Walking back from mine to work yesterday after a quick soup lunch, I took out the I-pod I have on loan and noticed that there was a Grandaddy album on there that I didn’t know so well, Sumday.
I put it on and instantly felt rather nostalgic for the band, excellent that they were. They were/are a real inspiration in their approach to recording and songwriting. That frazzled fragility and lyrical stoicism. They managed to be incredibly heartfelt without being cheesy. I even saw them live once upon a time at the Student’s Union in Newcastle. I remember thinking that they looked really tired and sick of this shit.
Anyway, I got back to work, sat down and continued on with my day, a crushing and cumulative combination of the boring and the inane.
About ten minutes in, I get a text from Alex (OIB Records) asking if I wanted to do a support slot for Jason Lytle tonight.
Seemed a bit odd. Maybe I was distantly aware that he was playing somewhere at some point in Brighton but it never really connected. I of course replied yes.
I got myself to Jam, that sticky little black box, just off the seafront and sound checked my guitar and vocal in about 60 seconds flat. I noted the reflective wooden surface was quite clonky – good for a good stamp.
I sat with Jason and he was happy to chat. He is kind of famously shy – he later played up his shyness a bit with the crowd. Martha hosts the Catweazle night at the Red Roaster on Thursday nights, so I thought what the hell I’ll ask him if he fancies popping over after the gig to play a song or two. He seemed up for it – it was his last night of quite a long tour with Midlake and he was in a quiet celebratory kind of mood.
There was something slightly awkward about me asking someone I’ve essentially only just met (and me obviously being something of a fan boy at this point) to go for a drink after. He put me at ease by telling me a story that he was just invited at the last minute to go to a Mark Linkous tribute night the following evening and he had starting fretting about whether he could remember how to play any Sparklehorse songs. He had begun saying this to the organiser – that he was a bit nervous because presumably everyone else will be rehearsed and he’ll have to just throw it together and just play something solo – you know, it might be a bit shit.
He then realised that the organiser wasn’t actually asking him to play at all. Just thought it would be nice if he could make it. Cos you know, he was your bud and everything.
I said he was welcome to play at Catweazle. Or not, you know. Whatever.
Man why are these encounters so bloody awkward! At least he wasn’t a dick. Meeting dicky heroes is problematic. He was lovely. He spent my set sitting in the backstage bit to the side, drawing cartoons on skateboards and whooping kindly every time I finished a song. He was selling limited edition skateboards, posters and postcards with his drawings on because he had run out of cds. Excuse me while I nick that idea.
My set went well I think. It was nice to be able to mess around a bit with my songs. It’s not like anyone would know or care. And having just done a headlining tour, it was good to be again in that slightly gladitorial position of trying to win over a totally apathetic crowd who are NOT there to see you but are there to see their HERO. Who is this IDIOT on stage ANYWAY and why is he NOT MY HERO?
I think I made a bit of a faux pas at one point (possibly right at the start of my set – DUH!) by accidentally mis-pronouncing his name. It never really occurred to me. I said Jason Lytle like Little.
Maybe the clue is in the Y. I don’t know. Why did I say it like that? No one else seemed to say it like that. They said it the way his parents probably intended and I got up on stage in front of his worshippers, desperate for some of that love myself, and mispronounced the name of their HERO.
“It’s great to be here with Lou Red!”
“Another round of applause please for Bill Gallahad!”
And so on.
So Jason played his set and the first song he played was the first song I had listened to that day, Now It’s On. The crowd were so attentive, whistling and filling in the bits of music that were missing. Keyboard melodies, guitar lines. I was keeping the drums going in my head. He occasionally threw the odd casiotone drum beat in and a bit of those signature organ arpeggios.
He mostly played a Grandaddy greatest hits set. I don’t know if I expected that, but I think he made a pretty safe move. It would have been a very different affair if he had imposed a set of unknown songs upon his fans. He was feeling awkward enough as it was, he told us.
It was an incredibly nostalgic mood that I fell into watching his set. I kept thinking I would go upstairs at some point, to get a drink or have a sit down. I couldn’t bring myself to leave. It was beautiful and captivating.
At the end of the show I tried my best to drag him to Catweazle but it was clearly never going to happen and looking at the time, I was thinking it would be too late anyway. I gave him a copy of the Laish album and he looked with confusion at the cover. It’s a fairly stock response I’ve noticed. What IS this? I’ve already seen the Human Centipede dude, I don’t want it on pirate DVD.
I shook his hand and went off into the night to drink a celebratory Guinness with the Catweazlers.
Here’s a nice video of song he most definitely did not play: