Three Concerts in a Week

And they couldn’t have been more different. Last Thursday I had the privilege of seeing mclusky* at The Garage in Islington. I’ve been a big fan of theirs since uni, and because they broke up in early 2005 (before I’d ever considered coming to the UK), I figured I’d never get to see them. I bought tickets the minute I got the Songkick alert. The band has only performed once since then with a revised line-up, so there was a great atmosphere at the sold-out venue.

The audience was mostly male 30-somethings (like me), and we stood as close to the front as we could push. Nobody seemed to mind as everyone around us was singing as loudly and as deliriously happily as we were. Despite the often aggressive volume and content of the songs, people were very friendly, and stopped joyously smashing into each other to help when one man dropped his glasses, or another dropped to the floor drunk.

Mclusky played a fantastic, frenetic set, every bit as good as the sound of their albums from early last decade, and I knew almost all the words in the whole nonstop nineteen song set. The irreverent, acerbic wit of their lyrics is sometimes reminiscent of an extremely uninhibited, slightly less mature Elvis Costello, as in one of my favourites, “Day of the Deadringers”:

In the midst of all the touching and the kissing we forgot the penetration
If I had to drive you somewhere then I’d drive you to the station
If I had to give you something then I think I’d give you nothing
If I had to give you something then I think I’d go to hell

Lead singer Falco’s wit didn’t stop at the lyrics, though, and he laconically laid into the audience between songs. “Even the Americans will know this one” said Falco before playing their biggest hit, the opening tune to their incredible Mclusky Do Dallas (2002), “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues”. To be honest I could fill a page with their hilarious, surreal lyrics, so you’re better off checking them out if you don’t know them (“Gareth Brown Says”).

Last night I saw Duran Duran (and, unexpectedly, Seal) at the O2 arena. They played a long set which included several songs from Rio (1982) which I know best (“Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”). Predictably they played even more from Paper Gods (2015), but also some that I’d half forgotten were theirs from the 1993 self-titled album (“Ordinary World”, “Come Undone”). It was an exciting show with a great sound, less deafening than the Garage, pyrotechnics, dancers, effects, the works. Le Bon, whatever you may think of him, had the energy and sound of a man half his age. Mr Hudson and Lindsay Lohan made unexpected onstage appearances as two of the many guests on the new album. The most moving part, however, was definitely the encore, “Save a Prayer”, which they dedicated to the victims of the Paris attacks, since Eagles of Death Metal covered the song and had intended to play it at the concert at the Bataclan. It seems smartphone LED torches have replaced lighters for this type of vigil, but the sentiment remains the same. Overall, it was a great experience, an 80s arena gig done right.

Today at St Botolph without Aldgate I saw Nadine Galea (violin) with Hamish Brown (piano) perform Ravel’s Sonata No 2 in G, Boulanger’s Nocturne, and Danse espagnole which Fritz Kreisler arranged from the Falla opera La vida breve. I know virtually nothing about classical music, but it was a beautiful respite from lunchtime in the City. The Ravel seemed extremely challenging and avant-garde, the Boulanger beautiful, and the Falla exhilarating. A felicitous finish to a euphonious week.

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