Sunday, 11 October 2009

Sunday 11 October 2009

The weather has gone to shit today. I awaken just after 7.30AM faced with a return of the dull and wet conditions we have been enduring of late.

Today is MUDHONEY and with it comes a genuine sense of excitement and the nice feeling of having something to do on a Sunday for once. Contrast today with last Sunday and suddenly things appear to be beginning to pick up. Contrast also the climate of today and last Sunday and it all feels like an entire season ago. Last Sunday couldn’t have happened without the sun out but today it feels just fine.

A Sunday evening at the Koko only serves to recall and remind me of seeing GZA perform “Liquid Swords” there just before Christmas a few years ago; of sitting in the Costa opposite the venue and having Zoe call me up to see how I was. It all felt like it was on the verge of something great, which unfortunately it wasn’t but I wasn’t to know that at the time. Does these times currently hold such promise? Maybe.

I check my torrent of Whatever Works and it is now in the 90% region, it has gone great guns through the night. Later this morning I will be able to see Woody’s latest and hopefully (with Larry David on board) it will be a good one. I feel confident.

I begin the day by watching Funny Ha Ha again which I have been meaning to do for a couple of weeks now. I still cannot really make my mind up fully about this movie. It’s too obvious just to say it is slow and write it off for being so but surely you need more than just what this is offering. Mumblecore remains Mumblecore.

Regardless after the movie I get up and do some writing. While scanning over Twitter I discover that Stephen Gately of Boyzone has died. Chalk up yet another celebrity death that I discover through social networking websites. This news prompts a resounding meh.

Excited I begin watching the latest Woody Allen movie Whatever Works. This film stars Larry David and sees Woody back making movies in New York. This winning combination is sure to make the movie great. Right?

Unfortunately not so as the movie never really gains any momentum or pace after starting well it really slows down halfway through. Larry David’s character reminds me of Max Von Sydow’s character in Hannah And Her Sisters crossed with the general air of Mighty Aphrodite as he begins acting paternal to Evan Rachel Wood’s character. Later as her movie turns up proceedings take a slight Anything Else turn as generally once more it feels as if Woody is sadly rehashing old ideas and it is only really his method of filming New York that makes it recognisable as one of his films.

It proves frustrating as hell to watch Larry David fire so many blanks, especially considering just how on song Curb Your Enthusiasm has been in recent years. Still a new Woody Allen movie gives me a similar kind of excited feeling that Christmas does and usually with these things it will probably benefit from an additional viewing.

With time still to spend before heading up to Camden I set about catching up with other TV shows as I watch episode 2 of the latest season of Californication and episode 3 of the latest Curb.

Not far into proceedings dad phones up to see if I am heading over theirs today. Originally I hadn’t intended to but also off the back of hearing no word from Stevo regarding arrangements today the pull of a Sunday lunch is too hard to avoid/dismiss.

As I pull into Balkerne Heights I see a couple of old-timers gossiping on the corner. I take a parking permit off the old man and hitch up in the visitors spot. Dad begins complaining how a neighbour has had a stranger parked in their spot all week and then he notices the old guys on the corner and it turns out that they are two of the people from the residents company (Barry Hepburn and John Stopford). What those old fuckers? Those are the people that have been giving him all the trouble? The Hepburn guy looks he almost 100 years old. Regardless dad stomps over to have a word with them about the troublesome stranger parked in his neighbour’s spot and I watch through the window as the old man begins pointing a lot in a heated manner as the old guy leans on his walking stick. He really is fucking old.

I leave him to it as I step into my parents to the most depressing sound of a Sunday: motor sports on the TV.

Inside the dog is happy to see me having apparently been looking for me during week on my no-shows. Meanwhile dad complains with the oldsters to the point that he misses the beginning of dinner. Mum groans that his roast is going to be ruined and go to waste but undaunted I tear/tuck into my own, be quick or be dead.

After lunch I happily switch off the motorcycle racing in preference to watching Arthur on one of ITV channels. It suddenly occurs to me that I have never seen the first movie all the way through even though I have spent years stealing quotes from the sequel (“in a minute”).

