Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Popfests. Thousands of 'em.

This week, of course, is all about London Popfest. But now it seems that whatever corner of world you live in, then you too can start drinking too early, miss half the bands, and spend way too much on t-shirts that won't fit you in a couple of year's time.

Added to the established US popfests in San Francisco, Athens and New York are two new European ones, in Copenhagen and, wonderfully, Rome.

Now, I'm not the greatest traveller in the world, but I'd kiss Anne Widdecombe on the mouth to go to a popfest in Rome. With tongues, and everything.

As it happens, I'll have to make do with getting ridiculously excited about getting the National Express down to London on Saturday morning.

Support your local popfest, people!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Official warming

If, like me, you're snowbound today, then you might want something to give you that warm glow. So, instead of wetting yourself for kicks, why not watch the new video from We Show Up on Radar. It's totally beautiful.

And, whilst we're at it, if you want to really believe it's not minus seven outside, listen to a new song from Club 8, which makes you want to break out the Pimms. Or it would do, if Pimms didn't taste like rat piss.

Download 'Western Hospitality' here.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Notts County 1-1 Grimsby Town, 17th Febraury 2010

Here's a match report I wrote for Cod Almighty a couple of days ago...

The last time I went to a Town game on my own was the same day as the Hillsborough disaster, and I vowed never to do that again.

But 21 years later I have done, and it was actually quite enjoyable. I'd managed to wangle a seat in the press box and figured that I'd need a few pints inside me, so I went into the Trent Navigation next to Meadow Lane and got chatting to Norman, a bloke who once a week cleaned out the changing rooms at the ground. While scrabbling around for some coppers, he mentioned to me that Notts County hadn't paid him for a few weeks now, and he's owed £250. So while megalomaniac shitehawks talk about getting their newly-bought club into the Premier League "within five years", and while they brag with serious faces about "long-term visions", maybe they should remember the people who pick crap up off the floor for them, and, y'know, once in a while pay them some wages.

On with the show! From my seat in the gods of the Derek Pavis stand (Derek, for your information, is the former owner of County, before they went all Hollywood, and he paid the players' wages out of his own pocket at Christmas, apparently) I could see around 700 Mariners wiggling and a-wavin' – all looking cold. But they made a pleasant enough sound.

Town kicked off towards the Trent and immediately found touch via Proudlock's big fat head. County were soon shimmering their way through Town's non-existent midfield, with Hudson and Sinclair both looking like they'd rather be indoors in front of a three-bar fire than outside playing footy. Devitt looked like a little boy scared of touching anyone in case he got the lurgy.

County were unlucky not to be two or three up before they actually scored around the 20-minute mark. Atkinson had spent the first half of the first half looking like he wanted to take Lee Hughes' clothes off, and when he did it one too many times, referee Wright gave County a free kick, which was swung over to the far post for Hughes The Thug to glance home using his shiny head.

How County didn't extend their lead in the next ten minutes is beyond me. And probably beyond Lancashire and Atkinson, too. Sinclair and Hudson continued to remove their feet where lesser men wouldn't fear to tread, and Tommy Wright and Proudlock were reduced to running backwards and forwards and up and down – all the time nowhere near the ball. Town were awful.

And then – and then! – we scored. Sweeney – the only thing worth clinging to all first half – went on a lovely run down the left, and swung the ball over. It was touched out by a County defender to Devitt who saw OverpaidSchmeichel slightly off his line and curled a beauty into the top left corner from about 20 yards.I went apeshit in the press box. I'm not sure you're supposed to do that kind of thing, and I managed to interrupt the bloke behind me as he was live on air. Who cares? Town had managed to go into the break level. Somehow.

Woods must be on steroids, because Town came out in the second half like he'd given them the rollocking of their lives. Town were a team transformed, and Sweeney was the... err... transformer. Like a robot in disguise, he picked his away around an increasingly frustrated County side, whose fans reminded me of those Arsenal fans who ring in to that twat Spoony and moan that Wenger should be sacked. They got ratty every time a pass didn't find feet and moaned when Hughes didn't get every decision each way. I sat in my lair grinning.

About 20 minutes from the end Town got tired of being really good and composed and competitive, and County decided to string a few passes together. But not before Leary, who had come on for the poor Sinclair, had twatted a 30-yard screamer against the bar.

