Monday, September 12, 2011

Electric Picnic 2011

I'm away for a couple of days this week guys but have scheduled a few posts because I don't want to miss Talli's launch party :) I may not be responding to comments as much as I'd like though, so apologies for that! - Ellen

Last weekend I went to Electric Picnic on Sunday. I mostly went to see Pulp.

When I was a teenager, I wasn't very happy (I gather most teenagers aren't). I read a lot. I wrote. I told myself I was unhappy because I was an artistic genius, but I believed that I was unhappy because I was a gigantic pain in the face. The latter was closer to the truth :)

And I listened to music.

I have the musical equivalent of dyslexia. I cannot sing to save my life - my tone of voice isn't unpleasant but I can't hit a note. I am tone deaf. But I love music. I don't get it, and I never will, but I trust it to work its magic.

I still listen to music a lot, but the artists that I loved when I was a teenager, dreaming of being anyone else but me, will always have a special place.

I saw two of them at the weekend.

There was Bob Geldof, who I loved first as the frontman of the Boomtown Rats and later as a solo performer. The Rats were making music long before my time, but I found Geldof's autobiography in my parents' bookshelf and read it. I enjoyed it so much (although it doesn't pull any punches so it's not for the easily shocked) that I sought out his music.

I bought Loudmouth, a compilation of the Rats and Geldof's solo work, in a pound shop one town over from where I lived. There were two tapes with very similar track listings. One was five pounds and one was ten - I tried to buy the five pound one but the owner claimed he couldn't find it. I didn't believe him, so on principle, I didn't fork out the extra fiver.

I went back a week later. I had to know what these songs were like.

And it turned out that I loved Geldof's literate lyrics, and his Irishness. A young man who hated where he was from, and grew up to be first an artist and then an activist. He couldn't but inspire me.

My grandmother used to play the Rats' 'I Don't Like Mondays' on the piano. Hearing the opening notes of that song on Sunday night, in a tent, surrounded by people older than my parents and younger than my neices, was quite something.

Then it was time for Pulp to close the festival, and they were amazing. It was their last gig on the reunion tour and they have no plans to play together again. 'This may be the last time we all gather together to hear this song. . . ' Jarvis said, before the last song, '. . . and maybe someday our paths will cross again. Thank you all.' Then they played Common People, and the whole crowd roared, sang and danced like children - no one trying to look good, no one posing, no one caring.

Pulp seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if they toured again. If they do, I'll be there.

The first time I heard of Pulp, I was about 11 or 12 and I decided to watch Top of the Pops on the BBC so I'd know a bit about the music that everyone in school was talking about (I was a weird kid. I liked soul and blues, which gave me feck all to say to people my own age). Pulp's single, Misshapes, was the first song they played. I don't remember anything else. I just knew I liked it, and that when someone asked me what music I was into, I could honestly say 'I like Pulp.' I don't remember buying their album, but their lyrics, their stories, their songs became the anthems that carried me through those years.

Pulp became a part of me, and dancing stupidly to Common People in a field in Laois was a far more amazing moment than you might think.

What music has been important to you? What music gets you through the tough times? What artist would you cross an ocean to see play live?


  1. I love both Pulp and Boomtown Rats so I envy you what must have been a fabulous time!

    There are so many artists I admire but if I could only pick one it would be Elvis Costello. His lyrics are incredible and even when he covers a song he manages to make it sound uniquely his.

  2. I'd cross an ocean to see Matchbox 20 live. I've loved them since I was 14 but I've never had a chance to go to a concert of them. Which is a real bummer. Even now when I think about it, it makes me kind of sad.

    Other than that, I love soul music, R&B, and some pop.

  3. Hi! I gave you a shout-out on my post today! Thank you for following me. I hope lots of folks drop by for a cup of tea with you!

  4. Pulp and The Boomtown Rats; The mistress and the first love for me! Seen both live twice in the last three years (Pulp more recently of coures) and a solo Geldof to boot the other night. Perhaps the two most important bands in my life. Not sure if I would cross any oceans to see them, but whenever they are in town (London that is) both are unmissable.

    Excuse the shameless self promotion!

  5. Not shameless self-promotion when it's relevant, ArrGee :) Nice to meet you!

    I've never seen the Rats, would love to. I'm keeping an eye out for gigs over here.

  6. Gerry Cott turned up to play with Geldof and Briquette in London and that was the first time in about 30 years the three of them were on stage together. The Simon Crowe and Garry Roberts incarnation is closer in spirit and sound to the original band and my personal preference.

    No signs of The Rats following Geldof to Ireland. I was working in Dublin on and off a couple of years ago hoping they would head over but they never did. They live in the west of England, and mainly play in that area.

    Came across your blog looking for a review of Geldof at Electric Picnic. Plenty about the interview, but very little on his show.

    As for Pulp, the Hyde Park and Brixton gigs are two of the ten greatest gigs I have ever attended. The thing is the seven of the other eight are Pulp from 1993-2001 :-)

    Live On


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