An opening slot at a contemporary music festival at the ICA in London, introduced and compered by the late Tony Wilson. Tim performed with Lee “Muddy” Baker and Lisa Lindley-Jones.
Wave Hello / Discover / Down To The Sea / Laid / Falling Down / Careful What You Say / Sometimes / Bone / Fall In Love With Me
After a long introduction by Manchester legend and Factory supremo Tony Wilson, Tim appeared on stage with two band members Lee on guitar and Lisa on keyboards. As with September’s Manchester show, Tim announced that this was to be an acoustic showcase for tracks he was writing with Lee for his new album due out some point next year.
The ICA is a tiny venue, only holding 300-400 people and it was probably less than half full at this stage which was to make for a rather surreal environment. A half-full unannounced acoustic performance is an unusual way to introduce songs to a new audience and to roadtest them. But here we go. Tim came on in a jacket, black t-shirt and dark combat trousers, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Michael Stipe and sporting a goatee beard.
Announcing set opener Shame as “a song about fear and commitment”, it’s immediately clear that whilst Tim has a new band, the lyrical content and intensity of the songs and performance have not changed. The acoustic backing of Lee’s guitar offsets Tim’s direct vocals.
Discover sees keyboard player Lisa join the performance and this song boasts an even more intense vocal in the verse which turns into a repetitive “who I am, who I am” chorus. It even takes a lyric from the early live versions of The Shining – the reference to the Nazi and the Jew. This song does however appear to have lost something in the transition to the acoustic format and should benefit from the full electric treatment of a full band performance.
Down To The Sea is the first familiar track of the evening, having been premiered on Dom Joly’s BBC3 show earlier this year. The tune and lyrics remain pretty faithful to that version except for an almost accapella section at the start of the song and after the first chorus. Tim stops the song half way through to castigate talkers in the audience, advising them to “fuck off to the bar” .
Laid is next and gets an immediate reaction from the audience. Lee describes it as “crap and the worst song in the set”, someone in the audience shouts for Sit Down and towards the end Tim ventures to the front row to take someone’s mobile phone from their ear. The song itself is performed extremely slowly to allow Tim to fully enunciate the lyrics, an improvement on some of the faster acoustic versions of Laid from over the years.
Keyboard player Lisa suffers technical problems before they launch into Falling Down (not the Pleased To Meet You track) and there’s some on-stage banter between the three which suggests there is a healthy and hopefully fruitful working relationship between the three and any future band members. This track features some lovely high-register singing from Tim and excellent vocal interplay between the three. The song is about a young girl’s lost innocence.
Next track Hold You To Your Words (at a guess) has an elongated intro and phonetic singing which doesn’t really work in the acoustic environment. Once the song starts it improves and it has a nice flute interlude from Lisa, but it’s probably the weakest song of the evening and would have probably have benefitted from an electric performance particularly in the chorus. The song drifts off into an unnecessarily elongated ending again.
Sometimes is next and is a very brave choice and I don’t recollect James ever trying this acoustically, but it’s a success. Again it gets the recognition from the crowd that the new tracks obviously don’t get. It doesn’t lose the pace and intensity of the electric live versions from James days and Tim delivers a faultless vocal.
Final new track One is the best of the evening and even at this early stage a good bet for a potential single. Benefitting from a backing track, it’s the most instant of the new songs and has a brilliant refrain based around “one gets rich, one gets poor, life’s a bitch and I’m her whore. Life just takes you to the bone”. It’s also got the most energetic musical backing from Lee and Lisa as well. It’s also probably the best indication of what the album will sound like when it’s released next year given Tim’s previous comments about the album having a more “funk and groove” feel to it.
Final track is Fall In Love With Me, the Booth and the Bad Angel track, and this is given a very minimalist instrumental treatment, which doesn’t fully do the song justice. Given it’s one of Tim’s favourite songs, the vocals are as passionate and heartfelt as ever and that pulls the song through.
