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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

All Present and correct

Well, Persil have taken their leave of us and headed towards Colchester, before they pootle down tonight to Portsmouth, and my old second home, the Wedgewood Rooms. Ah, how many great nights have I had there. Well, I enjoyed most of the 200-odd gigs with the exception of perhaps 2 - Mega City Four in about 1995, and the Warlocks in 2003. Left both early. Just wasn't getting either and I have notoriously itchy feet when that occurs.

Anyway thanks to Persil for leaving our house almost cleaner than they had found it. I was particularly pleased to note that our telly and front room window remained unintroduced during their stay.

In truth, owing to work and their evening shows, we didn't see much of them apart from to clamber over them in the mornings. However we did greatly enjoy their set at the Liverpool Carling Academy, after which the Weddoes were top. More of that in a mo.

We may have Persil back in a fortnight as after this tour, they're doing a few shows with Betws-y-Coed's finest Melys, including one at the Cavern Club. They will only be a duo (Martine and David) for that show rather than a quartet (with hired hand Bas da bass and soundman Grrrt), as was the case this past weekend so that will make things more comfortable for them in terms of sleeping arrangements.

As yet we've had no other bookings from bands. Obviously word is getting about that our full English isn't up to scratch.

So, yeah, the Wedding Present are back, but as Gedge pointedly states during the show, he never went away, merely was performing at Cinerama who by the end were sounding much like his original band, hence the return to the Wedding Present name. This is not a 'reformation', but some seem to see it that way and this crowd dwarfs that for recent Cinerama Liverpool shows, something which clearly irks Gedge from his continued reference to those who weren't coming in the interim.

That aside, this is a top performance though mixing the very old (such as their second ever single), the very new (the latest single, but of course), some harder-edged latter day Cinerama (e.g. 'Careless') and a classic or two ('Kennedy', which Gedge repeats his dislike of afterward, amongst others). We Pavlovia dogs lap it up though.

I won't be doing a VP review for this (I like a night off sometimes) but the Pompey show may well get a write-up from Andrew Morrison. We shall see.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Kimya, cut short

As much as I applaud small promoters shoe-horning their bills with a mixture of touring acts and local talents (and usually this is essential to get enough paying bodies in to be able to sufficiantly reward your visiting acts), it is immensely frustrating, for your solo punter with no wheels, when this leads to over-running.

While I can cope with it on the weekends, as the Liverpool night bus service sorts me out pretty well, during the week it's a different story and, frankly, I do like to get to bed at a reasonable hour on a school night.

As such last night I sat through Voo and Cara, who were fine, and the wonderful Schwervon, but had to leave 1 and a half songs into Kimya Dawson's set, which was shaping up pretty nicely based on those tunes. Holy arsing changeover delays, Batman.

She does tour a lot though, so hopefully will return fairly soon. If so I shall certainly be there.

God though, when did I become such a bloody moaner. Yikes.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bedding washes whiter

Picked up an email SOS yesterday.

Appears Amsterdam's Persil are in need of cheap (i.e. free) accomodation, as their support slot on the forthcoming Wedding Present tour, while a real thrill for the long-time Gedge fans, is not so rewarding in terms of the wallet.

As a result they've asked if they can stay at our gaff for their performances in Liverpool this coming Sunday and Manchester on Monday. Really like their music, but have never met them, so it could be a little odd. My shyness reflex says 'no', but my desire to help says 'yes' and with Jenny's approval, I've offered them some sofa, spare bed and floor action.

I have corresponded with them very briefly in the past to bemoan the fact that I couldn't get to their last UK tour, but their label boss, Marcel of Transformed Dreams is my usual contact for their stuff. Nonetheless, they seem perfectly pleasant peeps, so we shall see how it goes.

Mind you the email was sent Monday and I only got it last night so they might have thought me perfectly ignorant and surly and booked a B&B. We shall see.

Perhaps this will set a precedent and the VP villa will become the flophouse for all the rock n' roll waifs and strays coming to Merseyside. Perhaps Babyshambles will play a gig in our front room (actually, I'd rather they didn't).

