SUMMER NIGHTS (TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE)

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With apologies for those of you dropping in expecting to hear a loving critique of the Travolta/Newton-John duet that spent 183 weeks at #1 and prevented many a post-punk/new wave act reaching the pinnacle.

Summer Nights is the name given to an annual ten-day festival of gigs in Glasgow, with the venue being the quaint Kelvingrove Bandstand, originally constructed in 1924 and then totally refurbished and brought back into use in 2014 after a quarter of century of serious neglect. The concept is sound in that a well-known singer or artist gets to headline their own outdoor gig, coming on just as the sun goes down and the audience can begin to think about removing their sunglasses. The reality, certainly in 2016, was somewhat different.

The weather for the duration was dreadful. It rained a lot and a cold wind blew through the trees that surround this most picturesque of locations just a couple of miles from the city centre. Indeed, the wind was so strong that one gig had to be postponed and rescheduled due to fears that the audience were in danger from flying debris or that the bank of speakers conveying the sound would come crashing down.

The seating at the venue is entirely made up of concrete or wooden benches, every one of which is open to the elements. The venue is pretty and its natural shape and setting make for a decent sound….but it’s not the most comfortable of places. Oh and the beer and drinks are stupidly overpriced too….as indeed are the tickets which are £30-£40 depending on the headline act. It’s a lot to fork out for what, due to curfew issues in a built-up area, will be a 90-minute show with the minimum of lights due to the small size of the stage and a universal sound system whether you’re a smooth yet bland crooner or one of the usually loudest most kick-ass bands to come from these parts .

And yet…..my two appearances at 2016 Summer Nights turned out to be among the best gigs of the year thus far.

The cost of the tickets, combined with uncertainty of the weather, always means that I’ll restrict myself to one visit per year, deciding which of the acts is most attractive. In 2014 it was Teenage Fanclub and last year it was Roddy Frame. This time round I plumped for Super Furry Animals over other options such as Idlewild, Van Morrison, Lloyd Cole, Primal Scream and Will Young. The reasoning being that despite having long loved SFA I had never managed to catch them live in person, watching only on my TV screen as they played some sort of festival or other over the years.

The rain poured down all day but somehow it went off in the evening about an hour before the band took to the stage from where they delivered a ridiculously entertaining and energetic set tinged with the sort of silly humour for which they are famed. I don’t have everything they have ever released but still managed to recognise more than two-thirds of the songs with almost all my favourites receiving an airing:-

Slow Life
(Drawing) Rings Around the World
Do or Die
Ice Hockey Hair
Hello Sunshine
Pan Ddaw’r Wawr
Run! Christian, Run!
Hometown Unicorn
Zoom!
Juxtapozed With U
Bing Bong
The International Language of Screaming
Golden Retriever
Receptacle for the Respectable
Mountain People
The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

The latter was a 12-minute tour de force. Not quite up there with this epic 22:30 live version, recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo and released as a limited edition CD single in 2007:-

mp3 : Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck (live)

If I was to slightly whinge about it, then it would be that it was all over too quickly and they didn’t play quite enough songs from Fuzzy Logic…..but I came away feeling very happy about my decision to go with them than any of the others.

The following day, a dreadful storm hit Glasgow, It was widely forecast and indeed had led to the Lloyd Cole gig being cancelled even before the SFA one had taken place. The upshot of all this was that a friend of a friend could no longer use their ticket as they were otherwise engaged the three nights later when it was rescheduled. I was happy to be the late substitute, especially as this was the first ever time I had been at a gig with the friend who had offered the ticket.

It was actually a two-headed monster as it was opened by Justin Currie & The Pallbearers.  The main man, despite not having enjoyed much chart success since his halcyon Del Amitri days, remains a popular draw in his home city. He’s still a thin and handsome chap, but I’m sorry to say too much of his set, which combined band and solo material, came across on the listless side.  One very notable exception being this…the track with which he closed the set and which was the subject of this great guest contribution on this blog back in September 2013:-

mp3 : Justin Currie – No, Surrender

I should say that things weren’t helped by the fact that it was pouring with rain and it was freezing, so much so that I was wearing a long raincoat and a woollen hat, both of which tend to come out of the clothes cupboard in November….not at a time when it should be more akin to t-shirts and shorts.

Lloyd Cole was being backed by The Leopards, a sort of Glasgow supergroup who are often seen playing alongside Vic Godard on his regular forays north of the border. They are the perfect foil for Lloyd nowadays, capable of doing justice to both the jingly-jangly stuff from the Commotions days as well as the harder and edgier stuff from the solo years. This must have been about the 20th time I’d seen Lloyd on stage and he’s never let me down. This was no exception thanks to a show that surprised and delighted, sticking solely to songs from the Commotions era and the first four of his solo albums, all of which are hugely underrated and under-appreciated.

