Friday, May 13, 2016

Wheetus



My music blog. Been whhhhiiiile. eeps. Sorry. i kinda spent a while concentrating on sorting out the whole 'being trans*' thing in my other blog. But now I feel the need to write. 


Why? Well, last night I went to watch a band called Wheatus. A dear friend of mine is a die-hard fan and I figured 'why not'. I like a gig, I like the genre and I knew I expected a good crowd. It was not just to get my gig numbers up for the year following a few lean years - well, maybe a little. This indie girl gotta retain some indie-cred. But can I do it with Wheatus? Well, that may be up for debate, but I'm not much one for caring about that.


For those that need a reminder, Wheatus had a huge hit in the indie-world with Teenage Dirtbag. They also did a reasonable cover of 'A little respect' which prob got played at my club nights - sounds like something I would do. After that I heard little except that they were around. And then I didn't even hear that. Seems like they were still going, putting out albums and touring. I just missed it all. 


I'll be honest, Wheatus came a little late to the party for me. Around the same time as bands like Sum-41, Alien Ant Farm and Fountains of Wayne (I want an alien for Christmas). Also the time that bands l liked, Offspring, Green Day and Blink 182, became pretty much unlistenable. I was not a fan of that whole alt scene from the US at that time. Wheatus were not on my agenda.


I'm not totally sure what I was listening to right then. Given that it was turn of the millennium, I guess a lot of cali-punk, old school punk and as much twee stuff as I could get my ears on. I had a club night playing rather obscure alt-indie around then (Psycho Killer - with as much unknown euro indie as I could find pre-internet), another playing alt-indie called Ultra-Violet (including Belle and Sebastian and Sonic Youth and a lot of earlier brit-pop for some reason) and also Dj'd at me mates punk night around then (which led me having to hide from a Manchester biker gang for fear of unpleasantness for quite a while). 


So 'still going surprise' aside, what did I expect from the gig? See, I put Wheatus in the same vein as some bands that I have very little care for above. But really, I expected something in the vein of Weezer, Cake and Nada Surf (minus the awesome but depressing songs - although I cannot say I have listened to any Wheatus albums so maybe they are out there too) - bands I like! 


What did I get? Well, yer. Pretty much that actually; with a smatter of bands like Nerf Herder - the more chilled out end of the whole Cali-pop/punk scene. 


But the important thing is: It was fun. The band had fun. The crowd had fun. Yes, I invaded into the sanctum of a tight fan-group and got the rewards for doing so. It is a while since I have seen a band on stage that actually look like they want to be there and are prepared to be goofy and be seen being goofy. Most songs right off the bat were audience requests. There was a back and forth that I've missed out on for a while listening to my moody, dark/depressing musical obscurities or super serious singer/song writers (with the clear exception of the Wildhearts). Not that I would give up the bands I tend to watch nowadays, but it was refreshing. The band even came right out into the crowd as soon as the show stopped. It had all the group feeling of an Amander Palmer / Belle and Sebastian / Emilie Autumn gig - the love from the fans being absolute and clear, without being inaccessible as it can at those shows. Course, the scale helps - it wasn't the biggest crowd.


Side note 1 - some dude was wearing a t-shirt from Abart. Abart was a small club in Zurich. Sorta the indie hub of Zurich and a place I saw a few gigs (the Lemonheads and Amanda Palmer with the Grand Theft Orchestra) - although the layout was a mess for gigs! There were unhappy stirrings when the club was closed, and I was with them despite being a relative newcomer to the city. Anyways, there was this guy and he was wearing a t-shirt from the club. That was pretty cool to me.


Musically it was fun. I enjoyed most songs although it is not always as easy to be as enamoured with songs that were new to me. But I liked them for what they were. I felt a little bad as I know the bassist caught me yawning my head off a few times but I was pretty shattered! These things happen.


The first support did nothing for me. I know I could have done the cover of AC/DCs 'you shook me all night long' better, and I having even played that song. Her glasses were too try-hard kooky too. Bithchy, but I really didn't like them. The next band sounded like the Postal Service. Made me realise I'm over the Postal Service. 


But the main gig - yes, the crowd was great. They knew a bunch of the lyrics and bopped away nicely given that it was an English crowd in attendance. Mostly. Some dude had driven from Holland just for the gig. 


Side note 2 - sorry, but I need to slip in a story that is trans* related. It happens; it is part of my life. And it happened at the gig. Yes,  I am trans*. Yes, people know. And I have said before in my other blog that I occasionally get looks from women that say 'ah, you're trans*. Well done, I support you' or something. Sorta like getting a little gold star. But in truth, I'm not really sure what to do with that star - all it does is remind me how much I stand out. But it is well meant and I take it as such. Last night I got such a loo from a girl at the bar. Just burst out laughing (discussing why pets are just such bad pets, very judgmental...), so the moment passed. Later, I realised that the same girl was stood nearby with her bloke. I felt like I'd been a little rude, so I made sure to smile over. Plus, good looking girl who caught my attention. Why? Nothing out of the ordinary but there was something in the back of my mind. Over an hour I noticed: hips just a little too thin, arms a little too muscular, hairline a little high and Adams Apple a little too pokey... damn. Had I not had my (somewhat poor) trans-radar on I would not have even noticed. Such subtle things, but she looked amazing. Bitch! Lol. But yer, still on my mind given what I'd been thinking when she first gave me a knowing look earlier. Maybe one day I'll be in the same passing boat as her. 

