Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Tuesday 25 August 2009

The bad news today is that I barely clocked up four hours sleep last night and this will now mean that I will be a wreck of a man today.

The bad times continue as I check my phone to discover that it has barely charged through the night and is still on red bars. That is very bad. Why aren’t people pointing out the poor battery life of the iPhone more?

Battered and bruised after only one night of the four night stint I head to the station and London not feeling it in the least this morning. I question whether my eyes are even open as before I know it thankfully I am already on a train.

I endeavour to curl up in a corner and steal some sleep but that never happens when you want it to.

It is with rare glee that the train does not beach outside Liverpool Street and as a result actually pulls into the station at 8AM. Looking at the clock I feel like a drunk man hallucinating.

Exhausted.

The Girl returns to work today and I bite my tongue, choosing not to comment on her blasé absence yesterday. Confused my boss seems to think she had book the day off as a holiday so weirdly that keeps him sweet and we all come away smelling of roses.

Against expectations I am a complete wreck today. There is no real explanation for this. I did not drink excessively last night but I guess I did get back later than usual/expected. Still however I feel seriously shit, verging on some kind of weird sickness which ultimately renders me incompetent today. Lucky the pressure is not then.

The morning as usual flies by as I am now into the Tuesday to Thursday blur and before I know it it is lunchtime. Today I have (plunder) lemon chicken with the mandatory fries, the mentality behind this being some kind of McDonalds-esqe fuel injection of carbs that will hopefully kick-start the system, especially with tonight’s gig in mind and being out late this evening and missing dinner.

All in all though by the end of the day it has been pretty good and I find myself being able to regard it as a successful and productive day mainly due to no major distractions.

As the afternoon goes on the accounts begin to feel never-ending, they have arrived in such a mess and as soon as I am able to put one area correct and soon us I lift another stone I somehow only manage to uncover another set of issues. It was always going to be this way.

Eventually 5.30PM comes around and as I leave the bartender/waitress asks me if I am a homeowner. As ever welcoming an opportunity to boast about my status of being an adult she suddenly hits me with a request to be a guarantor on a loan for £3000 for her. Being slow on the uptake like a BIG fucking mug I agree, actually beginning to fill in the form. For some reason I thought this was like being a reference but as the form asks me what my salary is I begin to get suspicions and when I reach the section of the form that asks for my bank details it all begins to look like a Direct Debit mandate. I pause, acting as if I am swallowing something hard and jagged. The waitress then tells me that I need to provide a copy of a recent bank statement and without this to hand I stall and I go I’ll have to look for that home and I return upstairs and file the form. Truly I must have mug written on my forehead.

With time to kill this evening I head down to Fopp to buy Coffee And Cigarettes for £4. I had awoken during the night with cold sweats for not buying it yesterday with fear that upon my return there would be no copies left. Fortunately this proves not to be the case.

From here I head up to Highbury & Islington and the TORTOISE show at The Garage tonight. The meet up point is arranged as The Compton Arms which upon arrival, after meeting Racton at the Barclays cash machine, turns out to be something of grotty pub. Inside however are various recognisable faces full of late summer joy.

It isn’t long (one drink) before Racton and I are soughting exit/escape and in a fantastic turn of events we wind up in KFC. In this day and age of such liberal social circles this is a true treat for me; an act of nihilism and a horrific gesture towards our friends.

As we enter The Garage PIVOT are finishing off their set, playing out like some lively version of Tarwater with so many instruments. We make jokes at their expense as we head to the bar.

Elsewhere this evening Millwall are playing at West Ham in the Carling Cup. From one perspective this game means nothing but from another it means everything. Soon word begins to filter through of trouble and it all sounds exciting. Upton Park is such a dump. With regards to the actual game things only sound better as Neil Harris gives ‘Wall the lead after 26 minutes.

By now Racton and I have edged our way towards the front of the stage where TORTOISE are now setting up their equipment. With so many members and so many instruments this is a chore that appears to be taking forever. Set in the middle of the stage is the drumkit that later John McEntire will be taking. Racton tells me that it is essential to get a view of him as he is a master at work.

