Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday 14 December 2010


Tuesday 14 December 2010

Dream: I am at Colchester leisure centre for some reason and as I step into the bar area I spot one of my favourite broadcasters.  He currently has cancer and has been quiet and off air recently.  When I see him today he has shrunk and is barely recognisable.  As he walks past I approach his father (who himself passed away a few years ago) and tell him that I wish them all the best.  My gesture is not overly appreciated.

I awaken around 5.10AM this morning.  In the background my TV is still on but with the sound down.  When I see the light flickering in the corner briefly I actually think it is coming from the sun outside and that I have missed my alarm.

For the next fifty minutes I wrestle with trying to resume sleep while the trauma of laying awake hits me.  Eventually 6AM buzzes marking time to get up.

Daybreak is as moronic as ever this morning as dogs and children feature for some reason attached to Christmas in some capacity.

With view to catching the 6.57AM train I leave slightly early this morning.  On the way to the station at the final hurdle I find myself stuck behind a Polish lorry intent on driving at 15 mph and making my life misery.  I take this gesture personally.  Then a few minutes later as I turn into the station a moped/scooter tries to cut me up on the inside.  You couldn’t blame me if I had hit it.  Little lesson.

In the end I get to the platform in time for the 6.57AM.  The reality of the National Express East Anglia timetable change appears to be that the contents of the 6.59AM and 7.30AM are now both trying to squeeze onto this train.  Also being that it stops at Stratford (whereas the old 6.59AM train did not) ultimately despite leaving earlier it actually pulls into Liverpool Street later.  Where is the improve in service with that?

Undaunted I take my old 7.03AM spot on the platform at which point Piers trots along and stands here also.  Have we got nowhere over the past few years?

For some reason the 6.57AM sits in Witham station.  Five minutes later I realise it is to allow the 7.05AM from Norwich to overtake us.  Why does that fucking train get/take such seniority over us?

Eventually our train gets into Liverpool Street at 8.05AM.  This is unacceptable, this is such a shoddy and pathetic performance of service.  Quite frankly it mocks and ridicules the users and passengers, basically exhibiting how National Express appears to harbour quite a high degree of contempt for its customers.  This is the modern world.

Before long I am squeezing onto the more reliable tube service which also appears to be running busier than usual.  This is just not good at all, I hate public transport and public transport hates me.

Finally I get to St Johns Wood and a day where things do not necessarily improve or get better.  Isn’t it supposed to be Christmas?

For some reason my iPhone 4 is fucked today, I just cannot get a signal and as a result I struggle to confirm our guestlist spot for GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR tonight with Nathan.  In the end though it happens via Facebook communication and we are officially headed to Limehouse this evening.

Once out of work I catch the tube straight to Bank and then change onto the DLR.  It has been said before but the DLR is scarily similar to a Disneyland monorail ride.  After a couple of stops it arrives at Limehouse and a part of town I have never visited before.  The journey itself above the city looks and feels retro futuristic (almost cyberpunk).  This lends an air of intimidation to proceedings.

Upon arrival at Limehouse it soon becomes apparent that I will require some food in order to get through this evening.  With Racton nowhere to be seen (or heard) I spot a Tesco on the other side of Commercial Road and so I head straight towards that when in reality I was hoping for a Starbucks.  While I’m at the self service checkout buying an All Day Breakfast sandwich and Mars milkshake my iPhone rings and its Racton.  He’s already here, knocking about somewhere in Limehouse.

After some confusion (and almost being hit by a double-decker bus) I finally meet up with Racton who it seems has been already waiting around for some while.  It is plausible that he might be tempered under such circumstances but thankfully he’s OK (possibly biting his lip and hiding it in the process).

Looking around at the apparent shit hole that Limehouse represents we opt out of entering any pubs instead choosing to just join the ticket collection queue of the Troxy with apprehension of the ATP guestlist based on a bad experience in the past where they screwed up our places on the list.  That bald Sean guy did us no favours that particular evening.  In the end despite our fears and cynicism we easily get in.

Tonight is my first visit to the Troxy.  Being on Commercial Road I always thought it might be walkable from Liverpool Street.  I was wrong.

Inside the Troxy is an impressive room, apparently the largest independent (self run) venue remaining in London.  And judging by its interior it appears equally a throwback to my parents’ time and happily devoid of corporate sponsors or logos.  It actually gives of an air of being a fine venue for ballroom dancing.

