8th August

adminDiary

It’s 115 degrees in the shade and my once (very) cool English exterior is dissolving in the afternoon Coney Island heat. Sadly, the fact that I’m paler than the new improved Dulux ‘Brilliant White’ has failed to reflect the devil sun and send it back to the dimension of Hell it came from.

After seeing Countess Marlboro fill her mouth with fire and Lady Daggers eat a sword for lunch, I’m now passing the Shoot The Freak sideshow, in which, as the name suggests, we’re invited to take a shot at what looks like a very ordinary New Yorker.

Stratton Strawless, I forgive you.

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After months of remarkable Fridays and wholly unexpected moves, the time seemed right to add some more execrable nonsense to this deservedly neglected page.

So, where to begin (or not)?

The ‘Mine A Million’ Saturdays and ‘Song Of The Surf’ Sundays with Mayor Megabonce of Cromer (henceforth known as The Curator)?

The late night in late March wandering around The Mighty Boosh after show party with Baron Bennett, and the cream of contemporary Brit Com talent?

The genuinely moving experience of performing no-man songs for the first time in Italy?

Seemingly floating on air during a beautiful Lower East Side late Spring evening?

Finally reuniting on stage with Mr Wilson after a 12 year gap and managing to avoid disaster?

Indefinitely leaving the safety, friends and creative community of Norfolk for the meaner than mean streets of Cockroach Central, New York City?

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The Italian dates with Nosound proved a rewarding and enjoyable experience, with the first live performances of Things Change (a full thirteen years after it was written) being my personal highlight.

The Rome headline went better than expected, with a full house of enthusiastic fans in attendance and a strong performance from the band. A couple of days later, the Tony Levin support, in a beautiful converted church in Umbria, was more muted and stately. Barring the incredible psychopathic rudeness of Tony’s Italian promoter, it was also equally enjoyable. The friendly and superbly named Larry Fast provided some insights into his time with Peter Gabriel, and Jerry Marrotta understandably fell madly in love with Nosound’s drummer extraordinaire, Gigi.

An atmospheric new track completed together in the studio in Rome means that my collaboration with Nosound on their new album is likely to be more than just a minor one.

Genuinely decent and talented people, they made my time in Italy a pleasure.

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It’s five minutes to doors opening and the broken-footed SW asks the broken-ribbed T-Bo if they should play a no-man song. A broken non-version of Day’s In The Trees leaves them feeling a little despondent.

Moments later, I suggested that Steven join the T-Bo Band on a couple of no-man songs that, in true Blue Peter style, we’d prepared earlier.

10 seconds of establishing that it could work and Andy Butler was on stage kicking off the latest Burning Shed extravaganza in fine style (a week earlier, Andy, The Curator and myself performed a potent improvised support set for the Durutti Column).

Leading into intimate Bowness/Chilvers piano/voice renditions of California, Norfolk material, the next 45 minutes included everything from a full T-Bo Band set to the debut Nosound UK performance. The versions of Days Turn Into Years (with an excellent extended fade out) and Make Me Forget were as good as any we’d done, and over a year and a half after our last date, it was good to see that the band had lost none of the spirit it previously had.

After the break, Fear Falls Burning and SW created a mighty vintage guitar drone, which eventually segued into a strong solo SW set (which pitched the man Wilson as a more melodic, sophisticated Rock, equivalent to the early ‘one man and his guitar’ Billy Bragg).

And then, the impromptu no-man reunion for real. Wonderful, slightly tentative, versions of Watching Over Me and Together We’re Stranger followed. The Bearpark/Wilson interplay on WOM worked well and the vocal loop fade on TWS sparked some powerful collective improv.

The response was warm and enthusiastic and the experience emotional.

With nothing prepared, we returned for an encore of Things I Want To Tell You (decided on as we walked back onto the stage). Despite no rehearsal, this went unusually well and was perhaps the highlight of the evening.

The fact is that it ‘felt’ like no-man. To me, there was a quality of emotional commitment that transcended both of the preceding SW and T-Bo sets. For my part, I performed with a greater level of self-confidence and a lesser sense of self-consciousness than before.

As much as I enjoyed my previous set, the no-man section was about complete immersion in the music and the moment, with everyone contributing inspired performances.

The after show reactions were superb and there’s a sense that a no-man tour (the first since 1993) is now a realistic possibility.

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July and August found me avoiding sunlight and chasing shadows in Gotham.

Where for art thou, East Runton?

Watching:

A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Me And You And Everyone We Know (2004)
Neil Simon’s The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Syriana (2005)
The Ninth Configuration (1980)

Listening:

Pearson Constantino – Sadness/Going (2006) (www.myspace.com/pearsonconstantino)
It’s Immaterial – Song (1990)
Steve Reich – Four Organs (1970)

Reading:

The Lonely Planet Guide To New York City (2004)