17 Feb 2017

Bands Seen More Than Once

This relates to something pleasingly odd which happened last week, but bear with me for the moment.

Right - Ikara Colt in Preston, 2004

Like you and most people, I've seen some music acts more than once. I don't go to concerts so much now. Gigs. But I'd never rule out further outings. The melancholy truth is that it's less a matter of age, than that most acts have a short shelf life. At least two acts I saw quite a bit of were very open about it, saying things like, 'People shouldn't be playing rock music after 30' (That, frankly, is nonsense) or 'Five years and that's it'. I did a list some time ago on my old website, and this is how it totted up, by the end of the 2000s, with a few extras achieved since.

  • Ikara Colt      9 times, 2003-2004
  • The Raveonettes      5 times, 2003-2007
  • Sahara Hotnights      4 times, 2003
  • The Washdown      3 times, 2003
  • Jeff Beck      2 times, a few years apart
  • Bitch Alert      2 times one summer (sort of responsible for the whole Finnish thing)
  • The Duke Spirit      2 times
  • Tori Amos      2 times
  • The Kinks      2 times, in the 1980s
  • The Tubes      2 times, about twenty years after their 'prime time'...
  • Erja Lyytinen      2 times
  • Nightwish      2 times
  • Sonata Arctica      2 times, in Manchester and in Finland
  • Ringa Manner      2 times, once in Pintandwefall, once last year as The Hearing
  • Curved Air      2 times, over 40 years apart, which is some kind of extreme record

Yes, Ikara Colt was totally up my alley. Let me quote myself: 
I hadn't heard of this band before seeing them on that Sahara Hotnights tour in 2003. They had a five year lifespan, and it was already halfway through. Their early performances were legendary, spiky and provocative affairs; even when I latched on to them they still had a tendency to face up to difficult audiences, especially their lead singer Paul Resende. They came out of art school, and some might have thought this a variety of performance art; but I think it was down to the fact that so often they were supporting acts with an inbuilt constituency quite different from themselves. I mean, touring with Amen, they were never going to get an easy ride from their fans, were they? Frankly, what Ikara Colt was doing was so different - people generally called it 'art punk', if that makes any sense - they weren't an obvious fit with anyone else. But my suspicion was the band liked it that way. I miss them a lot; but have to agree that they were just about done when they did split. It was a few weeks after drummer Dom decided to quit. He was very much a distinctive part of the band's sound, so that was pretty much that. Two very individual albums, Chat and Business and Modern Apprentice, and a history of lively gigs which I am very glad to have seen some of.
There it is. I was very assiduous about going to see them if they were anywhere in the North West, because I could sense it wasn't going to last long, they just didn't fit into any neat category. I was into most of the other bands on the list, though some were collateral attendances, so to speak, eg. The Washdown. I'd happily go and see some of those bands again who are still active, especially eg. Jeff Beck, Sonata Arctica, and Pintandwefall, who I'm going to narrowly miss next week in Finland :(

So, last week. Last Wednesday I went down to the Cotswolds for my godfather's memorial service. I had only met him a couple of times; he and my Dad were in the same regiment, but as is so typical with Army life, their paths diverged and I only met him at all after my Mum died. So, I went down wanting to find out more about him, and also I guessed there'd be a few people there who might recall our parents.
Tony Hymas, on the left, with Jeff Beck and Terry Bozzio
And all that was so, and I'm glad I made the trip. It did require some application; I had some shirts ironed, and my black suit saw the light of day for the first time for some years. You should appreciate the kind of area I'm talking about, not just well to do, but an old school upper middle class England which has almost vanished. It's been a long time since I sang in church, 'He who would valiant be...' Anyway, I was glancing down the service sheet, and it happened to mention the vicar etc. And who do you think was the organist? A certain Tony Hymas; this was a familar name. I sought out the vicar, and yes indeed he had had a career as a rock musician. He was the keyboardist with Jeff Beck at the first of those concerts mentioned above.

I like this. I'm not sure it really entitles me to list him separately, but it tickles me to be able to say I've attended two gigs by him. After a fashion!