 
Anyways...


All in all, proper glad I went. It was a good night out, a lovely gig to be part of and I was in awesome company, which always helps. Would I have gone on my own, no. Will I rush out and buy the CDs... no. The days of such music are passed for me. Would I go if asked by the same folks, yer. 

Probably. 


Which says a lot coming from me.

whilst listening to this i was listening to Teeth of the Sea 'Highly Deadly Black Tarantula'' and The Unicorns 'Who will cut our hair when we're gone?'

Friday, January 31, 2014

THAT missed/ing gig...



Ah, the Ravonettes. See, I went to see Supergrass with Nathan - and Christian I think. Sweet gig. Supergrass were amazing. The last time I saw them. Life on other planets tour I guess. I never got into that album. Just never clicked. Which is a shame after the majesty that was In it for the money. Poor album aside, they were ace live. Really regret not going to the fair-well tour. Seems I only ever really regret missed gigs more than anything...

Anyways, that aside. They were supported by this new Danish band called The Ravonettes.
Damn. The first single had just come out, Attack of the ghost rider. What a sound. Garagy/sleazy/grungy/surf rock. They went on to release a lot of albums (still do) and I stuck with the band for a long time. In truth, the last few have sounded like more of the same. 

Live they remain amazing tho. I caught them, hmm, I wanna say not too long ago but it was when I lived with Dave and that was a LONG time ago. His band, Nine Black Alps (a critically under-rated band. Not the first in this blog. And I do not say it cause they are mates. I really did love them. First album, Everything Is - if you like rock - or grunge especially - you MUST own it anyways...), were playing at Leeds Festival so I got a backstage pass for a day. i.e. nice toilets and Juliette and the Licks  were, ahem, watch from behind. Still, that was the last time I saw them. I watched them with Anna and thought they would have lost something. But live they were still just fantastic. Really commanded your attention. I would happily go see them again now, dull albums aside.

But anyways, that first EP, whip it on, was really something. But that was not quite released so we knew little by them (in the glory days pre-youtube!!!). So just one single, some buzz and supporting Supergrass. I guess NME or whatever the kids read then were all over them after ace reviews. The crowd was full of, what would now be called hipsters now but back then were just the NME drones. Either way, they got a great reception. And they deserved it - they were ace.

So yer, I got back. Grabbed the EP released the following week. But, more importantly, me n Nath grabbed tickets to see them play the Roadhouse a few weeks later. And the buzz, added to sterling reviews, meant that it sold out pretty darn sharpish.so I was pretty chuffed with that.


The Roadhouse. Such a small venue in Manchester but held some of my favourite gigs ever. Compulsion (I met Garratt Lee before the show and hung for a while. He came on stage, saw me and said "Hi" to me in front of me mates. THAT was AWESOME. It may have only been the Roadhouse but I bloody loved that band and their albums so size does not matter at all to me (head, gutter, out) - I was star-struck!) 

The Evil Superstars supported them. Also ace, if sorta insane - the lyrics "I want to paint the refrigerator, but it's already done" and the most songs on the first album, possibly excluding Satan is in my ass, are silly works of genius. The second album with sad, sad planet was ace. Both albums are well worth searching down for a piece of insane rock history of the most minor kind. Worth noting, I spoke with Mauro their singer. Really nice guy and is now the guitarist for my fav. ever band dEUS. I was stood next to him at a dEUS gig at Rote Fabrik in Zurich (during the support act), an ace venue btw! I was going to remind him of our chat many years earlier but I couldn't hear bugger all cause the decidedly average support act were too loud :)
 
I also saw 5,6,7,8's tho I didn't see much as the stage was about 10 mm high and the band were so damn short so I ended up catching up with Suzanne the entire time. I saw many mates bands there, Cable, Feeder (the later before they became popular, dull and just plane rubbish).

And my favourite Roadhouse show that will ever be - Baby Chaos. I love this band so much. So powerful, deep, heart wrenching and really amazingly crafted songs. Just so well constructed. I am sure I will wax on about them again. But this is of particular note as I loved it so much and it was their only proper headline tour as Baby Chaos. That they never hit it big is one of rocks biggest cock-ups. So damn unlucky. If I hit it rich I will beg them to play a show for me. Happily beg. (And pay any price. So yer, I need to be mid-rich...)
To reiterate - I love Baby Chaos.


