Monday, 4 April 2011
JAPAN DISASTER BENEFIT GIG at the BRIXTON ACADEMY
Warm hearted Liam Gallagher was reportedly the brains behind this benefit gig for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. He personally organised it. "Paul, wanna do a gig for them people in Japan?" Grunt. "Sound." And we’re off…
First up were The Coral. They chimed their Rickenbackers in unison to tracks from Butterfly House and earlier. The lush Wirral West Coast harmonies of “1000 Years” one minute and the heavier Fillmore wig-out of “North Parade” the next. They played their biggie “Dreaming of You” and even did “Ticket To Ride”. It seemed a shame to waste their stage time with that, which dragged like they were pulling the rotting carcass of Merseybeat around with them, when their own stuff is better. I wondered if Liam had stipulated everyone had to play a Beatles song. I braced myself. As performers, The Coral offer nothing beyond their songs and musicianship - there’s more movement in George Harrison’s slippers - but they put down a solid marker for the evening and this morning I’ve been listening to them again.
Graham Coxon was the most surprising name on Liam’s wish list and what he made of Coxon’s set is anyone’s guess. From the start he promised/warned he was going to play some old songs and some new songs. Old songs would mean old solo songs, not old “Coffee and TV” songs. He kicked off with something akin to a child’s messy bedroom. There was stuff jumbled all over the place. “Confusing, weren’t it?” he acknowledged. He continued in this vein like an angry teenager playing his New York CBGBs punk records in one room and his Buzzcocks, Jam and Clash records in another down the phone to his mate in Seattle at top volume to annoy his parents. His wasn’t a singalong set, even “Standing On My Own Again” and “Freakin’ Out” seemed obscure to most, but he went down well. I mean, it’s the geezer from Blur innit?
I hadn’t expected The Coral to be on first so it made the running order a fun guessing game. Not many guessed Paul Weller. The last time I saw him was twenty years ago, stood on the same spot, with one Japanese issued solo album to his name but I’ve kept tabs on him. I can trace almost every twig and branch on my musical tree back to the acorn planted when I bought The Jam’s “Absolute Beginners” as boy breaking into mod and spots. With his grey Uncle Bulgaria mullet, tonight Lord Welly clears up. He struts his slim line frame and kicks out a flared trouser leg and juts his head like a startled tortoise. Set wise he plays thirteen songs: three Jam songs, including “Art School” which somehow now requires three guitars and a feisty “Eton Rifles”, solo stuff, but unfortunately nothing from the Style Council era. If I never hear the likes of “Whirlpool’s End” or “The Changingman” again it’ll be too soon but it doesn’t detract from the performance and his commanding presence. He is an absolute class act, no doubt, and in the bonkers “Fast Car, Slow Traffic” can still joyfully rub against the grain. “From The Floorboards Up” and “Come On/ Let’s Go” burned brightly but my eyes rolled to the back of my head for the next Beatles karaoke moment, “Come Together”. Argh.
Kelly Jones is from a band called The Stereophonics. He played three songs on a guitar. Wayne Rooney has a Stereophonics tattoo.
Of all the acts, Primal Scream are the one I’ve seen most down the years. Usually they’re good, sometimes great, although the last time, off the back of the glittery disco balls-up Beautiful Future, they were going through the motions and frankly rubbish. From the thundering opening of “Accelerator” they were in the mood, and some. At first I thought Mani had been replaced on bass by David Hasselhoff before realizing it was Glen Matlock. Phew. Anyway, the Scream totally smashed the place, with Bobby Gillespie, still wearing that red silk shirt from 1991, pulling out all the stops - all flailing limbs and hair. “Movin’ On Up” will always be a winner, “Loaded” still sounded fresh, “Country Girl” was blistering, and I’ve never heard them do “Rocks” with such conviction. Beatles cover? Do me a favour. For them it was a grubby Stoogesy version of Billy Boy Arnold’s “I Wish You Would” leading into Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love”. Like I say, totally smashed it.
Richard Ashcroft’s three song acoustic spot allowed some breathing space. In the days of indoor smoking “Sonnet” and “Lucky Man” would’ve bought a sea of lighters to the air as everyone swayed along. He did a new one which sounded like an old one and was gone. He was in fine voice but didn’t do “The Drugs Don’t Work”. The bastard.
I’ve tried listening to Beady Eye’s album but haven’t yet made it until the end. It’s predictable, overlong, but not – if I’m being generous - especially terrible (although there are some songs which are precisely that). If released in 1997 it would’ve been the third best Oasis LP. The problem they have is following four hours packed with classic moments and memories from people’s lives with only their tepidly received album. So when Liam sings “I’m gonna stand the test of time like the Beatles and Stones”, you feel like patting him on his head. He of course prowls around like a gibbon in an oversized parka and still hasn’t cottoned on that if he actually touched the mic stand he could raise it a couple of inches so he didn’t need to bend his knees and tilt his head to sing. Bless. “Four Letter Word” and “Bring The Light” are brash and ballsy and work well but any (relative) subtlety in more thoughtful tracks like “Millionaire” are bludgeoned out of them by the thick wall of noise and constant thump-thump-thumping. Liam, just because you turn it up, it doesn’t make it sound any better and flashing lots of bright lights won't distract us for long. After a while it gets so damn monotonous and a test of endurance that beats many as they head to the door with ears ringing. Those who sneaked off missed a cover of the Beatles "Across The Universe".
Over £150,000 was raised for the British Red Cross to help the people of Japan.