Ah, the second day. So, once you’ve shaken off the fact that now the reggae tent is up and running you can say unequivably that you most camped too close to it. And, last night is calling on you so much that you have to wonder why with there being very obviously more people here this year there happens to be only about have the toilets? (Or, more importantly, just what are the houses of the folk that were in there before you like?) It’s time to get out there and get doing stuff. No matter how dreadful you feel (must’ve been a bad pint).
Luckily The Low Miffs are on my list of bands I feel I have to catch. The previous gig of theirs I attended was at the ABC2, and – being first on the bill – they were on stage when most people were still queuing to get searched downstairs. But, what I saw had them singled out as a must-see this Wickerman. And, I’m bloody glad I did. I may have picked up on the band’s Walker-esque cabaret edge, all touched with the charisma of mid-period Pulp. But, I was in no way ready for the full-on assault of the complete live experience. Leo Condie’s slightly frightening front man (who seems to at turns be channelling Alex Harvey and Billy Mackenzie) is triumphantly underpinned by the insane jaggy cabaret of the band. The lounge band in the ante-room the Inferno. Snaking up on you seductively before trying to bring all reality down around you. Brilliant showmanship, briliant music. What a glorious way to wake up.
I’ll be first to admit that I’ve never really ‘got’ How To Swim. They are one of these bands that seem to always be stuck in a bill between the bands I’m looking to catch. I’d had them down as a second rate rock band that thought it would be ‘cool’ to surround themselves with loads of disparate instruments, preferably paid by women, but who’d never reconciled those two parts. I’m more than willing to now accept that I may well have caught the only gigs by them that were duff/off. Finally it all makes perfect sense. How could I not have seen this before? They trip from genre to genre (did I catch some calypso in there?) seamlessly – but more importantly not pointlessly. They play Bones (a track I’ve always been particularly irritated by) and it seems to have morphed into a monumental sea shanty of a groove. “All aboard the good ship Clinton”, indeed. There’s no way to summarise what’s been going on, other than I want to see it all again.
There is a rule at the moment that you can’t talk about Stornoway’s Our Lunar Activities without mentioning Stornoway or Charlie Clark’s previous band Astrid. So, now I’ve got that out the way, we can talk about this lot. OLA are the kind of band that people use the terms “tight” and “professional” about as if they’re compliments. Unfortunately, their Placebo-lite (and, you really have to seriously think about it before condemning other humans with words like that) doesn’t even pack the “hooks” to go with the previous two platitudes. Were they bored kids from the island making forays with their first band, you’d maybe make allowances for them. They’d still be awful, but you might make allowances. But, with such an experienced hand on board you’d expect some more. Mind you, Astrid weren’t any good either.
Dominik Diamond gets a lot of stick. Often, unfairly IMO. And, it’d be really easy to crucify him over his band The A.M’s. OK, heavily convoluted pun and not that great a joke. Kinda like this band, only they’re without the convolution. At their best, there’s something of the early Weddoes b-side in the band’s sound. The drummer does a real good line in garage-stomp. But, I’m sure in Mr Diamond’s mind he’s pulling off some great Scots Half Man Half Biscuit-style philosophy. It really isn’t.
As I’ve shown above I could very well be wrong (and very often am). In fact judging by the crowd tonight I’m well in the minority. There’s a right old knees-up going on and everyone’s having a laugh. But, you get that with The Wurzels and you wouldn’t cross the road to see them, would you?
Black Affair are completely anachronistic. What we basically have here is a synth duo (try cracking a smile guys, then you’ll stop looking like some laddish Pet Shop Boys) playing blissed-out grooves owing a lot to early nineties Manchester. Actually, more than a lot, pretty much everything. Unfortunately, they just come across as owning too many records by The Beloved. Yet, thankfully, it’s not that simple. Every time I begin to reckon I’ve had enough and should go in search of something new, they keep bringing it up to some sort of banging crescendo to keep your attention. When the singers monotone mumbling (not to mention his loadsamoney ned-chic act) begins to get on your wick they unleash a chorus that you find yourself trying to place two days later. Or, they lock into a groove that you find yourself tapping a toe to quite the thing. Which is, perhaps, the point. Not every band needs to change your life. And, then I leave the Solus tent and The Orb are on the main stage. At which point it all becomes clear; this is 1992…