Tuesday, 27 June 2017

like a detuned radio...

It's more than FOMO.

It's kind of like a deeper longer that anchors my soul and swells in the depth of my stomach.

And it seems slightly ridiculous as I try to put this feeling into some sort of coherent and relatable piece of writing, but being unable to see Radiohead at Glastonbury last Friday was almost too much to bear.

Is it love?  Is it obsession?  Or is it just one band among a small handful that I am determined to see live, yet I am still to tick off my bucket list?

And as I think about my own memories of the band that re-listening to a handful has dug up, I must admit that it is something like a combination of all three.

Of the Nineties indie titans that dominated airwaves in my pre-gig-going days, I have seen Oasis multiple times, I saw Blur at a reunion show in Hyde Park in 2009 and I finally witnessed Manic Street Preachers at Festival No. 6 four years ago.  Pulp have so far eluded me, as have Radiohead.

But Radiohead fit awkwardly in this bracket, in much the same way they fit awkwardly in any bracket.  In much the same way many of us in life find ourselves fitting awkwardly into social situations or circumstances.  In much the same way that many of us look towards something to identify with, or lose ourselves in when we find ourselves fitting awkwardly into this so called life.

Are we all creeps?  Are we all weirdos?  Certainly in the long-ago time of 'before we all carried the Internet everywhere we go', it was a far simpler thing to feel alone, and feel that we didn't belong here, and to take solace in music, particularly in our teenage years.  I distinctly remember picking up my copy of The Bends reduced in a branch of Blockbuster Video and always skipping back to the beginning of Street Spirit (Fade Out) several times once the album had reached its end, I'm fairly certain that my copy of OK Computer came from a Cash Converters, and I remember becoming so obsessed with Kid A (bought new upon release for a change) that I even insisted on listening to it in the car when my mum picked me up and dropped me off from my first weekend job.

And it was to be Kid A that proved to be the turning point for me, arriving in my life at a time when my teenage quest for identity reached the cross-section with outgrowing mainstream commercial music, I would listen to the album on repeat, fixated on the vast palette of challenging sonics that proved to be jarring and completely removed from all other music, yet I felt like I belonged to this album, lost in the waves of aural complexities.  Melody Maker may have told me that everybody is obsessed with Radiohead when I started reading it, but right then, I was the only person obsessed with Radiohead.

Of course my eyes would open to their place in the wider world over the years that followed, but I'd already had my moment that shaped my taste for the different.  And over the years that followed I have empathised with Radiohead's own pursuit of being different.  The girlfriend that is now my wife delved into music exploration headfirst with me, and when we pulled up at a traffic lights beside rude bois blasting their bass-rattling whatever it was, we decided to wind down the windows and turn up OK Computer as loud as we could.

And it was OK Computer that I played on repeat walking to and from work in the weeks running up to this year's Glastonbury Festival, hearing past the edge in the music that has always caught my attention and focusing more and more intently on the bereft lyrics as they swam around my head.  Taking ahold of the words and feeling the true sense of them that I couldn't ten or fifteen years ago.  Even on days when temperatures soared not the 30s I pressed play time and time again on the album now celebrating its 20th anniversary instead of the far more apt reggae appropriation of Radiodread by Easy Star All-Stars

Beyond that, I have dipped in and out of the more recent albums over the past decade, but always felt emboldened by the decisions the band have made to make music, play music and release music on their own terms.

And that it why, when my tellyhead wife settled in for a weekend of Glastonbury coverage, I just couldn't bring myself to watch Radiohead's headline performance.  It was too painful for me to sit on a comfortable sofa in a space so far removed from the live performance and watch a band that I am still desperate to witness first-hand.  Because this isn't just another 'play the hits' band that you're assured will tick all the boxes with every show they play, this is a band that have evolved and changed not just the face of music, but also my own personal preferences.

And it was my personal preference to walk away from the to coverage, for that one night at least.

And I will see Radiohead, obviously on their terms and not mine, as they have already proved recently by playing the Roundhouse in Camden in support of A Moon Shaped Pool, and announcing arena dates in Manchester yet no arena shows for London this time around.  And obviously by rolling up at a Glastonbury that I was unable to get tickets for.

And I'll hang in there, with the rest of the creeps and the weirdos.

And I promise not to be annoyed if they don't play Creep, after all, it will be on their terms and not mine.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

That Glasto Feeling

We're less than a week away and i know i won't be able to escape the Glastonbury coverage.

the live coverage, the rumours, the weather forecasts, all of it on my frequented websites, tv channels, radio stations and social networks. 

we're less than a week away and already i'm overwhelmingly missing that Glastonbury feeling. 

it's there in the warm weather and the ever-present threat of rain storms just around the corner. 

it's there in the lighter evenings and the prolonged enjoyment of alcohol in the company of friends. 

it's there in the smells wafting from food market stalls scattered on the streets and the bbqs in numerous gardens. 

it's there. any time a like minded group of people come together. 

it's there. in the traffic queues approaching Worthy Farm. in the trek from the car, laden with tents, backpacks and your chosen tipple. in The Park, or at the top of the field looking down towards the Pyramid Stage. 

it's everywhere. and yet sometimes it feels like it is nowhere to be found.

was it there when Brexit campaigning split the country? was it there when Donald Trump became President Elect? was it there throughout the UK's latest election?

is it here as this country picks up the pieces after the dreadful scenes played out at Grenfell Tower, as we scrutinise the cost cutting measures and safety failings, as we count the true cost, now that families and lives have been torn apart.

we're united in grief, but we're still divided - us and them.

i sometimes have to turn my back on the news.  too heartbreaking to bear or too real to comprehend.  

but sometimes news can be good news.  

sometimes bad news can result in good news.

and the recent, heartbreakingly sad, anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox being marked by a campaign of Great Get Togethers is a perfect antidote to bad news, turning a negative into a positive, using the power of human spirit to conquer grief and sadness.

as a population on our island, and as a shared human race, we are a very long way from 'getting together'.

but for one weekend, in a number of farmer's fields in Pilton, we are one.

Whether we are there slipping and sliding in the mud or enjoying (or missing) it from the comfort of our sofas, whether we are holding on to our well-earned position for the Pyramid Stage headliners against the will of our bladders, cherishing time with young families in the Kids Field or drinking ourselves into a cider-fuelled oblivion, whether we are asleep by midnight or up until sunrise in a far flung field losing our minds through legal or illegal means or simply through sleep deprivation.

I miss all of that.

I'm overwhelmingly missing that Glastonbury feeling yet again.

but it is comforting to know that in that microcosm of liberal and like minded society that will be congregating this weekend without me, whether they know it or not, these words of Jo Cox will be ringing true...

'We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us'

from the many, varied, dance tents, to the headliners, stage openers and weird and wonderful performers and revellers that make this one weekend as glorious and unique as the human spirit, never a truer sentence has ever been spoken...

and that is the Glastonbury feeling....