Hughes and Rodgers, the evil bald twins up front for County, were causing Lancashire and Atkinson all sorts of bother; I believe it's called movement. Colgan pulled off two ace saves from shots down low to his left, and then right at the end Hughes, who had already been booked, went through with only Colgan to beat. But Colgan beat him, and snatched the ball away. Hughes went in with his studs up and bundled Colgan into the back of the net.

In ye olde days when football was played in black and white this would've been a County winner, of course. Nowadays, you get sent off. And Hughes did, but not before squaring up to the linesman who had given him offside all night, and not before giving Woods a gobful on his way down the tunnel. He's one of those players you hate (stupid goal celebration, jail sentence for drink driving, etc), but he's one of those players that Town just don't have.Anyway, when Colgan had retrieved his testicles from the back of the net, he took the free kick and the ref blew for time. Town fans went mildy wild. County fans thought the referee was a rotter.

I just hope Norman gets his money soon, 'cos if new owner Trew puts County into administration – as he surely will – he'll be at the bottom of a very long list.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Haiku Salut

Haiku Salut are Gemma, Sophie and Louise, late of the The Deirdres, who you might remember from a year or so back. The threesome make the sort of music that, to my mind, should soundtrack the next series of 'The Restaurant', or maybe a documentary about childbirth. Something that involves producing either food or a baby, then. if you can think of a programme that covers both these topics, then I'd say Haiku Salut are a shoe-in for the music element.

They've got a myspace page and everything now, so you can listen for yourself. My favourite is probably 'Wannabe'. What's yours?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Transmittens interview

Transmittens replied to an email I sent with some really inane questions on it. (That was a clumsy sentence). Luckily, their answers were better. Anyway, it's a nice, brief little interview, and it gives me the chance to plug their bandcamp page.

Tell me how you both found each other, and how long have you been making music?

Danny came to play drums for a band I played bass in... that banddidn't last very long, but the two of us kept writing songs. We'vebeen playing music together since 2004, but didn't start Transmittensuntil a few years later.

How did you come across Wee Pop!?

I totally fell in love with Megamoog and ordered her Wee Pop!release... then totally fell in love with Wee Pop!

You seem to be bursting with songs - is this the case?

Pretty much, yeah. We have like 80 songs and even more little snippets of riffs or melodies, but we only like about 20 of them...

What do you think is the biggest difference between last year's record and 'We Disappear'?

We thought about 'We Disappear' a lot less. Last year's album was acollection of songs, some written over three years ago... before weknew how to record in stereo... We chose the songs we could play live,just the two of us - guitar, keyboard and drum machine, without anybacking tracks or midi setup. 'We Disappear' is more spontaneous. Allthe songs were written recently and there's more variety ininstrumentation.

Is the two minute pop song perfect for you?

It depends on the song...

When are you coming to play in the UK?

Hopefully soon!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Oh, Po!

Today's diptych of lazy You Tube posts is completed by an amazing live version of Po!'s 'Sunday Never Comes Around', recorded in 1992 at The Mag, a venue sadly no longer with us.

You know when you get annoyed with yourself for not being in the right place at the right time? Well, this just about reaches the top ten in that particular list.

Less is more

I might be wrong, but aren't Northern Portrait a member down here? This video was shot at the weekend at their Baby Honey show with Shrag and Still Corners, and to me, it sounds even better stripped back a bit.

Of course, I might be wrong and they might've always had four people in the band. I've been a bit refreshed every time I've seen them...

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Sourpatch - Crushin' (Happy Happy Birthday to Me)

I had a horrible feeling I'd miss out on this album because I'm totally skint, and although there are some copies available at London Popfest in a couple of weeks (a couple of weeks - woo!), I should imagine other people will snap them up before me.

So, I'm extremely grateful to Mike from HHBTM for sending me a review copy. It's hard to put into words how exciting this album is. First up, the production (or lack of it) makes my heart race. The skattergun drums and distant vocals cut through some seriously lovely, scratchy guitar parts throughout, and it almost feels that if you turn around, then Sourpatch will be playing over in the other corner of the room.

Right at the heart of 'Crushin' is 'Water Without Land' - and you should buy this album just for that because it's the song of Sourpatch's lives. It starts off like The Shop Assistants at their most ragged, before changing half way through into an amazing paean to lost love, with some proper heartbreaking vocals: "Our days are numbered, our days are already gone/And when you remember me, remember me fondly/When you remember bme, remember the good things." Those still looking for songs for their funeral could do a lot worse.

Throughout Sourpatch talk about love and love lost, and that's why this album triumphs. It's defiance really is its number one. 'Same Street' is the very essence of this; about seeking down an object of unrequited love, but its played with such effevescence that it almost seems like a celebration of that, and I think that's pretty special.