Where was I? Oh yes - the Ravonettes. So they were playing the Roadhouse and were generating a shed load of buzz. Me and Nath grabbed tickets and it soon sold out. The night of the show, the EP well digested, I was really pretty excited. We met, drank some drinks. 



Then it got fuzzy...



...and I woke up with a stinker of a headache the next day. 



I rang Nath, of course, and asked what the hell happened and why we didn't go to the gig - seeing as I was so excited about it. I was pretty annoyed we missed it. Figured something weird happened. But, with the head haze, I could not quite figure it out.


Turns out we did go.


I usually remember everything from night out (which is weird cause my usual recall is poor to say the least. If I had been the main protagonist in Total Recall, the movie would have been rubbish as I would never have remembered any past life. Just domestic bliss with Sharon Stone - could be worse for me but not really movie worthy). Still, there are two nights I have no recollection of. One caused an ex to throw a bottle of booze at my head the next time I saw her (and no-one would ever tell me why - although to be fair to me, she did was pretty mental anyways). 

And this one. I have no idea how the Ravonettes were that night, tho I expect they were awesome.
On the plus side, it seems I did manage to liberate Nathans chicken burger - before it was captured in his stomach, letting it know the power of flight - at some guys stood at the crack bus stop on Oldham Road and whom we then had to beat a hasty retreat from. 


Ah, the idiocy of youth.



Whilst writing this entry I was listening to The Beautiful People, The Beautiful People EP, and Fred Woods, Documenta, Clinic Kills -Free Reign. Enjoy :)

Future of the Left, ATP and other stuff



A few months back I was sonically assaulted by Future of the Left. Not the band themselves, but the music the band play. Defiantly not the band. I cannot see how it could be at all moral to share a police statement in my blog. And rest assured, if the band did assault me I would go to the police station and report it because that sort of thing is really not on (even from the bassist - wrong is wrong). 


And I love them despite the blood dripping from my ears. The shear ferocity of the music left me tired, jittery, with a huge throbbing headache. I LIKED it.





OK. Yes. It is now post All Tomorrow Parties and I started to write this before then. I could tidy up the continuity but, you know what, I like it more like this. Feel yourself warned. Plus, well, I spent ages writing and editing it anyway. Blogs take bloody forever to write. Well, me at least. I hope I get quicker, I have a shed load more to share. Right, back to the point tangent (I have read ahead).






This year I was lucky enough to see both The Dirty Three (twice actually), Mudhoney (playing mainly from, oh yes, Superfuzz Bigmuff), Reignwolf (new band from Jordan Cook - amazing, amazing musician and live set. Check him out. I saw him four times this year and loved each show. You may or may not have heard it hear first folks!) and Shellac (who I will be watching twice this weekend at a Shellac curated ATP). I say lucky because these bands have unique sounds, extremely skilled members (mind out of gutter please) and, most importantly, a ferocious live act that just makes you stand there, gawping with a mouth open large enough to fit in a full satsuma in sideways. (OK, Mudhoney I did not stand gawping. That was my first moshpit in a long time...) Anyways, these moments will stick with me as live highlights for a very long time. I have had this too rarely given the number of bands I watch, but it does happen a lot.




When I heard dEUS live, with particular reference to their live rendition of Roses, I experienced this for the first time (pre single / 2nd proper album release - this was my first listen to the song). A moment I will never forget - it has been over 15 years so I'm not exaggerating. My jaw dropped open and I knew that this was a very special song indeed, one that would continue to give me tingles in years to come. And proved to do so. Haunting, beautiful and just so damn well put together. As did the rest of the gig. They were amazing. But Roses stole the show. (These days, every time they play Suds and Sodas I have the same feeling...) dEUS live shows will a topic of a future blog, make no mistake.



Photo by PMBarker © 2009: half appropriate picture of dEUS at Pukkelpop 2009 as i do not have any other appropriate ones and want to break the blog up a little :)


Another example was the first live show (ever) of Nine Black Alps. I listened and knew what I heard was good. The awesome raw grunge sound carried out by people that loved it the first time round (man, musically the 90's were a great time to grow up). This was ~20 years after the year that punk broke and way before the now-ish revival. In many ways the timing was terrible for them but not totally as I was there so it worked out neat for me. These guys are seriously passed over. 

Disclaimer - I do count these guys as friends and did live with Dave (guitarist) when I saw this show. This does not diminish the fact that I was wowed by this gig - I am a lot harsher on friend's bands. So, yes, this really was great and the surrounding hype was totally justified.



On record I do not often have that moment. It happens, but it is much rarer. Many, many times I have to listen to an album a whole bunch of times, get familiar with it, before I come to love it. Heck, Modest Mouse is a band I now count as a favourite but it took me years to get them. 

There are instant loves, of course - some albums that I just love straight away. But I would say most of my favourite albums and bands are ones that needed me to put the effort into getting to know.


There are also some albums that I hear first time and make me want to smash things if have the energy left after being, myself, smashed by the waves generated from my speakers. Not due to the volume, but just the power of the songs on play (I have a terrible music set up and I live in Switzerland right now, know for intense noise policing - but once my medical insurance pays up I have a sweet Rega set up in sight then it is back to the UK to bag me one of those noise pollution cease and desist letters). 


