Friday, June 03, 2011

Set Guitars To Kill



It's a day that usually I would be very excited about, the first ay of the Wychwood Festival, but I'm not there, I'm here, for a variety of reasons, although, with the weather, if I found several hundred quid tucked down the back of a settee I would be on my way. The main reason we aren't going is the line up, which has a few gems, but is a bit, well, retro as it has increasingly become. It's a shame, because the kids love it (and so do the adults) and it is a better festival for kids than EOTR, but it's got to be about the music, and it just doesn't compare with EOTR, so EOTR it has to be.

I mention it because there was an article in the paper today, all about the rise of nostalgia……a phenomenon that has been getting on my nerves for several years. The article is very harsh, actually, far harsher than I would be, but I liked it anyway.  He dismisses Dexy Midnight Runnners as nostalgists, but I think he does them a disservice; they brought a freshness and energy to their tunes and quickly moved on from the Stax type stuff……….and they created one of the best albums ever made, by anyone, anywhere, in any genre……the bizarrely neglected, not to mention criminally unavailable, "Don't Stand Me Down".

I'm not against nostalgia. It's OK, in it's place. A couple of years ago I saw the Beat at Wychwood. I used to like the Beat, I saw 'em plenty of times at The Barrel Organ before anyone had ever heard of 'em and considered myself a fan, but I was not enthused prior to this festival performance. Needn't have been so glum, they were ace, even though Ranking Roger was the only original member, and they had the place jumping, singing and grinning from ear to ear……. it's just high class karaoke though really, innit? The Men They Couldn't Hang also performed at the festival that weekend and they were brilliant, I loved 'em, again, but they played on the Saturday afternoon, waking up a slightly elderly, slightly hungover crowd.

So, nostalgia has its place, and that place is a working mans club, or the end of the pier, or a cruise ship. as part of a package. What irks me is the prominence that nostalgia now gets. The Specials reform to play some festivals and the world goes fucking mad, broadsheets have big articles on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday; meanwhile, Jerry Dammers, who continues to make new and interesting music is ignored. God help us if the Smiths ever reform, half the population will spontaneously combust.

The whole world seems to have bought into it, proper music magazines do it, proper writers do it, intelligent, as well as idiotic d.j's do it. It's baffling, We live in an era where there is so much good new stuff about, and is easily available, that it's enough to make your head spin; but the mainstream can think of nothing but the past. We should not forget the past, and there is nothing wrong with revering it, but we are all becoming slaves to it.

Roger Daltrey is playing in Newport later in the year. Newport and environs is excited. Big star coming to play.  I think the cheapest ticket is 45 quid. Lets face it, he is an old man, who will be backed by a bunch of session musicians. Imagine if you had seen Daltrey as a young man, in all his energetic and fiery pomp, before anyone else had heard of him, or when the Who hadn't quite broke through and you could still see them in small venues, ripping it up. Just imagine that.

Well, you don't really have to imagine it, because there are brilliant bands playing in most towns every night. Some town have several brilliant bands playing every night. I would rather spend a fiver or a tenner taking a chance on some unknown or little known band and seeing 5 or 6 of them than seeing an ancient Roger Daltrey creak his way through his greatest hits just the once, for the same money. You don't even have to take a chance, the internet will give you more than a flavour of what to expect before you part with your cash, and you might just be seeing someone who in a years time will be the talk of Later With Jools Holland. It has to make more sense.
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