The TORTOISE live experience is one that can be a truly classy and emotionally charged one. Behind them tonight they have video screens that display visages of flight and expanse, a kind of freedom seldom afforded within the confines of existence.

Swiftly they kick into action at a pace far outstripping my previous experiences of them but soon it frustratingly proves something of a false start when their equipment fails and the guitarist is finding himself unable to exude any kind of sound. From a long time the band and stage hands alike attempt to salvage proceedings and you can’t help but feel the problems are being caused by their American equipment and the difference in voltage creating a strained marriage between the two power sources.

At this point I check on the football to sadly discover that West Ham have now equalized against Millwall, doing so in the 87th minutes from Stanislas (whoever he is?). From here the inevitable happens as the game goes into extra time and West Ham scrape a dodgy penalty before adding a third to win 3-1 as early reports come through of pitch invasions and other hijinks with the crowd at the game. What a waste of time.

With their equipment issues finally sorted out TORTOISE proceed to quickly tear into their set and make up for lost time in an effort to grace to all new purple Garage with a kind of exuberance seldom experienced in the venue.

The set is new material heavy with Beacons Of Ancestorship being well represented in the mix and healthy for it as it displays a true sense of rejuvenation and rediscovered drive within the band. I have never witnessed the band as close as I do tonight and with it comes some kind of revelation caked in awe as it is plainly evident that these are players at the top of their game. Watching John McEntire drum feels like a sport in itself as the guy gurns and produces the most amazing set of facial ticks and expressions as he plays side on to the crowd but often turns to his right to look the audience square in the eye as if to make them aware that he is the shit. Not bad for a man that looks like Christopher Guest.

As the cascades I find myself fully immersed in the TORTOISE experience recapturing an excitement and desire for this kind of music, an enthusiasm that I have not felt in a very long time. Tonight seeing TORTOISE is in stark contrast to the last time when I was almost horizontal from drunkenness but still both sets climax with the flighty “Swung From The Gutters”. Forever this track will be one of the strongest entities at their disposal. As it kicks in immediately and sets off on adventure it goes from the motions with a true sense of intensity placed into the performance and by the time the delicate hook is zoning in, coming down for landing I find myself truly/genuinely swept away by proceedings and actually experiencing goosebumps from a band’s performance for the first time in years.

From here the set plays out like a heavyweight boxer in the final throes of a fight. Having accomplished and achieved true heights the remainder of the set ticks many boxes as it becomes more than apparent just how special this unit is and how it should not and cannot be taken for advantage. With the night getting late they pull out two encores before we leave the venue are scraping our jaws up off the floor.

As we leave the Garage we spot Thom flyering for his On The Beach club and as I grab one for a second night running he calls me “a machine” for sticking out a second night of US indie gigging. I still have two more nights of this shit to go.

Once inside Highbury & Islington station Racton and I go our separate ways (he North, me South) and while I wait at the platform a girl comes up to me asks where I got my Fopp bag from. This seems a strange question but thankfully she is genuinely being inquisitive, displaying a poor record buying knowledge in not knowing that the Covent Garden store was saved many moons ago.

The wait for the tube feels excruciating and destined to make me late home. Eventually it arrives and from here I head down to Kings Cross where I change onto the Metropolitan Line where I finally get back to Liverpool Street where unsurprisingly I have missed the last fast train (Norwich train) home. From here I settle into a slow train home, one where I feel likely to fall asleep.

From here I look further into developments at Upton Park this evening and it sounds like it was full on. To think a big distinguished Premier League club that claims to have won the 1966 World Cup for England getting all heated and carried away with us (Millwall), a third division club. They must have quite the complex.

On the train ride home I get into a strange little Facebook argument with some guy called Sam who I used to go to school with. He is the one West Ham supporter I am vaguely still in touch with and he makes smart comments and I make smart comments and nobody wins.

Eventually I get home past midnight feeling exhausted. Now that I am 33 I am probably too old for all of this.

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