Indeed, if I do start promoting again, we may have to get used to bodies on the living room floor in the morning.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Silk-lined Observatory #3 + tactical voting

You know, when I started this 'bit', I was faced with a difficult choice when it came to naming the piece. In the end I settled for the slightly flowery 'Silk-lined Observatory', but it could so easily have been 'C***watch'.

Reading this article on The Independent Online, I am starting to think I should go back to the drawing board on it. Here's more at ePolitix.

Are immigrants coming to these shores to forcibly mug people's of their job then? I can only assume there are filing clerks being manhandled out of their seats and out of office buildings around the country by, boo hiss, nasty foreigners intent putting in an 8 til 4 and possibly some flexi overtime so they can leave early on Friday and 'SCREW OUR COUNTRY FOR ALL THE BENEFITS THEY CAN GET', no doubt. Grrrr and so on.

Also, RK-S speaks of having an honest debate. This from a man who simply hectors and yells maniacally about 'speaking the truth', without knowing checking the truth of the 'factual' statements he is so keen to make.

Sigh. Apparently Veritas has 159 canidates lined up. We shouldn't be too worried with RK-S at the helm, but then I'm not entirely sure of the climate out there. Perhaps I am wrong to be so flippant.

Another thing I notice trawling the net news is that the Tactical Voter people are starting up their engines again in time for the impending election, intent on removing high-profile Tories, hell any Tories, from Parliament.

Now, I'm not Tory. I just can't bring myself to vote for them even if their candidate is clearly the best in a local election (more on that later), but is this the way to go?

Should we resign ourselves to Labour ad infinitum, as this seems to be what it's all about in essence. Billy Bragg is a flag waver for tactical voting (which I'll admit I encouraged in 1997 as change WAS needed, but this is 2005, 8 years and a 'war on terror' later) and as much as I love ol' William Bloke, surely in this democracy we cherish, we need to encourage effective opposition rather than a liberal-left autocracy, and I happily say that from my position on the liberal left.

For the record, I was a card-carrying Liberal Democrat member between 1996 and 1999, but left when I couldn't justify delivering leaflets for a candidate I thought much weaker than the Conservative in the Borough Council elections. I did not vote at that election for the reasons I describe above. I have voted for the Lib Dems at elections since then though, and also for Greens, Independents and Socialist Labour on various other occasions.

I do not desire the Conservatives in power. I would just like the Labour Party to not be able to rest on the laurels of their substantial majority. Keep the Tories out of power, sure, but why try and obliterate them altogether? I fear this may encourage those on the centre-right, who believe their voices are not heard as Tory representation diminishes, to drift further out and possibly toward the extremes.

It may seem pie in the sky for UKIP, Veritas and the BNP to benefit totally from this, in terms of seats in the Commons, but European and Council seats only serve to increase their credibility.

There will always be a right-wing but let's keep 'em moderate, if we can.

Passion dies, passion survives

So, for a Valentines Day night out, me and J went to a boat, the Fitzcarraldo shored up in Canning Dock here in Liverpool for an evening of short films, promoted by the FACT arts centre. First time I've done a night of this type.

I used to be well into me films, probably owing to the fact that I was doing Cultural Studies as a first degree and took all the film options. In addition to that, my dissertation was on Ken Loach and realist film. However despite going to about a film a week in those days, and making occasional trips to the National Film Theatre, it was always for feature length beans.

Since the end of my degree though, 6 years ago, I have gradually lost interest, and I get to about 6 or 7 films a year now. Went to see the Ramones documentary feature on Sunday but that really is a rare outing.

Certainly an odd setting, this boat, for a film night but it's that which appealed really. The main thing to come out of the night for me though was to notice just how different my attitude is to film these days.

Needless to say the films were very disparate - some animation, some hand-held footage and what have you. Now, in the past I would have defended the wonder of creativity and experimenting with form now, upon leaving the venue, the main thought in my mind was 'what a load of old wank'. In fairness there were some really good ideas in there, and thats what a showcase is all about.

