Friday, 14 June 2013

This Is Not A Review: Art Brut at the Scala (10 Year Anniversary Show)

This is not a review.  No idiot would attempt to write a review of a show that happened two and half weeks ago, particularly when said idiot is in possession of the sort of short term memory that regularly leads to them going into the kitchen and promptly forgetting what they wanted there (you know how some really thin celebrities shrug off concerns about their weight, claiming they "forget to eat"?  Yeah, that actually happens).  I meant to write a review, the next morning and tout it to the various online music rags I've written for in the past, but as it turns out, the life of an unemployed tour guide is very busy, and I'm actually doing a lot of hair modelling at the moment  and blah middle class problems blah.   And I can't find a setlist online (I just found one in my draw, which is interesting, as I have no recollection of acquiring it, but I think it's from the other year), so this is not a review, but I wanted to write something, since I'd been planning it so here are some things that I wrote about it.

First surprising thing of the night was there was a fairly sizeable queue outside the Scala an hour before doors opened.  Given that I was on my way to the pub first, not joining the line it was fairly troubling - the first time I have ever experienced queue anxiety at an Art Brut gig (if you don't know what queue anxiety is, ask a Manics fan.  It's why we sleep on pavements.).

The setlist wasn't much different from usual for it being a greatest hits show, because Art Bruts gigs have always taken in the entire span of their career (I remember being mildly disappointed the first time I saw them that they didn't play more from Art Brut vs Satan - their current album at the time - though that was probably, I suspect, because I didn't know much of their earlier stuff then. For reasons which remain unclear to me I bought a fancy imported version of Bang Bang Rock And Roll a year later in a boutique record shop in Berlin for 18 euros instead of getting it on eBay for 99p like a normal person).  Eddie took "requests" from the crowd all night, from people like "the man with the big face", the girl with the hat" and the "guy with the beard" - kind of like a real life version of Guess Who? - which by remarkable coincidence always matched the setlist taped to the stage in front of me.

Sexy Sometimes was a surprise (I accept I may have been the only one surprised, given that it's on their greatest hits), which Eddie explained he had written after someone at their former label had accidentally cc'd him in on an email saying he "wasn't sexy enough" (not sexy?  Please. Dude clearly has no taste).  Sexy Sometimes is one of my favourites from Brilliant Tragic, so it was a good surprise, although Eddie skipped my favourite lyric so null points for that Argos!

Unsurprisingly, new tracks We Make Pop Music and Arizona Bay both got a hearing; I bloody love Arizona Bay (sample lyric: I was lucky to survive/There was never a chance I was going to die).  however serious Art Brut are being when they talk about being a classic rock band, I think Arizona Bay does cement them in that status, to me, at least, because it's 10 years on and the lyrics are as sharp/witty/charmingly self-deprecating as they always have been and the music is as fun and catchy as ever (I'm not very good at talking about music, as you can probably tell, I appreciate good music but I'm more a lyric person.  Guess it's the writer in me.  That's probably why I like bands that make other people knit their eyebrows together in bafflement and say "but he's just talking".  And why I've always been confused by people who listened to Kevin Carter and did not immediately look up who Kevin Carter was.  I mean, how can you not care?  Were you not listening?!  In my opinion, how attention you pay to the lyrics is a good measure of your worth as a human being.  You don't have to like them, just listen.  I once accidentally took a friend who I later found out despises Eddie, and Jasper for that matter, with a passion burning to the very core of her soul - I forget why, it was something complicated about a unicorn - to an Everybody Was In The French Resistance Now! gig, and even she said she liked the idea, if not the execution, which I respected.  See, I only ask that you listen.), and of course they're as good live as they've ever been, better actually.  Don't know what was up at the gig we went to in Kingston, but the atmosphere was a bit wonky and everything seemed kind of off.  Though that might have been the amount of brandy I accidentally decanted into my coke.  I'm not good at measuring shots from a hip flask.  Scala was one of the best gigs I've been to for a while because it was so clearly about five people on stage really fucking enjoying what they're doing, and the crowd really fucking enjoying what they're doing, cos let's face it, Art Brut don't have many casual fans that I know of, and the atmosphere was one of joy and exuberance which was only later spoiled by the queue at the cloakroom stretching halfway around the universe and back.  If I hadn't shamelessly pushed in I'd have missed my last train.

Also I liked Eddie's new classic rock band front man move with the crowd-surfing at the end, although it got a bit hairy and at one point I wasn't sure whether I was more concerned for his safety or that of the people in that section of the audience who didn't look at all prepared for it.  And I liked the fake encore, and I was going to say I liked that they played Maternity Ward, but now I'm genuinely not sure if they did or if I've just completely made it up.  I would have liked a few more b-sides and rarities, actually.  These Animal Men Swear or Just Desserts would have been awesome.  I would have made a request, but you know, I don't have any distinguishing characteristics like glasses or a hat...

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