Partner 1“ Lets set up a series of gigs? Where shall we put them on? How about a patch of waste ground outside Bristol?
Partner 2 “Sounds good don’t we need planning permission?
Partner 3 “Nah it’ll be fine, think how much money we’ll make.
Partner 1 “We didn’t get planning, what are we going to do? All venues are booked with their own events, and we’ve got all these punters money in our bank account building up interest?
Partner 2 I have it!!!! Bristol City Stadium have a concourse/ exhibition space, let’s book that? It says it can hold up to 3000 we pack the punters in like sardines there won’t be a view for the guys at the back, but it’ll be fine – sorted”.
Partner 3 But won’t sound be poor, it is under a metal construction, the sound will bounce?
Partner 2 Punter’s are not experts, they won’t care!! We’ve only got the pub P.A. from Charlie anyway (names have been changed) It’s all about them getting to see the band Innit!!! Stop whining and get on the phone before we have to put it on in the backroom of a pub.
N.B. (Remember guys sarcasm is the lowest form of wit)
You can just picture the scene can’t you, well Imagine how I felt arriving at my worse nightmare, a long narrow corridor under the main stand at Ashton Gate Stage at one end literally 18 “ high, Huge mixing desk halfway back, pillars either side, leaving a corridor approximately 50ft long and 20 feet wide where you might get a sniff of seeing the band, so I would say about a third of the audience got to see the band, or at least a band member (If they were over 6ft).
I suppose the good thing about it, I got there early so positioned myself about 3 rows back from the stage dead-center so at least if the sound was poor I could see the band (and that’s where I stayed).
I have to say none of this is either of tonight’s band’s fault, the blame lies entirely with the promotions company that put it on so enough of my rant first up was:-
Field music, now I’ve wanted to see these guys for quite a while and while the sound was indeed painfully poor, the band put on a really good show, at times reminiscent of Talking Heads, at times leaning towards solo Peter Gabriel at times hinting at a much darker underbelly. But no matter how hard they tried the little nuances and ideas that light up their LP’s was lost in a mire of pub quality sound, not the bands fault and I for one will look to catch them again, but in a real music venue, with a proper sound system, preferably in a headline slot.
So we’re on to the Main Event, and believe it or not this isn’t the first time I’ve caught The The live the last time was in Newport Centre way back in the day with a certain Johnny Marr on guitar, replaced tonight by Barry Cadogan (last time I saw Barry was with Primal Scream), both are consummate Guitar Slingers of the highest order, but sound wise tonight you couldn’t even pick out when Barry changed guitar. I would have loved tonight for the sound to be as good as the band performance, but it was never going to be, so tuning out the distortion/bounce and poor quality became my mission and my focus became the band stagecraft and professionalism in the face of adversity. Matt Johnson brought up the chaos around the venue, tried to pacify and even asked how the sound was (Matt it was shocking).
Lyrically tracks like Heartland really sent a message of the time as did Armageddon days and the Beaten Generation, but sadly or prophetically their message has become even more relevant today, with Trump in Power across the water, the far right rising within the echelons of power throughout Europe, Brexit on the Horizon and Boris Johnson sat politically as a prime minister in waiting as soon as May and her minions write away Britain’s hopes of a future.
Stand out tracks tonight? “Infected”, newbie “We can’t stop what’s coming”, “Dogs of Lust”, the three aforementioned and set closer “I’ve been waiting for tomorrow (all my life)”.
As a band to a man the musicianship on show was superb, the choice of set impeccable, but and it’s a huge but, the power and intensity that the music deserved was sadly lost in appalling less than pub quality sound, nothing to do with the band or sound engineers, but all to do with putting on a band in somewhere that can’t in any way shape or form be classed as a music venue.
As a footnote, I actually complained to the promoters, the response I got? Nil, Nada, Nothing, so do you know what FUCK YOU TOO!!!!