Sheffield

The City is of Night; perchance of Death
But certainly of Night; for never there
Can come the lucid morning’s fragrant breath
After the dewy dawning’s cold grey air…

The City is of Night, but not of Sleep;
There sweet sleep is not for the weary brain;
The pitiless hours like years and ages creep,
A night seems termless hell…

And in the porch a shrouded figure stood,
Who challenged each one pausing ere he passed,
With deep eyes burning through a blank white hood:
Whence come you in the world of life and light
To this our City of Tremendous Night? …

Poor wretch! who once hath paced that dolent city
Shall pace it often, doomed beyond all pity,
With horror ever deepening from the first…

James Thomson, ‘The City of Dreadful Night’

Download: SPG presents SHEFFIELD

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Glastonbury

I was dying. My attention wandered. I see now… poorly executed redundant nostalgia – posturing – this is the way you should act, isn’t it? Treat your guitar as if it were a cello? Kick your legs up like a pissed up Russian? Dance red lit – make like a gargoyle – gurn like a dragon – prance about in a T-shirt with your hair blowing like a rock star – how much does it cost to direct the wind? Why not generate your own? Horrible. Imagine the comedown if you had to be there, pretending to have an enjoyable time in that vast stupid field, without the benefit of drugs, knowing that they’re not good for you. Not in the moment of present time that they promise to distort forever – like the bands, they don’t deliver – unlike this, which delivers exactly what it promised – nothing at all. Where’d you get that hair dye? Why bother with tattoos? That’s right – Joni Mitchell with the talent and interest removed – whining twang – get a haircut. Or a combover. Wipe your drum brushes. Throw your bright wig in the cesspit. Tone down your eye shadow. Are you constipated, or in pain? If that arse could be removed from your jump suited body and weighed, I fear it might break the scales. Beard boy. Veined throbber. The cue for idiot prancing. Midriff reflected in the mirror of the bass drum. Throw your hands in the air like a halfwit! Reet kool! Bright lit scaffolding. Belly dancer cum dervish. Lattice work, pink and green. Something like a sick dog groaning. “I could be the one…” – I’ll give it a miss. Apparently, they’re all inserting dangling wires into their flesh these days, but I don’t really know if they serve any purpose. Mormons. Boys. ‘Royal Blood’. “Royal Blood – Let me drum with you…” – that’s an aspirational placard. Mauve wigged, shoulder carried… a black shirt with a silver top part… a fake gold chain… a bank of flashing lights. A mosh pit. What does that rhyme with? Play your bass like a lead… that’ll be farre oot, mon. Flags… tigers. Put the lights out. Hide your belly. Cheer. Get soulful. Wipe the tears away. Clap. Dreadlocks with a parting like Hitler. A Stevie Wonder tribute act? Blue wrist beads. “Nobody loves me like the piano in my mother’s home.” Apparently, there was an angel by her sides at all times. Not just one side, but all of them… They have acquired sincerity through reflecting on their hideous deformity. They’re sincere. They possess the grace of inhabiting the reality of their bodies. Jaunty actors, swinging their hair, looking at each other nicely, not afraid of the truth of intimacy. And then some kunt in a bright suit with what appears to be a tail… believes in fate… waves his arms to make the point. The Incredible Hulk without his make-up. The seal clap. Break for the wild fairground acts – “a scary zone, full of chaos and danger”… acid lounge… surfers… burlesque… abusing the public… a big baby with glassy eyes. A statuesque scowler with the studied intonation of Patti Smith… apparently, she saved the Beat Generation on a bicycle. And that’s just the first half hour… of highlights!

One jumps…  thousands jump… a confederacy of dunces… flowery… trainered… she can’t let go of something… it’s abstract… I couldn’t tell you what she means… it wouldn’t be worth knowing. Other people want what she can’t let go of. But they don’t know what it is either. It’s a wonder they don’t fall over, walking around in circles like that. Gym time. Vocoder. Yellow strip on a face on a T-shirt. A small child’s face. The artiste as youngster… before he became a world conquering rap singer. Pina coladas… don’t know if they drink them or rhyme them. Champagne. You can do anything you want. Go to the club, or on holiday. I think they’re the main options. That’s the solution… go on holiday. To Margate or Bournemouth. We must be coming to the end of the day… bring on the titans. Squinting, top knot… greasy flop… it’s not my fault, they’re the ones who make such a big deal of their haircuts. That’s what it’s about. Getting a haircut and going on holiday. “This is what you get… for a minute there, I lost myself.” I see the flesh fade and a skeleton disport on the piano like a cheap music hall ham. Count the teeth. Measure their brightness. A close cropped neatly trimmed grey beard. Friday’s over.

