Tag Archives: Brighton

21 days

Back once again on the eastward edge of Sheffield, after a week (plus change for train travel both ways) of worky stuff in Sweden, with a brief detour through Brighton on the homeward leg.

While in Sweden for work, I narrowly missed out on catching the Slavoj Žižek live experience (we got to the city library over an hour before his lecture was meant to start, only to join the large and growing mob of people outside who’d been told it was already packed out… they don’t call it “Röd Malmö” for nothing). While in Brighton, I went with C to see John Grant play the University of Sussex ACCA (not knowing much of his work before going, but being deeply impressed by it after leaving).

And now I’m back in the land of dogshit and fly-tipped mattresses for one last stretch… but it seems the new Caspian album has dropped, so that’s my evening sorted.

In twenty-one days and another hour or so, having earlier loaded the last of my worldly goods (which is to say a lot of books and some guitars) onto a removal firm’s lorry, I will sail on a ferry from Hull to Rotterdam with a suitcase and a presumably confused and shouty cat, and begin to make my way overland to my new home in Sweden.

This is frighteningly, thrillingly imminent, in a way I still haven’t had the time to process fully.

The space between all things

I used to go to dozens of live music gigs a year — scores of them, in fact, if you go back far enough. In the last few years, I’ve seen very few. This is partly because [busy], partly because getting home again after a gig is a nightmare, even when said gig is in Sheffield itself, and partly, if I’m honest, because music no longer holds sway over my life as it once did; other obsessions have stolen its throne.

But I’m having a brief flurry of audio activity: Kate Tempest a week or so ago, Mark Lanegan in early December, and Idlewild last night.

Strange to be reminded by Roddy Woomble himself that they were touring the 100 Broken Windows album twenty years ago almost to the date. That was when I discovered them via (I think) the Evening Sessions show on Radio 1, which was the only affordable entertainment available to someone sleeping on sofa cushions in a friend’s tiny Brighton living room, trying unsuccessfully (despite working two jobs, and paying an almost gestural rent to said friend) to pin down sufficient income to get a toe-hold in that city. Brighton was already hideously expensive in 1999, and precarity was already a thing — though it mostly caught the already-poor, plus a few fucked-up refusenik drop-outs with substance abuse problems, into which latter category I fit very firmly at the time.

(I returned to Velcro City with my metaphorical tail between my legs in the early months of the new millennium, defeated by myself.)

So all the more strange to see them twenty years later, having just returned home to Sheffield from a week in Brighton. I was meant to be in Europe most of last week, as mentioned, but a combination of train cancellations and the onset of a vicious head-cold put paid to that; instead I stayed in bed for three days, finally recuperating the immune system overdraft I managed to run up since late June. Turns out momentum can only take you so far for so long… and you end up crashing eventually. That’s a lesson I probably should have internalised back in 1999… better late than never, eh?

Anyway, point being, it was a great show — a solid tour of the back catalogue, with fewer deep cuts than fan favourites, and a new line-up that sees a swing back from the more folky sounds on the late Noughties and early Teens to a thicker, rockier texture. It brought back many memories, bright and dark alike.

I’ll leave you with a personal favourite that didn’t make last night’s set list. The wordplay and narration was always a huge part of Idlewild’s appeal for me, and this song kinda sums that up.