But albums can achieve my jaw down moment; loving it instantly whilst feeling crushed by the sheer force of the singer, lyrics and musical accompaniment. 


One such album was Baby Chaos, Safe Sex, Designer Drugs and the Death of Rock and Roll. Again, a passed by band that never hit their potential and still, getting towards 20 years later, one of my favourites. How Love Your Self Abuse did not make them huge is one of the travesties of rock music history. 

Another is the Death From Above 1979 album. This is not favourite albums of mine, but I still get that head pounding feeling when it is on and I do love to listen to it immensely. If I have this moment of total revelation, live or on album, then the moment will stick with. This is a good thing - providing there is not a subsequent 'oh no, this album is actually really poop' moment afterwards.

I got that feeling again last night with FOTL. So I am not saying this will be one of my favourite albums ever. It is way too soon to be making such a huge call in that respect. But the moment of listening to them will sure stay with me whenever I remember it (which sounds lame but I remember these things a lot, as you will, over time, come to tell from this blog). I cannot wait to see them on Saturday at ATP.



As for the music. Well. It is ferocious, which I expect I already covered. And they have some amazing song titles. You need Satan more than needs you, I need to know how to kill a cat, and (as pointed out by Michael the Gray), Robocop 4 - fuck off Robocop. The songs are more intense than the titles. I am still shaking just from listening to some of them. That or alcohol withdrawal.  

And I listened to all the albums, finding them to be equally great. Song of note has to be the hope that house built. That song is brutal and catchy as hell. In fact, I will search it down after I complete this current task and listen to it again. I really want to... Also Drink Nike. Another great song. Arming eritrea is amazing. And Robocop 4..., wow. There are loads. These are the few I have pulled out for you to check out. Do so, I hope you enjoy!


I also think that the new album, The Plot Against Common Sense has some great, more subtle songs than you might expect from a band that I have just talked about blasting my eardrums out. I may try and follow this up with a review of the album at some point but it may take a while (too much to share with you fine folk). The new album really is a sometimes subtly, well put together, cleverly scripted, powerhouse.

Speaking of lyrics (which I did in a previous draft at this stage), they really are damn good. They are written in a manner I think is smart, funny and cutting at the same time. A manner to rival those of Carter USM. And if you do not know what I mean by that, you have probably missed the point of Carter USM's total career and probably put them to one side as an unimportant or rubbish band. Similar to NOFX. Those guys can play and write. Yes, they can be crass, in a South Park way. But they can also make a message. And I doubt either will really be appreciated for this, which is a shame. I hope FOTL do not also suffer from this. Probably. People do not like to realise anything they do not want to. 

Photo by PMBarker © 2010: poor, even less relevant picture but, again, I just wanna break up the text!. This time, NOFX at Pukkelpop 2010


What is good about the lyrics? Well, find out yourself on the new album and others. An assessment of Michael Bay's lack of understanding about movies seems fair which does make you wonder why the hell he is such a god in the industry (see Robocop 4). Moral outrage at the world's injustices but a lack of 'arsedness' to actually try and make a difference is what I took from Sorry dad, I was late for the riots. But I now know better. It is clear that it is more about 'old-money' rich people participating in riots for the jolly of it but I like both ideas and will continue to have them as mine. I also want to rant about the jist of Sheena is a t-shirt salesman but it is probably pretty obvious. My opinion, Buying merchandise from a band, at a show, is ace (see below). I am a merch whore. But buying from a supermarket when you would not recognise the band on the radio... Ugh.

Notes on achieving orbit contains the lyrics "Girls Aloud were the new Nirvana. Then any old shit was the new Nirvana". I hear the phrase 'new Nirvana' a lot. And people should not use it. A band from years gone by, Compulsion were the victims of this tag. The first album was 'too much like Nirvana'. The second album was 'not enough like Nirvana'. Damn it. They were a freaking awesome band. Could they not have been judged just on merit. They did not last long enough and I miss them! (Plus Garret Lee was a proper nice bloke. I met him in Manchester and hung out for a few hours. I still cherish his autograph on the my copy of the The future is medium CD.)

I have not heard fans speak of the recent Macca led Nirvana referred to in the same way. You know, the new Nirvana...


After writing this I came across a blog post from Andy Falkous (the singer from FOTL). Again, I like the way he writes. I link his blog, a reply to a review of the new album. It may be bad form, but this is addressed by Andy himself. And why the hell should he not have right to reply? In his own blog. Well, fair enough. 

Plus it is something of an annoyance to me. There are a lot of people out there, getting paid money to write about music. I would love to do this. Really, I would. Oh, look. I am doing it now, for free! But nothing bothers me more than a badly written review the wrong person. You know what I mean. I do not mean those articles where you do not agree with what is written. When the wrong person writes a review, you can tell. It comes across. I should not write a review of a Justin Bieber album 'cause I just do not care. I should not write a review of Coldplay because I despise the band.



