|Lineup: Dan Treacy (guitar, vocals), Ed Ball (bass, bk vocals), Victoria Yeulet (bk vocals), Mathew Sawyer (drums), Will Green (cello).|
Plus guest appearance by members of Dustin's Bar Mitzvah (for 'Part Time Punks').
Last night I saw the TVP'S for the first time in 13 years. As ever I just had no idea what to expect and seeing the rather uncomfortably packed hall full of mostly very young and trendy looking people who had clearly come curious to check out the latest hip signing to Domino, I though this can clearly go one of two ways. Will they deliver a tight set full of edited highlights of the last 27 years to send the popkids home with a song in their hearts, and who knows, a trip to the shops for "My Dark Places" and perhaps even plans to return to see them again, and again, and again, as compelled and utterly hooked as I was in the eighties. Or... will they blow it in spectacularly and gloriously time honoured TVP style.
They finally came on at 10.30, "This Angry Silence" first, the cello (or viola? I could see sod all at the back) was a lovely touch, but where's the guitar and what's this, Dan is sitting down?? It's still really rather lovely and after Ed requesting a guitar lead from somewhere, anywhere for Dan(!)a few crashing chords and here we go I think. Except that we don't or at least nowhere this audience is anticipating anyway. What happens next is a blur, songs start off as something tangible and stumble into god knows where, Dan seems completely incapable of singing and mercifully doesn't really try, Victoria stands centre stage heroically offering encouragement to her leader, anything, anything to keep it together! Song fragments pass by in a blur, is that "Special Chair"? From somewhere I'm sure I catch fragments of "Three Wishes", "Painter Man", "La Grande Illusion" perhaps. Despite the utter chaos it's still utterly compelling and fantastic in glimpses. After a bizarre stab at "My Dark Places" I decide to make an exit, they seem to too and someone tells me Dan has fallen over, I'm not sure if this is so but there's certainly silence from the stage. So there you go, an experience as only the TVP's can produce and despite everything strangely enjoyable. I took two friends with me who knew next to nothing about the band and was delighted to find they got into it and want to see them again. Me, I'm hooked back in, don't know why it's taken me now to see the new line-up but I shall be back next time, and the time after that etc etc. It's great to have them back.
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It's been 17 years since I saw Television Personalities live and "My Dark Places" is destined to be my favourite album of the year. I was trying to hold in the excitement about tonight incase it didn't live up to it. Oh but they couldn't let me down? could they?!!
They took ages coming on. Dan just seemed to take ages to appear when the rest of the band were ready. They were complaining they didn't have a guitar lead for him. Hmm, really could tonight go wrong? When Dan finally appeared he landed flat on his face on the stage! He had to be dragged up. He started playing guitar which had no lead and sang. I use the term very loosely! The man was wasted to say the least. When he finally did get a lead for his guitar he hardly played the thing, just strummed the odd bit which held no resemblance to the songs he was supposed to be playing. A lot of the time he just glared into space gormlessly. He attempted to sing "Special Chair" which is a song I love right now. Ok parts of it were ok. The character of his voice did shine through at times but I was struggling to make the most of the small parts which were good. The sound itself wasn't great anyway effecting the rest of the band even though they were playing really well, but with hardly any guitar it couldn't hold up. Also there was a drunk man in the crowd who kept getting onstage. Victoria got very pissed off with him and started kicking him. Dan found this highly amusing. She said he was spoiling it for everyone else, erm no Victoria, that bloke standing next to you is doing that quite well by himself!! Someone shouted out for "Velvet Underground" which is another from the new album but Dan then started singing "Going Underground"! Really it was so bad it was beyond being funny! "My Dark Places" is my favourite song off the new album. Before the gig I was hoping they would do it. I now wish they hadn't. For starters Dan was singing the wrong song. He sang "She Can Stop Traffic" instead! Edward Ball informed him what he was supposed to be singing but after a little bit of that he gave up singing and eventually wandered into the corner and stood there leaning against an amp. They'd been onstage for less than 30 minutes and a lot of that time wasn't playing songs. Edward said Dan has to collect himself then they'd do another, but no, Dan was far too out of it and Dustin's Barmitavah were brought onstage to perform "Part Time Punks". This was by far the best thing about the night and it sounded ace. I walked out into the night utterly disappointed and shocked. I will have to see the band again so I can have better memories as this left a very bad taste in my mouth. Hopefully I can catch them on form.
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I dressed up as if I was going to a go-go, however what unfolded was more a carnival of sorts.
Dan eventually appeared, James Brown fashion, assisted by his able helpers. However, Dan had not just pulled off one of Mr Brown's trademark knee falls and needed assistance to get up; rather he was simply being cajoled into actually getting up on stage.
Once on stage, the show teetered on the edge of self-destruction for a while before embracing failure and taking the plunge head first.
Despite Dan's disconcerting sideshow, Ed and Victoria seemed intent on smiling through the mayhem or was it a grimace I saw etched on their faces. Victoria's attention was diverted for a while by some punter who was misbehaving, however her efforts would have been better focused on grabbing the attention of the technical staff so that Dan (if he wanted to) could actually sing into his mic.
The 10 cans of Dutch Courage Dan had possibly finished off with aplomb prior to taking to the stage put paid to any chance the gig would be rush-released on DVD on the back of all the recent promotional hype.
Earlier in the evening I was approached by a Swedish mod in the gents who liked the cut of my jib. It was his first TVPs gig and I did well to manage his expectations by suggesting the event would be a somewhat ramshackle affair and that he shouldn't bank on 'Geoffrey Ingram' being played. I hope he has time to fit in some sightseeing before returning to his homeland.
I left after Dustin and his gang attempted 'Part Time Punks' whilst Dan cowered in a corner of the stage stubbornly refusing to get his sh*t together. He failed to step back into the limelight despite the pleading of his band mates / friends and, I believe, the Barfly manager who must have been needlessly fearing a 21st anniversary repeat of the North London Polytechnic riot (be it a slightly more twee version).
You'll let me know if, after I left, Dan had a strong coffee and a couple of aspirins and treated those still remaining to a greatest hits package with stage antics the likes of which have not been seen since a Who gig circa '66.
All in all a typical night out with the TVPs.
Lord, don't stop the carnival!!!