And that doesn't just happen every now and again - it happens on just about every song. And when each one finishes you're looking to skip back to the beginning, thinking, "Did they really just say that? Did I really just hear that?"

I've rambled on too much. My friend Rachel summed this album up much better. She said: "It's fucking awesome." I can't really argue with that.

Our old skin

Twenty years ago, when Nelson Mandela was being freed by the Special AKA and Margaret Thatcher, the world was a very different place. Grimsby Town were on the rise, with one of the best midfields I've seen at Blundell Park; I had a massive dyed black quiff that made me look like 8 Ace out of Viz; and there were still some good programmes about music on the telly.

In Febuary 1990 I saw The Edsel Auctioneer peform a live version of 'Stickleback' on Snub TV. The next Saturday I went into Grimsby to buy it, and I was smitten. Five years later I had the dubious honour of putting on the band's last ever UK gig in Leeds. Well, that's what I've been told.

A couple of years ago, in the printed fanzine that preceeded this shoddy blog, I interviewed Ashley Horner from the band. Here's what he said:

What have you been up to since The Edsel Auctioneer split?

It’s nearly 15 years since we played our last gig, at a fledgling venue called the cockpit in Leeds. Since then I have been working in the film business as a producer and director, making short films and last year completing my first feature film, The Other Possibility, which was shot in Berlin and Newcastle. It’s a border hopping rock and roll movie and was made in a manner similar to the way we ran the band, lots of favours, hard work and not enough money. It will be released on DVD next year.

Tell me what you remember about being in an indie band in the late 80s/early 90s. And how do you think it's different today?

Aidan and I worked together from the ages of 16/17 till our mid twenties, writing songs on beat up acoustic guitars and scraping together enough cash to record the odd song and do the odd gig. I remember listening to John Peel religiously as a kid and at 19 we sent him a three track demo of some songs that we’d recorded for a little record label who didn’t want to release them. I got a letter back on headed BBC note paper and immediately presumed that our mates down the road were on a windup and had gone to the trouble of forging a letter from Peel inviting us to record a session.

It’d be nice to say that doing a Peel session made everything simpler, but it was actually a really tough journey from that to actually making a record, with lots of wrong turns and empty promises. I remember a lot of waiting around for things to happen, being too broke to afford guitar strings, let alone guitars, rehearsing in bedrooms with the mattress up against the window as some sort of soundproofing for our less than enamoured neighbours and many miles in bright orange hired transit vans, sitting on top of our knackered amplifiers, to play support slots and occasional headline gigs to small, but incredibly enthusiastic groups of people. I remember a lot of stage fright and throwing up, too much alcohol, stage-diving onto hard wooden floors, electric shocks, motorway pasties and all for the fantastic thrill of playing a good gig to a room full of sweaty, passionate indie kids from all different sorts of tribes.

Back then every small town had a pub or club that regularly put on a live band. Dance music killed all of that when all the venues became dance clubs and there was nowhere to play. The last five years have seen a shift back to live bands and there’s a different network of live venues to play at, most of them either big chain places like the carling academies, or more mature tasteful little venues that put on the odd gig. We survived by playing live and signing on the dole, and made enough to exist by selling records and T shirts. I reckon that My Space is a great way of raising your profile as a band nowadays, but I think that a band the size of the edsels would find it difficult to put a tour together without the support of a management company and record label clout. We had neither, yet managed to regularly play around the UK, and we even did a really shoestring tour of the east Coast of America one month.

Do you think that The Edsel Auctioneer were a true indie band, and do you think that the upsurge in interest in smaller scale indie(pop) is a sign that people are shying away from NME-sponsored 'indie'?

I think that people who are passionate about playing and dream of being in a band will always find a way to operate outside of the self appointed establishment idea of what is cool and hip (or what the corporations deem marketable). I think we were an indie band in that our ethos came out of that DIY post punk approach of getting on with it and finding a way to create without necessarily having the clout of a major record label behind us, or the incentive of money, in order to make music. Sometimes you have to make the thing that is relevant to you at that time and not wait for the greater opportunity. The first few records by the Edsel’s have an energy and rawness that comes from a group of teenagers recording and writing songs, not the considered and skilful approach of some middle aged muso noodling away and trying to recreate some sound or feel.

One of my favourite music TV clips is where The Edsel Auctioneer were playing live on Snub. What do you remember about seeing yourself on telly? Were you excited?

