I’m a fifty year old man, what you gonna do about it?

So on Monday I proudly made my Fall debut, going along to the Metropolis in Bristol in the company of old lags, Steve and Martin whose entire adult lives seem to have been punctuated (perhaps even shaped) by Fall gigs. A fair old history indeed, one I’ll admit to being a little envious of, but (I got the feeling) one that was matched over and over again by the dedicated souls that packed a fairly small venue.

The Fall

Followers of this Blog will have found out that I’m a bit of a late-comer to the Fall; I’ve always been aware of their awkward spidery charm, and owned a couple of their records, but never quite “got” them. Until recently, that is with the rediscovery of This Nation’s Saving Grace, Grotesque and Bend Sinister, all records I’ve enjoyed this year.

So where do you go, faced with this history and your own status as a part-timer? The pub’s always a good place, I reckon, so having found that they weren’t due on stage until fairly late, we decamped across the road for a couple of drinks.

We did come back over for the support bands, but, as with a few gigs I’ve been to recently, they weren’t really worth watching. Time clicked on smartly, however, and it wasn’t long before the band came on and a slightly fragile looking Mark E Smith stumbled on stage. Someone at some point described the Fall’s sound as a glorious racket to me, and this was just how it was. A really tight band ploughed through a furious hour and a half of punchy noise, over which Smith ranted, screeched and occasionally crooned. All of the features of a Fall gig that I’d been assured would be present were indeed there – drunkenness, leering, amp twiddling, the mic being passed around the audience during “Blindness” and an amount of falling over.

I’d love to pretend I recognised all these songs and indentified them all immediately but I doubt I’d be fooling anyone. There’s a huge website called the Fall Online which is a good starter for anything Fall-related and perhaps not surprisingly a very active forum there, with people posting about lots of the gigs, including a whole thread on the Bristol gig here.

A jolly good time was had by all, and for once I managed to record the whole gig without talking over the recording or switching it off half way through. I imagine there will be people interested in this, so here’s the set in its boisterous entirety:

Introduction
Strangetown
Wolf Kidult Man
Chino Splashback
Slippy Floor
I’ve Been Duped
Cowboy George / Scenario
50 Year Old Man
Blindness
Psykick Dancehall
Mr Pharmacist
I’m Not From Bury

And two .rar files of the whole evening:

Part One
Part Two

Something’s happening in the attic, there’s no way I’m going up there

It’s been a grand old week, taking in a meal out with friends, a gig in Cheltenham and culminating in a famous win at Castle Grim for the beleaguered Cherry & Whites. But you’ve not ventured onto these pages to hear about the rugby have you, so we’ll move on to the Jetpacks…

We Were Promised Jetpacks

Went over to the Frog & Fiddle with Adam on Wednesday for evening of music and warm ale, culminating in a performance by Glasgow’s humourously-named We Were Promised Jetpacks. This is the second time I’ve been to the Frog & Fiddle in recent months and as a venue I’m quite liking it. You have to go through the main pub, which is a frankly unpromising Sports Bar, and come out into a sort of barn area with a small stage. The sound’s surprisingly good and if you don’t mind nipping into the main bar you can get the aforementioned warm ale.

This evening, there were three other acts on before the Jetpacks ranging from the ballsy (Century Man) to the ridiculously over-confident (didn’t catch the name – probably best all round). The second (rather dull and also anonymous) band actually brought a lot of support with them all of which seemed to wander off after their set, which meant that by the time the Jetpacks came on the numbers were down somewhat, and attention was wandering amongst those who did stay.

I made some recordings of the Jetpacks’ set which are decent enough but reflect the rather small audience. What’s more, whenever I wear my super sensitive stealth mic, it’s almost a given that I’ll find myself standing next to some boorish idiot who just wants to continue a shouted conversation with his mates. (Honestly, hanging’s too good…)

Tellingly the recordings get a little better as the set went on mainly because the Jetpacks were good enough to bring people back on track. Led by a frighteningly intense singer (borderline autistic according to Adam – not me, you understand) who belted away at a rhythm guitar to the extent that he’d broken a string within the first two songs. (Not to worry, though, they had another one – rhythm guitarist that is…) He hooted and yelled throughout the set, often not bothering with the mic at all and was ably assisted by a boisterous but firmly-in-their-place set of Jetpacks.

The album is available on Emusic (here) but I’ll give you a couple of recordings from the night – some of the others were ruined by said loutish behaviour, I’m afraid.

It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning

Roll Up Your Sleeves

There’s also this by Century Man, a recording of their single, who were also good on the night and is worth a listen

Marauders – Century Man

And the questions come with armies

Sheesh! A week, you say?

Grizzly Bear

Well, last weekend saw the latest of my line of gig tickets disappear from the notice board and into the pocket of my jeans, as I set off for a return trip to Bristol University’s Anson Rooms to see Brooklyn’s much-vaunted Grizzly Bear.

First on was a lady going by the name of St Vincent, who Martin tells me is one of Sufjan Stevens’ backing singers. She was earnest and made a fair old racket with a single electric guitar and loop pedal, but I have to say I found myself losing interest fairly quickly. The recordings I made are therefore marred by the sound of me chatting boorishly with friends through the set. (I can almost hear me tut-tutting myself…)

A trawl through Youtube yields this, however…

Grizzly Bear came onto a stage they had apparently decorated with jam jars with candles in them. It was rather charming really, and led onto a similarly pleasant and laid back set. They ran through most of the Veckimatest record, although I rather missed Dory my favourite track. The harmonies were beautiful and the arrangements as complex and ambitious as when I saw them in the summer. Unfortunately, although the heating at the Anson Rooms was not quite as ferociously ridiculous as last week, the sound was actually worse; very, very woolly. The whole set sounded like you were actually hearing it from next door (maybe if I’d stayed outside…). It very hard to hear any vocals clearly and pretty much spoilt the evening for me.

I’d like to say that this affected the quality of my recordings and that my stringent quality control procedures meant that none of the recordings were fit for your ears; but the sad fact is that my natural aptitude for the cack-handed rather overtook things. I think I forgot to turn my recorder on…

I know…

We can at least console ourselves that in any case the poor sound meant that there wouldn’t have been much to show for it anyway. Damn Anson Rooms! (If it helps, you can picture me shaking my fist, Homer-style, at this point).

So… no recordings. We could play the blame game, but let’s move on, eh?

You know I feel bad about these things, so here’s a couple of decent things I’ve heard recently, both Bradley’s Almanac bands (and both on Emusic, should you wish to follow them up).

I give you Drug Rug and Choo Choo La Rouge, both of whom do a rather passable sixties thing, both of whom write a decent song too, both of whom I have been meaning to write about for a few weeks now, but you might as well read about them here:

Never Tell – Drug Rug

It’s Gonna Happen Fast – Choo Choo La Rouge

We Were Promised Jetpacks on Wednesday…