As we get older, and our time without commitments becomes less, we find that we have to pick and choose. No longer can you pop off to London on a gig whim. You have to plan, you have to make arrangements, you have to work out how late you can stay.
So yeah, I don’t get to as many gigs now as I did, maybe 5 years ago, 10 years ago. I had tickets for Idlewild a couple of months ago but I forgot to book any time off work and so couldn’t make it.
And I bought 3 tickets for Mew, but we forgot that I had one for Mrs M as well, so although I managed to get there, I had to dispose of the spare on twickets.
Who remembers the music channel on Sky called The Amp? In 2003, I sold my house down South, and was looking for a place back in Northampton. So, for a couple of months, I kipped on the spare bed at my sisters. I was probably still working shifts at that point, so was around during the day, and spent a fair old bit of time watching the music channels on Sky, specifically The Amp. And it was here where I first stumbled across Mew, and the video for “Am I Wry? No“. I was hooked from the start by the kinetic guitars, the falsetto vocals and the fact that is changed into a completely different song halfway through.
I’ve followed them keenly since then and have seen them live several times – somehow always at a different venue. They’ve always been brilliant, and although they’ve been away for 6 years, I know I’m not the only person who was hugely excited by their return to the fray this year.
I’ve been to the Roundhouse a couple of times. MBV gave us earplugs so that we didn’t wilt under the sonic assault. I can’t imagine how the MBV gig can have been louder than this one – we were about halfway back and it sounded furious. The new material sounds a bit poppy on release, but in amongst the live set it fits in seamlessly.
Every time I’ve seen them before, there has been movies accompanying the band. Animals playing violins, explosions in the sky. I’d come to take it for granted – I didn’t know that I’d see the band without the films. But I have now, and I’m glad they moved on. The stage set mirrors the lighting from the video for ‘Satellites’ – it’s stark but effective, and it means your attention is on the band and the music. As it should be.
The band are brilliant. Original bassist Johan is now back in the fold and everything sounds more crisp and ferocious. And the drumming – I’ve never really clocked how so much of the speed and aggression comes from the drumming but it was all there in that first track that I ever saw.
I said to Kev afterwards that I was glad they were only doing the one show in London, because I would drop everything to go and see them every night, even if they played the same set every night. They were that good. A day later, I’m still a little overwhelmed, and I find myself casually dropping into conversation that tickets are still available for dates in Denmark this November.
Sometimes, you just have to make the effort. And sometimes, it’s worth it, so many times over.