Dead Men Left

Monday, February 28, 2005

Unexpected appearance in the Guardian justifying a breathless drift in Livejournal territory

I've not been to a gig that's made the national news before:

Anarchic rock band The Others performed a gig outside the Victoria and Albert in London last night in protest against the museum's decision to cancel a planned concert inside the building.

The Others, who won the John Peel prize for musical innovation at the recent NME Awards, had been invited to play as part of a V&A event called Agitate! Educate! Organise! But their appearance was cancelled because officials had safety concerns, fearing that too many fans would attend the free concert in a 300-seat lecture theatre.

This doesn't tell you about the other Other's gig that evening, round the corner from the V&A in the Polish Health Club, which turned out - after we'd followed a good-sized horde of drunken, spiky-haired sixth-formers on a tip-off from a dubious old man in trench-coat - to be less a "Polish bar", as promised, more a grandiose expat cultural centre in the Ferrero Rocher style, complete with stiff-backed well-heeled Poles sipping wine downstairs, grand sweeping balustrades and slightly muddy portraits of national heroes beside crossed swords and tastefully-arranged plant-pots.

The exhibition by Mark Wigan in the upstairs room, decanted from the V&A prior to the gig, a flickering succession of possibly meaningful pop-cultural references broadcast onto canvas sheets, failed, like the hideously expensive beer, to dampen the adolescent enthusiasm; my dapper attire was being treated as some kind of ironic joke by the horde, and I had to wearily agree with the sniffy assessment of a reluctant colleague that, yes, it was somewhat like a stage-school outing, too much eyeshadow and too much pocket-money, whilst other reluctant colleague, a Trotskyist from Belgrade, briefly overcame his distaste for both pan-Slavism and popular culture by slobbering at a winsome photographer - until the Others finally turned up, vindicating my hyperbolic claims of them being "quite good, actually" by being quite good, actually and revealing a previously unsuspected ironic tint to This Is For the Poor, until they had to stop due to complaints from the senior Polish politician eating upstairs, and the amps blowing. A cautionary note: never become lead-singer in rock band, you end up as an unwitting Pied Piper, forced to lead delirious 15 year-olds to the local park to drink cider and smoke dope, a trail of hurled plant-pots in their wake. Poor man; he looked stricken when I told him the park was shut. Good tunes, though.