From here we take up a grand spot at the front of the first level while the instruments of the DEAD RAT ORCHESTRA sit visibly recognisable onstage.  Within minutes of taking up our spot Dan from the band steps out and says “hello” as we thank him for the guestlist and enquire how the shows are going.  Soon he is followed out by Robin who informs us that somebody has stolen the band’s log.

Not long following this exchange they are onstage where their performance is received incredibly well.  Once again tonight the DEAD RAT ORCHESTRA display the best chops of their existence as they own the stage.  Amplified to a new degree they are staggering as their minimal and strange instrumentation makes an impressively booming noise that fills the room in a manner that would not necessarily have been imagined or expected when they started out.

With Dan again expertly framing the sound as they eventually arrive at a showcase of Nathan’s vocals where he sings in Spanish which gives the performance a truly exotic flavour.  Tonight they tones truly fill the room as amplified the words fly across and over the audience like a bird carrying a message of freedom to lift proceedings.  In the end it all serves to conclude things in rousing fashion.

By now the Troxy has royally filled as we remain in possession of some of the best spots in the house.  It is at this point to my horror Racton says “save my spot I’m going to the toilet and getting a drink” and from here I quake as I protect/save the spot from the tiny imposing Irish girl stood behind us.  I sense she’s bruiser, her soft tones are fooling nobody.

Tonight GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR are down to perform a two and a half hour set.  This is a test of endurance for even their most seasoned supporter.

Eventually they step out onstage in I guess what is intense fashion.  To this day the popularity of this act baffles me.  I’m not really quite sure what it is that this band offers that a hundred other post-rock bands do not.

Unsurprisingly it begins slowly as quietly it gradually builds to something epic and astonishing eventually attaining heavy volume.  This grows concurrent with initial background images that are little more than the word “hope” as suddenly I find myself getting caught up in proceedings.  There is a genuinely tasteful juxtaposition in these two seemingly contrasting gestures and messages.

To be honest I have always considered GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR something of a one trick pony, albeit one that feasts on intensity and a certain morose willingness and passive energy from their submissive audience.

As the visuals grow so does the power of the sound and having not bothered with them first time around now that it doesn’t matter finally it clicks with me.  With Christmas coming and tonight being a rich freebie I feel the urge to enjoy and celebrate.  To the season!  From here they continue to churn on as if there were some hidden meaning in the barrage that is generally relentless.  It’s a great thing if you allow yourself to get wrapped up.  And suddenly I do, I finally get it.

At around the hour and twenty minute mark Racton gives in and heads off.  He has been here before and now appears resoundingly dismissive towards revisits past times.  Myself by this stage I am pretty much asleep on my feet which in a way facilitates and enhances the experience as all elements appear more vivid.

In the end it is the visuals that make it for me.  As the set storms to a conclusion these range from rising flames and burning buildings down to grand structures of a modern and recent age that now feels like a bygone era as such optimism has faded to grey.  All in all it feels retro futurist, not least as often the flames remind me of Blade Runner.

By now the 28 Days Later songs have hit and now there is a real menacing undead texture to the set.  I always said that the music of GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR reminded me of chamber music and by now this set is truly more in tune with a classical music piece than a classic rock concert, which probably goes a long way to explaining the abundance of beards.

It concludes with images and visuals of people protesting looking to bring about change.  The coded message is one of empowerment.

And then it is all over.

In making it through the entire two and a half hour set with my back aching I emerge in a sense of euphoria as getting through this show feels like a true accomplishment.  We got through this together.  Art rock is torture and at the close we all emerge victorious.

As I spew back out onto the grotty streets of Limehouse and Commercial Street I text Racton “wow, that shockingly blew me away”.  He odes not respond well to this with a seemingly sarcastic “wow indeed”.  In retort I offer some consolation by pointing out that there is currently a girl throwing up on Limehouse tube station platform.  In her fuck me boots she doesn’t necessarily look like she was at the gig tonight but still this is part of the GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR experience.

From here the DLR takes me to Bank where I wait for what appears an eternity for a tube to take me one stop to Liverpool Street.  As a result of the delay the platform gets pretty busy to the point the next train becomes the wanker train and one to avoid.

Eventually I get back to Liverpool Street where I board a late train home to nothing.

Hope indeed.

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