat him up!
"Have Love Will Travel" by Richard Berry And The Pharaohs. Original 1959 version of the Sonics classic. I'm currently slightly obsessed with this song - the doo-wop vocals are amazing.
"I Could Be In Heaven" by The Flatmates followed by "The Day I Was A Horse" by The Vaselines. Hello and welcome to HDIF!
"Bert's Apple Crumble" by The Quik. The hammond! The grooves! The hammond! Had me dancing up a storm.
"French Navy" followed by "Embarrassment". I had to do it at one point...
"Summercat" again. I do love this song...

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 here

2003's weblog is right here

2002's weblog is right here

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