Saturday’s here… Jose Feliciano presents ‘Up the Junction’. With the added attraction of a kazoo band. A fake kazoo troupe… not like those you used to find heading for the Newcastle carnival in the late 1970s. More Mormons… dashing Amish? Harmonised warbling. Retro rock breakdown. Niche and cult… devoted fans… those three ugly fuckers at the front… Let’s throw three or four things in, all together, any way, with a semblance of predictable sequencing. The Neu-Yodel thing. Icelanders? Denmark? Faroe Isle kool? A form of lovely prancing. With smiles. Jogging. Making like a monkey. A four year old child. Liam believes in Rock’n’Roll. “She’s the ungrateful dead…,” It’s a long way down… it’s all too much. “I don’t give a fuck, alright?” Neither do I, Liam, mate. Apparently, it’s okay, though, because he’s got the Midas touch. It’s only a long way down when you’re the wrong way around. I think a Gary Glitter hit is stuck on the turntable. K.P. Nu-Pearl Queen. I don’t know what you call those things. Point and leave a space for the crowd, to show you love them ‘too’. Where does this ‘too’ come from? Another half hour in purgatory comes to a grinding halt.

Dig the good old throwback Super Funk. I’m sure that’s the riff from ‘Your Favourite Shirt’ by Haircut 100. Who would have thought we’d ever hear that again? Pure liquid molasses, mon. I don’t think they’re suggesting that you should free your mind. I think they’re about confining your ass to a pattern. In the backyard? Yass, that’s right. A funk party in the back yard. The transfer of the mark. The invocation. Hat lads bouncing in tracksuits. The cedars of Lebanon. Prowling. Crack balladeer. No-one’s gonna stop anyone else. Flashing foot print evidence. This lad has several varieties of footwear in which to prance around the hood. Evidence that Grime has its roots in Roots Manuva. Love crossed with The Eagles. Jah Misty or something. Syrupy hatred. High heels, beard, square suit. Real Nu-Rad Irony Chic, mon. Dragon shirt. Lad with the voice of a woman. Mauve light. Turns white, looks like someone clapping. Long form repetition trilled and pointless. It’s fundamentally ‘Run to You’ by Bryan Adams. Daft puppets in the Metal arena. Earache. True metal. The outer edges. Brutal Wormrot all the way from Singapore. Yowlers. Vowel spouters. That comedy act called Foo Fighters. Drowned songs. A kind of over emotive shopping list? Confused about something that’s not worth bothering with? Stopping to start up again… One of those bands who should stop before they’ve started. That would be more efficient. That would make more sense. Strobes and feedback. Fireworks and salutations. Saturday ends.

Narcissist pseudo-folk lass. “Let it always be known that I was who I am.” That actually means nothing. Glastonbury: A Shindig of the Formally Meaningless. A song about chords and musical notes. I’m an A, duck. I’m a B, youth. I’m the glories of an E sharp minor, darling. A fuck with beard and tattoos fancies himself as a rock. Baseball cap, nose ring, camouflage jacket. He’s certainly not fighting against mediocrity… Apparently, different people want different things. Can we be exposed to this profundity without being utterly transformed? Razored up chav pants. Bringing us to the merciful edge of the end.

