Sunday, June 14, 2020

a past gone mad (eternal returns)

this lineup of horror for 2021 (promoters hopefully assuming things return to normal on the mass gathering front) flashed me back to those strange jumbles of artists from different eras that I would see in the section of concert / tour / festival ads at the back of Uncut in the mid-2000s

blogged about it in this 2005 post A Past Gone Mad, an early expression of befuddled dismay and atemporal disorientation of a kind that culminated in me doing Retromania a few years later

a decade-and-a-half on, there's even more of a Nineties flavour (in 2005 The Farm, Happy Mondays, a Hacienda renactment represented baggy-nostalgia) but there's also a discernible Noughties-redux ripple running through the hodgepodge

if we're retro-blogging (in both senses) here's a couple more Past Gone Mad blogs from back in the day


  1. Phil Knight sez:

    Happy Mondays and Primal Scream in the burger tent.

    One under-remarked aspect of old bands hanging around is how poor they tend to look in aesthetic terms. I saw this photo of Wire the other day, and if not forewarned I really could have spent all day trying to guess who they were:

    They look like three Wetherspoons regulars and their cider drinking nephew. And they used to look so effortlessly elegant - never a bad picture of them.

    Seems to be a massive unprompted demythologising process going on as part of the wind-down of popular culture. It can't escape the gravitational pull of bathos.

  2. true

    was a bit of a shock seeing the doc on the Stone Roses reformation earlier this year - the band becoming middle aged men... the toll of time was even worse with the audience though

    Mark Fisher said a clever thing which is that all pop stories if followed through doggedly to the terminus of their narrative arc end up with some kind of disappointment - betrayal, compromise, bad blood, declining powers, the not entirely purely motivated reformation. something tarnishing the legend. that was one of his reasons for being anti-biographical in his approach to writing about music, even when the artist was iconic and deserving of individual focus. just concentrate on the good bits, the achievement... avoid the slogging and plodding on, the lifer-in-the-industry the diminishing returns.

    there's few groups where there's more than 2 or 3 records that really matter. some only have one.

  3. What is it about the phrase Pete Tong & the Heritage Orchestra that I find so disheartening?

    I can't say I've ever been a big fan of Duran Duran, but they were always a group with a glam imperative -" This group shall not wear jeans, etc " and it feels like a victory for the wrong side that they have now become just another act on the festivals bill. Would the Duran Duran of 1982 really have been content to be a feature of " a good day out "?

    1. yes the Pete Tong Heritage Orchestra takes the biscuit despite serious competition

      it's horribly motley - Mavis Staples on the same night lineup as Razorlight and The Alarm

  4. Phil Knight sez:

    I had a similar feeling when I saw a Sixties compilation that was "curated by Jon Savage". "Curated" is absolutely the deadest word in the English language. Jon Savage is the undertaker of pop music, I think - he even looks like one.

    I remember in an interview in MM in the late 80's that Laibach made exactly the opposite point to Mark Fisher - they said something like "we do not judge Iggy Pop merely by his time in the Stooges, we judge him in his entirety." The inference was of course that the long decline and commercial compromise phase also had much to say sociologically. Possibly even that this phase was actually "the real thing".

  5. Haha that's clever of Laibach

    Nick Cave had a whole thing about preferring the late, decaying Elvis in Vegas

    he also expressed sympathy-interest in the born-again Dylan of Infidels etc, i seem to recall

    the Laibach angle is slightly different from another thing which is people who scour through the later, past-prime stretches of artists for stray gems... that's more like the auteurist approach with films, where you find traces of genius in early hack efforts by directors, and faints gleams still in the later works