The audience reaction at the end is extremely appreciative and the venue had filled out considerably from the start. The chatter died down during the set which bodes well as the assumption is people started listening to the songs. The new material sounds promising, but most of it probably was not best served by the acoustic environment, the half-full venue and the crowd’s unfamiliarity with it. But Tim’s obvious enthusiasm for the songs and his interaction with the other band members bode extremely well for the future. There’s a huge sense of relief that there is some sort of life after 2001. With repeated listening, I’m sure most of the new tracks will sit proudly alongside established favourites – it’s time for Tim to bring them to a wider audience.
review by Jen
Tony Wilson announces that the programme produced for the event is “crap” and that instead of describing the acts he chose as the ones he wished he’d signed, it should be “the ones that got away”. After a couple of anecdotes, including how Tony found out James were leaving Factory, Tim appears with his band, looking, quite frankly, great.
Tim informs the audience at some point that they are “Witnessing the beginnings of a band”, and the impression taken from the evening is just that. Throughout the set, hints were gleaned as to how their work will develop. How well they work together was clear, from Lisa asking Tim to listen to how her introduction to Falling Down sounds before they launch into the proper performance to Lee’s jesting about Laid being the “worst song in the set”. The vocal harmonies between them, and how their instruments compliment Tim’s vocals, made for exciting listening and it was clear they were here to experiment.
Initially, talkers in the audience were marring the performances; however, Tim told them to “fuck off to the bar, we don’t need you”, much to the appreciation of those who were there to listen. The second half of Down To The Sea was a lot stronger after that, finishing with the lyrical image of “I’m going to wipe away my tears from your face”.
Someone, inevitably, asked for Sit Down and Tim told the audience that is was the “first time” (surprisingly) it had happened. He also commented at one point that the way the songs were performed were completely different to the studio versions “but that’s acoustic sets for you”. Furthermore, he displays his appreciation of the audience he earlier chastised by telling them that he can “feel the quality of your listening”.
Highlights of the set included a terrific performance of Laid and a wonderful rendition of Sometimes. When Tim tells the technicians, “We’ll need the backing track for this one”, the expectation that something special is coming up immediately occurs. One, which Tim said was the song that was closest to how the rest of the album would sound, begins, and immediately delivers.
To finish was a vocal led performance of “Fall In Love With Me”, which Tim introduced as a “love spell”. Tim’s voice is strong enough to carry the song through on its own, and it made for a haunting performance.
Overall, whilst the experiments didn’t always work, the set was a success. The album is due out at some point next year. I for one can’t wait.
Tim Booth plays first solo shows supporting The LoveGods in Brighton, as part of Manchester In The City festival and supporting The Music at the ICA in London as part of an Amnesty International festival.
An undated 2-track promo CD created by Warner publishing subsidiary Rykomusic.
Born Of Frustration / Sit Down
|Release Name:||Rykomusic Song Suggestions for Anger Management Trailer|
Not much is known about this promo CD. Rykomusic is a publishing subsidiary of Warner music, so it is possible that this was created and sent speculatively to the producers of the 2003 film Anger Management as sound track suggestions.
I don’t have a bad word to say about Tony Wilson. I think he’s got a lot of balls and a lot of time. He’ll let his mouth go first, but you need people like that. You need people to put their neck on the line, and Tony that, he did that for Factory.
One of the things we hated about Factory was how cool the image was. So we were like “Nope, not gonna let anyone do our sleeve, we’re gonna do it.” And then I think the night before the deadline, we kind of rang each other in a panic because we hadn’t got a sleeve together and Jimmy did it with felt-tips, and scrawled JIMONE, couldn’t even fit it all the writing with felt-tips and they had to put out this sleeve that looked like it had been done by an autistic child. And they prided themselves and every sleeve had been so cool and I hear Tony ranted at us for that one for a long time, he was well pissed with us for that.
We toured with New Order, and, as I said, we took the Mondays on tour and gave them their first kind of big… We went to see them. I remember, Nathan, their manager, went “Tim, come and see..”, he was quite friendly with us, me and Martine, “Come and see this great band I’m managing, great band” and he took us to Wigan to see them in this little club and Shaun was so out of it that he came off after twenty minutes, he was so far gone, he thought he’d been on for hours. So they played literally about four songs. And the rest of the band were like “Shaun” and he was like “We’ve been on for hours man, we’ve been on for hours.” He was obviously off his head. But they were brilliant for about twenty minutes and we were like “Yeah, fine, we’ll take you on tour, great.”
