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Saturday 14 January 2023

Saturday Live

I thought this might be a good idea for a Saturday series, so I'll kick it off today and see how far it runs before I/ we all get bored of it. A month ago I posted a song by Verve, the early pre- The, Verve, four skinny wastrels from Winstanley college, Wigan who formed to playa  friend's house party and quickly became psychedelic adventures, built around a pummelling rhythm section, a rake thin, long haired, wide eyed, charismatic frontman and the skyscraping, shoegaze x Hendrix guitar playing of Nick McCabe. I posted the song Gravity Grave, an eight minute northern epic and a link to Jesse Fahnestock's 10:40s edit of the early B- side One Way To Go. In the comments Jesse recommended that for the full early Verve experience we should watch the fifty minute film of their gig at Camden Town Hall in October 1992 (actually it was 23rd October 1992, for those of you who are twenty three fans). 

It's professionally filmed, presumably for a regional music programme, nine songs long, starting with Slide Away and ending with Gravity Grave. The first few minutes alone are worth the price of entry, McCabe's silvery, distorted guitar lines cutting through the darkness and blue light. Ashcroft sings in that wasted, psychonaut way he had when they started, swimming like a mermaid when the band are playing the instrumental breaks (they're not really breaks, they're integral to the songs). The group ebb and flow, a slow burning energy, totally controlled but loose as you like, and then there's an explosion of guitar at five minute forty that could skin a cat. 

All In The Mind, their first single, follows, a song about getting in a car with an older woman who tells him, 'You were born to fly my son/ I say 'hey I already know'/ Because it's all inside'. Around Richard's words McCabe blows up buildings and sucks planets into black holes. To jump to the end, Verve are joined by a white shirted flautist and some stage divers. The flautist is as cool dancing, her hair flying around, as she is adding some atonal flute to Gravity Grave's sonics. Richard bounces, arms outstretched. Nick plays guitar like the Silver Surfer might sound, arriving ahead of Galactus in a blur of noise, feedback and chaos. I'm not sure they ever quite captured this on record but bless 'em, they tried. 


Anonymous said...

Early Verve, before Ashcroft turned into a wife stealing lothario, were incredible. I saw them early on in 1992 or 1993 at the Grand in Clapham I think. A brilliant gig.
Great idea for a series. Would you take a guest offering?

Anonymous said...

Sorry that was me. Swc

Swiss Adam said...

I would absolutely take a guest offering Swc.