It’s been several years since I last met up with (the now Prof!) Oz and however long an interval it is, its too long, so when earlier this year he says “I’ve got us tickets to see Magazine at the South Bank in September if youre interested” well, you’d be daft not to be. I missed out on their gigs earlier in the year as I was in New Zealand (I’m not complaining) so I jumped at the chance. I drove down on the Monday evening and we caught up over a couple of Vanilla Vodkas and ginger beer with lime (my new favourite drink). Records old (“Whats you’re top five XTC songs”) and new (Fanfarlo which was boxed in the most beautiful art work “I found these through the Rough Trade record club”) were poured over before retiring to bed.
Next day after a hearty breakfast and getting my Jimmy Saville wig (don’t ask) we get the train and tube to Pimlico, to The Tate Britain where there was a great exhibition by Richard Long. He documents his walks and often leaves artworks along the way made out of what he found, or the artwork might be a document of what he saw (or heard) along the way. There were huge murals too that he did with mud and his hands, as well as several Huge pieces on the floor I loved it!
Also caught up with all my favourite pre-Raphelites especially Rossettis ‘Beloved’ I could look at that all day. Oz is a member at the Tate so we popped into the (Tiny) members cafe for a bit before heading down the Thames to Tate Modern.
The Guardian were setting up a ’10:10 campaign’ (getting people to reduce their carbon emissions by 10% by 2010). We waited in a queue next to Michael Rosen (last seen reading to my kids on CBeebies) before realising this was the VIP queue and Joe Public had to wait til tomorrow. We took in the Futurist exhibition and Oz’s favourite room with the Pollock on the opposite wall to the Monet before heading to the (much nicer) members bar where we had a beer overlooking London, watching the world bustle by.
Registering for 10:10 was going to take a long time and the bands booked to play (including Reverend and the Makers) weren’t due for a couple of hours so we decided to head on to pastures new. We walked up to Soho, past a students union “That’s where I first saw The Stone Roses” to an old pub on Fleet Street ‘The Olde Cheshire Cheese’ where Samuel Pepys was known to drink. On the way to china town we saw a new comic shop ‘Orbital’ so went for a look and had a lovely chat with the proprietor about all things Jack Kirby “I met him once, what a genius” – couldn’t agree more.
After a lovely meal in Mr Kongs (veggie crispy duck is highly recommended!) we trawled a few of the 2nd hand record shops on our way up to ‘The Social’, a bar run by the people behind Heavenly Records. There was an LP launch but we were running out of time, so off to the Royal Festival Hall we sped for MAGAZINE!!!
Howard Devoto is a compelling front man with magnetic charisma. I couldnt take my eyes off him. He was quite pixie-like sometimes with his stage moves and obviously having a good time. Magazine did 2 sets – for the first they played the whole of their 1980 LP The correct use of soap’ in order. Devoto read out tips from a pamphlet on how to look after your vinyl, in-between each track and perhaps the saddest of all: “Try not to lend your records to your friends!”. It was a real privilege to hear such powerful songs as ‘Sweetheart Contract’ and ‘Song from under the Floorboards’ (“we all have our coping strategies this is about what happens when they fail”). The only track I’m not that keen on from the LP is the Sly and family stone cover ‘thankyouforlettinmebemyselfagain’ but even that was funked up, beefed out and sounded magnificent.
I wasn’t completely at ease in the surroundings until halfway through the second set when Devoto said “You dont HAVE to stay in your seats yknow!” and the crowd leapt up and then they really rocked! “This one is now about the environment” he quipped before ‘Permafrost’ which was followed by the highlight of the evening The light pours out of me. I managed to film a bit of it until a nice young usherette told me off and I had to stop! No Shot by both sides but it was still a triumphant evening.
Afterward, we mooched across the Thames and worked our way through Trafalgar Square, past Mr Gormleys live art, to the Mall for a last drink in the ICA before heading for home Tired but elated. Fab company, fab art, fab band, fab day!
Bob the Chiropodist