There was great excitement preceding the appearance of The Killers. I don’t know why. And the crowd loved singing along to their songs, which appear to be about nothing. And the singer gets all passionate and bangs on his heart with his fist… while singing at the same time… Old bass leg’s paying attention. The old guitarist’s got his leg on the footlights at the front of the stage. The good old salutation… the good old witless call and response. Someone with outstretched arm and a flare. I believe the lyric is “I’m a rebel…” – surely mine ears deceive me. But then again, rebellion can be bought for two quid a gesture these days. Barry Gibb in a gold bolero jacket, which he acknowledges is too small. I don’t know who he’s pointing at. I can’t imagine we’ll have vapid cunts reminiscing in 20 years’ time, along the lines of “Barry Stardust pointed out of the telly and I just knew he was pointing at me…” – but you never know… anything’s possible when nothing has meaning. “And old B. Stardust’s gnashers shone like diamonds, and I know that they sparkled for me alone. And he shat himself straining for that high note, and his excrement resembled the odour of sanctity, and I was inspired, and fifteen years later I bottled its essence and sold it as a perfume… BS, from the house of the great smell of Brut… splash it all over…” Flags with no meaning. Poodle nut. Three sisters. They know it’s hard to connect. They fear success. They were concerned with the issue of control. Despite all of this, they wanted him back, for he was a gentle man, apparently. That poodle is wearing glasses. Love comes in quantities that can be weighed and measured, rather than coming in spurts. Mouth opens like an idiot… when he comes back, he’ll get all the love she never gave him. It’s the NuWeR-Family groove courtesy of Chic. “Get up everybody and dance…” – blue skies… floating white cloudses… this is what you call an enjoyable time… a spider scuttles across the carpet, frightened into motion by the slap bass. Say what you like, old Nile’s a master magician… chacka chacka wow wow… over and over again. Hula hoop child… hairy chested common man. The soulful and winsome. “I must be going…” – she doesn’t want to leave him behind, she knows she’ll see him again, she’ll be thinking of him until then, she’ll miss the seasons and the land… it’s not clear where she’s going, or why. Surely it would make more sense to remain? Some incense burning wind chime with rainbow streamers hanging from a tree. I think she’s leaving because she’s made up her mind. A toaded beast with flowers in his hair. All start and stop fury. There are neither exceptions nor rewards. Stencilled kecks… that’s commitment for you. From the wolves of winter, they say. A child with a blue and pink Mohican. I wonder what his mum and dad do for a living? Fluorescent pink sox. Mirror shades from Primark. Sky blue guitars. Dangerous stuff, pal. You are hereby instructed that this is no place for warbled ‘sincerity’. Lies… forgetfulness… the flags are flowing with less energy… why bother to comb your hair when you can plait it to the side? The sky like the sands of the Kalahari. Pop ragga from a geezer who insists he’s on his way up. Throw in a few violins… that’s eclectic… hatred for haters… hatred for real… there’s nothing to object to in that, but the field of what’s open for hatred remains open to question. Life just bounces… parade of brass with tuba… actually, I don’t think there’s anything to object to in this. But something follows… play that mini-guitar like a banjo, E. Sheerhan. His heart was broken when he was six years old. He remembers it clearly. He was up to all sorts, doing feelings on country lanes and that. I believe he felt homesick. Watching the sunset over the castle on the hill and that. I don’t think he’s from round here. In fact, I’m sure of it. E. Sheerhan comes from nowhere at all.

Attercliffe and Darnall

“I first went to Attercliffe to see Spacemen 3 at the Take Two Club on Staniforth Road. It looks to me like no trace of the place remains, although I’m told that the building still exists and is now a Muslim community centre.

I know that I’ll have travelled to the Take Two on the 52 bus from Crookes, but I wouldn’t have remembered the date of the concert, were it not for the meticulously researched Spacemen 3 blog, which reliably informs me that it took place on 24 March 1988.

Apparently, the setlist consisted of three songs – ‘It’s Alright’, ‘Come Down Easy’, and ‘Walkin’ with Jesus’ – and a recording with a running time of 29 minutes 25 seconds is available to download from Dropbox. I might look into that sometime, if nostalgic yearning gets the better of me.

I can’t remember anything specific about the performance, beyond registering that it was good. I thought it resembled ‘An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music’, which was recorded live at an arts centre in Brentford on 19 August 1988, and the timing suggests that was possible, although two of the songs from the setlist were from ‘The Perfect Prescription’, which was released in September 1987 and has been described as “a vision of a drug trip from inception to blasted conclusion, highs and lows fully intact.”

That was Spacemen 3 for you: taking drugs to make music for public schoolboys and revolutionary estate agents…”

Download: SPG presents Attercliffe and Darnall

Geographies of Violence

Processed with Blackie

“We are seeking original artistic contributions both for the cover and interior of an anthology titled, ‘Madness, Violence and Power: A Radical Anthology’. The book includes 20 chapters that traverse personal narratives of violence; institutional and institutionalized practices of knowledge production about ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ informed by neoliberal capitalist logic; legislated violence done to people through social policy and law; and the places and spaces in which violence happens. The book seeks to challenge conventional understandings of madness and distress and give value to the knowledge and experience of people as mental health service users/survivors. Chapters are organized by four themes: 1) First hand accounts of violence; 2) prevailing problems; 3) law as violence; and 4) geographies of violence.

We are seeking one full colour image to be used as the front cover of the book, and four original black and white images to be used in the interior of the book to introduce each theme.

We would prefer images that speak directly to the subject matter rather than an abstract or pattern kind of design…

The book is co-edited by:

Andrea Daley, School of Social Work, York University, Toronto, Canada

Lucy Costa, Empowerment Council, Toronto, Canada

Peter Beresford, University of Essex, England…”

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Hardcore Neepsend

Walking along Neepsend Lane from the Farfield Inn to Mowbray Street on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon makes me think of ‘Heart of Darkness’ and ‘Journey to the End of the Night’. There’s something about the scale of the industrial and post-industrial landscape, something about the unnatural width of the road that makes the journey of less than a mile deeply uncomfortable, but it also represents the epitome of Sheffield, the essence of the city, replete with beauty and fascination, as well as desolation and dread.

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