As I’m sure you can tell, I’m a butt kicking, rock and roll, party animal. My blood is bourbon, my breath is smoke and my heart beats like a bass drum. I know that all the evidence seems to contradict this, but it’s true. “But Viper!” you seem to cry, “You haven’t been to a gig in twelve years!” Not true, dear ones. I went to a gig last night.
It’s a paradox for me that I love music, I love cutting loose and I love hollerin’ away to tunes that I know… and yet I don’t go to live music events. It’s partly down to my condition: social situations can make me anxious, planning events makes me tense and being depressed usually makes me think, “It’s easier not to bother. Listen to it at home and you won’t get in a fight, have to wait around for the gig to start or have to look at the hideous creatures known as ‘other people’.”
I’ve really not seen that many bands live. My first gig involved tolerating a ‘Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’ for the sake of my best mate when I was 16. I enjoyed U2 at Wembley in my later teens. I’ve seen ‘Pulp’ at Rock City in Nottingham, a band I really love. All of these gigs happened to me thanks to other people. I enjoyed them all, but the experiences never galvanized me into becoming a real muso. I’ve only ever seen bands and artists that friends wanted to see. My friends needed me to come along to make up the numbers.
Recently I got fond of “Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats”. I stumbled across them on telly when I was feeling really low and their lust for life helped me through. Mrs Viper bought me one of their albums and I entertained myself by roaring along to it when I was in the car (alone). On one occasion, Mrs Viper saw my fiery passion for the band: I was drunk and she was driving. My hollering and whooping entertained her so much that she decided I should see them live. She’s a treasure, don’t you agree?
Seeing the band involved getting to Leeds. It involved parking in a new car park. It involved going to a venue that I don’t know. All these things fill me with dread. It’s just easier not to bother, isn’t it? I can listen to the music on my own! Mrs Viper had bought the tickets, though. She was planning the whole thing. I just had to behave myself.
I have NO idea why Mrs Viper treats me so well. It baffles me. She says she loves me, but it has to be more complicated than that.
We deposited our offspring with their grandparents, much to the delight of all. The Sat Nav was programmed and away we went up the motorway. Imagine! Driving to a different city on a school night, to see a band, no less! I know, I know. I’m like a combination of Mick Jagger and Hunter S. Thompson.
After negotiating a traditionally impenetrable British one-way system, we found a suitable multi-storey car park. I’m pleased to report that we did not crash, we were not mugged and I had the right money to pay for a ticket. Fuck you, anxieties! The world was on MY side! Food was necessary, so we went to… you will find this hard to believe… Subway! I know! I know! The Viper eating a Sub! It’s like the Queen going to the chippy for a kebab. It’s like the Pope grabbing a burger from a street vendor. It happened. I ate in the street like a rapscallion. How louche!
The venue was the 02 Academy. It’s a bit like Rock City in Nottingham. You know Rock City in Nottingham, don’t you? Good.
I felt twenty years younger. I haven’t done clubbing or gigs in so long that it was pleasantly nostalgic. What made it better was being there with a wife who loves me. Obviously everybody who looked at me thought I was absurd, ugly or a combination of both, but they didn’t say anything, so that’s ok.
The support act was a bloke I’ve never heard of and never listened to. He was tremendous. He’s called Ed Harcourt and I’ve had a listen to his stuff online. He is far more powerful live, so I’m glad I saw him. He’s a bit Nick Cave, a bit Tom Waits and a bit seductive sex god. I’m always rather impressed by musicians and singers, but this chap had real charisma. Both myself and Mrs Viper were tempted to kidnap him, but we thought better of it. His best song, in my humble yet correct opinion was called “Loup Garou”. He explained that was French for werewolf. I KNOW Ed, I’m startlingly erudite. I’ll forgive him. It was a top tune.
When the “Night Sweats” took the stage, I got a little boisterous. Like Conan the barbarian, I am a man of deep melancholy and mighty passions. The band are so energetic, so charming and so vivacious that they make me howl with pleasure. Today I can hardly hear or speak. It’s worth it. I’m not a music journalist, stop expecting me to be! Describing music is tough. I would say that they play soul. You’ve got trumpet and sax, piano and organ, guitars and drums. These are tunes that make you want to stamp your feet, clap your hands and shake your hips… all things which I indulged in. I made sure that I was mightily courteous of those around me, though. I’m six foot three of hairy beast, so I try to be careful not to inconvenience others with my exuberance. I was mildly annoyed at one point by a drunken woman who was flailing so much that she was bothering other people, but someone else confronted her and she stormed off. I’m glad I didn’t have to do it, I hate confrontation. When you’re tall, like me, you always look like a bully if you have a word with others.
I’ve digressed. I was supposed to be talking about the band. I’m struggling for words because I’m not musical. I can tell you how they made me feel. It was a religious experience for me. It’s so rare that I’m suffused with pure excitement and joy. Comedy and music can do this for me. So can sex, but you don’t want to hear about that, do you? Oh, reader, you let yourself down, sometimes. Perhaps another time, you saucy devil.
Check out “Never Grow Old” and “S.O.B”. These are the tracks that will hook you, if you can be hooked. If you don’t like them, don’t worry. It’s a question of taste, not morality. Admittedly, it means that I would secretly hate you, but I secretly hate lots of people, it’s fine! We can still be friends (we can’t, we hardly know each other, stop pushing me).
People say that time flies when you’re having fun, but the evening was not gone in a flash. I was truly present in the moment. I wasn’t analysing, I was DOING. I was part of a happy crowd, all happy about the same thing. I felt that time passed at a true rate, something that is odd for me. I have weird experiences with time that I might talk about at some point. Watching the band made everything right, everything balanced. Mrs Viper was in front of me, protected and safe. I was happy. Thanks Mrs V.
It was after midnight when I got in. I live like a Roman Emperor, I know. Seeing as I was in mood of mad debauchery, I had a glass of wine and smoked my pipe. It’s a filthy habit and I don’t do it regularly, but I’m a rock god, so sometimes I have to push the boundaries.
I hope this post has given you some insight into my mental state and the world I live in. Sorry it’s not a better review of the talented musicians that helped me to be happy. If I could I would hug each and every one of them. I might hug them for slightly too long, mind. I think I’d hold back from kissing them, but if the mood took them… who knows… I’d be a refreshingly different groupie.
Enough. Don’t you understand that I’m drained?! Stop making these demands upon me! I will share more of myself with you at another time. Go now. Be satisfied.