this could be
here on earth
After a hard day shifting furniture, I was thinking lamb would be a nice gentle gig. Not likely!
Heading up to the Anson Rooms with my flatmate, I wasn't sure why I felt such a buzz of anticipation. My foolish companion was ticketless, having ignored my advice to get them the week before, but was coming along on the off-chance of buying one outside. Upon seeing the dozens of other people with the same idea, she gave up hope and we headed to the pub until lamb were due to play.
The pub is a tiny little place hidden in a back street, where I once met Nitin Sawhney and his band before a gig of his. A nice quiet pint or two. Overhearing the people at the next table, I give them directions to a little club they couldn't find. They don't happen to know where I could get a spare ticket, do they? Well, they do have two guest list places, which they're not sure if they'll use. Sadly they eventually decide not to give them to us, so we head off back to the show. Outside, people are getting desparate. Someone offers £100 for my £10 ticket. I refuse. To jeers from the people trying to buy my ticket, I head inside with my treasured ticket, sending my flatmate home to Tivo. *evil chuckle*
OK, I have been looking forward to this, but why so excited?
The soundcheck is complete, the roadies slip offstage, and the lights drop, leaving us with visuals and a single light on the mixing desk. Skunk hangs heavily in the air. Somewhat idiosyncratically, Fun Lovin' Criminals plays over the PA.
Finally, we welcome Andy Barlow onstage, followed by two of the guys from the pub earlier. They are the band, of course. Then Louise Rhodes arrives, resplendent in a black ballgown.
What is that sound
Ringing in my ear
They launch into the title track from What Sound, and it shimmers. I have to get closer to the front. The set is a delicious mix of work from all three of their albums. Andy's stage presence is startling. For someone who is supposed to be the one who lurks at the back behind the mixing desk this is unusual. He runs to the front of the stage, working the crowd. Dances on the speakers. Even crowd-surfs at one point. The crowd is loving this. Andy introduces Small as "lamb do silly".
sometimes I climb high above the city
to see all the lights shining: they're so pretty
OK, silly rhyming couplets, but a beautiful track nonetheless.
Andy asks everyone to turn around and waggle their fingers in the air, then feel all the love in the room. The crowd is now going wild. "Now we've got a track you might know that's gone down quite well. Let's see what you make of it. It's called Fly". From their second album, Fly is a great track, but what they are now doing with it is something else. Mixing in hard drum and bass beats with lavish production.
angels come and take me
on silver wings
carry me up
to the sky
The crowd is moshing like crazy, hands in the air. This is supposedly a laid-back moody trip hop band, remember. We are in ecstacy. And after taking us to heaven, they are gone. Of course we demand an encore. Eventually they return. "Do you want to get sleazy, Bristol?" Lou enquires. She starts into a slow, dirty, lush rendition of Gold. She flirts with the crowd, with the microphone, prickling with sexuality. Andy dips the backing, "Is Louise gorgeous or what?" he asks. Louise smiles coyly and the crowd goes mad.
stay with me forever and a day if i could be near you
for a lifetime i'd never want for anything
hearing your voice is like icicles down my spine
and touching your warm skin
starts electric storms
through my mind
Half the crowd seems to want to have her babies, and the rest want Andy's. She only gave birth a few months ago, but manages to look stunning.
Then, what we've been waiting for: Gorecki. For those of you who haven't heard this track, Andy Barlow's explanation as to why he didn't want anyone to remix it probably sums it up best: "because it's perfect". The moment when the beat kicks in is my favourite moment in any track, ever, and I felt tears welling up as they played it.
if i should die this very moment
i wouldn't fear
for i've never known completeness
like being here
wrapped in the warmth of you
loving every breath of you
still my heart this moment
or it might burst
This is perfection. The guy standing next to me says, face beaming, dripping with sweat, "it doesn't get any better than this". No it doesn't.
wanna stay right here
'til the end of time, 'til the earth stops turning
gonna love you 'til the seas run dry
i've found the one i've waited for
the one i've waited for
After another encore for the sublime cotton wool, a dazed and grinning crowd staggers out into the wet autumn night, talking in little groups, aware they've just experienced something very special.