Eventually I head off to London as Stevo gives me an awkward meet up time at short notice. Today rail replacement means that there is nothing for me between Colchester and Marks Tey so avoiding the pain of any buses I just drive that little way up the A12 and park up in the sticks of Marks Tey which also echoes my previous trip to the Koko on a Sunday for the GZA show nearly two years ago.

Annoyingly not long after leaving Marks Tey Stevo texts me to tell me he will be running late and for me not to rush up to town. I can’t be angry if I’m not surprised.

Today I am generally feeling sluggish so by the time I reach Liverpool Street I am straight towards Starbucks to get some pep. Now I know it is a small thing but it does annoy me slightly that my cup of coffee at the Liverpool Street branch of Starbucks costs 5p more than from a normal Starbucks. This is true exploitation in action.

Soon however the caffeine begins to work its trick and I am heading up towards Mornington Crescent in good time for our meet up. Obviously I arrive earlier than planned. The original plan was to meet at the Belushi’s but when I get there some dodgy retro crust punk event called Muddkiss is taking place. As I step inside the bar I can’t see Stevo or The Pope but soon I find myself being grabbed as some guy asks me if I have paid. “Paid for what?” It turns out that this shit scene is an all-dayer occurring now with a price tag (tax) of £6. I tell him I’m not forking out and politely respond “I’ll wait outside.”

Pissed off I head back to the Koko and wait outside there warning Stevo to stay away from the stench coming from the bar that was always crappy anyway. After a tense bout of waiting I receive the text “We’re outside Belushis in Plender Street. Are you nearly here?” to which I stroppily respond “I’m outside koko.”

After a five minute wait I get nothing in response so continuing my strop I stomp over to the pub where I actually find myself coughing up a bit of sick in my mouth on the way. I am not well. When I get back to the pub the pair of them are happily standing outside with beers in hand, sounds like they got into the place without having to pay.

Lingering outside Belushi's are all kinds of old school punks that really do look as if they have lost the plot. Famously it was Johnny Rotten who stated that things started to go downhill with the movement when people starting wearing leather jackets and tonight these people are the living embodiment of this reality. At any moment these people look like they are about to gob at you or go off for the slightest of reasons. Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, a bit too judgemental but at the same time really where do these people, generally pushing 40, fit into the grand scheme of things.

With the likelihood of getting back into Belushi’s for another pint low we head back towards Koko looking for a pub that hasn’t got some horrible band playing in it. Eventually we wind up in the pub sat opposite the venue (The Mornington) where my iPhone suddenly begins to experience coma mode just when I want it in order to take some photos of the band tonight.

Eventually we head into the Koko where all things are swinging. Almost immediately I bump into Manjeev who I last saw ironically at the Mudhoney show in Kentish Town last summer. Like me he is very exciting at the possibility (probability) of proceedings this evening. After he goes Stevo asks me if that was Chris. Nada.

At the bar they are shelling out “Love Music Hate Racism” bottles of beer that are something to do with Hard-Fi or some other plain and dull piece of shit band that really shouldn’t get behind such causes. Inevitably Stevo makes the joke about getting a “Hate Music Love Racism” bottle and the girl at the bar smiles as if this is something she is hearing for the 100th time.

Afterwards we head downstairs and manage to get a good spot to the right of the stage. Soon THE HEADS take to the stage and immediately set about tearing the roof off the venue as their heavy fuzz drone of almost stoner rock genuinely rumbles the roost.

In certain circles THE HEADS are true legends and they have been putting records out for years now to little in the way of fanfare. Tonight though when they blow our collective heads off nobody will leave without acknowledging who they are and what they do.

It perhaps best displays what the band is about by looking at their t-shirt choices for this evening. To the left one member is wearing an Ozzy shirt while the beard in front of us on the right sports a Can shirt. The two extremes of these choices well represent the middle point and combination that this band represents. As they tear through a tinnitus inducing set in front of a purple trip of a video backdrop I guess on a lazy day you could describe them as psychedelic stoner rock but I can’t recall anything of that genre ever being so thunderous, deafening or defining.

