Magazine article The Spectator

Magic Moments

Magazine article The Spectator

Magic Moments

Article excerpt

My heart's beating faster. I've been completely immersed in pop music all week. Spent the days playing bass with Blur in a rehearsal studio complex, a dozen or more sticky soundproof cells right next to Pentonville Prison: overhearing The Pretenders, Ash and Feeder on my way to the bog; unidentified waterfalls of soul and volcanoes of rock billowing and erupting from windowless corridors. After ripping through 40 songs at high volume on Tuesday I went to meet my music publisher at the cafe by the Serpentine.

Well, he was full of beans. Always is: the music industry runs on a mixture of enthusiasm, gossip and serendipity. We sat in deckchairs in the shade of a willow yammering 19 to the dozen as the sun went down.

'The talk's not great on the Florence and the Machine album, ' he said. 'Shame. Mark Ronson and SuBo, though. That's what everyone's talking about today. That, I would pay to go and see.' Then he listed half a dozen brilliant demos he'd been listening to that afternoon: a Mariachi band from Texas, a synth pop duo from East London, a singer whose name eludes me.

Still, it's hard at the moment. The big crisis facing the industry is not the internet. The internet is good for business, ultimately.

The bigger problem is that music used to be the focus of all youth culture. It's not any more. Celebrity is. Still, we can dream. I've got an orchestra that I'm not sure what to do with. My publisher's not, either. They are like stately homes or churches, orchestras: magnificent anachronisms. Nobody knows what to fill them up with, or use them for any more: more fantastic as structures than anything that's happened since I was born, but what to do with them?

Apparently, skateboarding is now very popular inside Canterbury Cathedral. 'What about doing The Great Escape "March", with the orchestra for the next World Cup?'

I suggest. 'We'll do all the rabble rousers, but really posh versions? . . .We'll get some fat blokes to sing? Maybe do the Grandstand theme as well, that's a cracker . . . ' We both like Stricken City, an unsigned band from London. They were second on the bill at the ICA and we wandered over. A huge queue outside, but it was for another event in the building, someone signing comics. Stricken City have almost everything.

If they had just one knockout song then the queue would be for them. …

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