We were fucking livid. I remember that Phil, the Edsels bass player wanted to go round to Snub TV’s offices and cave their heads in. We thought the sound mix was awful and made us look like a bunch of amateurs. (which we were). I’ve watched it since back on you tube and I love it for it’s crazy energy and excitement. Everything is out of tune but so what. I remember the actual gig itself much better, a really incredibly mental night, with a tiny pub packed to the rafters with people eager to have a good time, and an indie promoter more than a little shocked at the size of the crowd and the subsequent problems that caused with overzealous bouncers and the band playing on the same level as the audience with no crash barriers. It made stage diving very difficult. I must say I’m not sure about the cardigans I sported in retrospect.

The Gutted ep is wonderful. Do you think you ever really fulfilled its potential? Were you disappointed by the albums, looking back, or happy with them?

Looking back I’m really happy with them, but I do think that a lot of the waiting around between recording songs and releasing records damaged the impetus of the band after those first two singles. There was a lot of good stuff that we wrote prior to the first peel session that we never got to record or release, first Peel session tracks included. We worked really hard at writing songs and developing ideas and you always wanted to record the newer stuff when the opportunity arose and so some great stuff only exists as four track demos. I like the rawness of 'Simmer', which sounds like a snotty angry teenage rock band and I think what we were trying to do on 'the Good Time Music Of...' which was make a musically varied and less uptight record worked really well. You could put that record up next to albums made much later by the likes of Wilco and Beulah and see where we were coming from and where we might have gone….

When did it start to go wrong for the band?

I think that touring America with no money was a bit of a crazy idea and strained the friendship between Aidan and I. We had hoped to record an LP out there with Kramer at Shimmydisc records, but that turned out to be another empty promise. We had a young enthusiastic fan, Lori, who had booked the gigs, but wasn’t very experienced as a tour manager, I was drinking a lot, we were a long way from home etc. etc. I was managing the band by this point and we didn’t have a record deal. We could have imploded during those dates. But instead things came good, we were offered a half a million pound five album record deal by Alias Records from LA after they saw us play a blinding show in New York at the Under Acme during the new music seminar. Sadly we only recorded one record with them which we made for $5000…

The delayed release of the first album 'Simmer' was what probably hurt us most. We’d been playing that heavier power pop that Dinosaur jr and the fanclub were producing and then Nirvana and grunge happened. The album was released over a year after we had recorded it and what do you know, the disinterested press etc just labelled us grunge copyists, and late ones at that. Peel kept the faith, bless him, but it wasn’t the most instant of records either.

What did you all do immediately after the split?

I went to film school in Toronto, with dreams of becoming a Hollywood feature film director, only to discover that I was much closer to some off kilter European Art House Auteur and that North American cinema wasn’t too my tastes….

Aidan had a young family and a proper job as a lecturer in graphic design at Leeds Poly, which I think he still does.

Phil did some bits and bobs on the road for the Pale Saints and then formed a punk band with Chris and Jock when they split, called Lorimer.

Tris who was playing drums for us at the time went off to roadie for Tindersticks and play occasional percussion for them live. I remember going to see them and him in Toronto and he just wanted to be back home, he’d just had a kid.

And are you all in touch still?

No, I think that Phil and Aidan still see each other as they’re based in Leeds, but I’ve been in Newcastle for nearly twenty years and am no longer involved in music. I emailed Aidan regarding the use of a couple of Edsel’s tracks on my last film, but we haven’t spoken for ten years or so. Sad really.

That time in Toronto was the last time I saw Tris, not sure what he’s up to now.

What's your favourite memory of The Edsel Auctioneer?

Two things. Firstly there was an indie club in Leeds called Kaleidoscope Pop and we were there one night and this great sounding song came on, really loud and it was our first single 'Our New Skin'. I couldn’t believe how fantastic it sounded and people got up and slammed around to it. Magic.

Secondly I remember turning up to play at The Armoury, which I thought would be some cool new wave club in Cookeville, Tennessee, only to discover it was the actual armoury of a US Marine base. We had hired it for $400 dollars and been told we’d make at least that if we turned up cos we were “an English band”. We were broke and couldn’t pay. At 7.30 the first set of car headlights climbed up the hill and the good people paid their $5 in. In 30 minutes 300 people turned up and we played this show to a hall full of rednecks. They hated us until Aidan started to play the riff to 'Smoke on the Water' and we muddled through a string of very poorly played Stones and Faces covers. Everyone went home happy and we were able to pay off the rather scary looking Marines we had earlier been planning to do a bunk on.

