One of my new favourite artists, Ghostpoet, played the Scala last week. The Scala is just down the road from where I work, without saying too much about where I work if you were watching The BBC 10 o’ Clock News on Monday night you’d have seen me (albeit very briefly). But I didn’t go to the Scala last Thursday as it was my football night- some things are just too important, you know? Anyway, I decided, as crazy as it sounds, that running around an astroturf pitch in Teddington was more important than going to see one of the music scene’s foremost new talents. And hoped that there would another London date announced before he became so overwhelmingly big that I wouldn’t want to go and see him anyway.
Imagine my delight when I found out that he will be pitching up at Camden’s Koko (scene of a very disappointing Tricky gig last year) in February. Eleven days after Roots Manuva hits the Electric Ballroom- also in Camden. Crucially, the gig will take place on Wednesday night, so Jo and I are good to go. I was quite interested to note that, despite the two men being at very different stages of their career, the price difference in tickets is very small: £15 for Ghostpoet and £17.50 for Roots. I bet tickets for a certain gig in Heaton Park next summer come in more expensive than for those two gigs put together. And I don’t really get it.
Yes, dear reader, whilst I’m getting very excited at the prospect of seeing Mr Poet in action, it seems the the music scene at large has gone into a collective orgasm at the thought of some fortysomething blokes from Manchester recovening to revisit the glories of twenty three years ago. I refer, of course, to the “reunion” of the Stone Roses. The thing that would never happen. Never. Now, you might be reading this and thinking that I’m a bit of a hypocrite because I’ve been to, and loved, the shows played by Blur, The Specials, Suede and latterly Pulp. Well, yeah, but those bands did a lot more than produce one (overrated) album before disappearing up their own arses and then returning with another album that nobody rated some years later.
Besides, Noel Gallagher, or was it Liam, once said that without the Stone Roses there’d be no Oasis. Which makes me think; a) of Bono (the self aggrandising little twerp) saying something similar about U2 and their debt to the Clash and; b) that’s another reason to hate the Stone Roses.
I’m kidding. Well, half kidding. I don’t hate the Stone Roses and I do like some of Ian Brown’s solo stuff, his video for Illegal Attacks being one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen, although maybe that was the bong I’d had. But I guess I… I just don’t really get them, or the fuss around this reunion. Yes, I Wanna Be Adored is a classic track, the same goes for Made Of Stone and, of course, Fool’s Gold. But the rest of it? Three classic tracks does not a legend make- though Oasis fans might not like to admit it. Maybe I was too young at the time, but when I bought the album, some time around 1997, I gave it a couple of listens and left it where it was. Subsequent listens (Jo’s a bit of a fan) just tell me that this band aren’t for me. I feel the same way about the Happy Mondays, strangely enough. My interest in 24 Hour Party People always dies as attention turns away from Joy Division/ New Order towards Shaun Ryder’s crew. That said, even I will admit the version of Hallelujah that plays over the closing scenes of that film is brilliant.
It’s a weird one and I’m not trying to suggest that any of you dying to see the Roses in action are wrong. I just think that when there’s a legend that far exceeds a reality, it’s better to leave people believing in the legend rather than having to experience the, poorer, reality for themselves. Especially when even Roses diehards will admit that Brown and co were never the best live band to begin with. The flipside of that, of course, is that people who saw the Specials in both incarnations say that the 2009 incarnation was far superior to the one from 30 years previous. I saw for myself the primal power of Blur’s 2009 shows and something similar from Suede last year, whilst Pulp can’t possibly have been any better fifteen years ago than they were two months ago.
So, whilst I- and others- look on in scepticism and bewilderment at the excitement surrounding the Roses reunion, I hope for those of you who will be attending that the Manchester foursome are rehearsing their little socks off. The promise of new songs is likely designed to allay fears that this is just a money making exercise, but I wonder about the wisdom of such a move after such a long time. Will anyone attending really want to hear anything other than the songs that will take them back to their, probably misspent, youth? Brown, Squire, Reni and Mani are going to have to work very, very hard between now and next June.
By the way, does anyone have two spare tickets for the Death In Vegas at the Electric Ballroom?