However this also made me think that these changes in attitude do not seem to have followed through to music, where I will happily describe mostly unlistenable distorted electronica as 'glitchy and chaotic frenzy'.

I guess that comes mostly from trying to see the best in everything, and reveal likes in favour of dislikes - cos that be the VP code. Yet certainly it also comes from the fact that I am still passionate about music. Wanting to hear new and interesting stuff is the reason VP exists.

When it comes to film though, the passion really has largely disappeared. Maybe it's that I need to be 'involved' and focused to retain interest in anything. Maybe then that's the reason Vanity Project exists. Tis all self self self.

But you already knew that, didn't you?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Great days

According to a poll on the twee-pop/C86/ramshackle-scene website 'Tweenet' (click 'fanzines'), Vanity Project polled a single vote as 'Best fanzine in 2004'. I am shocked to stumble upon this, and utterly delighted. Somebody likes us. Hazzah!

Along with other stuff that's been said to me today, relating to my involvement with the Pompey music scene between 1997 and 2001, it's been a day for feeling appreciated and quite proud.

I should say thanks to all those who made those Pompey scene days such a blast.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Silk-lined Observatory #2

Looking at the Guardian's round-up of the Sunday columns, it appears RK-S has been dealt particularly short-shrift.

The word 'ludicrous' is bandied about. Remember where you saw it first folks!

It may even have been here.

Good to see Hitchens sticking in the boot. It's just a shame he usually sticks the boot into things I rather like. Me and him have a very incosequential history, see. Not as exciting as it sounds, I should add, but when I get time, I'll blog it.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Silk-lined Observatory #1

Subsequent to the fly on the wall doc and his launch of his own party, Veritas (which when translated from the original Latin means 'Duraglit for the ego'), Hobo Tread launches 'The Silk-lined Observatory' to keep a gentle watch on the goings on in the political life of carrot-hued lunatic, Robert Kilroy-Silk.

We are not saying he should be stopped, on the contrary, as this is only going to get funnier.

Here's a good article about his party launch from the Independent: In a one-man crusade for the truth, Kilroy can get rid of the facts.

Why not compare the Roy Jenkins bit in the above article with the blurb on the Veritas site itself. How zen!

And you can still keep up with the diaries (and pleadings it appears) of a Silkworm henchman at UKIP Uncovered.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Book ends, book begins

I am currently finishing one book and starting another, both bought for me by my lovely lady.

The former is a half-ghosted effort concerning West Indian cricketing great Sir Clyde Walcott and while it is interesting, it is just so badly written, as though a contract was had for 100,000 words and when they got to 80,000, Brian Scovell (the actual 'writer' of this 'autobiography') just threw in irrelevant facts to flesh it out. Needless to say, it reads very oddly.

As an example: "Ali Bacher said to me, 'Clyde, you are a statesman, you are looking at all the issues and I am aware of that'. I have always got on well with Ali, who was a gynaecologist before becoming a cricket administrator". Good to know, I guess.

Also, would someone apparantly recounting their life story inform people of the batting average of almost everyone he came across in his cricketing career? Apparently so, according to this effort.

The book I have just started is quite different, and while a novel, it is supposed to be heavily autobiographical. It was written by Woody Guthrie, and before I recieved it for my last birthday, I did not even know it existed (genius present buying from the good lady). Who says I know my onions? It ain't so.

Whereas the words attached to Sir Clyde are stilted and weird, Guthrie, as you might expect, writes in southern dialect which does take some time to get your head around. Granted, I have only just started it, and thus far I am still with the initial scene of guys hopping a train, sleeping like sardines, drinking and fighting, but the language is so rich and distinct, it feels very real, so I can believe that it stems from Woody's experience of riding the rail, a musical hobo escaping the Dust Bowl.

As you might expect from America's foremost 20th century folk-poet, there are some cracking lines...