After THE HEADS’ set we pull our jaws off the floor in full acknowledgment that we have already had our value for money. Stevo and The Pope head over to do a beer run but I just want to keep my good spot for MUDHONEY.

While I wait some lairy Scottish lad wanders around our area and he asks me if I want to buy some coke. This guy does not appear to be the kind of guy anybody should be getting their cocaine off.

Eventually MUDHONEY hit the stage and immediately the whole place goes off as they open with “The Money Will Roll Right In”, much like their set at the Kentish Town Forum last year.

They begin their set with a bundle of songs from The Lucky Ones that do not require Mark Arm to be playing guitar which allows him to scoot about the stage like a clothed Iggy Pop. “I’m Now” and “The Lucky Ones” are the choicest cuts from the latest record and do manage to sound fine additions to the set.

When Arm finally straps on his guitar the opening bars of “You Got It” soon follow and the Koko literally goes off as the first bonafide classic of the evening gets aired as the band play knowing that they are the shit.

The hits continue as the band launches into “Suck You Dry” which is a song I’ve always felt the band have struggled to nail live but now after almost twenty years of playing it is sounding better than ever.

From here “Blinding Sun” comes and goes but when “Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More” hits things become painful as the waves of distortion keep repeatedly crashing down on the people. I swear with each year and each performance this track becomes more horrific and disgusting.

As the set slows down for a breather eventually out of the lull comes “Touch Me I’m Sick” at which point the entire room braces itself for everything around them to go nuts. On cue everyone goes bolo as onstage the band play full aware of just how much power they hold in their hands.

Things fail to relent as the band proceeds to tear right into “F.D.K. (Fearless Doctor Killers)” at a devil speed. I don’t think I have ever seen the band do this song live before and delivered in this manner it provides a true thrill as they nail it with the kind of intensity people half their age would struggle to serve. Then personally I lose my shit as the band rolls into “This Gift” which I haven’t seen the band play for a very long time, if ever. As with the remainder of the set I don’t think they could possibly do the song any better as swarming rhythms of this song quiver through the building in amazing fashion.

It is a this point there can be no other opinion that this is an amazing set far exceeding rational expectation and pissing on the Pixies’ show from Friday night despite costing half the price. What went wrong here? Why have these obvious innovators never been given the full credit that they not only deserve but have clearly earned.

With a cloud distortion hanging in the air “Mudride” drips and melts all over the scene as the set manages to keep messy before launching into the regular conclusion of “In’n Out Of Grace” and yet another towering epic performance of one of their grandest and most dense songs. As it hangs in the air while Dan Peters gets his drum solo yet again an enormous sense of excitement mixed with apprehension lingers until the incendiary track finally explodes into closure. With this the dust then settles as Arm puts down his instrumental finishes the set with their customary cover of “Hate The Police” and then it is all over.

While we proceed to pull our jaws off the floor the band returns to do an encore of more new(ish) songs before it all ends with their cover of “Fix Me” by Black Flag which I wonder if Stevo recognises being a Black Flag fan and all. Regardless the manner with which Arm spits the words is direct and defiant and being their third punk cover clocked for the evening just makes them feel more relevant and necessary than ever for still possessing some kind of fight and bite.

As all goes quiet suddenly the reality of just how much my ears are ringing hits me. That will definitely pay me for standing in front of Steve Turner.

Miraculously when I get outside I bump back into Stevo and The Pope who both are just as blown away with Stevo saying “that is the best gig I have ever been too.” So that’s pretty conclusive and comprehensive then.

Slightly out of character Stevo says he can’t offer me a lift back to Essex tonight but I’m too fussed I remain in the high spirits which carry me home as I get back to Colchester in the early hours of Monday morning.

As I head to bed and close my eyes there is a crushing sound surrounding me and it is the ringing in my ears that remains from the gig that ended two hours ago. This could be permanent.

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