21 May 2010

New Model Army Unplugged!

Orange Street Music Club in Canterbury played host to an acoustic gig Justin Sullivan and Dean White from New Model Army. It was a privilege to catch such a hoary rocker with a reputation honed over nearly 30 years of performing.

Getting tickets was the tricky part as they were limited to only 100 but luckily Jenny and Rob came up trumps and purchased me and C two of the last remaining at the Orb gig the week before.

It was a hard evening; the air was balmy, the fatigue factor from work overload high; ensconced on the sofa in the early evening watching “The Road” on DVD unable to contain our comments as we shouted out differences to the book; an easy sport considering the book takes 6 hours or so to read and film is only 2 hours. I was saying I hope the “coke can” scene is in (it was); the filmmakers moved some scenes around and changed the order and duration and plain made some stuff up (the cannibal house scene in the book events happened with the protagonists a fair distance away but in the film they created dramatic tension by having them trapped in the house). It was all the better for it as the film was fantastically grim and uplifting at the same time. Just like the best tunes; they make you feel a bit sad and yet happy at the same time. A film confirming that appreciating the really small, good things in life really does help you survive and carry the flame of hope.

Justin and Dean did the same thing to us later that night. That mix of melancholy, anger, indignation and the celebration of life affirming action. The melodic, acoustic nature of hearing a few old NMA songs unplugged really opened them out to me and made me appreciate their, there is no other word for it, folk-rock-r&b roots. Always genre defying in their approach the folk side played out the best allowing the vocal front of stage. “We’re going to do a few songs about the sea coz we’ve got loads of songs about the sea” Justin said at one point. C goes “I wish they had subtitles for their lyrics”. The OSMC may be a nice, cosy intimate little club but their sound system leaves a lot to be desired and at times understanding the words became an end in itself. Dean walked calmly around the stage; sometimes doing nothing, sometimes adding a few keys here and there sometime adding a bit percussion; always just complimenting and never stealing the limelight. Two old friends easy in each other’s company just playing a few of their favourite tunes for a gathering of friends.

Maintaining their independent spirit; doing what they wanted; no compromise. At all! Now that’s the attitude I want to see those 50 something guitar heroes exhibit. A spirit of punk, a spark of rebellion, politics, humanism
and indignant anger still glinting in their eyes.

Now, I must get off home and get to bed. I’ve got work in the morning.