I like to see that my bands care. And the blog above proves some do.


Note: To write a review worth writing, you need passion about music. If this feeling does not come across then either there is no passion or they are bad writers. Even a review of a 'meh' band can have some passion in it, just not aimed at that band. There are more people out there, let them do it. Go wait tables or something that you equally do not care about. 

(Plenty of people waiting tables would love the chance and do it well. So I make them writers. Over time they become lazy and write bad reviews. At this point I put them back to waiting tables and take the original writers who now have rediscovered their passion. I see this as a pendulum arrangement.)

OK, I guess there is kinda a cut down album review snuck in here as I talked a lot about the lyrics from the new album. It is ace. Buy it. (Nice little hidden track too, if it can really be called hidden on vinyl...)


There is also an ace live album. It is probably the best album to start with and a painful joy to listen to. Which gives me further enthusiasm for me trip to see them at the weekend. It is called Last night I saved her from vampires and it is well ace. Yes. Well ace. 

The songs are tight and there is extra joy coming from the dialogue accompanying the goods. The singer takes the moral high ground and does not launch into a tirade about the evils of Coldplay (almost typed cosplay...) and their singer Chris Martin - something that I cannot promise. Instead, he hits out at Reverend and the Makers. Not sure how I can call it the moral high ground when phrases such as 'punchable face', 'you just want to end his singing career' and 'they were so shit, they created new levels to be shit on, and that was just his face' are aimed at the band and singer. 

But, it was not the easy mark, Coldplay, so that is a moral high ground to me. 

I do not have a problem with Reverend and the Makers. In fact, I have no problem with them because I have no opinion. None at all. And let's be honest, for a band that is the worst thing. Hating a band, well, that is a reaction. Loving them, another. But just not caring. I probably would not recognise any songs if I heard them in the supermarket. And I have no interest in listening to any more of their songs than I have heard already. I am always interesting in listening to new stuff. 

Even the shock of an average pop artist such as Rhianna getting together to sing with her abusive ex has an impact on my life above that of Reverend and the Makers.  (Note: domestic violence, unforgivable. Forgiving for publicity, well, there is a place reserved for those people.) So that is how beige a band Reverend are to me.


And the sad truth is that whilst I am sure that a whole bunch of Rev and co. fans were devastated to hear of their split up, in reality the same fan most likely forgot about the band a few months later, stopped listening to the album further down the line and, in the future, will never listen to, or even think of, the band again. That is sad. 

And it is these kind of people that make good shows sell out fast so that I miss out. I hate those people. You know the ones. They will talk all the way through the show apart from when they pause to shout ' I love you'. They are wearing Ramones tees from Tesco (I do relevant me). So there you go. But, Reverend somehow earned a special kind of loathing from FOTL and so, now, I have dedicated more time writing about them that actually listening to them ever. Ironic. (Well, most of this was aimed at people, not the band, and that is fine by me.)


Ok. So a few months after starting to write this article, ATP is over.  And it was ace. Shellac put on a great festival and played fan-frickin-tastic. What a lovely little festival. I loved the community feel. So much more personal. Wandering round and bumping into Steve Albini and Kim Deal, wow. And the ace bassist from FOTL. Man, she was lovely. Pretty, sure. Real pretty. El Scorchio. And a neat bass / keyboard player. And really, really nice to talk to.

Photo by PMBarker © 2012: Kinda neat pic silhouette of Shellac at Primavera 2012. Note Bob Weston's glow in the dark orange pants.


I dunno. Maybe at a normal festival I would have bumped into her too but I totally did at ATP thanks to the lovely cosy atmosphere, and I got plenty of time from her. Sure, I was buying merch, but I had already given my money. She still gave time. I like that. Many musicians would do that. But you just gotta find them and at ATP, well, they are right there. In truth I ended up getting shy and headed off cause, as I said, she was cute. Didn't even get my LP signed. Eep.


Oh, and buy merch. at live show people. For smaller bands it really does keep them afloat. I mean, you know, make sure you like the band first. Otherwise it is your hard earned monies down the drain. But we need to support our music industry. I want new bands, new albums, more live shows. And I want them from great, small indie bands. I still pine for fav. bands of mine that perished in times gone by that were better environments for musicians. These are bad times. Do your bit (if you can!).


OK, so apart from me daydreaming about the bassist (Julia Ruzicka btw - and  as a side, no it is not sexist to fancy a girl who is in a band. if she is in a band I like - and remember that music is one of my most fav things in the world, and I find her attractive, then no wonder I fancy her. k), there was also awesome music from Future of the Left. Lived up to my expectations, totally. Set list... cannot remember. This is no professional review here. They did slip in a few Mclusky songs which was ace: Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues and, erm, something else... Michael went mental over them. (Tho not as mental as a few nights earlier...)

