One More Time With Feeling

SEPTEMBER REWIND: NEW NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS, AND GAME OVER FOR UNDERSMILE

September 2016 was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds month. Not for the first time this year, loss has dominated a new work by a major rock artist who, it seems crass to say, can be trusted to handle it with honesty and grace.

One More Time With Feeling, the black and white film documenting the making of Skeleton Tree, showed at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse as part of a national screening the night before the album’s release. And as you’d expect, given the circumstances, it’s an intense, almost physically emotional viewing experience. You watch Nick Cave’s disorientation, bewilderment and scatter-brain distraction as he talks around What Happened, while he and the band somehow piece the album together in the WH aftermath.

Skeleton Tree provides the film’s axial structure, its spine. Each track is performed in the order it appears on the album, interspersed with interview cuts – in taxis, hotel rooms, studio, performance space, office – with Cave, with his wife, with the Bad Seeds. Then there is Cave’s inner voice too, dropping in a first-person narrative flecked with self doubt, notes (“I must remember to be kind”) and deprecating humour.

Cave looks tired. The music is anything but. Weighty yes, but weary? No. Jesus Alone, the first track to be aired from the album, crackles with hypnotic spook while Girl in Amber drifts in and out of time. Anthrocene, meanwhile, is organic, scratchy, night-time glitchy – shades of Radiohead? – right up there with Cave’s latter-day best, and though it’s early days, there’s a touch of Blackstar in the way this album makes you feel: infrequent listens will go a long way. A week after the film, I played Skeleton Tree – side 1 one night, side 2 another – and each time I just stood and watched the vinyl while fragments from the film ran through my head, putting faces into and onto the music. Skeleton Tree might be ambient, pushing the quieter moods from Push the Sky Away, but it is not background. Too compelling. But again, it’s early days and no doubt there is more to be revealed with future plays.

Leaving the cinema on September 8th was a slow, dazed, contemplative drift back into the temporarily inconsequential, and if you’ve lost someone then One More Time With Feeling will bring it right back. It is a draining film to watch, but funny – sometimes – and poignant too; Arthur’s twin Earl appears, and Cave and wife Susie Bick say that they are ‘making the decision to be happy’, to care for each other and everyone around. 

Where does Nick Cave go next? Change was one of his themes in the film – the fact that, after trauma, you are changed on the inside, but the world outside isn’t. How does Cave the storyteller, Cave the live performer, carry on while carrying Arthur’s absence? Things must change… because Cave is forever changed.

Undersmile over

Just read in Nightshift mag that Undersmile, one of THEE heaviest of bands not just from the Oxford area but from any area any fckn where, have split. Not sure what that means for Coma Wall (good for autumn listening, by the way), but half of the band are carrying on in true drudge dread style with new band Drore.

’til next time!

The handover

The_birthday_cake.JPGIt’s official! After the birthday BBQ at the Butchers Arms and family celebrations on the day, the blog has been handed over to its rightful owner. No more silly posts, only serious music stuff for the truly committed.

 

But things are never as easy as you hope for. Life offers plenty of distractions (aka excuses) and unexpected twists and turns. Kevin had been planning to update his ancient laptop for some time, so having a blog to maintain was a very convenient trigger for actually visiting a shop and making the leap (for some getting new gadgets is an enjoyable experience, for others – a torment).

So far so good, but imagine the annoyance when shortly after he got back home someone nicked his bike from the garage! The perfect crime of opportunity: someone dumped the bike they were cycling on outside the neighbour’s house and went of on Kevin’s bike…

Understandably, the pleasures of blogging had to be pushed down the priority list. But no more! As we were walking into work this week (4 miles each way, I think I’m done for now, thank you very much…), Kevin was sharing his thoughts and ideas for the blog, features and regulars, some to do with the tapes we tease him about so much (a NEW tape came through the post this week. Long live the tape!).

And so without further ado, this is the last you hear from me. I am now sending Kevin login details and I leave him and you to enjoy the music.

Thanks again for making this happen, Birthday bloggers!

Joanna

Your wordsmith brother in arms

Shaun-KeavenyShaun and Kev are both from the North West, but it’s another thing they share that will keep their friendship going forever: their unconditional love for the mighty Zep.

 

Kev!!! My wordsmith brother in arms! (didn’t take me long to mention a Dire Straits track) 40 is the new 40 my man, and let’s not forget that Jimmy Page surmounted that barrier in a heroin-flecked hedonistic haze back in 1983, and he’s still going strong! Though I am not condoning the abuse of hard drugs, I AM pointing out that we are younger than we think we are, and have a few riffs residing within us yet to be scooped out of the cranium, so get the guitar out!

Once we are together (not often enough) it usually takes on average, less than 12 minutes for one of us to mention the mighty Zep, before we’re off on some ludicrously fanciful discussion. From there we tend to take in all points, from philosophical to pharmacological, before repairing to a decent “no football on the telly” boozer for a couple of foamers.

