No pictures, this time, as the Mean Fiddler policy is to stamp on your camera with big hobnail boots if they discover one (having said that, a few people did manage to smuggle them in, but there wasn't anything like the comedy of people bringing in video cameras like in America). Amusingly, the PA was playing Life Without Buildings "The Leanover" as everybody was having their tickets examined. It's strange that I first heard it two weeks ago, and now I'm hearing it everywhere.
The LA2 is a split-level affair, so you can watch groups from the balcony, if you desire. Being something of a purist in these things, I decided against that option, and made my way to the stage, ending up in the second row. Hurrah!
First band on was Klang. Nice enough, but nothing I haven't seen or heard before (as has been pointed out many times, my collection of bands featuring female vocals is varied and comprehensive). Next up, Electrelane. This is where I realise I may have made a slight mistake. I'M IN THE SECOND ROW OF AN ELECTRELANE PERFORMANCE! HELP! The first sonic booms of the bass guitar confirm that I'm in trouble. People in the first three rows clutch their heads as the low frequency sonics hit the back of their brains. The guy behind me develops a nosebleed. Seriously.
It's actually the first time that I've seen Electrelane, and they don't disappoint. The aforementioned Death-bass, a guitarist who bears a slight resemblance to the esteemed Ms. Laverne (now hosting trashy satellite dating shows, but once part of the Band of Champions that was Kenickie), plus lots of groovy keyboard action. I do prefer it when they don't sing, though. They're more intense without words.
Sleater-Kinney come out at around 9:30pm (UK concerts tend to start and finish a little bit earlier than the American ones, I've found), and immediately storm into a blistering "Oh!"
[At this point, we leave the relatively calm and collected manner of this entry so far for a bit of breathless gushing. Please stand by. — Ed.]
OH MY GOD! CARRIE IS WEARING MY BELT! MY BELT! MYYYYYYY BBEEEEEEELLLLLLTTTTT!!!
[*smack* Sorry about that, readers. He's under orders not to do it again. — Ed.]
Ahem. It's at this point that I'm given another culture shock. You see, the audiences at the Cat's Cradle were a little different. Sedate is the wrong word, as there was much dancing, but it never quite got to the point where serious injuries could result. However, back in Britain, there's a certain class of drunken [first syllable of Buckminsterfullerene, rhyming fans] that decide they really deserve to be at the front of the crowd, and that no-one can stop them in attaining this goal. Cue lots of pain for those unfortunate enough to be in their way (i.e. me). This is especially bad if you're already hemmed in to the point where you're close enough to smell the hair of the girl in front (recently dyed blue, for those of you who were wondering about the previous entry), but you can't step back because there's a girl jammed behind you, blowing smoke from her cigarette onto the back of your neck. What about the sides, I hear you ask? I couldn't even lift my arms up without striking several people, so that wasn't much of an option either.
Anyway, the band played much the same set as when I last saw them, playing most of their current album "One Beat", throwing in two new songs, "Giraffe" and "Entertainment", and a smattering of songs from their previous work, including the pirate-themed "The End of You" (the only track from "The Hot Rock" that they played, sadly). Highlights included Corin's teasing version of "Words And Guitar", "One Beat" as an interpretive dance number, and the stomp and glam of "Step Aside". Plus! Janet with an industrial fan! Carrie dances like a rock God once more (but disappointingly without the cool shuffling)! She invites everybody to the after party, only to trip up on the rather British place name; "We don't have names like Rathbourne back in America."
I don't enjoy myself quite as much as last time, due to all the pushing and pulling. I felt obliged to keep an eye on the girl beside me; while I am sure that she was fully capable of looking after herself, she looked extremely close to fainting after the third song, and her small stature meant that she was being thrown around like a hockey puck. She was rather annoyed by this, but her attempts to stop it weren't going very well, so I attempted to absorb most of the momentum from her assailants. Unfortunately, I ended up behind a girl with very long dreadlocks, so for the final two songs I was lashed by coarse bunches of hair. Ow.
Part of me was tempted by the idea of the after party, but when I was in the queue outside, I was in front of the people who were doing the organisation, and it sounded like a "too cool for school" affair, and sadly, I wasn't. Anyway, I had a train to catch, and while it's reasonably acceptable to go to a concert by yourself (although, as it has been four years since I went with someone else, it would be nice to go with someone again), going to a party alone is a little out there. Plus I didn't have enough money for the ridiculous amounts of alcohol that would be required before I had the courage to join a dancefloor that included Janet, Corin, and Carrie.
Was it as good as the Cat's Cradle gig? No, there was something special about that, maybe because it was the first time I had seen them live, maybe Carrie's dance steps, maybe the fact that I had an exam the next morning (did well in it too!), or maybe it was that it lasted until 2am and that the walk back to Chapel Hill from Carrboro was fantastic. Nevertheless, it was still a great concert. And rather a surprising one, considering that their latest album was never officially released here. Hopefully the sell-out of this mini-tour will change that.