The FOTL set was ace. It contained a whole bunch of songs that I enjoyed. And between there was lots of great banter as I had expected from the live album. "ladies and Belle and Sebastian fans"  made me laugh. Oh, and "are there any Metallica fans out there. Yes? Well, this is a keyboard...". Ace. The keyboard was used to great effect in songs like failed Olympic bid and others, so you know. And Robocop 4, Drink Nike, Manchasm and You need Satan more than he needs you were my highlights of a lively, energy filled live show. Check them out.


Long story summarised, I love the band. Love the new album. Loved them live. I want more.
I will continue to listen to Future of the Left for ages and probably (my) forever. And I will continue to get headaches from listening to some of their songs.


Till next time.

Whilst writing this entry I was listening to Lonely, dear, the Citadel band, and Future of the Left, Last night I saved her from vampires, Nick Cave - Abattoir Blues and The Kills -Pressure Point. Enjoy J


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This is an entry about a dear, missed friend Reena



So, this blog is my life in music. I started to write this blog; put together a few pieces. But I wanted my first blog to have meaning. So I started by writing about some events with friends. And then life happened and one of those friends ceased to be someone I could recount over red wine the very memories I had been writing about. So the focus of the piece changed and I knocked it out quickly. And then it was too hard to return to for editing and completing. So this is a little late. I hope that some people reading this will gain an insight into times I had with a dear friend of mine. Times we shared. And maybe even times they heard about. Maybe. 

It is going to be about one of my best friends. Already mentioned in my pre-post, one of my oldest and best friends is Reena. The times we had were many and happy; and had their own music to accompany them. That she has been taken recently, and far too soon, served to remind me of those times and my teenage life. A period of time when music really started to hold meaning and soundtrack my life. Importantly, the main reason for this blog; these are memories I do not want to become dawn shadows as my mental faculties fade.



Where to start. Well, at one of the first memories to mind when I heard. I know, full well, that I danced with Reena Ribena on many, many occasions in twee clubs and gigs (honourable mentions to Tiger Lounge and the Star and Garter, both clubs in Manchester). So it comes as some surprise to me that my main memory of dancing with her is to the beautiful people by Marilyn Manson. Sure, there were others. Closer by Nine Inch Nails and PCP by the Manic Street Preachers stand out (the Manics, ahh, they will receive further word count, rest assure). And there were defiantly many, many others. 

But it is the beautiful people that I really remember. In Manchester, in the Ritz, during the happiest worst days of my teenage life. No idea why this is the memory that has come to the fore but there it is. The Ritz was great and cemented many friendships, created many (MANY) more and basically started me upon the life I know now. That may sound dramatic but, well, it did. The friends, the culture, the atmosphere and the music. All imprinting on a drunk teenage mind. The Ritz may well have formed me. Well, I guess the Ritz will be another blog at some point. But this song was the first place my mind went. Huh.


I first met Ribena at Grand Central, a dingy rock pub in Manchester. I was with Dave and we were headed to a gay indie club called Poptastic, in the early days when it was at the Bloom Street Hotel. (I was pulled an experimental lesbian I had been chasing in there. It was a fun place.) 

I was recently reminded, from two separate sources, that he was referred to as Sexy Dave by a number of people - a trend I started one night in a bar I worked at, with a few friends. I wanted to start a cult, it seemed reasonable to start the cult of Sexy Dave. We made a few posters and flyers. For some reason, down the years, I see occasional reference to this or hear "oh, that Dave, Sexy Dave" which seems that a night of silly in a bar kinda expanded beyond what you would reasonably expect. If only I had put that effort into something a little more, well, useful. Anyways.


Photo by PMBarker © 1999: How I will always remember Reena; with Nina and friends, back in the day as it were.


Dave was friends with Nina and Reena and that night started a long, true friendship which, as with any friendship of long standing, had ups and downs along with the odd absence during its run. I am also pretty sure that Glam Nathan was there but for some reason I cannot remember him that night. If not then, then certainly the next time.   

Still, there it is. We wanted to go to a place where we could stick on as much glitter and eyeliner as our skin could hold, squeeze into skin tight PVC and dance to the kitschiest indie music available. Bis, Kenickie, old school Manics, St. Etienne, etc. Something that the five of us did a lot. Everywhere. (There were other folks but this was my glam core group). It was great. I am reminded of Mark, the campest person I have ever met, with a Boy George look perfected. 

He was regularly at Poptastic in the early days, and may well have been in the years later but contact was lost and the rest of his story is unknown to me. I remember him telling us his family had no idea he was gay and was considering standing up at the Christmas family dinner table and coming out. I wish you could see my mental video replay. 

The stripped down version is him getting up, glitter floating everywhere, flicking back his feather bower, waving wrists in the air and full of lisp saying 'Oh, by the way, I'm gay'. I know, this is a terrible stereotype of a gay queen but one he went out of his way to portray to the nth degree. I cannot help but wonder how is these days and if he actually went for it. Or if he now goes to work in a suit. I hope he did not follow Boy George's lead!



So yes. To me Ribena was all about the glam and the kitch. My soundtrack music for her has to be PVC by Kenickie. If one song sums up how fabulous she was, that is it. Not the most obvious lyric, but "The moral of this little tale. Do what you like and you can't fail." Be yourself. She did. I try. 

Once we went to watch Spiceworld the movie with Sexy Dave. And because I did it with Dave and Reena, it was perfectly acceptable. Whatever opinion you may have. Course, we did so in fake furs and eyeliner. And then got drunk prior to the screening, on Absolute ColaCube to be accurate, despite the fact it was an afternoon matinee. On a Saturday. i.e. lots of kids were also there. I seem to remember some unsuitable comments being made loudly about the Spicegirls and what I would like to do to them. Opps. I mean, what someone would like to do to them. Yobs. 


And then Suede, who we watched together at Reading, in 1997. It was the same festival where I forwent watching Metallica, who I really am not fussed about, to watch Bis. Bis, who I loved. Kitsch at its best! It is defiantly the same festival where me and Tony dressed up appropriately to watch Marilyn Manson (before Mechanical Animal came out, so the Antichrist Superstar tour). 

We headed to town just before that, already ready. Got some grief of a couple of coppers, although that may have been after Tony waved a rubber bat in their faces... A bat I remember ending up in Dave's bedroom when he was at his dads for some random reason - why can I never remember useful stuff? Because of details like this pushing all the stuff I really do need, out. I am pretty sure we were listened to the Delgados album Domestiques when I noticed the bat.


Photo by PMBarker © 1997: Tony, myself and a whole bunch of old friends in the Mormon coffee house at Reading '97 before we exited via the 1st floor window (that's upstairs for those from the USA.  


Whilst talking of Tony (who I saw this weekend and, believe me, that happens infrequently as we live in different countries) another story springs to mind. One time, whilst Reena was at uni in Leicester, we decided to visit (to be clear - not just once, but it is this time that I am telling you about). We drove down in Tony's beat up blue car. It was an interesting ride. We couldn't find the car park at a service station so we ended up parked on a lay-by 'cause we really needed a wee. 

Then we got lost just after this. But it had a silver lining as we ended up on Shady Lane which was ace because we love that track by Pavement on Brighten the Corners.

If this was now I would be adding a picture taken on my smart phone with location tagged and modded by Instagram. But this was the good old days. Before mobile phones period. When you rang each other on the landline and sorted out when to meet and had to stick to it. Like when you made a date. You used to wait an hour when stood up just in case she was late. She couldn't text to let you know. And being late did happen. So did being stood up. So yes, you had to be on time. 

And our excursion to Shady Lane meant we were well late and suffered Reena's ire for a little while. A great night followed, as it always did. In the rock club in Leicester. What was it called... Oh well, can't remember. Anyways, good times. Btb, Tony and Reena once bought me porn for my birthday. Bit of a surprise and glad I didn't open it up in front of me mum. I used a few of the pages as paper for my letters (non-electronic correspondence for those that need clarification) to Reena which she did open in front of people, a full lecture theatre at uni. :)


I hope I maintain that same silly sense of humour that few people get but Reena and Tony did.



Photo by PMBarker © 1998: Me and Tony at Reading '98. When you have hair like a lavalamp you may as well do other silly things.



It was also the same festival we watched the Manic Street Preachers (yes, back to Reading '97). Nicky Wire's first appearance in a dress since the disappearance of Richey I believe dodgy fact fans. So that was how the group I met in Grand Central formed prior to me. They were Manic's fans. Old school, feather boa clad Manic's fans. When we met was before Design for Life came out. A reasonable album but not a patch on its elders. The glam punk of Generation Terrorists was a joy. 

What kind of song takes the chorus from the names of banks? 

And how the hell do they make it... work? Course, me and Ribena could chat repetitively for hours making up stories about how Richey did not disappear but was in fact eaten by James Dean and Sean. Because they got fat. So, of course we had many altered lyrics to take this into account. I wish I could remember more but the obvious one was the one that could be true. You know, from Stay Beautiful, "why don't you just...eat pies". Immature. No, not at all. No us. Naw...




Bugger. Me tea has been brewing for the last few paragraphs... at least. Oops.


Ironically, one of my fav memories of Ribena is Glastonbury 2000. We had not spoke in a while. Stuff had happened and I was angry with her. Silly, but that is how life is. I would love to have those years of our wasted friendship back but what happened happened and made us both who we were as a result. Still, it is funny how one of my fav moments was when we were not friends. We had not spoke in a while and met each other the middle of a field. 

We watched Nine Inch Nails and then drank a shed load of red wine (the good stuff, in nondescript plastic bottles from the festival bar...) and chatted and ended up just crashing in my tent late on. We listened to Jamie Theakston (he does not deserve bold type) on the radio give a clueless account of the NIN show (one of the biggest disappointments of my life, that gig btw, no energy at all - they made up for it with later shows tho) and so we bitched about him (and NIN for that matter). 

