Tuesday, October 21, 2008

VAMPIRE WEEKEND @ MANCHESTER ACADEMY 21 OCTOBER 2008


I wasn't going to this gig until 4.15pm today when due to the sickly disposition of Mr D a ticket came into my possession. But there were added responsibilities rather than simply turning up...

Arrived just after 8pm to catch the end of the opening set from El Guincho. I've been listening to his Alegranza album but have not quite been won over - and so was curious to see if the live setting would add anything. Sadly it didn't. On record the first 30 seconds of songs sound excitingly exotic but then pale into dull loops and repetition. In person it's the same but not as exciting: programmed Afrobeat and latin rhythms with live keyboards and percussion all topped off chants or repeated phrases in Spanish. The repetition doesn't build - it just annoys. He got a great reception though from the small early doors crowd.

Next up my worst fears were realised when the second support was confirmed as Wild Beasts. This is the third time I've seen them (see here and here) and it doesn't get any better. This time however they have taken some of the rough edges off: there is less eccentricity, less vocal acrobatics and quite sensible attire. Then it hit me. Striped polo shirts, plain tight t-shirts, short sleeve shirts: they are trying to BE Vampire Weekend! They have become more slick not as a organic development but as a callous ploy to become more acceptable to a mainstream audience. God I dislike them even more.

Vampire Weekend came on about 9.35pm - they were neatly efficient and competent musically, but the live experience added little to the recorded version. Really you could be listening at home on shuffle - except between you and the speakers were either (depending on how close to the front) couples dancing with intertwined fingers or groups of lads swaying together with cans of Red Stripe or camera phones held aloft. They threw in three new songs and a cover for one of the encores but still struggled to fill an hour. The new songs are pretty much the exact template of those of the first album. The choice of cover ("in the spirit of Anglo-American relations" Fleetwood Mac's I Want To Be With You Everywhere) was a bit disappointing - it highlighted a coffee-table side of the band not something a bit more adventurous. But let's not forget that most people dancing here, at an indie gig, were dancing to African guitar music.

So I was a bit down on this sold out gig despite being lucky enough to get a ticket. But there were several contributory factors: I was sober. I was not at the front. Plus I was mindful of other responsibilities: for this gig I was accompanying Daughter 1.0 and her Friend 1.0. So it wasn't really MY night out. They enjoyed it hugely - despite being dwarfed and unable to see much. But dancing, singing along and spending £15 on a t-shirt was more than enough on a school night to send them hope deliriously happy. It was great to see them enjoying it so much.

Both have been to gigs before, mainly larger scale venues like MEN Arena and Apollo. It was illuminating to hear their first reaction to The Academy: "It's tiny". Ah now wait until you've been to Night and Day. And when we do go there together (if you'll still let me), you'll be 18. So you two will be able to get a round in. I'm looking forward to it already.

The Set List:
Mansard Roof
Campus
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
I Stand Corrected
'Carried Away'?
Bryn
'Take'?
A-Punk
Blake
M79
The Kids Don't Stand A Chance
'Wendy Lee?'
Oxford Comma
---
I Want To Be With You Everywhere
Walcott
El Guincho
Alegranza [BUY]

THE KIDS DON'T STAND A CHANCE
Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend [BUY]

1 comment:

High Priestess of Punk-chew-ation said...

You're just jealous because none of the t-shirts fit you.

Daughter 1.0 and Friend 1.0 tired but happy the next day and, if they knew it was possible to do it in a 'virtual' way, would want to thank you for coming to their rescue because Mr D was poo-ly sick.