Okay, so there’s been a couple of weeks of not very much happening round these parts, whilst I got all old and decrepit and…erm…oh yes! forgetful and stuff, time to get the show back on the road.
Did you ever instinctively do something, and then, when you’d had a moment to pause, reflect and analyse, realised it didn’t exactly show you in a good light?
It happened to me a couple of weeks ago, when me and my old mate Richie went to a gig at The 100 Club. (I will get round to writing something about the gig itself at some point, I promise. Like you care.)
Anyway, knowing there were four acts on that night, at least three of which we wanted to see, we arrived at the venue at 7pm, the advertised doors time, only to be met by a shaven headed doorman, fag in gob, who told us in no uncertain terms that the doors would not be opening until 7:30 and we should form an orderly queue on the pavement if we knew what was good for us.
There was one other bloke waiting, so we insisted he stood at the front of the line, Richie and I behind him. Shortly afterwards we were joined by another couple: he was clearly a bit of a muso and wanted everyone to know it. His wife (I assume) asked who it was they were going to see, and he replied “The Chesterfields. They released an album called Kettle in the 1980s which I have the original pressing of on vinyl”.
I leaned into Richie and whispered “Yeh, like it ever got a second pressing…” Richie giggled.
As we waited it became clear that she was much more interested in popping into the Boots store next door and reporting back on where they keep the tissues than in going to a gig.
7:30 came and went, and eventually we were allowed in. If you’ve never been to The 100 Club, it’s a wonderfully grubby venue, steeped in counter culture and musical history. There’s a reason why on I, Ludicrous‘ magnificent Preposterous Tales Ken refers to seeing the Sex Pistols play there. Put it this way: Richie slipped off to the Gents and came back, marvelling that they were “a work of art”. He even took a photo (thankfully nobody else was in there, or there may have been trouble):
There’s so many questions here: why does one toilet have a lid but the other doesn’t? Is it okay to leave the seat up in the Gents? And most importantly, does that partially obscured bit of graffiti at the top say Borrowed Time or Borrowed Tim? I really hope it’s the latter.
Inside the main venue, there is a bar at each end of the room, with the stage in between. It’s one of those glorious stages which are only about knee-high, so you can get really close to the act. On this occasion, to the right is a set of DJ decks, and then a few tables and chairs have been set out, either side of the stage.
Richie heads to the bar, I grab a table over to the left of the stage. Shortly after Richie arrives with the beers, the couple from the queue, predictably, come and sit on the table to our left, which is slightly in front of us.
Between acts, there is a DJ (hence the decks) who plays a dazzling array of much loved and much forgotten jangly indie classics from the era from whence the bands had come to see had founded there reputation. We get some Orange Juice, some early Wedding Present, and this:
Ok, so technically it’s Na Na Na’s rather than Ba Ba Ba’s: I’m expanding the catchment area, that ok with you?
And then it happens.
A song comes on, and I see the bloke from the couple on the next table get his phone out and try to Shazam it.
For those unfamiliar with the app, imagine that you’re out and about, hear a tune you like but don’t know what it is and don’t want to betray your ignorance by asking somebody. Shazam is an app where you can play it a short snippet of a song and it will (usually) tell you who/what it is. Old school readers may remember, before smart phones and apps became a thing, you could type 2580 into your phone, hold it up, and get a text telling you what you were listening to.
But, as The 100 Club is subterranean, the guy’s phone couldn’t connect.
I know what this song is, I thought. I can help.
And so I leant – no, more accurately, lunged – across Richie, and tapped the bloke on his arm.
“Are you trying to work out what this is?” I asked, pointing upwards in what is the universally accepted hand signal for “this thing what we can hear”.
“Yes,” he replied, “but I can’t Shazam it.”
“Shazam won’t help you with this, my friend” I said, “but I can.” You know, like how people in adverts for stain removers talk.
For a moment, I imagined myself in a tight spandex suit and cape, swooping in to assist a befuddled musical inquisitor with their fruitless quest. “I am Obscure Tune Man and only I can assist you in your quest to identify jingly jangly guitar tunes from the late 1980s which nobody bought at the time!”
“Ah yes,” said the gent, “The Brilliant Corners! Of course! Thank you, I saw them back in 1988 or 89….”
Course you did mate. (That’s preposterous.)
And as I sat back in my chair, I realised just how needy I had just made myself look, so keen to show off, so desperate to bestow my knowledge on others.
How rather pathetic I looked.
Anyway, welcome to my blog.