The next morning we rose late and came out to a circle of mutual friends all going 'woooo'. Nothing happened, and we shared this with the crowd. But I am sure the scandal lasted a few hours at least. Not my fav moment just yet; just makes me smile.



The next evening was the last night of Glasto. Ribena and I stood right at the barrier, to the left, and watched David Bowie play his greatest hits. This is one of those gigs you had to be at. I was. With Reena. And I often remind or inform people of this very fact. 

Such as random dude in Barcelona this summer (I was there for the mighty festival that is Primavera) who asked if I had ever seen Bowie live (I was wearing a Bowie t-shirt). When I said yes the guys was shocked. Apparently he asked a shed load of peeps that very question and I was the first person to say "yes". I pointed out I not only saw him, but it was an ultra rare greatest hits tour and I was with my friend Reena. 

I was actually getting a lift home from Glasto with Phi, who DJ'd in Poptastic btw - it's odd how these things loop around. He wanted to leave before the crowds and I promised to be there. The time chosen was just before David Bowie took the stage. One of the two reasons I went at all, the other being NIN (tho I was gutted to find out I had missed the Flaming Lips afterwards - no, I did not realise...). 

Needless to say I was not going to miss Bowie. I got there 3 hours late and we got stuck in peak leaving Glasto traffic. The guys were not happy, not at all. Not a little bit. I just said I couldn't find the car... but as for me and Ribena, we consequently did not speak for years. But that gig was bliss. True perfection.




Anyways, back in the day she used to say that I was a mix of Tony Wright from Terrorvision (who I have no problem admitting I loved at that time - probably still in the top 3 list of bands I have seen live the most) and Tigger from Winnie the Pooh because of my constant bouncing and energy. I wish I still had some level of that energy left... This was said in the common room of a friend's halls of residence in London somewhere. Which I am reminded of because this was the same trip where one of the most bizarre, random nights of my life occurred. The Tom Jones night.

We had basically gone to London for a week over New Year. Dave, Reena and I. We stayed with Marie, another friend of times past (last time I saw her I was sick after a night of cider in her bathroom - sick in the bathroom not drinking cider in the bathroom. That would be crazy). We had gone for a big New Year night out at Popstars in the big smoke. 

It was a great night. We did the classic 'not used to London and only half the group managing to get on the underground before the doors shut and hoping to God that when we got off at the next station they would be on the next tube because this was all before mobile phones so modern readers may not realise how much a pain in the ass this could actually be especially when I was in the part of the group that had no idea where we were going' stuff. And we met Nina and Katy in the club that played kitch stuff and was basically a great night. 

We also spent days rewriting Manics lyrics to fit to our twisted sense of made up rock history. I.e. fitting in "pies" as often as we could. We also quoted a shed load of Eddie Izzard (Definite Article era). 'Cause that is what we did.


And, post NYE, we got drunk and were tired. But one of Marie's flatmates had found the cassette inlay for a Tom Jones tape in the street (a format to listen to music on before we got better formats although it was not as good as vinyl beforehand but vinyl was just not portable unlike cassettes on a walkman - portable music, genius). So we came home to this stuck on the fridge door. 

Mania followed. 

Why, well, who can tell. I suspect it is because we all had great imaginations before life dragged us down a little. And are very silly people. 

That and alcohol and sleep deprivation. 

We had to decorate the fridge. Glam it up for ole Tom. Tinsel did the job. And glitter. Then drawings (plural) that we spontaneously made of Tom and us or Tom in scenes of being awesome. Well, the fridge door became a shrine. So then we prayed to the door. And respectfully kissed the door in order to be blessed. (I know. Touching a shrine to be blessed. Crazy. Who would do such a thing?) 

Then we gathered to tell stories of mighty Tom and sing his songs in his honour. 

Then a cupboard was set aside for quiet meditation in Tom's name. We fit 4 in there once.

People had Tomgasms. 

A wig was located, the curly black type. Then we could pretend to be Tom whilst the others knelt before them. Of course, jealousy followed over who would be Tom and running around the garden ensued.

Photo by PMBarker © 1998: The Shrine to Tom and activities to expand the relics available. Told ya it wasn't made up! 


I would say that this night was made up, but I have photographs. It was real. Who needs drugs, we were able to create a whole world within our minds for a night. Legendary. And, well, a bit... nuts. Another of my top 10 life memories with friends (Bowie being also in this list) and once again with Reena and music, if pretty ropey musically (although at the time he was duetting with Catatonia I think so he had some kitch cred just then - but neither would enjoy that for long).



So, I think this is a good place to finish. 

Love you Reena, you will not be forgotten and I am committing our exploits to the mercy of the web. I'll miss ya chuck xxx



The writing of this piece was accompanied by the Knife - Silent Shout, Gallon Drunk - In the Long Still Night and Rachel's - The Sea and the Bells, Arcwelder - Xerxes.