My last retreat to the noughties collating the broken bits and bobs including best gigs, tracks, event, hero, venue, films, label and whatever else comes to mind before we charge full steam ahead into the TWENTY TENS.
It was a funny ol’ year, that last year of the Noughties…
Incidently, I’m so over saying/writing/thinking Noughties – it reminds me of talking heads on E4 chunnering about someone daft doing something daft on a daft reality show going on about how it defined the daft Noughties.
It sounded daft saying Noughties…
And while we’re mere days into 2010 it does feel slightly odd reflecting on such a frenzied, and altogether daft end to the decade – it was certainly the fastest year I’ve experienced which only adds to the confusion of trying to grasp a sense of what music in 2009 was all about.
What it wasn’t was a year of WHAM (nothing to do with you, George) moments.
Moments like Prince playing his 21 Nights at the 02. Or Mars Volta completing a three hour space odyssey at All Tomorrow’s Parties. Or Jay-Z overshadowing an entire Glastonbury festival with a three-minute video montage.
No, 2009, was more about a collective sequence of mini music-happenings which culminated in belting weekends and glorious extended festivities; collective boutique occasions that had a core where the individual parts were good, if not great, but the bigger picture was something special indeed.
Micro-moments combining with spectacular results.
Like wip-Jap-wonga trio Nisennenmondai at Supersonic pulling off 20 minute krautouts amid a backdrop of sludge, doom metal.
Or you had the ATP weekenders, which with the exception of the odd performance, (Foals‘ magical new swag, Sunn O)))‘s Attila Csihar and his red lazer-beam hand stalks and Tricky going batshit while performing Vent) were consistently very good, if not quite monumental.
Then there was double-header of Liverpool and Dubai Sound City – the former ramping up everything from 2008’s beginnings and the latter coming across like a bouncy golden retriever puppy – young, dumb and full of fun. The music, which again reached a certain level of high, was certainly secondary to such ridiculously spirited occasions.
Back on home turf, MelloMello, the Bluecoat, Static Gallery, the Philharmonic, the O2 Academy and right across town dubstep nights brought a continual sense of fervour culminating in Mr Scruff smashing the newly spruced up Masque with his five-hour set late November.
However, the one constant force of inspiration in 2009 was undeniably The Kazimier.
Whether this be the architects and performers behind their visionary parties. The musicians fronting offshoot in-house bands. The engineers producing the sounds and lightshows for artists as diverse as HEALTH, Deerhoof or Wave Machines appearing on their stage from all over the globe.
Or the very building itself – this swirling multi-layered wooden ampitheatre which artfully manages to metamorphosise from circus freakshow, Dickensian gentlemen’s club or 1930s theatre complete with angels falling from the heavens and Spielberg’s great white emerging from the silverscreen all depending on the occasion. One time Michael Jackson even made an appearance.
It’s hard to fathom where and when it all came into being, but it’s fair to say I, like so many others, have spent much of the last year wrapped up in it’s existence – whether it be partying, gigging, planning costumes, sitting at a computer awaiting announcements or even attempting to describe to the uninitiated quite what Kazimier is, it’s rarely been far from the city’s thoughts and attention.
Quite where organisers Sam, Venya, and the vast multitude of entertainers and performers take this most fascinating of enterprises is baffling, and not to mention exciting, but Liverpool quite simply wouldn’t be the same without it.
Anyways, here’s the shopping list of what else mattered, or didn’t, in 2009.
Gigs of 2009:
I’m cheating somewhat here. But Wave Machines are the one band, that no matter where they’ve played they’ve brought a smile to the face and a shuffle to the feet. It was a pleasure to witness a Liverpool band, so removed from lazy stereotypes associated with the city, become the slow-burning, dark horses who it feels so right to champion.
1. Wave Machines: Various corners of the globe (Liverpool Academy review), Dubai review, Static Gallery review & Kazimier review.
2. Beyonce: Echo Arena, Liverpool (review).
3. Diagonal/The Laze: Monochrome, Liverpool (review/in picures)
4. Extra Golden: The Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool (review of album Thank You Very Quickly)
5. The Invisible: Korova, Liverpool (review) (album review)
6. HEALTH: Kazimier, Liverpool (review)
7. Spectrum: Static Gallery, Liverpool (review)
8. Spiritualized: Apollo, Manchester (review)
9. Pearl Jam: MEN Arena, Manchester (review).
10. Dogshow: Masque, Liverpool (review)
11. Bat For Lashes: O2 Academy, Liverpool (review)
12. Madonna: MEN Arena, Manchester (review)
Biggest bummer of a gig 2009:
Bob Dylan: Echo Arena, Liverpool (review)
Event of 2009:
Kazimier: Various dates throughout 2009 – ’nuff said.
