Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This great society is going smash

Just back from an awesome gig by The Books at QEH. They played for not far short of an hour and a half -- about sixteen songs, mostly with video projected at the back of the stage. I never realized there's only two of them -- the detail of their work, not just the complexity of the layering but the incredible delicacy and precision of it, would have seemed naturally to arise from some larger collective. The video stuff and the heavy sampling meant they were playing along with prerecorded files, which is always kind of a shame, particularly because in so many other ways what they do works brilliantly as theatre; but the trade-off is probably worth it. If you don't know their stuff, go looking, I'd say, it's exceptionally gripping, often profoundly moving ('Be Good To Them Always' in particular is desperately sad, for mostly indecipherable reasons) and yet charming and unassuming. There they are in that magic hour between Ben Marcus (honorary CEO of these premises) and David Gordon Green. And the 'D' turned out to stand for Drake, as in Nick, as in 'Cello Song', their encore; it couldn't have been more beautifully judged. They should come back and play again soon, like tomorrow or something. London loves them. A foyer full of cute bespectacled grad students with (between them) the full human array of beards and almost-beards, all clamouring to buy The Books oven mitts, can't be wrong.

Not only did they spark off some intriguing new thoughts for The Goodman Portraits but also their video stuff reminded me to post this here -- Harmony Korine directs for Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. It's great as long as you're not expecting Rentaghost. This one goes out to Sam, in lieu of a more apposite dog-treat or cough-drop.

So anyway the top 20 albums is going to be a top 50, maybe starting tomorrow, and building to an almost spoonbending climax sometime next week as I announce the winners of the 2006 Perkins Awards. Throw out your advent calendar, it's useless now. Which reminds me -- Gevorts Box is temporarily down, but don't give up on us baby, it's just a little local difficulty; I'll be uploading tracks from the Top 50 as we go along so DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL. Seriously, don't touch it. Just don't.

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