Monday, February 7

Today's word is "Québécois"

I am almost over-gigged, but not quite. Attending three musical recitals in the space of six days is a little much, but the alternative was staying in and doing some work, and figuring out where to put a line-break in a poem can be dreadfully taxing. Anyway, last night was Sunday night, and on a Sunday night a good thing to do is go see The Dears, a Canadian band The Independent on Sunday described charmingly as a "Québécois sextet", which is not only accurate but has a great word in it. Actually, the Independent’s review of the band’s London gig says pretty much all I have to say (that "orchestral pop noir romantique" is a good quote) except that at The Rescue Rooms my one reservation was that the quality of the songs got a little lost in the volume. But some people like very very loud. So do I, but I still think the quality of the songs got lost a little somewhere in the mix. The Dears have a couple of great keyboard players, by the way. And they don’t sound anything like The Smiths. On record they do, at times, but live you forget all about that, because they don’t.

We were pretty impressed, too, by Ambulance Ltd, the support. Mr Butler from work had copied me some songs off the infoweb, so we kind of knew them a little, and they were good. Not great or earth-shatteringly good, but good. They were way better than the support, whoever the hell they were, for American Music Club on Friday. Mr Belbin and I (along with lots of others) had fallen into the trap of being told by the venue that this was an early show, so we got there early, and it wasn’t. So we had the dubious pleasure of hanging around waiting for the support band. After two songs we were in the other bar, out the way. Bad songs badly sung by badly dressed people doesn’t do it for us. As for American Music Club, I admit I was there to be convinced. What I’d heard of them hadn’t made me a big fan, although a few solo things by Mark Eitzel had me pretty interested. As it happened, the solo-ish things he did on the night were much better than anything the band went at full throttle. We figured “under-rehearsed” was one adjective could be used. For me, though, I remain unconvinced by some of the songs, but I’m told they didn’t play their best songs….. Whatever.

The support on Tuesday night, at The Maze, was I think better than the main act. That was American singer-songwriter A.J. Roach, who was very likeable, but his Tennessee drawl kicked in with a somewhat exaggerated vengeance when he sang, and kind of got on my nerves after a while. I’m not always up for things on a Tuesday evening, I think, and can be hard to please. But the support was a young Welsh singer, Jack Harris. I say young, because he looked like he hasn’t started shaving yet. But he was jolly, and had a good voice, and a handful of good songs as far as one-man acoustic guitar, folk singing goes. It’s not the kind of thing I’d sit around listening to at home, but out on a Tuesday night it was okay.

This was, as it happens, the last night of The Maze at The Forest Tavern: the pub is now shut and boarded up, and the venue closed, and the owners of the building are planning to sell it to someone who wants to wipe it all away and build student accommodation. The gigs are moving to another venue in the city, but there’s a movement afoot to save the building – one reason is that Nottingham doesn’t need any more student accommodation, especially if to get it you obliterate an arts venue. You only have to walk around the corner and you start bumping into empty student digs with “To Let” signs up outside. There’s more in the local newspaper……

So anyway, three shows in six days, and the coming fortnight has a couple more, plus a book launch and a poetry reading to go to. Somewhere I have to fit in time to think about line-breaks, and eat and sleep. The last two shouldn’t be a problem, I guess.

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