Rattlesnakes
Jennifer She Said
So You’d Like To Save The World
Weeping Wine
No Blue Skies
Everyone’s Complaining
Ice Cream Girl
Downtown
Sweetheart
Brand New Friend
2cv
Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?
Like Lovers Do
Perfect Skin
My Bag
Lost Weekend
Forest Fire
Morning Is Broken

It was a magical night, but one in which we all felt old when Lloyd, for the acoustic 1-2 of chevaux/heartbroken, was joined on stage by his now 23-year old son William. I think all the blokes in the audience took a look at William and yearned for the days when we were that thin and had that fine a head of hair. Gawd only knows what the women were thinking…..

Too many highlights to mention. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about it. Just a pity that I had to go to work the next day as it was the sort of night where you wanted to stay out for hours on end, making the most of the natural high the gig had provided. I’m far too old and sensible and with too many work responsibilities just now to contemplate a hangover. But I found that I couldn’t sleep when I got in, and so amused myself with watching the baseball live from Toronto (five hours behind us) where the Blue Jays wrapped up a perfect evening with a win. Lights went out at 3.15 am and alarm went off four hours later. Can’t really recommend it.

Oh and it turned out my friend also had real trouble sleeping after the gig. It was her first time ever seeing Lloyd Cole but she’s determined it won’t be her last. Seemingly while I was watching the baseball, she was playing his songs and having a wee dance round her living room. As I said, the sort of night where you really didn’t want the music to ever stop.

I’ve no doubt the organisers of Summer Nights are already thinking ahead to 2017 and I’ll do my usual of picking out one of the gigs and getting myself along. But it’ll be hard pushed to better those of this year….even if the sun does the unexpected and beats down on us from on high.

Cheers Mr Cole; and big thanks to the boys in the band, especially Mick Slaven for his amazing lead guitar work all night.

mp3 : Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Jennifer She Said
mp3 : Lloyd Cole – Downtown

Enjoy

A POLITICAL PROTEST SONG (10 & 11)

RANT

Actually….the image I’ve selected for today is a bit misleading.  The songs, as the author says, are rants…..but they are very quier rants and excellent songs to listen to.  Over to long-time friend of this place and the old blog, Friend of Rachel Worth:-

Mixing pop and politics, I tend to be the one asking “what the use is?” I’m not sure whether it was growing up and seeing the disappointment of Red Wedge, watching pop stars meeting presidents or a general dislike of being preached to or feeling like I’m being told what to think. I’ve more than often found myself loving the sentiment but feeling strangely untouched by the song . If I think of all my favourite songs they tend to be less rally cries of big political statements and more the personal politics of love gone wrong. Where they do work for me is if they are more social politics ( Town Called Malice spring to mind) or subtle and ambiguous in what they are trying to say (10000 Maniacs Whats the Matter Here the Housemartin’s Flag Day are good examples of where you listen and think with a somewhat dark message hidden in a pretty tune)

Having said all that my favourite political song is still The The’s Heartland but Matt Johnson seems to have developed an odd belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories and The the tracks seem to attract the take down notices., so I’ve picked up a couple of others. Both arent subtle as both are personal rants set to music. One is full of weary angry disillusionment built on somewhat hippy ideals and the other is bile and bitterness at the hopeless of everyday life. What they have in common is a set of fantastic lyrics and like all rants they maybe outstay their welcome , building until they burn themselves out.

First up is No, Surrender from Del Amitri’s singer Justin Currie

Big Macs for the fat, lo-cal wraps for the call centre battery hens,
Japanese snacks for the choice-spoilt citizens, caviar kickbacks for the citadel denizens.

Airport shoeshines servicing the suits among the little silver stereos and hand-rolled cheroots,
First class passengers file on last after the scum are packed in with their tax-free loot.

Checkout calamity, you’re cheated out of loyalty points, ten more years at this joint you’d be home & dry,
Beggars beat round the cash machines but you just slip between them with the usual lie.

Terrible tales of kidnapped kids keep you focused on the family and filling up the fridge,
Neighbourhood watchers shop dole dodgers, stick their semis on the market & start racking up the bids.

Should you stand and fight, should you die for what you think is right
So your useless contribution will be remembered?
If you’re asking me I say no, surrender.

Constant growth the cancerous cure, a swarming race of profiteers ensure
Cheap cars for the rich, cheap lives for the poor, cheap weeks in the sun, free drinks at the door.

Puerile propaganda plugs up the TV, keep folk following the money so they’ll never be free
Keep them swallowing the swill, the celebrities, the paedophiles, the immigrants invading from the
camp over the hill.

War talk, the big debate, footsoldiers in the capitol liberating new kinds of hate
Cum-shots of human dots caught in the spotlight’s glare; he dies who dares.

Fatuous fast-trackers sneering at the shelf-stackers, little Middle-Englanders can’t stand the backpackers,
Fortress Freedom, come on in, take your chances-you might win.

Should you stand and fight, should you die for what you think is right
So your useless contribution will be remembered?
If you’re asking me I say no, surrender.

Sunset beaches security patrolled, keep out the undesirables who don’t accept the code
Equal opportunity to live in total poverty, execute the ignorant incarcerate the slow

Car caressing managers choking up the avenues, brain dead patriots standing in salute
Paperwork raining again and again so that billionaires can claim there’s an enemy to shoot

Pill pushers, doorsteppers, personal goal shoppers, lifestyle trendsetters, meditating mindbenders,
Hare-brained share sellers pumping out stocks til you’re choking on a chain-letter avalanche of dross.

God squads trawling through every country tracking down fools who are bullshit hungry
Blinded by divinity followers fall into the man-traps set along the Wailing Wall.

Athletes compete in grand charades while tanks flatten streets and a nation laughs,
Visa holders gape at the changing guards while creeps bribe bums to take their photographs.

Film fans flock to the latest schlock, blockbusters block out even the vaguest thought
Bankrupt schools grind out fool after fool then feed them to a system where idiots rule.

Polling booths, phone votes, bogus questionnaires, you get a say as if anybody cares
Joe Public doesn’t want to play so liquidate his life as he looks the other way.

Don’t get sick, don’t get wise or they’ll gut you with a *justice* where everything is lies
March down Main Street, complain if you want but it’s twenty years straight for the losers at the front.

mp3 : Justin Currie – No, Surrender (Part 1)

mp3 : Justin Currie – No, Surrender (Part 2)

Second up is World Party and Always on My Mind

Where do you begin to explain the mess,
The mess you made of it?
I was only out for half an hour,
I said “please look after it”.
You had to think that you know best
And forget all the golden rules,
You ignored the difficult truth
And opened the door to fools.

Now I see the strong ones make,
I see the weak ones break,
I see you running out of time.

You got a finger in every pie,
Well what did I expect?
You made an art-form out of talking shit,
And partying ’til you’re wrecked.
In the small hours it’s so easy to feel
You’ve got some big ideas,
But in the morning you should put them away
Cos’ you know they’ll end in tears.

I see the strong ones fake,
While the weak can’t stay awake,
You know you’re always on my mind.

And football’s all about training shoes
Yeah, it’s added up to this.
And religion’s all about bums on seats.
And if you’re livin’ in the West
Mum’s apple pie is full of ‘E’s,
And Dad ain’t at his best;
His new car was designed by God
But Jesus, he looks a mess.

I see the strong ones take,
I see the weak, the weak ones ache,
You know it’s always on my mind.

While we’re busying ourselves with mines,
The chemists are working late.
They gotta breed an indestructible gene
To wipe us all away.
They’re just following their inquisitiveness,
Well that’s what they like to say.
But it sounds like they’re just following orders
Like the Nazis used to say.

I see the gas clouds shake,
I see the rivers ache,
You know it’s always on my mind.

What kind of music are you playing there, son?
What is that old machine?
Doesn’t matter I can’t hear the words,
Cos’ I don’t care what they mean.
Yeah I believe you,
You’re a real street fighter,
Gonna change the system from within.
Hey watch this guy, he’s a bare faced liar
Yeah, that’s, that’s him in the limousine.

I hear your bullshit take,
I hear your drum-machine break,
You know it’s always on my mind.

If Jesus came now
He’d say “Lord get me outta here,
Cos’ I, I just can’t handle this”.
The Lord would say
“Hey Jesus what d’ya mean?
It was always going to be this way”.
“All Mighty Father, you are full of shit,
Cos’ the folks down here, don’t wanna be saved.
Why have they forsaken themselves?
And used hypocritical armour-plating”.

I see the strong ones take,
I see the weak ones break,
You know it’s always on my mind.

If you were passing in a space vehicle,
And you came close to Planet Earth,
You wouldn’t stop by for tea
Cos’ of the screaming that you heard;
And the lying, and the cheating, and the gnashing of teeth,
And the straight-ahead mental deformation.
You’d head on to Venus
With its welcoming sulphuric acid precipitation.

Who’d want to stop where the strong ones reign,
But they won’t ease the weak ones pain?
You know out of sight would be really out of mind.

Well I’m sittin’ here watching little kids starve,
And worlds get thrown away.
I’m thinking there’s just gonna be more
Before any goodness has its way.
I’m sick of feeling sick of you,
You’re too smart to be like this.
But you’ve got no legends that will guide your soul,
Now you’re really taking the piss.

I see the weak ones strong someday,
Not in any silly Communist way,
More like in the movement of Elvis’ hip-sway,
When civilisation comes and stays,
When all the corporations have gone away,
When laughing gas is handed out on the Big Love Day,
When egos are driven underground cos’ they get no approbation,
When boys and girls are laughing in every nation,
When the Truth is pursued for relaxation,
When living with the world is our aspiration,
When there’s no mileage in hate, and no gas-stations,
And the creatures are protected from mammals to crustaceans,
And the soul has found it’s LIBERATION.
You know this is always on my mind 

mp3 : World Party – Always On My Mind

Note from JC

And with that, I’m ending this short series of political protest songs.  HUGE thanks to everyone who submitted their thoughts and words – lots of great tunes as well.