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What a fun last three weeks!

Posted: November 20th, 2002, by John Coburn

So much to talk about…

October was probably the grimmest month of my largely uneventful year. Employment seeking had sapped all life and dignity out of me and replaced it with an overwhelming sense of despair. I had no money to buy records, watch bands or do anything else that required an exchange of currency for goods. And on top of this, a bugle (best described as a trumpet with no valves, for all those unfamiliar with military brass instruments) dropped onto my head from 6ft, seriously impairing my vision for 3 days.

But, christ on a bicycle, November has more than made up for it! Somebody gave me a job and I saw a load of great bands! I’ll start with my watching of Fugazi. Well, I’d heard so many conflicting reports about every show on this tour (read entries below, if you haven’t already). The main criticism seemed to be “the band weren’t really into it”. Well, the Leeds gig I saw was nothing short of life affirming. They played the right mix of songs, the right length of set (1 and and 3/4 hours), and Ian McKaye provided us with an entertaining selection of anecdoting and brief political commenting. But it was their absolute focus and fervent enthusiasm that made it all staggering to watch. They were completely and utterly into it. Watching Guy drop to the floor and flail his legs insanely, while McKaye barked every last gasp of breath from his lungs was staggering. And the quite beautiful and seamless transition from ‘Last Chance For a Slow Dance’ into ‘Sweet and Low’ and then into ‘Repeater’, was something I will always remember.

One week later, I found myself back in Newcastle marvelling at the sounds of Q And Not U and Red Monkey . Actually, my own musical ensemble opened the show with our brief debut performance. I think we all enjoyed and it did seem to go down quite well with the packed-out crowd. Even though, in a bizarre Laurel and Hardy moment, each of us managed to slip over on a rotten banana upon exiting the stage. Yes. A banana. On the floor. Anyway, Red Monkey were phenomenal as per usual, and remarkably tight despite the rumours they’d only practised once in 6 months, and I was really impressed with Q And Not U. Afterwards, every band celebrated the fine evening by attempting to drink some of my friend’s disgusting 98% imported Polish vodka (no, not 98% proof. This was actually 98% alcohol, like almost pure ethanol, vodka. NAILS. HARD AS). Upon mishearing that drinking enough of the stuff might cause blindness, Barry decided to test the theory by actually pouring it into his eye. Cue several minutes of pain. Two eye injury stories in one blog. Outstanding.

Next up, 9 X 9, a newly conceived nine-band half-dayer in Newcastle. All in all, an excellent mix of interesting rock music, extremely loud noise on computers, two-piece weirdy jazz bands and other eclectic wonders. My personal highlights were Brown Owl (clever quirk-rock from ex-Diesel Vs Steam, Dragon Rapide members), Cathode (purty electronica), Snail Racing (three bass guitars and drums, but with annoying three-way vocal action) and Futureheads (Yummy Fur meets Gang Of Four, with great four-way vocal action). Maybe band of the night though, was The Unit Ama. Totally unpredictable, post-rock style noise, complete with bonkers onstage moving about. They also played a blinder when supporting the mighty Econoline, who were without 75% of the band, a week later (by the way, nice meeting you, Ian!).

So yeah, one of the best November’s in a long time.

John Coburn

John is an enigma of a mystery wrapped in a question. Stalking the Northern streets by night, he collects compliments like a true professional, his hair combed neatly into the finest cut this side of David Bowie circa 1967. Hurrah, hurrah and thrice hurrah for this giant of words. John's interests include racing pigeons, counting votes and collecting toy cars.

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