midwich live in newcastle 20-04-2002

March 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Posted in live music, midwich, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Although I took midwich ‘on the road’ a few times, I never really got the hang of playing live.  I enjoyed being able to put the whole set up in a shoulder bag but usually got sick with nerves and had to drink myself through it during the inevitable hours of hanging about.  My mc-303 got increasingly wonky too and an unreliable volume pot ruined at least one carefully planned performance by spinaltapping itself up to 11. But, but, but… when it worked out it was a blissful, beautiful, vindicating, experience.

One such gig was organised by Lee ‘Culver, Matching Head, Skullflower’ Stokoe at the Cumberland Arms in Newcastle.  Four acts were playing, all solo guys (make of that what you will), Lee, Lee’s mate Paddy, Julian Bradley and me.  See above for Lee’s amazing poster and flyers for the night (do click on ’em to see full-size jpgs.  Pdfs, if you prefer, can be found here and here).  After an eventful train journey, during which we’d been accosted by some old drunk for talking too loud and disturbing his kip, we made our way to the venue which turned out to be the upstairs room of a proper spit and sawdust local.  Well, it was upstairs from the front but on ground level at the back as the pub had apparently been shoved into the side of a hill.

The gig itself was comically poorly attended: I doubt there were a half dozen paying punters and, including ‘bands’ and partners the room rarely broke double figures.  I didn’t care though as there was something alchemical in the air and everyone, me included, played their socks off.  Paddy (‘The Obscenity’) did a great two minute set with a mouthful of toy mics screaming feedback until they broke.  Julian (billed as ‘A Companion as Glamorous as Sleeping on Wheels’ but appearing as ‘The Piss Superstition’) and Lee (‘Culver’) both created wholly involving and wholly unique worlds.  Both really distilled the essence of what they are about and it felt like a privilege to be one of the select elite hearing it.  Here is one of his handmade setlists/flyers that Julian prepared to give out to the audience:

I took advantage of the egolessness and good nature of everyone else to snatch the headline spot.  I cranked the volume and throbbed up a storm which, much to my delight, appeared to blow Lee’s mind.  His speechlessness at the end of my set was the best reaction I ever got from doing midwich live.

As amazing as the music was the fact that one of the punters was Simon from DDDD who drove all the way from Minstead (nr. Southampton!) that day just to see us play.  I’d not met him before and was delighted to do so.  Not only that but, as he was heading that way, he offered the Leeds contingent a lift home on his way back.  He was like, you know, that guy, driving in that film.  But without the amphetamines.  He wrote an excellent and very comprehensive account of it too, bookended by vital musings about the gig experience, which students of the no audience underground can read by bouncing on these four links.  It was a life affirming day.

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