My Bank Holiday weekend was bookended by two quite different gigs. On Saturday I went to see Gaz Coombes – ex lead singer of Supergrass – at the Gate in Cardiff and last night Steve Gunn at the Lantern in Bristol. Gaz Coombes was great, I love ‘Matador’ his latest album which he played extensively, but the crowd! Blimey! What a pain in the ass. My best mate Matthew, his wife Amanda and my wife Sian went to the far left of the hall as we were stood near a drunken bloke who was constantly whistling, we ended up in seats in front of a group of people who were spectacularly drunk. It was a Saturday of a Bank Holiday weekend, so it’s not unreasonable to expect people to have a few beers but they were slaughtered, very loud and obtrusive. We moved and there a group in front of us only slightly less drunk. I’d look back up at where we’d been occasionally and one of the guys in the group kept taking his shirt off, this is a Gaz Coombes gig for Christ sakes not Spring Break. One guy who looked like a cut price Russell Crowe kept yapping to one of the others and goating about. Fair enough I’ve done my fair share of goating in my time. During the encore they all left. Eventually Russell Crowe came back looking for them, it did look like he’d been dumped. After the gig I saw him waiting outside the venue, glowering. I suspect the evening didn’t end well for him.
So here’s the thing. Are we – as a species - losing the ability to act appropriately in a public setting? When I went to see the Super Furries people were completely shedded and yapping constantly at the gig. What’s the point in spending money on a ticket if you’re going to do that? You could go to a Wetherspoons and it would be cheaper, and it wouldn’t bug the shit out of me. Maybe I’m noticing it more because I’m on the wagon. There’s also the scourge of mobile phones, but that’s another blog in itself.
I do get a little obsessed with albums from time to time. I wore ‘Tramp’ by Sharon Van Etten out listening to it (I also wore Sian’s patience out) and recently my album obsession has been ‘Way Out Weather’ by Steve Gunn. I’d never heard of Gunn until ‘Mojo’ gave the album a five star review, so I thought ‘Yeah, I’ll give it a go.’ The first few times I listened to it I thought it was good but not amazing, then slowly I fell completely in love with it. The album is a slow burner which does reveal how great it is over repeated listens.
I was very excited to go and see him last night. Gareth – my gig kemosabe – couldn’t give me a lift back so with some nervous I cycled down and took my bike to Bristol. I was nervous because the trains are unreliable at the best of times, but on a Bank Holiday? I checked and double checked that there was a train back. I would much rather have stayed home but really wanted to see the gig. Steve Gunn was quite simply brilliant, there must have been around sixty or seventy people in the room and everyone seemed completely engaged. He had a slightly awkward manner on stage and spent a few moments between songs tuning but no one seemed to mind. He had a fine line in off kilter patter, whether it was how impressed he was with the venues carpet or the story of an obstructive neighbour who inspired his song ‘Milly’s Garden’. ‘Way out Weather’ has been the sound track of my cycle into work, so it was odd to hear these very familiar songs in a different environment and also boosted by being played life. There was only a bassist and a drummer backing Gunn and very tight they were, what I loved about the gig was that he’d use the songs as a starting point and would leap off into a jam which would showcase his guitar playing. I suppose you could see it as a bit noodly, but I like a bit of noodling. Had time to buy two of his albums on vinyl and jump on my bike for Temple Meads. Wish I stayed around to get the albums signed, but I wasn’t getting the vibe that he would. My train was late but only by a few minutes.
An amazing gig, and no one took their shirt off. Fantastic.