And what's next for you?

I’m producing and directing an erotic drama set in Northern Britain call 'Fuckart' that we’ve been working on for a couple of years. It’ll be my second micro budget feature film and has been written by Sean Conway who is a rather genius writer from Batley, near Leeds. It’s an incredibly explicit and poetic love story. If we manage to raise the budget we’ll be shooting that next spring, so that will keep me more than busy for the next twelve months or so.

I still pick up a guitar and play the odd Edsel riff, but I think that my indie music days are behind me; indie film has replaced it.

Download 'Unbroken Line' from the amazing Gutted ep here.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Indiepop lookalikes #1

Can you tell the difference between CBeebies Dirtgirl...

... and Elizabeth from 'Allo Darlin'?

Here's a tip: don't do a google search for 'dirtgirl' at work.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

And they call it progress

I was in Cleethorpes at the weekend, fulfilling parental contractual duties. I'd forgotten how unremittingly bleak North East Lincolnshire can be on cold February days, that is until, on the way there we drove through Caistor, where I went to school.

Christ, Caistor is glum. It's supposed to be a scenic market town, and if you look hard enough there's still evidence from when the Romans established it. The Market Place - once home to the largest concentration of pubs in the UK (or something like that - look it up if you can be bothered) is now home to some depressing takeaways, tat shops and a run down supermarket. The chippy is still there, but that was always shit.

What's brought the demise of this once thriving town? I'd like to think it was the closure of its pubs. When I was at school, we used to try and get served in any one of The White Hart (which is still limping on), The Red Lion (now flats - of which I suppose most are empty), the Fleece (now a fucking private pre-school nursery), and the Talbot (which dated from the 16th century, was the cosiest of all the Caistor pubs but was somehow allowed to close a couple of years back). Without these pubs, there is literally sod all to do in Caistor apart from sit in the Market Square and make a nuisance of yourself. Which is what the tuff kids used to do years ago, whilst listening to Big Black and drinking White Lightning cider. Occasionally one of them would rev up his motorbike and whizz around the block, which was even more terrifying.

I guess these scenes are replicated throughout the world, but it's easy to forget those that chose to stay close to where they went to school or were brought up. Or those that got stuck there. But going back doesn't half remind you how lucky you were that you escaped, and how you can never really go back without seeing the outline of teenage self walking around the place. And that scares me a bit. Especially as I was probably singing Mission songs to myself at the time.

I found this clip on you tube this afternoon after I'd written all this stuff. I'm sure no-one else in the world will find this interesting, but it's pretty amazing... for me at least. Oh, and I'd advise you to turn the sound down if you're bored enough to watch this.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Transmittens - We Disappear (Wee Pop!)

It’s Monday morning, and nothing is right with the world. Except it wasn’t until I put The Transmittens’ ‘We Disappear’ on for the 50th time since it arrived late last week.

As ever, it’s always a moral dilemma whether you should actually open a Wee Pop! release, but you’re always glad you did. ‘We Disappear’ doesn’t mess about, and is far more immediate than last year’s ‘Our Dreams’. You could almost call it confident.

This time around Transmittens offer up some almost shoegazy, low-down-in-the-mix vocals to go with the drum machine and coy guitar lines. It’s a potent mix on songs like the dreamy ‘Holiday’ and ‘The Sea at Night.’

But that’s not say there aren’t any straight-down-the-line pop songs here. Hand claps are very much to the fore in ‘Places I’m Dreaming’ – a song which reminds me why those early Icicles records were so precious. See also ‘Hot Dog Suit’, which is just about the most summer-y song ever.

But – most marvellously – there are songs here that bring to mind the much-missed Pipas. Monday mornings are made for the likes of ‘Too Right to Sigh’, ‘Something Else’ and ‘Sometimes’ – both the sort of resigned pop that makes me feel there’s something out there worthwhile when you’ve got five days of drudge in front of you.

Wonderfully, ‘We Disappear’ ends with the poppermost ‘Blue Whale’, which will infiltrate your ever waking hour for at least ten days after you’ve listened to it.

Three inches of heaven (steady).

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Giving it all away

Hello! Before I disappear up to Grimsby for the weekend, I'd like to ask any bands that want to be on Life Has It In For Us Vol. 3 to email me. I'll be giving the third episode on this sorry story out for free at Indietracks, so you'll be getting your music out to the movers, shakers and freeloaders of the European indiepop scene. That's about 145 people, by my reckoning.

