Dispatches from the Madhouse Pt 2
Greetings Asylum Seekers
‘When the music changes, the walls of the city shake”, said the Greek philosopher Plato while laying down the ground rules for Western Civilisation.
More recently, his words have been borrowed by everyone from beat poet Allen Ginsberg to proto-punks The Deviants to The Clash to explain how a sea-change in musical taste can effect a society which has lost its cultural radar. Now, call me a hopeless optimist but the events of the last seven days felt like the first rumblings of something big on the sonic seismograph. Last weekend, the puppet masters of Britain’s Got Talent found their exploitative freak show backfiring horribly when they reduced a twelve year old child to tears and sent Susan Boyle (or should I say, Su-Bo) careering towards The Priory.
In the same week, Kasabian’s new single ‘Fire’ went to number 3 in the UK single charts while three tumultuous hometown shows at Leicester’s De Montford Hall proved this is a band who will never lose sight of where they came from.
Oh, and to come? The epic show Glastonbury glitters on the horizon. Spread the word and prepare to get loose, brothers and sisters. Hear that bomb going tick, tick, TOCK!!!
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
How did the gigs go at Leicester De Montfort Hall?
Serge: We played three gigs at Leicester De Montford Hall and they were all special shows. It felt different this time. The last time there was an element of people checking us out, but this time it felt like people had claimed us as their own – we’re a proper Leicester band now. It also felt right to start there because that’s where I wrote the album and recorded most of it. There were so many friends and family, I was the king of administration sorting parking spaces for everyone. The best thing was my grandad and grandma turned up. They are both 88 and they walked in and told security their grandson was playing and they let them in. It was special for me because my grandad had taken me to De Montford Hall when I was a kid to hear Tony Benn speak.
You did some promotional work for the album in Paris this week. How did that go?
Serge: It was great. Tuesday was a whole day of press and TV, organised by the lovely Delphine at our French record label. I enjoy doing press but sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get thrown at you. On one TV show we played Underdog which is the single in France but then afterwards we did an interview that was really bitchy. It was all about drink and drugs. To counteract it me and Tom started talking psychedelic gobbledegook. She gave up after that. After that we played a live show for a French fashion magazine. It was a really strange atmosphere to be a bunch of guys surrounded by these really beautiful women – very intense. We played Underdog, Fire, Empire, Processed Beats, LSF and Where did all the love go? Afterwards we went back to the hotel bar, had a few beers and watched a few DVDs. We must have watched seven episodes of The Wire.
The next day, instead of doing a conventional press conference we decided to hold a mini football tournament. We had 12 teams made up of magazines and radio stations and each of them played each other at 6-a-side. The idea was that we would give a trophy to the winner and then play them ourselves. The trouble was, while we were warming up Ian the drummer kicked a ball and sprained his ankle – the clumsy devil! For a minute it was panic stations because we all know we had the huge gig with Oasis coming up the next day, so there was lots of running around trying to find a doctor. After that we played an acoustic gig for some competition winners in a little shop in the middle of Paris. After it was straight on the Eurostar and we woke up in Manchester.
How were the ‘Super-gigs’ with Oasis at Heaton Park?
Serge: The first night with Oasis was unbelievable – we had a brilliant gig. The scale of it is hard to describe – there were 70,000 people there. You couldn’t see where the crowd ended. I looked over at one point and I saw Noel sitting at the side of the stage in a deckchair. Does he carry it around with him? Who knows. If he does he’s the coolest motherfucker on the planet. We played a lot of new songs but when we played Fire it went through the roof – total disco Vietnam. The trouble only started when Oasis came on – it was obvious one of the generators had blown up. When we saw them come off stage for the second time we thought we had better leave and get out of the way. Of course they managed to turn it around – that’s why they are legends. To make the night even more surreal, when we got back to the hotel we found out Girls Aloud were there.
On Saturday we heard that Fire was going to go into the top five on Sunday. That news blew us away – I think it’s the first guitar band in the top 10 this year. It helped make the gig even more intense. Afterwards we went back to the dressing room, put the iPod on and we all danced around to classic tunes. A great end to an amazing week.