Sunday, December 21, 2008

And now we’re gonna dance to a different song...

It has proved a busy week. On Wednesday I joined a group of curmudgeonly middle-aged types at Gloucester’s much-admired and pleasant Guildhall Arts Centre for a concert featuring punk legends, The Damned. To be frank, I enjoyed myself merrily. The band featured only Captain Sensible (who was supping Asda Smart Price lager all evening) and the remarkable Dave Vanian from the original line-up but I appreciated the pair’s showmanship, strength of character and élan. The set was a mixture of old favourites (Neat, Neat, Neat was blisteringly thrilling) and newer material that, controversially, I really valued for its harmonic and melodic qualities. I’m actually tempted to seek out the new Damned album, So Who’s Paranoid?; the long player has harvested rather decent reviews in the press and some of its songs sounded marvellous to these ears. As the gathered throng filed cheerfully out of the auditorium, the affable Sensible reappeared on stage and ebulliently crooned a splendid Happy Talk for a grateful collective, a wonderful conclusion to a fun night out.

I have been in London for a day or two. My word, high living in the capital leaves one wan and fatigued but ‘twas worth it; as ever, I dug my time there. On Friday, the elegant 30-something D and I attended a recital by one of my favoured beat combos, Stereolab, at Camden’s Koko venue. The earnest Anglo-French electronic pioneers created a fine sound and included a swaggering French Disko and dreamy Ping Pong in the set. I must be honest and suggest that the band did not move this punter as much as I had hoped. Many numbers seemed one-paced and a touch forgettable; it proved an engaging and enjoyable hour or so but not life-changing.

My epic journey home was punctuated yesterday by a trip to Reading in order to watch my favoured football (rugby union code) team, Gloucester, engage in battle with the London Irish outfit. The result was dire, a 42-12 reverse that it is impossible to draw any positives from. I sensed that the illness that is reported to have struck the Gloucester squad this week may have caused some of the moribund play that I witnessed but, bluntly, too many of the team are not Premiership quality. Watkins, Foster, Cooper and, surprisingly not for the first time in recent months, Wood looked well below par and I am relieved to read that The Sunday Times’ Stephen Jones shares my view that the youngster Ryan Lamb, an inconsistent chap in my opinion, is unable to control games of such magnitude as yesterday’s top of the table clash. The city club seems inadequately catered for at half back methinks. I’m prepared, and generously so, to write this capitulation off as merely a ‘bad day at the office’ but I shall be viewing forthcoming performances critically and hoping that the lads shape up and improve.

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