A recent copy of Mojo landed on my mat with Kraftwerk on the cover and a CD of electronic music attached. My favourite track on it was one I hadnt heard in years: Slow Motion by Ultavox with original band member John Foxx on vocals. The month before there had been an article about Mark Gatiss introducing him at the London Apple store while other 80s chart busters are reforming and playing their old stuff, John continues to be a very innovative and interesting artist. Then last week Foxx made an appearance in the wonderful BBC4 rockumentary Synth Britannia.
So when the misses went to London with the kids for half term and I looked to see if there were any gigs on in Leeds, and there was John Foxx playing at the Music college, I felt compelled to go and bloody glad I did.
He played 2 sets, both accompanying films, the first of which was called Tiny Colour Movies featuring synthesizer music. The films came from the private collection of Arnold Weizcs Bryants and contained an eclectic mix of styles and subjects: The guy who filmed the Florida highway, looped it and then projected it in his house, The underwater amateur who filmed his girlfriend swimming around cars dumped in the lake (I was never this lucky when 17!), The guy who filmed New York on his way to work everyday, The Psychiatrist who projected faces over his clients face to form new identities, How birdsong enhances psychic ability, Slow motion sunsets .etcetc I was fascinated and enthralled a wonderful blend of music and sound.
The second half contained 2 pieces on the Grand Piano. The Quiet Man is a poem (here set to music with an illustrative film) about a future decaying London where everything is overgrown by forest. It features a man in a grey suit which Foxx got from an Oxfam shop After being the lead singer in a punk band, to put on a grey suit meant that I could blend in and observe. The second piece featured his son who was VJ-ing (Video Jockying thankfully not in the style of the guy who used to support the Fall) whilst John improvised over the top. He advocated sampling any films you like for this sort of event I think that film belongs to us because we paid for them and they becomes part of our story.
There then followed a question and answer session that showed his to be a most intelligent, thoughtful, self-effacing bloke. I asked him if his attitude to him sampling films extended to others sampling his music. Of course, I think thats a compliment. Theres nothing new in any of this. Who gets the royalties when Jools Holland plays the 12 Bar Blues?
He confessed to dreaming whole scenes from films, even the ad breaks sometimes. “Dreams are the real world. I remember my son asking me that dreadful question ‘Is Superman in the real world?’ and I said ‘Is that comic in the real world?’ ‘yes’ and Superman’s in that comic so he’s in the real world'”
Someone asked if there was such a thing as a bad film Good question but I dont think Im the one to ask my favourite film is Robot monster Not the one with the gorilla in a space suit! yeah, its usually described as the worst film ever made but I saw it when it came out. My mum owned a shop in Chorley and it didnt open on a Wednesday and we always went to the cinema. She would always take me to science fiction films and I remember she liked this one which was unusual for a woman.
And on the original Ultravox getting back together…. I love Billy Currie but who wants to be their own tribute band? Being in a gang in your 20s is great but I dont want to be in that gang now.
You cant argue with that!
Bob the Chiropodist