Thanks mainly to my lovely baby son I don’t get out as much as I used to, but I have enjoyed a few concerts this year. The Todd Rundgren gig at the Hammersmith Apollo was good – well, when he played A Wizard a True Star in its entirety it was great; the first half however, Todd’s Johnson, an ‘homage’ to the Blues of Robert Johnson was real bad, so bad I had to go to the stalls bar after three songs. There were quite a few others out there including a mulleted Eighties throwback who started talking to me. Turned out he had come from Norway for this gig and was a very good friend of Jan Garbarek (one of the few musicians whose gigs I have left early from, way too bland). I always take such claims with a grain of salt, but he seemed sincere. Some of the most interesting music I’ve heard in recent years, such as Biosphere and Jaga Jazzist, has come out of Norway.
As the first half ended I went to the upstairs bar to meet my friends, to see that they were talking to the brothers Brewis from Field Music, one of my favourite contemporary groups. I finally got to ask David about the influence of early Genesis on their music and he confirmed that they were extremely fond of the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, solo Peter Gabriel, but not the later stuff. I’ll probably write some more about them at a later date.
The Wizard set was very well done, another of those ‘classic albums’ that would have probably been impossible to do in full live in the Seventies owing to the technology of the time. What has always impressed me about live Todd is his voice, which is still strong and didn’t falter throughout, especially good on the soul medley from side 2. Afterwards, accompanied by the Brewis brothers and girlfriend, we tried to find an open pub near the Apollo, to no avail; unbelievable given the hysteria in the media about 24-hour drinking.
I was also hypnotised by The Portico Quartet at the De la Warr Pavilion Bexhill. The most exciting gig was Iggy Pop and the Stooges, again at the Apollo (somewhere I used to go to regularly in the 70s, I lived nearby, but then didn’t go for years, preferring pubs and clubs). I liked the way they rushed onto the stage and got down to business immediately, Iggy throwing himself with disturbing regularity into the seething crowd amidst an atmosphere of impending catastrophe. Yet again a classic album was being played – this time ‘Raw Power’ with James Williamson on guitar. I’ve never been a huge Stooges fan , but I could definitely see what all the fuss had been about. As my friend shouted in my ear about half way through, it made most Heavy Metal and ‘hard rock’ bands look totally redundant.
At some point I suppose I should write about the history of London, but I’ve had enough of that for a while.