Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Talking Cock / Joy Is My Middle Name

I love Edinburgh preview season. I don't go to The Fringe, well I haven't yet, and for some reason really enjoy seeing shows being constructed. There's also an added bonus of seeing comics when they don't know their material that well, which makes for quite an exciting evening. The idea that things can go anywhere is quite appealing to me. As one comedian on Twitter said yesterday when he was promoting his preview, it's for people who prefer to lick the spoon than eat the cake.

Off I went to The Camden Head (in Camden, not Angel - it's always important to check which one it is*) and met up with my mate Andrew. He was just here for a drink, but we ordered fish finger sandwiches. I tweeted this fact, and The Phoenix had a bit of a hissy fit and chastised me. It's nice when pubs get jealous of each other. Anyway, after a couple of drinks Andrew soon abandoned me and headed home.

Catie Wilkins was on first. I had seen her and Richard Herring do these previews a week ago at Michael Legge's Private Hell, and things have come on in leaps and bounds since then. At that show, there didn't seem to be a lot of new material, but plenty of ideas, but by now she is heading towards a complete show, although one of her routines that she was reading ended with her saying "It just says 'write joke' here".

Catie's show this year is called "Joy Is My Middle Name", because, well, it is. She was much more confident in her material this time, although her nerves still show. However, I've always thought this endears her to most audiences. There was a little muddle when she tried to work out how to hold the mic and show us her rather large cards, which I imagine will be turned into slides, until audience member Alex heroically offered his services as an assistant.

The show focuses a lot on feminism (stop groaning!) and has a couple of ranting moments. All in all, like her last show it's quite sweet, quite rude, and very funny and I'm glad her AIDS joke has made a return, and I hope it stays in the final show.

This was the 3rd tie in a week and a half that I've seen Richard's preview of "Talking Cock - The Second Coming". Like "Christ On A Bike" a couple of years ago, it's a reworking of an old show from 10 years ago. He thinks it was a shame not many people saw it first time around, and is proud of it, and this gives him a chance to finally get it out on DVD. So he has a head start, although as the gigs progress, various new bits are being added.

*Remember my advice earlier about checking which Camden Head to go to? Well unfortunately Richard didn't heed it, and had arrived at the wrong one...

The show is based around an anonymous questionnaire all about people's attitude to penises. Gents, you can find yours here, and ladies, have a look here. This show is startlingly rude (as you would expect) and the looks the lady sitting near me on the front row was giving was a picture!

Richard discusses why people are ashamed of their penis, and why it is an object of laughter. Why is it not held in a higher regard? Through the show we learn where guys have put theirs for fun, we learn that even people filling in anonymous surveys probably lie about their cock size, and we hear tales about what happens when you snap your "banjo string". We also think about our dad's spunking cocks quite a lot.

At the end, as an audience, we are asked to declare our love for our cocks. Ladies have to declare their love for our cocks, and gay men have to declare our love for our cocks - and your cocks. And for the third time in a row I was the only one!

Afterwards I had a brief chat with Rich and Catie and as promised to Neale, got him a programme, as Richard has a surfeit of them from 10 years ago. And of course, Richard drew a cock on it.

I slightly let myself down at the end by attempting to briefly flirt with Catie's rather hot brother as I was saying goodbye, but I think it may have come across a possible prelude to something terribly sinister. Sigh, I'll work out how to do it properly one day.

Right, I'm off to the shops. I have made a list.

1. Toilet roll
2. Jelly
3. A spoon

Saturday, 9 June 2012

My Penis Is Like A Thermometer

I saw Richard Herring's "Talking Cock" preview for the second time a few days ago round the corner from me in Angel. I'm not going to go into the show here, but may do a write up next week as I'm seeing Rich yet again, along with Catie Wilkins in Camden.

We all received programmes from the first time this show was performed in 2002 which must have been cluttering up his flat for some time, adding tension and peril to the Me1 vs Me2 snooker podcast.

Anyway, I came across this gem of a poem by Stewart Lee, and thought I should share it with you before it gets lost for all time.

(One of the other penis-based poems in the programme is called "Mr Spock" and was written by the actor Kevin Eldon. It simply says:

"Mr Spock
Do you have a cock?"

