Monday, April 10, 2006

Flight cancellation

The Blue Aeroplanes are beginning to annoy me. Granted, I'm irked after only finding out they cancelled their Norwich Waterfront gig after I had shipped grandma halfway across the county for an evening's babysitting / deep sleeping, but you could argue the cancellation was because of poor advanced ticket sales, something which might have been avoided if we'd bought advanced tickets.

But I also failed to see them last month in a concert in that London because they'd sold out. What sort of band sells out some gigs and cancels others in the same tour? It makes no sense.

But that's not what really irks me about the Blue Aeroplanes. It all goes back to a calamitous gig in Scotland in the nineties. The exact venue has been lost in the mists of time - my wife thinks it was in Glasgow, but I remember it being Edinburgh's unpleasantly smelling Venue.

Anyway, on this particular night, the Aeroplanes' guitarist, substitute vocalist and Tim Henman-lookalike, Rodney Allen, decided to come out on stage as a blustering, monomanic football fan, telling us between every song about the love of his life, international business conglomerate Manchester United.

Now there is a time and place for hearing complete strangers witter on inanely about football, and that's why I go to Carrow Road. I go to Blue Aeroplanes gigs to hear Anti-pretty and Spitting Out Miracles and Broken and Mended. I want swooping guitars and caustic, sarcastic lyrics spat out from Gerard Langley's withering, pitying face. I don't want to be lectured about the world's premier glory-seeker magnet by some twat from Bradford-on-Avon. And he went on and on and on, all evening.

Rodney's display of overt English-wankerness was putting him in some danger of a kicking - and I think here lies the proof that this gig was in Edinburgh, not Glasgow, as behaviour like this in the West of Scotland is generally rewarded with multiple lacerations and an overnight stay in Stobhill Hospital - and to top it all, he came back on-stage after the gig and announced, utterly rat-arsed, he was going to entertain us with his stand-up comedy routine. He was then led off-stage by a sympathetic band member with the immortal line, "come on, Rodney, you plonker".

What was needed here was a spot of Mark E Smith style "don't let the doorknob ram you up the jacksy on the way out, Rodney" sacking from the Aeroplanes' poet-in-chief, Gerard Langley. Sadly it didn't happen and anyway the Blue Aeroplanes, who had been up there as my favourite band of all, were already well into a precipitous decline. Each album was substantially worse than its predecessor, until by Rough Music Langley was writing songs about going down the pub. But Sham 69 justifiably have that micro-market to themselves. And while CD Universe puts Rough Music as the Blue Aeroplanes' last album, it sadly wasn't. In 2000 there was Cavaliers and Roundheads, which was one-paced lo-fi muttering bulked out with witless maundering fretwank, useful only for clearing blockages in the middle ear.

And that seemed to be that for the Blue Aeroplanes, until this year's didn't-see-that-coming decision of EMI to sign them, release a new album and re-release Swagger, the album which first persuaded me I was in the presence of genius. It also, by appearing in the record collection of my new girlfriend, propelled me down the road to true love. In a world then stalked by hordes of Madonna, Sinitta and Wet Wet Wet fans, I took her good taste as a sign of cosmic compatibility.

At the time, it was commonly accepted that the pallid skin and lack of musculature found in most indie kids indicated underlying hormonal imbalances which surely made child-creation unlikely, but it turned out not to be the case. So we now have two children, one of whom at four years old listens obsessively to Elliott Smith and knows more Long Winters lyrics than I do, so we have to consider the possibility that indieness is an inherited trait. A few more generations and we could be a new species.

I could review the new album, Altitude, of course, but - guess what? - I was going to buy it at the gig they never turned up to. Since I can't review gig or album, I'm going to let you, the public, decide.

The Blue Aeroplanes gig was

a) like witnessing the birth of a strange, beautiful new species on an alien planet in a pulsating nebula
b) a humdrum stew of guitary sludge which was marginally better than the alternative, Coronation Street
c) Buttock-clenchingly embarrassing

The highlight of the evening was

a) Glittering arrangements of classic songs punctuated by intriguing glimpses of new ones
b) Nicking a plectrum when nobody was looking
c) Hurling up six pints of Broadside and a Chilli Doner Kebab in the Wensum

Wojtek Dmochowski danced like

a) Nureyev performing Swan Lake
b) Your Uncle Jimmy at a wedding reception in Chester-le-Street Working Men's Club
c) Bez

Whoever is responsible for booking Blue Aeroplanes venues doesn't know their arse from their

a) shoulder
b) wrist
c) elbow

Rodney Allen acted like

a) a twat
b) a twat
c) a twat


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