The album cover of Daniel Johnston's Hi, How Are You, on the occasion of his death

Go, go, go, go, you restless soul

Saying goodbye to Daniel Johnston, who died this week, and thanking him for all he gave. Continue reading Go, go, go, go, you restless soul

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The music of our wedding

It was my fifth wedding anniversary on Saturday (don’t worry, I didn’t spend it writing this). As is usual when our anniversary comes around, I’ve been thinking a lot about not only our marriage, but our wedding day itself. In particular, all the music that played a part in that day. Music has always been a huge part of our lives, both before and since we met (at a music festival as it happens), so there was never any doubt it would also play an important part in our wedding.

We married at the Unitarian Church in Brighton, a venue which we had first attended, and fallen in love with, for a concert (part of the city’s Great Escape festival, which utilises pretty much every venue in town). One of the many good things about holding the ceremony there was that a piano and pianist came as part of the package, we just had to decide what we wanted him to play. We chose ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’, the Chet Baker version of which is one of our favourite songs, for my wife’s walk up the aisle, and ‘Here Comes The Sun’ for our exit from the church. For the intermission of the ceremony, where my wife and I disappeared off to sign the register, a less obvious choice, Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th, a brief but gorgeous piano interlude on an album otherwise comprised of discordant electronica. I like to think we were the first couple to ask for an Aphex Twin track to be played at that particular venue, but this is Brighton we’re talking about, so perhaps not.

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What makes for a memorable gig?

I wrote a couple of weeks back about my poor memory, and in particular gigs I had forgotten about. In a way, it’s not surprising. I’ve no idea how many gigs I’ve attended in my life, but in my 11 years living in Manchester, it was a least a couple a month (often many more), and plenty in the years before or since. I reckon 500 would be a conservative estimate, not counting all the bands I’ve seen at festivals. So, no wonder a few have slipped my mind. It got me wondering though, what does make one gig more memorable than another? Here are a few of my suggestions.

1. A memorable support act.

You generally know what to expect from the headline act. They’ll play lots of songs you know and like, otherwise presumably you wouldn’t be going to see them. The fact that you enjoy the band you are there to see is not in itself memorable. But an unexpectedly superb support act is much more likely to stick in your mind. My favourite example is going to see the briefly successful post-hardcore band Hundred Reasons, and being blown away by their support band 65daysofstatic, a perfect fusion of Warp style electronica and heavy post-rock, not at all what I expected to hear. The headline act turned out to be a non-event, but I’ll never forget that gig. It can work the other way too. I once saw Atari Teenage Riot support Nine Inch Nails and they played 45 minutes of white noise, annoying the crowd to the extent that they were literally screaming “f**k off” at the top of their voices. I kind of enjoyed it personally, just because it was so extreme and the antithesis of everything a support act should do. And I will always remember it, whereas I remember nothing of Nine Inch Nails’ set at all.

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