Getintothis feature: The Kazimier: The secret’s out on Liverpool’s underground phenomenon
The Kazimier: The phenomenon goes underground.
The Kazimier Club
Hero of the Year:
This was a close one.
On the one hand you had a woman that’s reinvented herself and almost single-handedly made pop music both enigmatic and exhilarating once again.
On the other you’ve a dwarf from Waterloo that ‘points and clicks’.
As I say it was a close run thing, but in the end us short arses have to stick together and Mark McNulty edges out the Gaga for services of heroic musical duty.
I first ‘met’ Mark post-Prodigy show late December 2008. Me, a sweaty crumpled heap of joy, he a picture of indifference. After brief introductions (I’d bought a print off him earlier that month having marvelled at his Pop Cultured exhibition), he left indifferent, me a crumpled heap of joy.
This ‘relationship’ deepened during May’s second coming of Liverpool Sound City, when (
during weeks of planning a 17-minute coffee break) the festival’s head honcho Dave Pichilingi drew up a masterplan were the two of us would produce a daily magazine capturing the day and night’s talking points.
Subsequently, after four days of 9am starts and 4am finishes while relaying words and images to an outpost in the Sudan, indifference had left the building and joy had been replaced by a mild form of mania. Six months later we reconvened for the Dubai leg of Sound City and ‘took it easy’.
Suffice to say, I learnt numerous things about McNulty:
a) He may be a dwarf with only one fully functional foot (long story) but he can lug an army patrol’s worth of gear round a metropolis in temperatures which would have a camel’s arse dripping.
b) No matter who’s on stage, how MZNG they are – there’s another job waiting round the corner – and McNulty’s already left to go snap that picture.
c) No. Bullshit. Necessary. You can talk/write all you want but there’s usually a picture that tells the story much better. And McNulty’s picture usually tells it better than most.
d) As a really shite failed former musician (his words), McNulty shows, that with passion, dedication and an art for getting it right, almost, anyone can follow their dream.
Anyhoo, as this is the best of the rest list, the image above is my favourite of Mark’s from 2009 – some would say the reason for choosing it is clear, but it’s actually more specific – it was almost midnight, and Ipso Facto were preparing for their set at Korova during Liverpool Sound City, when McNulty collared them in a Seel Street carpark, and with barely a moment to spare grabbed this effortless, striking image – I’m particularly digging the expression on drummer Victoria’s face – it captures the glamour, fun and magic of music but also the limitless passion, vision and opportunism connected with an artist in love with his trade.
Label of the Year:
No-one could touch 4AD last year, but it was a closer run thing in 09: XL, Matador, Southern and the reigning champs each had a prolific year churning out top draw swag.
But one quick look at the Getintothis 50 and it soon becomes clear that Domino was top of the tree.
While Arctic Monkeys consolidated with a solid, if decidedly ok album number three, Domino swaggered up to the counter with three massive hitters in the shape of Dirty Projectors, Wild Beasts and Animal Collective. Not to mention decent returns from Bonnie Prince Billy, Junior Boys and Franz Ferdinand.
Festivals of the Year:
1. All Tomorrow’s Parties (toss up between The Breeders and Ten Years, but the latter edges it).
2. Liverpool Sound City (search through the mountains of reviews here)
3. Supersonic (review)
Worst Records of the Year:
1. The Enemy: Music For The People
2. Little Boots: Hands
3. Bon Jovi: The Circle
4. U2: No Line On The Horizon (Getintothis comment – the U2 conundrum)
5. Hot Leg: Red Light Fever
Venues of the Year:
1. The Kazimier, Liverpool.
2. Static Gallery, Liverpool.
3. O2 Academy, Liverpool.
Films of the Year:
I said it last year, and I’ll say it again, the filum industry is really going down the crapper. Though I did miss Antichrist, Up and Hurtlocker, the year was almost a complete write-off save for that little diamond Let The Right One In which managed to blend sinister, romance and offbeat Euro-style humour with a story which was both engaging and surprising til the end.
The Wrestler, Slum Dog and In The Loop were all watchable but really, are we all consigned to sitting in with HBO boxsets now?
1. Let The Right One In
2. The Wrestler
3. Slum Dog Millionaire
4. In The Loop
5. Inglorious Basterds
6. Damned United
7. Gran Torino
8. State Of Play
Tracks of 2009:
1. Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys: Empire State Of Mind
2. Yeasayer: Ambling Alp
3. Animal Collective: Brother Sport
4. Atlas Sound featuring Laetitia Sadier: Quick Canal
5. Fuck Buttons: Olympians
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Hysteric
7. Wild Beasts: All The King’s Men
8. Camera Obscura: French Navy
9. Sunn O))): Alice
10. Cyne: Pretty Apollo
***The downs are coming before the ups…***
Downs in 2009:
1. Michael Jackson. (A Getintothis tribute).
2. Watching the Glastonbury Festival on television for the first time in five years. It was a sobering experience which me realise how awfully produced music television is in this country. Failing to capture the spirit of the festival is one thing, but dictating a whole day’s coverage to Status Quo, Tony Christie, Tom Jones and Madness really was a sickener.