From pie quests in New Zealand and the endless ennui of immovable buses in the Grand Canyon all the way to long pointless rambles circumnavigating the BT tower, direction has never been our strong point, though its never mattered, cos we always have massive amounts of sh*t to talk!

I am gutted I can’t be there to get drunk with you dear boy, but at least we had The Who to keep us going till the next time. I hope you get so bladdered you look like a Fremont Crazy. LOTS OF LOVE KEV! Shaun.

Music for boys

Sarah PhibbsEven if there’s no certainty as to Sarah’s favourite band, there is no doubt about her preferred colour. Green. Green Day? Or a day on a green lawn, on the side line of an under 9 or under 11 football match. The rock-football mum, absolutely the best!

 

 

In the spirit of Nick Hornby I thought we should celebrate your birthday with “the collective boys” favourite compilation CD top 10:

1. Back in black: AC/DC
2. Georgie the Belfast boy: Don Fardon
3. Hey Joe: Jimi Hendrix
4. Thors Hammer: Tyr
5. Ace of Spades: Motorhead
6. Mickey: Spear of Destiny
7. Immigrants Song: Led Zep
8. She Sells Sanctuary: The Cult
9. A Hard Days Night: The Beatles
10. The Ladies Bras: Johnny Trunk et al

Gareth promises to make you the perfect CD when back from boy sitting in the Lakes!

Hope you have a fantastic party – looking forward to celebrating with a few beers.

This picture is in memory of our childhood. We will have to explain to the “spotify generation” what we were doing on Thursday evenings close to the telly while hissing “shut up” at our parents…

Phibbs-AkermanAll our love – Sarah, Gareth, George and Joe x

Birthday Limerick

Jenny O'BrienAccording to Jenny, she’s Irish, but I’m pretty sure Fritwell, Oxfordshire, ain’t in Eire. She loves reading books and is the only person I know who is a match for Kevin in music trivia pub quizzes.

 

 

Kev’s a lifelong fan of the guitar,

Jimmy Page, Slash, maybe even Johnny Marr?

Led Zeppelin and Neil Young,

In his bedroom he’ll strum.

Rock on Kev! 40’s no barrier!

 

Keep on Strumming Kev and Happy 40th to you

Jenny xx

Neil Young – pure bourbon

Mike TadmanMike is not a professional kayaker (it doesn’t look like a real word), but who knows what he would decide given the choice? Mike and Kev ended up as accidental gig buddies. All thanks to Rob, who couldn’t go, but is over it now. No, really, he is, read for yourselves.

 

Another real newbie to the blog here!

A couple of months ago I went along to the Year 4 dads’ Butcher’s Arms session. Whilst there, Kev had asked if I’d been or were going to any gigs soon.  So happened that I was off to B’ham to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse (taking Morgan, my son, to his first ever gig). Rob was going too, but not Kev. Long story short: Rob couldn’t go so Kev ended up coming along too.

An amazing night as old Neil worked his way through the Crazy Horse back catalogue, with a wall of noise and fantastic guitar work. Morgan loves the acoustic stuff, so adored Heart of Gold and a great version of Blowin in the wind, as well as one or two timeless classics, such as Powderfinger and Cortez. He wasn’t so enamoured with the end of Walk Like A Giant, ten-minutes of feedback, abstract walls of sound, waste paper blowing over the stage, Mr Young huddled together between giant fake speakers with Crazy Horse.

Most of us starting to think- will it never end, but “Ah!”, I thought. I know one person who will be hoping for at least another 10 minutes more… And he didn’t let me down in the post gig review on the way home, picking it as one of his 2 top moments, along with the extended F****in up banter between Young and the band. I expected nothing less. Neil Young – pure bourbon!!! (as opposed to Cliff’s Kaliber).

Cheers Kevin, have a great birthday – 1973 – what a vintage. Sorry I can’t be there.

A list or an A-list?

Simon CoxEver since their first musical meeting, Simon took it upon himself to get Kevin to acknowledge that thinking The Who are the greatest band of all is as OK as being a fan of Led Zeppelin. Can you guess if he’s been successful? Yeah, you guess  right! Doesn’t hurt to try again!

 

A list, Mr Wood?* A favourite Oxford gig list? Mmmm…….Ida Maria in a pub of 40 people, Happy Mondays and feeling young and fit**, Chantelle MacGregor out Hendrixing Hendrix……all good, but please open your mind, park the need for heavy riffs in your impressively tidy garage, and inhale the magic of Half Man Half Biscuit. A John Peel seal of approval must count for something?***

 

How can you not be tempted with song titles: Joy Division Oven Gloves or Something’s Rotten In The Back Of Iceland

Is it just me? No! There were other balding men of a certain age bouncing and sweating gently with joy at the Zodiac on a summer May’s evening. I could extol further but I’ve been  given a clear bore alert and advised that I’m supposed to be wishing you a jolly happy birthday. So, we must celebrate and drink until you’re convinced of the superiority of Keith Moon. Or until we fall asleep.

Have a good one old boy.

Simon

*should that be A-list Mr Wood?

**relative to the audience

*** ‘when I die I want them to be buried with me’