Who’dathunk that one small gig at the Old Blue Last would provoke such a rambling and disparate blog post? Went to Club Fleeing New York on Tuesday and experienced a series of moments of rage (FNY were, as usual, outstanding; at each gig they manage to pull one mesmerising song out of the bag that leaves me slack-jawed with wonderment).
First up, The Dash. Bless them; first on and playing to a room where the audience was flattened against the sides and still giving it their all. And then they went and spoiled it by announcing a song about ‘not wanting to be alone any more’ (called Alone No More, imaginatively).
OK. Pause. Take a breath. Why should this enrage me? Oh, only because it’s symptomatic of the whole ’50s outlook that you’ve somehow failed as a human being if you’re not in a relationship, that causes normally sane people to go out with absolute twats or stay in dead-end – or worse, destructive – relationships because it’s somehow seen as a better alternative than being single. The pervading belief that people are not individuals, but merely halves, waiting for an ‘other’ to be complete. If I want to hear this stereotype I can have a telephone conversation with my auntie; the fact I don’t have that many conversations with my auntie should illustrate how bored I’ve become with the whole thing.
People shouldn’t be allowed to form relationships unless they’ve demonstrated an ability to function as an independent being, happy in themselves without constantly whinging about being alone. This is what leads to co-dependency and clinginess, and lots of conversations between friends about how the recent ex was a total fucking psycho. A friend, who shall remain nameless, is currently given to frequent exclamations of ‘I can go to [insert name of gig/party/event] now because I’m single!’, which is a damning indictment if I ever heard one. Relationships should not be synonymous with a lack of freedom, yet I fear they are because of the overwhelming social pressure to conform and be part of a unit. ARGH.
Of course, it’s also possible that The Dash just wanted a regular supply of sex. It’s hard to say.
To be honest that was just a twinge of rage. The main outburst was reserved for a band who thankfully remained anonymous to us… yet announced themselves, within five seconds of taking to the stage, as being from Leeds.
Regular readers of the Studio may have figured out that your humble author is, by birth and upbringing, a Yorkshirewoman and not particularly pleased about it. Yet I’m from a county that has a bizarre pride in itself – they even have a Yorkshire Day for crying out loud. So whenever I hear someone declaiming themselves to be from Yorkshire as the first sodding thing from their Northern mouths, I experience a shudder of apprehension as to what will come next.
And yes, the band’s Leeds origins were dredged up innumerable times during the set. More often, clearly, than the name of the band – which might have been useful information for anyone who wasn’t sat at the back silently sharpening knives. The singer was also keen to share with us how he was drenched in "Yorkshire sweat". Yorkshire sweat? Was it half and half Tetley’s / woollen textiles? No? Then how was it any different to the sweat of anybody else in the room? There’s a certain brand of Yorkshire-person who feels that a declaration of Yorkshireness is an act of defiance, an accepted definition of specialness. On the most recent Who Do You Think You Are?, it turned out that Graham Norton’s family originated in Sheffield. The guy at the Sheffield archives said "you share genes with Michael Parkinson!" – as if that wasn’t an insult in itself… Do you hear people from Berkshire saying "Ooo, we share genes with Pam Ayres, you know"? People from Staffordshire banging on about how great Alton Towers is? So what is it with Yorkshire? Even the supposed-rivals from Lancashire don’t go as far.
And yet… I realise I bring it up far more often than I should. Only last week I was talking about the rhubarb triangle. Is it the fatal attraction to that which one hates? Have I actually been indoctrinated to harp on about Yorkshire at all times, despite not having lived there properly for over ten years? Does the appearance of someone so overtly attached to their home county remind me of my sublimated desires? Or do I just think anyone who honestly believes hailing from Leeds to be brag-worthy is a twat? I suspect the latter.
Thankfully My Luminaries gave me no pain; on the contrary, their penultimate song was quite spectacular. Their set list (the first time I’ve ever nabbed a set list, mind) reveals it to have been Order From the Chaos, handily on their MySpace. I have to mention this set list, by the way. It’s written on the back of what appears to be a crib sheet for someone about to interview, or a write-up of an interview with, a cognitive therapist who works in prisons, complete with hand-written notes.
"You mentioned earlier that the re-offending rate of ex-prisoners that you work with is substantially lower than the national average and significantly lower again than other forms of prisoner rehabilition such as Cognitive Skills Training, vocational training, prisoner rehabilitation etc. What do you think makes your programme so successful?"
Unfortunately it’s a middle page of an unknown number, so I have no idea what the exact form of therapy is, or exactly who’s being interviewed. It’s like eavesdropping on a snippet of conversation, a drop in someone else’s life. With dodgy spelling.
Oh – thanks to My Luminaries, I’m able to reveal the name of the Yorkshire-twatting band to be… The Officers. It’s even a shit name.