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Bob Mould plays Copper Blue

It's been 20 years since this perfect album was released. Bands such as Husker Du and The Pixies had made a small but significant impact on American music before Nirvana had conquered the world and soon, the ex-Husker Du front man was back, fronting the 3 piece Sugar. Copper Blue was a mixture of thundering guitars and beautiful melodies and Sugar were big news. What the hell, if you have Spotify, listen to it here.

I first heard about them when my work mate Simon gave me a C-90 mix tape containing the likes of Jesus Lizard, Janitor Joe, Mudhoney and many other experimental rock bands and my whole music outlook changed from liking just Numan, Nirvana and metal, and opened me up to the US punk and alternative scene.

I saw Sugar back in '93 at Brixton Academy, and it was probably the loudest gig I've ever been to. Perhaps Motorhead were louder, but it was a close call. One of the highlights of that was the journey to the gig and meeting Greg Norton, the bass player from Husker Du, and pestering him to sign my Sugar ticket.

Cheers to Paul Bailey for this photo
I was at that gig with Mike, the bass player in my band at the time, and it was Mike who came with me tonight. We met up in the pub next door and realised how old we now are when we spent the first few minutes pacing round the pub looking for a nice seat.

We arrived at the gig in time to see the last few songs by The Cloud Nothings. They were pretty good, but I didn't find them particularly memorable. We were based to the right of the stage and after a little Twitter exchange found out that Christian Reilly (from Richard Herring's As It Occurs To Me) was towards the front too but it was too packed to go and say hi. Instead I managed an improvised "YMCA" style AIOTM greeting which he duly returned. This was possibly the oddest and most obscure greeting I've ever made and poor Christian had to explain to his friends what the hell was going on! 

In fact, this is another excuse to link to Christian's excellent Lembit Opik / Lady Gaga parody, "Wonky Face"

Bob was soon on, and bulldozed through Copper Blue. "The Act We Act" is a great opener both to the album and the show, but the highlight for me was his rendition of "The Slim" which I have always thought is the greatest thing to hear live. The album version just doesn't do it justice. Bob's painful screams about the death of a friend from AIDS put a tear in Mike's eye, and it was an emotional part of the show for a lot of people.

The album finished, and Bob announced, "That was the past. This is the future" and gave us 3 or 4 songs from his upcoming album. It was a relief for me that they were great songs. Like most artists who have been around a long time and experimented and taken risks, for example, David Bowie,  Bob's had his fair share of albums of varying quality over the years, but the new guitar and rock based stuff sounds like he's got another great one coming up.

After the new stuff it was back to some old favourites and from the Husker Du back catalogue we got the likes of "I Apologise", "Chartered Trips" (which he often plays, but has never been a favourite of mine), "Celebrated Summer" and "Makes No Sense At All". Mike and I were tempted to shout out or old Husker Du tracks, but only request Grant Hart songs to be a little naughty, but the combination of volume and our own cowardice stopped us.

"Helpless" - Bob Mould 01/06/12 live at the Shepherd's Bush Empire

Mike was hoping for a guest appearance by Dave Grohl, but it wasn't to be. (Younger readers will be more likely to know Bob for his vocals and guitar on "Dear Rosemary" and occasional live guest appearances for The Foo Fighters.

The anticipation of this gig was exciting, but unlike a lot of events, the reality lived up to it. The night ended with a surprise for me. I was at the bar waiting for Mike before we left, and a stranger tapped my shoulder. 

"It's Nick Holland"

Fuck! I haven't seen Nick since even before Copper Blue was released. He was the singer/guitarist in thrash band "Killing Faith" who I used to go and see regularly round the pubs of Surrey as well as being their "official" bootlegger, and this was the first band I saw that made me realise that I could form a band myself.  Big coincidence and a nice end to the evening.

Just to finish off, it was Bob Mould who made me realise the power of Twitter back in 2009. I had forgotten to buy a ticket for his sold out solo show at the Islington O2 and I tweeted despondently about it. I got a reply from a stranger saying he would leave his spare ticket on the door, so I hared down to the venue and found out that he wasn't winding me up and I managed to catch half of Bob's set. I had promised to tweet him and buy him a beer, but I couldn't track him down. So if you're reading this sir, thank you so much!