Monday, February 20, 2006

Broken Down Social Scene

Dead Kenny hangs his anoraked head in shame and regrets that another prolonged period of sparse updates has come to pass on Parallax View. He hasn't even had time to gloat about The Hammers' club-record-equalling run of seven consecutive victories in all competitions which included a victory over The Arse. But he did have the time and good fortune to catch Broken Social Scene at Birmingham Academy 2 last Wednesday (Feb 15).

Just had enough time to get the first pint of the evening in before the Canadian would-be 'supergroup' embarked on their 2hr 10m set which featured generous helpings from their last two albums. Quite a few of the crowd seemed to be there because they felt they ought be rather than they wanted to be and the 'buzz' as Dead Kenny paced through the audience spying on people was 'the next Arcade Fire'. BSS have three things in common with AF: they're good, they're Canadian, and there's a fuckin' lot of 'em. Any other similarities are superficial and can be dismissed: whereas the AF are predominantly song-oriented, BSS are essentially groove-based, supplying extended jams that recall Sonic Youth in the way they flirt with and then eschew traditional song structures.

Some of the crowd got impatient with the lengthy between-song banter, which seemed a little tight given the value-for-money length of the set earned them a few breathers (although it has to be said the gratuitous digs about Elton John sailed close to the wind of homophobia). Although Dead Kenny had some difficulties getting a decent view of the stage the band seemed to be having a good time making for an entertaining, feel-good set (highlight of which was 'Superconnected' which was like a Ryan Adams classic distorted through a windtunnel). Aside from the Elton gags, your correspondent's only gripe is they coulda been louder: sonic mayhem should make our ears bleed!

Friday night went out to see an old drinking compadre Richard Harris in a play at a nearby village hall, performing the Leonard Rossiter/Laurence Olivier role of Fred Midway in 60s social-climbing satire 'Semi-Detached' (filmed in 1970 with Warren Mitchell as All The Way Up). It was a very professional production and the standard of acting was consistently good right the way through the cast (which included the arresting vision of Rhiannon Edwards and Teresa Jones gamely desporting period mini-skirts) although it was Rich who held it together with some gurning of the highest order in a role which found him in virtually every scene. Such a demanding role, in fact, that he barely had voice left to order a pint in the pub after (his excuse, anyway) so it was official: Richard Harris *is* a Man Called Hoarse.

Yesterday evening went to Wolves Civic Hall to see The Magic Numbers and The Concretes. Back in the summer of 2004 The Concretes came, charmed our underwear off (OK we're easy but at least they paid us the respect of doing it with panache) and then went away again just as quickly with the delicate but delightful construction that was their self-titled debut. If the new songs aired at the show are anything to go by, it wouldn't be putting it on with a trowel to say they've got well-laid plans to build on those foundations in 2006.

Met up with Alison and Jo before the Magic Numbers came on, who were their normal charming selves during a set which included all the favourites from their debut plus at least four (by my reckoning) new songs. These newies weren't as immediate as The Concretes' offerings but this was also true of their older songs so that oughtn't cause undue concern, and the closing number certainly had a bit more bollocks than their usual stuff, much to the delight of a crowd who were clearly hell-bent on enjoying themselves. Amongst the departing crowd your correspondent caught glimpse of his bewhiskered personal chauffeur Gisbourne who was enjoying a bit of compassionate leave on the grounds of being a Wolves fan before his employer had an understandable change of heart (they had enjoyed a rare victory the day before, after all) and commissioned his vehicle for a full-speed return to the homestead and no sparing the horsepower.


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