Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Assistant! My Device! My Tour of Duty!

Assistant played our first gig in five months last night; long overdue but - from our point of view, at least - well worth the wait. It went really well. Debuting the new keyboard proved to be surprisingly straight-forward, and the Freebutt is, yes, a dark and dingy venue but also, conversely, a nice place to play. Making it most welcoming was a good turnout from the assistantees, including Victoria, Sam, Andrew, Sarah, Mark, Ruth, Dan, Natalia, Benedict, Poppy, Dave (who won the long-distance award) and several other people I either didn't recognise, recognised but didn't know, or recognised, knew, got on like a house on fire with and - today - have temporarily forgotten. Still, that's the kind of thing the comments boxes are here for, if there are more names due a thanks.

On first, we played six songs from about half eight onwards, although the set came in surprisingly close to a mere twenty minutes; once again when you play live it's hard rationing the tempo. Not a problem though. You Should Know opened the set, as is customary, and remains one of our best songs. Following that we had the triumverate of new songs, which we were finding a bit daunting in recent rehearsals. All three were near-perfect on the night however, I'm Shit sounding energetic and buoyant, Drinking With You rather harder and taut, and What It Means, sandwiched between the two, probably the most ambitious song we've attempted live; lots of stops, twists and turns, but it's my favourite now. You can download it on MP3 here (as indicated in this morning's message). The final two tracks are older numbers, but usually elicit the best responses of our set - Vine to Vine and Easy To Leave - and both went really well last night. If I was feeling confident (which I am) I'd tell you that neither me nor Pete will ever mess our guitar lines up on those two songs again. But perhaps I shoudn't tempt fate.

Much of the next half hour was spent standing outside (where it was still light!) scrutinising the video which Andrew BB (Bedsit Bomber, not Big Brother) had kindly filmed for us (and from which the MP3 derives), to the amusement of the guy on the door, who entertained us with stories of anti-Freebutt vendettas from the flats opposite, and who looked fairly non-plussed watching the footage.

Back inside I prepared myself to be unimpressed by My Device, and conceded defeat as their set spiralled upward as they went on; they were really excellent, like Guy Piciotto's Fugazi rather than Ian McKaye's - and interesting rhythms and vocals to boot. Andy got quite excited at one song which - he told me twice - apparently just went "aiaiaiaiaiaiiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiai". Or something like that. There are some demos to download from My Device's website, and they've got CDs to buy too. See them live, though - they're great. Highly recommended from someone who doesn't care if he never sees another 'rock' band again.

My Tour of Duty have a CD to promote too, and that's what the evening was about. I missed their first few tracks and wandered round ten minutes in, and was delighted by what I saw; like an even match between the off-beat pop of XTC and the pop-punk of the much maligned (but initially ace) Superchunk. Their songs are called things like 'Love is Torture' and they're fronted by a big, shaggy haired lovely great Andy Partridge; all hesitations, quiet smiles and funny ideas.

No comments: