Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cradled Apathetic Anarchists,

Usually, I like to care. I care about the planet and its inhabitants (that covers everything). First of all, I have to be presented with facts (educated), then I will choose what to believe and then I will try to act where and when I can.

For example, I was presented with the music of Jeffrey Lewis via the medium of radio and CD. I decided that it was good and when I was able to see him perform locally, I bought tickets. This may be the point where logic ends.

Jeffrey Lewis and the Jitters played at Cabaret Voltaire on Sunday 21st October, Professor Louie was the support act. The gig seemed like a good prospect but I was left with mixed feelings.

Upon entry, the crowd was already hushed for Professor Louie. The volume was impressive. With little more than Jeffrey beating a wooden block or gently strumming a guitar, Professor Louie berated human life. He spoke rhythmically in a gravelly voice, I doubt this constitutes rapping. Upon consulting the dictionary, I have reached a definition: a husky duffer rap is known as “a rasp”. I may have been abnormally apathetic at the time, but I hadn’t the energy to share his rage against George Bush, the warlords and the materialists. “Hey, mister, why do you always have to be so negative?”, was what I might have shouted out had I been as disrespectful as some can be.

Off he went, with us needlessly ordered to dislike George Bush, to be replaced by Jeffrey Lewis and the Jitters. The first two songs were of the highest order, in Jeff’s unique singing style, which harshly put is quiet and monotone, but it evokes sympathy, shares gems and wins over any decent human being. They were two songs that I don’t know the name of, however, they were of the kind that I like most; the ones that are introspective and force people to consider their mortality. Then it was Posters, a solid and dependable rocker from City & Eastern Songs.

They might have decided to alter their setlist but I reckon they’re too ad hoc for this because they did The History of Communism Part 4: China on their last visit to Edinburgh. It’s good stuff but I want to hear the other parts, I’m now an expert on Chairman Mao.

After four songs, it turned iffy. Jeffrey Lewis has recently covered some Crass songs – these are available on the album 12 Crass Songs (mine is still lost in the post). I’ve heard it said that Crass were the soothsayers of their day but on this evidence, the decision taken by Jeffrey to rework some of their songs is dubious. End Result is great, it’s well-delivered and a good translation of punk to English – it allows non-rockers to understand the words of Crass for the first time. A few songs later and I was a little lost, the Lewis lads are talented musicians and I’ve heard them do some other good covers but the Crass experiment results are inconclusive. I didn’t have the appetite for anarchy and although the world is as unjust as before, I’m wondering if this work is a bit anachronistic.

It was a relief that the show ended with tried and tested favourites like The Chelsea Hotel Song, They Always Knew and No LSD Tonight. I’m frowning on me for having these views – imagine cuddling up to old favourites, questioning new stuff and not having the will to fight “the system”. Professor Louie said that it’s blood for oil and oil for blood but I don’t care and I don’t care about post office closures either, I haven’t been to one for over a year.


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