Before I forget: I went to see Poppycock on Friday!
This is a big deal because I've been meaning to since my friend Stuart joined the band a while ago. He's the drummer, and the only man of the eight or so of them in the band. It is a thing that's brought him much happiness and sense of achievement at a time in his life when there are not enough things to do that, so for that alone I'd be grateful but it turns out they're a great band too.
It was the first time I'd been to A Gig By A Band That My Friend Is In for quite a while, and it was possibly the best one yet. All three bands were from the label Poppycock is on, which Stuart told me has rules like "If you sound like Oasis, Coldplay or [something else he forgot but you can probably get the idea], don't bother with us." Andrew and I had both bought tickets but he wasn't feeling up to going which is a shame because I think he'd have really appreciated this. He used to be an a band, and thus listen to other bands, at a time when everybody did want to sound like Oasis, or the Fall, or whatever. Except him. He still wants to be in bands that don't have guitars in them and wishes for things like a bass harmonica or a harpsichord.
Poppycock have guitars, a fairly standard line-up really -- though everyone but the rhythm section and one singer played more than one thing and there was a flute put to good use in some of the songs -- but they still stand out. Just having that many women on stage gave me a weird feeling I am starting to have more often, like when I saw Ghostbusters
last year: there's something crazy about seeing more than one woman in any group, and her not being "the girl one." And they are great at it, and Una writes good songs, and it was so good to see Stuart play guitar again.
I call him a friend but he's not just that; he's an ex too, singular in several ways because he's the only one I really talk to and also the only one I really miss. It was bittersweet to watch him play again, reminded me of going to see his old band (and there I really was there just because he was in it! -- they were all right but not really my cup of tea) and feeling like I might burst with pride and happiness at getting to know and be involved with such a person, and just having the joy of watching someone do something they're really good at.
Extra-surprisingly for going-to-see-your-mate's-band, the other two on the bill were pretty good too! First was Four Candles, whose set I arrived halfway through and the second half I confess I mostly spent catching up with Stuart and scarletts_web
because it was the first time I'd seen her in four years
, how did that happen!?
It's extra a-thing-that-should-not-have-happened because she's a huge fan of Poppycock and travels from the other side of Warrington to see them play in Manchester all the time and this was the first gig I'd managed to get to and that only because it's literally a five-minute walk from my house.
Anyway, Stuart said of the first band "brilliantly venomous and heartfelt lyrics combined with fantastically inventive playing from guitar, bass and drums." The singer had been in a band called The Hamsters before and people seemed to know and like him.
And the second band, Patchwork Rattlebag (good name but oh my god everybody I talked to kept forgetting it, it's just lots of interchangeable nouns!) I probably liked more than most; scarletts_web
pronounced them a bit fey but I love that kind of chilled out music, it's what I play whenever Andrew's not around. So that wouldn't have been his favorite, but he'd have had to agree the singer had an incredible voice, strong and laden with emotion over the electronica background, I was a bit disappointed none of the merch at the little stall was their music (though I was reassured it's on the way) or else I'd have bought some. Which is really much more
an Andrew thing to do than a me thing to do; I think the last time I bought a CD at a gig was at the IPO (International Pop Overthrow, a fun thing in Liverpool) maaany years ago and mostly that was because the guy made me laugh by asking if anyone had heard of Des Moines and then didn't believe me when I said I'd been there.
And then Poppycock, but not before some in-between, setting-up music which I thought I recognized as one of my favorite albums from last year -- it's a few years old but I didn't hear it until last year -- by The Imagined Village. As it was playing I was chatting to someone who said "oh, this is Poppycock...they've started?" I chuckled and said no, this was Eliza Carthy singing, but that as far as I was concerned if they could be mistaken for sounding like this I'd be pleased.
And I was!
Afterward I helped a little (hoping I wasn't more of a hindrance) get the gear packed up and out to the car, stuck around for a drink (someone I remember from the last time I was at this place, getting drunk on Han's birthday, bought me a pint and we talked about 80s Bob Dylan; old men with beards and rollies are so easy for me to get along with) and I'd meant to stick around and say hi to Stuart again but there was Important Band Meeting going on so I just went home. All gigs should be so fun and so easy to get to.