❥ I am now in NW Spain to get better at Spanish and breaking my selfie ban. The skirt cost five euros on sale at Zara which – aside from surviving absinthe – is my biggest achievement of the year so far.
Here’s the first bit of graffiti I found in Spain, on the back of the toilet door in the bus station. After no sleep for a full twenty four hours it seemed intensely poetic. “We’re the Eiffel Tower lit up on the 14th of February”. Oh, it was a little piece of Paris, I thought, as I finally got to have a wee after my near three-hour coach journey. Alas, it turned out to be a lyric from a song by some sub-Jonas Brothers Spanish boyband called Melocos (and here I was thinking it was a 17th century poet). Will be interesting to see what other musical offerings I can find out here, preferably not scrawled in the bog.
Anyhow, here’s what I did in the latter part of 2013 whilst living in Montmartre/Pigalle and finding out about life under various guises (student, journo, translator , professional hide and seek champion, actual twenty-one year old human being etc).
❥ Rock En Seine Festival. SEEN TRENT REZNOR LIVE ☑
Phoenix were amazing, although on home turf in France I suppose the crazy reaction was no surprise. They are France’s great indie hope and Bankrupt was amongst the best releases of the year. Likewise Laura Mvula, although she didn’t draw a large crowd 😦
❥ Bought my fave albums of the year (Shulamith by Poliça and Kurt Vile’s Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze) from a great record store called Balades Sonores in Paris’ 9th arrondissement – will 2014 be the year I properly get into vinyl?! Started shopping in a little vintage store with great music which made me appreciate the Stones more.
❥ Gained an obsession with bullet points and Boursin, and went to Disneyland where I realised that the golden age of Disney is definitely over.
❥ Jake Bugg at L’Olympia, Paris, 21/11/13
I walk past an Elton John poster on our way into the Olympia. Now there’s an artist you can rely on to still be standing! (shitty pun very much intended) As for Jake Bugg…in ten years time will he just morph into a morose version of Frank Turner? Or will he age backwards, headlining Glastonbury 2024 as a five year old child? Whilst I jest, so much of THE BUGG FACTOR comes from his age (19). Weirdly, the French promoters have decided to almost fetishise this – three days after the release of his second album they’ve billed him as a “British Justin Bieber”, which as well as being hilariously inaccurate is quite offensive to pauvre Jake who is rather established in his own right. Once he starts playing, however, his age just isn’t relevant. A few things get a little loss with a French crowd, notably new track “Two Fingers”, which historically wasn’t really the Gaellic insult of choice. The crowd here flick their peace signs at Jake like wannabe harijuku girls in accidentally benign fashion.
Shangri La, that aforementioned second album, means lots of new material, with lead single “Lightening Bolt” getting a great reaction. Ultimately though it’s tracks from his debut album like “I Can Taste It” that get the best reception. Has he already peaked? Unlikely, but if he wants to hang onto fans the media and PR machine which surrounds him should start focusing on his pitch-perfect voice and quality songwriting, not the fact that he would definitely get ID-ed buying vodka at Sainsbury’s.
❥ Suede at La Cigale, Paris, 11/11/13 (part of Les Inrockuptibles Fest).
Ever drunk slightly warm Heineken in a room full of people double your age? When the room in question is La Cigale and Paris-loving Britpop pioneers Suede are playing and the cups have Debbie Harry’s face on them it’s quite enjoyable. Temples are support, not that their Seventies-inspired look/sound is given much attention. (Toy, moody band du jour and recently hyped on BBC 6 music by Brett Anderson himself, would have possibly been a better choice).
Suede kick off with Still Life from Dog Star Man – it’s weird hearing it without the strings but poignant nonetheless. Next up are two tracks from 2013 ‘comeback’ Bloodsports: Barriers and It Starts and Ends with You. Still unmistakably Suede, but nicely matured like good cheese or wine or Brett himself, who has the same magnetic quality but a little more wisened. Trash, from my favourite Suede album – Coming Up – is riotous as ever, the crowd joining a sweaty Bretty for anthemic chanting on the chorus. Animal Nitrate is next. This song encapsulates Suede – the band, the brand – at that crucial moment where everything grew from in 1993. It’s as dark and ambiguous as it must have been at time (I’m not too sure however, being in the new wave of Suede fans and having been born in 1992).
They dash from the old – We Are The Pigs – straight back to the new, but nothing ever feels jarring or outdated. The Drowners – one of my favourite Suede songs from their debut feels so powerful and hopeless, with Brett ensconced by fans in a rather surreal scene (see below) yet also detached from everything around him.
Back to the future for more Bloodsports before a few classics that no quality Suede set would be without: So Young and Beautiful Ones. The latter is my all-time Suede fave track and singing along, wildly off key, was the highlight of the night. A little encore ending in acoustic mode rounds off an amazing set from a band who somehow are both effortlessly nostalgic and always, erm, In Fashion.