"A red eyed vino drunkard took a man by the feet and pulled him along the deck to the door. 'My buddy. Ain't said a word since I loaded 'im in last night in Duluth. Bummed th' main stem fer two bits, then he scooped his flue'"


"Rougher than a cob. Wilder than a woodchuck. Hotter than a depot stove. Madder than nine hundred dollars. Arguing worse than a tree full of crows. Messed up. Mixed up. A crazy boxcar on a wild track. Headed sixty miles an hour in a big cloud of poison dust due straight to nowhere".


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Dizzy Gillespie style

Very pleasing news is that the VP website has had a record month for hits. Still not as many as I'd like, but over a hundred more than the previous monthly record. Regular updates have helped, but it's good that as we go on more and more people are checking it out. Might need to make the website a bit less busy at some stage, but time is not on my side at the minute.

Also very pleasing, was to see this flyer advertising a London showcase gig for Invicta Hi-Fi. I am particularly delighted to see the order in which Snap Ant arrange their press quotes.

I don't particularly write reviews with obvious quotes for this kind of thing but certainly, when I first started VP, I hoped I might one day get quoted on a press release, as it gets your name touted around fellow zine writers. Bearsuit and Hyper Kinako, amongst others, have oblidged.

The next was to see it on a gig poster unexpectedly - Deerpark sorted me out there.

Now we have this JPEG flyer and once again the bar is raised.

Next stop, Jo Whiley intoning "'gonzo gabba-skiffle' said Vanity Project" over a 3am TV ad.


I Am Kurious, Oranj

I watched last night's BBC3 documentary on Robert Kilroy-Silk with some interest. Demonised by the left, and demonised by the party he joined (and admittedly tried to usurp), which he admitted, in a moment of weakness, he joined not really knowing what it was all about or who his colleagues might be. They are indeed a gaggle, particularly the blustering chauvanist loon Godfrey Bloom and Roger Knapman, the leader, who constantly looked in a deep state of flux, perhaps due to the apparent disappearance of his lips.

Seems to me RK-S is no demon, just a man who never fails to double-take, with a grin, at his own reflection when passing a tinted window. His wife clearly worships him, but how can she compete with his clear adoration of himself? He speaks of telling the truth, but doesn't check his facts. He confirms, denies, confirms, denies, his interest in taking over the party he joined only a few months before. He pointedly walks away from a European Parliament colleague whose party believes homosexuality is a sin, but undoes that good work by immediately stating that it was, essentially, for the benefit of the camera and his public image.

Is Robert Kilroy-Silk a dangerous man? I don't think so, just a completely ludicrous one. I'm surprised he has left UKIP, as he seemed in good company.

There's an interesting blog here concerning these matters - UKIP Uncovered

Anyway, 'Kilroy - Behind The Tan' was certainly a good documentary but ultimately it was a bit haphazard in determing exactly what its focus was. Nonetheless, there were some classic moments, which in some cases may have been down to clever editing.

*There was Mike Natrass MEP (West Midlands Region) addressing a public meeting in Hartlepool, and left speechless by a comment from the floor that while UKIP would talk of bringing down the European Parliament, they were happy to accept it's perks.

*Pretty much every comment made by Godfrey Bloom, who seemed to forget a camera was there even when staring into it.

*Kilroy telling the film-maker to 'fuck off'.

The pièce de résistance though was capturing RK-S in full bombastic flow in the chamber stating, vividly, "Mr President, that shower down there purports to be the government of Europe. Is that the best you can do? Is that the cream, the elite? They are a joke! However you shuffle the pack, the joker comes to the top. They are a gaggle of rejects, failures, has-beens, no-marks, liars, dodgy characters and communists..." (full text here). It was a speech which, for entertainment value, would have only been made better if he'd ended with "and they smell of bums".

As it was he was eventually called to order by the speaker, which he challenged by shouting that he was speaking the truth. If, instead, he'd scrunched up his face and said "oh do one, you... you... you rubbish!", I could have even found myself liking the man.

Sometimes, political theatre is just not facile enough.