Wellington Dec 9

Wellington Gig December 9.

Its getting close so I thought I?d better fill you in on it, we?re playing at SF Bathhouse in Wellington on December 9th for the VBC Christmas party. I?ve just received the press release for it from them. Of course it says some gratifying things as press releases do such as, ?Do you ever wonder why Flying Nun vinyl goes for such ridiculous prices on trade me and ebay?? It is a question that needs to be asked in the name of marketing the show, for the Verlaines, for an 18-year old student for example, might be a recognised name, but not a memory. Picking which songs to learn for the gig (and I won?t let the cat out of the bag entirely) has been an interesting process. Part of it is logistical (the size of the version of the band that will be there), part of it promotional (play tracks off Corporate Moronic and Potboiler in the hope of selling some) and then finally there is the issue of legacy and trying to answer the question the press release poses. I decided to dust off ?Phil too?? from ?Hallelujah all the way home?. Why? I?m still very attached to that album for one thing but mainly I wanted to include one of the rather more big-boned songs from that era, that the audience might get a sense of what was so different about many of the Flying Nun bands and the songs they produced at that time. Their uniqueness often stems from the approach to form or structure. A good many of the iconic songs freely invent their structures to achieve themselves rather than pour new wine into old bottles, or a cookie cutter approach, pouring new content into standardised song forms, (like the standard AABA or the verse/chorus format). ?Phil too? is an arch shape (ABCBA, coda), is more symphonic than anything (to call any of its sections verse or chorus is hopelessly inadequate). In terms of musical interest, Chris, our current live bassist, seems to be enjoying it, even though he, like many of the prospective Wellington audience I?m guessing, wasn?t even born when I wrote it in 1981. Then there is the question of relevance. The song chronicles a young man?s descent into self-loathing, ill health and spiritual disorientation at the hands of booze and freedom. Coincidentally, as it happens, he was flatting on Castle Street at the time. Sound familiar? The boozey behaviour does of course, and the media does its best to skim read that part of it. The spiritual turmoil underneath is not acknowledged of course. That would make them human. But the truth of it is, that that stage of life is one where the intoxication of freedom mingles with the hard reality that decisions are beginning to count from here on in, and the Garden of Eden slowly being poisoned by responsibility often seems to drive a ?party like you?re on the Titanic? type of mentality. This in turn can lead to burnout and depression, fatigue and the law of diminishing returns eventually takes its toll. There seems to me something universal in this and the song doesn?t sound remotely ?old? in the company of much of the rest of the set. I look forward to seeing how an 18-year old in the front row responds to it.


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