Monday, September 05, 2005

Getting Down With The Youth

Getting Down With The Youth

I like to think that I'm open to new experiences (remember that I was voted 'most likely to trya anything once' back in the days of navy school uniforms) so on Saturday night I did something a little leftfield for me. By leftfield I mean it didn't involve the Evil Eye or kleptomania of any sort which, let's face it, is my Saturday night staple. I went to see a youth choir. Seriously. Well, maybe not entirely seriously, the real reason I went to see them was that Megson were playing with them. I've only seen Megson play on their own once, on my first visit to the Bedford (which also holds the distinction of being the first time I heard Riccardi play on their own too). But it has to be said that they were overshadowed that night (though who wouldn't be by a Griffin/ Shakespeare combo with added Fox?). I gained their album at the start of this year, however, and it kind of gained a connection with the run up to SSoB. The album's rather folky-pop (and some times out and out folk) and, with its preoccupation with loss and the reality of long held dreams, it touched a chord.

But I should have expected it to. Whilst I think I will always believe that Griffin's version of 'More Than Me', the source of both SSoB's epigraph and the very title of this blog, is the definitive version it remains that the song actually belongs to Megson. And - as my stealing of its lines - my punishment being that I cannot listen to the 'distant aggravation' line without smirking - in my writing, in this blog, even in one of my essays - I'm rather in thrall to it. I suspect it has cemented its place in my life for reasons beyond any association it might have. Simply, I love 'More Than Me'. I'd love it whoever sung it. It's the kind of song that breaks your heart.

So the numerous plays of the album and the borderline obsession with 'More Than Me' meant I was quite keen to see Megson again, away from the Griffin circus and without references to Cymbeline. And they didn't dissapoint. Stu, who I'd gone away from the last gig thinking that his voice was a little weak, was absolutely tremendous. Understated but totally captivating in a rather unexpected manner. And 'More Than Me' shone out; really as I should have always known that it would. Even the youth choir proved to be noticeably talented and - crucially - enjoyable. Which goes to prove that stepping outside the saturday night comfort zone can be incredibly worthwhile. Next time, though, I think I'd like to see a fully fledged Megson gig, the songwriting alone would be worth the ticket price.

When the audience participation bit was over the night was still young. So we took a couple more leftfield decisions, first of all ending up in Billingham - which smelt overwhelmingly of smoke and didn't seem to be a rockin', even given the Saturday night fact - and then, with some incredibly cheap and fantastic chinese food, watching The Karen Carpenter Story at Cat Towers (***). Up until this point my knowledge of Karen had been pretty much limited to the fact that she died a few weeks after I was born. With the aid of some questionable scriptwriting and some even worse wigs I got a York Notes version of Karen. And it's odd because though I mocked - you would too if you'd seen the wigs - and I didn't get sucked in enough to cry (remember I cry regularly at Neighbours) I must have been touched enough for it still to be pretty vivid 48 hours later. It strikes me that it would make a great play if the writer zoomed in on Karen towards the end of her life and made it retrospective. Or flipped about with the time scheme, like Hare's Plenty, just giving flashes. Tunnelling, Ginny Woolf called it. Tunnelling and better wigs would be the key...But I suspect that if any of those in the room in the early hours of Sunday morning are to write about Karen, it may well be the owner of 'The Karen Carpenter Story' video. Things like that tend to be a pointer.

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