cults and culture

It’s been a bit of a week for culture what with going out twice in six days; but that’s rock n roll for you. Richard Dawkins was a joy to witness at his sold out show in Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall on Monday evening where he made me and many others truly proud to call themselves atheists. The talk was lifted pretty much note for note from his book The God Delusion, a book that has got any number of the established religions in a bit of a panic. There have been a couple of hundred books printed in response to it by Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists…he’s got them all in a right old tizzy, desperately trying to justify themselves. I know whose side I’m on, and I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for perfectly articulating the mindless brainwashing and absurdist assumptions based on no evidence whatsoever that goes on in any number of god’s names. The man is a genius. After the show I went to The Everyman on Hope Street which hasn’t changed in the 20 odd years I’ve known it, which has to be a good thing. We then get on to reminicing about poetry gigs in the third room, an angry man with a learning disablity and the price of petrol; none of which are worth mentioning here.

Last night at the Edwyn Collins gig here in Manchester’s Academy it was all nostalgia and humility and inspiration. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a gig as much as this one since I saw be Bop Deluxe at Birmingham Odeon in 1975 and Bill Nelson signed my T Shirt. It was a proper tonic to see Edwyn, so disabled by two major stokes and still doing what he does so brilliantly. He had some help, a book of lyrics [he’s had to learn to read all over again since the disablement], and a band of sheer class that featured the extraordinarily gifted Roddy Frame on guitar, I mean, I know Roddy’s a good player but really throughout the gig he was truly on fire, gloriously riffing and thrashing on the old treble caster. Edwyn sat centre stage resplendent in a Panama hat singing and grinning and chuckling away to himself, he is still physically unable to play guitar and took to the stage with the aid of a stick. Song introductions were succinct and to the point, words sometimes came out the wrong way round much to everyone’s amusement. It must be hard; you have to admire his determination. Performance wise he wavered a little on some of the high notes but in the main he pulled it off and we were simply thrilled honey [sorry…sort of irresistible that one]. In truth to love the night as much I did [and truly I did] it helps being a long term fan. Looking around the nearly sold out Academy it was clear that this man is genuinely loved, spontaneous affectionate outbursts coming from all corners of the concert hall with ‘we love you Edwyn’ being a most popular and deserved refrain, it was all very touching and I wouldn’t have missed it for a big clock.

In case you’re in the vicinity or indeed if you have nothing better to do I play the local Sounds from the Other City Music Festival next Sunday 4th May. I’m onstage at The Salford Arms 146 Chapel St Salford, M3 6AF at 6.30 pm and play an impromptu [no rehearsals allowed] set with Bonead and Craig Gannon at Salford Station at 7.30 pm, [a stage on a platform no less] the fine details are on the tour dates pages of the site. We’ve all three of us given up drinking and as the fee includes a crate of beer feel free to ask and you shall receive direct from our rider…better still we can do swops for fizzy water, I like the idea of that, cheers, VP

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