It’s something to do.
Two pots of tea and a pint of soda water, I was too early for a gig in Glasgow. Grateful for a moment of peace to be honest I could feel anxiety twitching my fingers as I looked round the room of the sparse early audience. My brain was telling me I needed something.
I was probably just jealous of the conversation. I held out pretty well but as I rushed for a cigarette to dull the silence I carried on past the folk I did know making their way down. Addiction had overrode that basic need for a familiar face.
When the music starts, everything is different. It’s easier to be alone in sound.
Mamatung, the support that night, are like something you’d stumble upon in an empty field. Like witches singing sweet songs of earth and the wild. ‘New ancient sounds’ was what I found scrawled on a train ticket in my pocket days later. They broke the silence and the awkwardness. We assumed our roles as audience and listeners. A proper warm up then.
She Drew the Gun, a four piece band from Liverpool and the headline act, have been described as somewhere between Patti Smith and Portishead. Which is probably the easiest way to describe them.
But with poetry between songs, pleas to protest and laments on love, She Drew the Gun add something else. The blunt direct action of the 1960s and the electronic inward reflection of the 90s are there, familiar. But there’s a bittersweet tone of the modern here too. In the face of elections and referendums that have torn families apart and cast others into prolonged uncertainty, when we are at war with everything and everyone, She Drew The Gun are a gentle encouragement and a reproach. Pay attention, speak up, do something.
‘Am I the only one who’s grieving?’ lead Louisa Roach asks in their sure to be single Poem.
And I was reminded of my friend who passed away when she told me mournfully that sometimes she felt like the only one who was still fighting for independence. The only who still cared.
The band had played with Colonel Mustard at Zandari Music Festival in Korea earlier in the month. I asked my friend what it’d been like playing a gig so far away.
He told me it had been weird but ultimately music is universal. Everybody is happy to dance and sing along if you get them on board.
It’s cliché he said. But so often clichés are clichés because they are real.
And maybe I was reaching but I thought, my friend would have liked this gig. So follow the signs I will.
I walked home from the west end murmuring their lyrics and taking in the night air and I didn’t care that I didn’t have a drink, didn’t care that I was on my own.
Because we never are. Someone on the other side of the country might be grieving too. Someone on the other side of the world is singing the same song you are right now.
It’ll be alright.
But boy, don’t drink two pots of tea and a pint of soda water when you’re at the front of a packed gig.
When I squeezed my way back from the toilet the woman next to me said
‘hope you don’t mind but I’m so annoyed you came back. Thought I’d scored a proper dancing spot.’
It’s all we really want after all. A gap to dance in.
Paar sucht Ihn in Freiburg You can listen to Mamtung here: https://soundcloud.com/mamatung