3. The continuing reformation culture – save for Take That – not one band has justified a return to the big stage.
Blah, blah, Blur – now here’s a band I did give a hoot about, and what do they go and do: reform, play several gigs, release a live cash-in CD and then duly jump ship again without so much as a sniff of new material. Well fuck you Blur, 1995 was incredible – 2009 was a pale immatation of was there then. Go back to cartoon bands and cheese-making. Oh good, I hear Soundgarden are back too…
4. Monochrome‘s closure – a fine new venue with much potential while appealing to a niche audience yet it proved too niche as it stuck around for barely six months. Big shame. Worse was the closure of the ‘old’ Korova. Sure, the new one’s pretty nifty but the olde ‘Rova is yet to be replaced as the bar of choice in town.
5. Animal Collective failing to reproduce their incredible ATP December show with a January outing at the Academy which left me not just underwhelmed but slightly cheated.
6. Hip hop – the year it supposedly died – incorrect, but once again rap became evermore diluted and lacking in the long-player stakes; it was left to Raekwon, Cyne, Mos Def and a handful of others to keep the ship just about floating. (Getintothis features on French hip hop // Time for Scouse Rap to stand up)
7. The sudden death of !!! and Juan Maclean drummer Jerry Fuchs. An inspiration Steven Wells. And of course, John Martyn.
8. Postponements: The xx, RZA and Oceansize and Vessels all pulled much anticipated dates while the NME Tour it was announced is missing the Pool out for the first time in it’s history in 2010 meaning no The Drums : (
9. The continuing bear pit that is the Echo Arena: you want piss thrown over you, pissing in sinks, fights, piss-drenched floors, dire security and generally a beautiful new arena being turned into a chaotic den of madness – wahey, we got it!
10. Ian McCulloch doing a Mariah and letting down a huge portion of Bunnymen fans in Dubai. Business? Economy? What class?
Ups in 2009:
1. The smug satisfaction that tipping Yeasayer way back when in 2007, was justified by their incredible, continuing transformation as witnessed with comeback ‘single’ Ambling Alp and their live show in Liverpool. (review from October Academy show).
2010 will mark the release of Odd Blood and Getintothis Yeasayer Watch. Look busy.
2. The realisation that our Capital of Culture year was merely the start of the snowball being rolled and that 2009 was a continuation of all that was good. 2010, what with MusEXPO coming to town alongside Liverpool Sound City plus the numerous ventures (Music Week et al) the future is looking very bright.
3. Lady Gaga – seriously nobody did it better.
4. a.P.A.t.T. – sometime soon, someone has to take a chance on this, the most inspired, dangerously all-over-t’-shop unsigned band in Liverpool.
5. Oasis splitting up. This is good in that now we have two Gallagher bros producing double the quantity of R&R. LOLZ at the haterz.
6. The long-awaited release of Nirvana live at Reading Festival 1992 – a quite incredible document of a legendary band in full flight – pop anvil hard.
7. Hipster Runoff
8. Rage owning Cowell. To be honest I shrugged with indifference while being inundated with Facebook requests. I shrugged again when friends asked if I’d bought/downloaded a copy of Killing In The Name (second-rate, dated song which aint even RATM at their best). Yet when it came to the day of reckoning I tuned in and couldn’t help raise a grin during Christmas Top Of The Pops. Good job. Let’s hope next year’s campaign brings things up to date, yeah?
9. The sudden retreat of hairy alt-country which crawled back to it’s log cabin to flick through back issues of Uncut never to be heard again in 09.
10. The Beatles remasters/Kraftwerk remasters. Long overdue and lovingly restored. Both essential.
^^^^^^^ Get ready and Getintothis ^^^^^^^
Finally a big thank youse to all those that’ve contributed to Getintothis throughought the last 12 months: promoters Revo, Darren, Ellis, Jon D; the PRs & label heads so helpful with requests; snappers Mina, Mark, Sakura & Matt; bar/venue managers Sam and Paula; Gill and Rosie at Cream; Dave, Rebekah, Carly, Becky and all at Sound City; and anyone else that have made 2009 a blast.
Happy New Year.
Getintothis’ Best of the Rest 2008
Getintothis’ Best of the Rest 2007