My email address is over there on the right. Send me your songs.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Boy Genius – Staggering (Greenpop Recordings)

Tread carefully ye who tar Boy Genius as the dreaded ‘college rock’, because there’s so much more to them and this wonderfully-crafted album than that.

‘Staggering’ has all the hallmarks of mid-90s American indie, but also draws heavily on bands like Go Betweens and Orange Juice and even early REM at times. I’m not one to call albums ‘classical’, but this is one that draws from just about every cool influence and mixes them up just about right. However, it’s neither a blind copy nor some kind of homage – more an amalgamation of your record collection.

What’s more, the band wanted this to sound so timeless that they’ve refused to release it on CD. You can only buy it on vinyl or on one of those new fangled download things, which I daren’t ever explore.

Boy Genius would go down a storm in the church at Indietracks, and I believe they’re on the waiting list should anyone drop out. Could this be my chance to maim an indiepop band already booked? I don’t think I’ll get a better one. Suggestions on a postcard, please.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Going out is the new staying in

There was an interesting message come through on facebook this afternoon (not a sentence I thought I'd ever type) from Danny at Tweefort, which mentions Indietracks, and calls is "huge", which is very sweet. And I mean that in a totally unpatronising way, honest. It also mentions that Chariots of Tuna are playing the festival, and outlines Elm City Popfest, amongst a load of other stuff. He's a busy man, that Danny. I wish I had both his get up and his go.

Which sort of ties in well with a thread on the anorak forum about promoting gigs – it’s mainly aimed at the little people like me and you who do it all for the love of seeing bands that normally wouldn’t come to your town or city and play, unless you offered to arrange a gig for them.

Simon from the excellent Sweeping the Nation blog seems to have had more bad luck than normal as he’s started out promoting gigs in Leicester – a place that has been, sadly, a bit of a backwater for indiepop acts for a few years now. He’s gone through the rigamarole of acts cancelling on him, five people showing up, venues double booking on him – the lot really.

Other replies in the thread sort of made me wonder why I bother putting gigs on in Nottingham, because, for sure, there are loads of negatives along the way, and it’d be easy to just think, “bugger it” and stop putting on shows.

But it’d make for a pretty dull existence popwise in Nottingham for me if I did that.

The last time I stopped putting on gigs, I stopped for about six years, and I think I can count on two hands (both mine, since you ask) the number of gigs I went to in that time. There’s always going to come a time now and again when you fall out of love with music, but there’s nothing that concentrates the mind more than looking at the listings for Rock City or Rescue Rooms.

The main hurdle, of course, is attracting a crowd – not easy when you’re so ridiculously (and thankfully) out of touch with the local hip scene who seem to turn up to anything that involves a harp and three bottles of half empty water being played over a Captain Beefheart guitar.

So what to do? Flyer like mad? Impossible in Nottingham where DHP actively rips down flyers for gigs that its not involved in (and I’ve followed one of their monkeys around and watched him doing this (I was bored)). Rely on friends coming from all over the country to boost numbers? Well, they do, and I’m eternally grateful for that, but that’s not how it’s SUPPOSED to be. Or do you sell your soul to a local band who you don’t really like but who might bring a few people in? I’ve done this once a few years ago, and I’m not doing it again. I’d have rather missed my own gig and stayed in and watched Dancing on Ice than watch them again.

I don’t think there is an answer to fetching loads of people in. And nor does it worry me that much any more. Like Marianthi said, there’s droplets of joy to be taken in the most sparse of crowds – especially if that crowd is having the time of its time, and the band has connected with that and is playing its heart out. Which probably makes me sound like a hippy, but still…

On the same thread it’s easy to see how Andy Hart got so disillusioned with a year’s gig promotion. Having to be hard-nosed and cynical (not that he is or was, the big softy) to make it a success sort of negates why you’re doing it in the first place. And that’s understandable. I just used gigs for an excuse to get a bit tipsy as much as anything, and if i lose fifty quid then I, rightly or wrongly, think that I'd probably spend that on a good night out anyway.

And of course it’s not on if you lose loads of money, but, here’s a thing: people in bands are usually really quite nice, and if you speak to them they’ll usually understand that you’re not Vince Power and have to be up for work in the morning just like they do. And they’ll probably shrug their shoulders and put it down to experience.

Which is what you should do.

Because it’s better than staying in and watching Dancing on Ice.