Jim : Tony
Larry : A Maverick
Jim : Yeah yeah, a big personality
Larry : A Manchester maverick
Jim : You know, did a lot for us. Could be a pain in the arse. I’d hate to work with the bloke full-time. I mean he’d drive you round the bleeding bend. So over the top, I mean completely over the top. But a heart of gold. And loved James and said some great fantastic things in the press, I mean he compared us to the 1974 Dutch football team. In that they had this kind of natural grace in the way they played football and he compared us musically to them and it was the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to us.
Larry : An unforced natural grace.
Jim : Yeah yeah.
Jim : We were just pains in the arse. We wanted to design the sleeves, don’t like your sleeves, don’t like all this cool stuff, we’re going to design it. So we did, I did, this horrible kind of felt-tipped cover and we took it in and Tony was like “Oh, you want something like this” and we were like “No, we want that” And he was interviewed for the James book, Tony Wilson was, and his interpretation of the events was that he thought it was a great idea but at the time he didn’t. He’s lying, he was lying. He didn’t. He hated it.
Jim : They were so nice. They really were. We should have stayed with Factory, that’s one thing we all regretted, that we didn’t do an album with them. We just thought, we did bump into problems with them that were justified I think. They didn’t promote anything, because they didn’t need to initially. There was all the cool image with it that sold itself, with Factory. Loads of people would go out and buy the new releases regardless and that kind of shifted, that emphasis moved slightly and we suffered. We got to this point where we were in this sort of no man’s land where our records weren’t getting in the stores but they weren’t promoting them, they were “we don’t do adverts, we don’t do blah blah blah” so we were like “Yeah, but come on”
Larry : They thought that if a record was good, it would sell itself and their argument for that was New Order. You know, the New Order records, they didn’t have to take out massive advertising campaigns or do loads of massive promotion. It just had its own natural momentum which was fine if you’d come from Joy Division and the lead singer had died and you’d built up this entire cult, but for a new band, that noone had ever heard of, they didn’t see they had any commitment to undertake any kind of commitment to advertising and we had to argue with them about that and their distribution wasn’t very good at the time so that’s why we started to have these reservations.
Larry : Their ethos and their idea was a little too generous and a little shortsighted, that they didn’t get business savvy until it was too late. That, as in their idea that if the music is good enough, it will sell itself. If the idea is true enough and substantial, if it’s substantial and it’s true, it will work. Then it’ll work almost without any looking after, without any guidance, because it’s a good idea and it’s fair and it’s not what everyone else is doing. It’s different, it’s unique, so it’ll have its own momentum. And I think they found out too late, as they were sinking, as they owed more and more money. I mean the biggest debtor really was New Order. That’s where the twist came – New Order were the most successful band therefore they owed New Order money whereas all the other bands never actually reached that point of breaking even so that they owed them money. And they didn’t have the cash to pay their debt to New Order so New Order became bigger and bigger owners of the Hacienda, they got bigger and bigger shares. They should have seen it then, but I don’t think they did and they couldn’t, by the end they couldn’t turn it round.
Jim : Why Manchester? Why is Manchester special in that respect? No other city in the world could you give a list of bands from it. I don’t know why that is. I think it’s easy to look at like second cities and go, you know, you have the capital and the second city, and this is where everyone is trying a little bit harder and pushing a bit and left to their own devices as well to some degree. I think that’s probably why things happened like what happened in the 80s when Manchester was left, well the bands were left, to find their own sound and develop. The A+R were just too lazy to come here so bands arrived on the scene that had played a lot that had got a lot of songs, that were good and the spotlight was shone on them all at the same time and you got what was called a scene even though the bands hadn’t just arrived at the same time, they’d been playing around for a lot of years.
Larry : We didn’t go there that much, did we?
Jim : No, no
Larry : We weren’t the 24 hour party people
Jim : We’d hit that monastic streak by then hadn’t we really?
Larry : Yeah, yeah.
Jim : It was hilarious
Larry : No they supported us.
Jim : That was hilarious.
Larry : They missed the first gig.
Jim : It was cartoon. We played the Ritz in Manchester, they played the first night, we played the Ritz and they were there all right and the next morning they couldn’t find Shaun and we were supposed to be, we were playing Newcastle and they were meant to be supporting us and they couldn’t find Shaun and they had to drive around for like three hours until they eventually found him and dragged him in the van and sped off and of course they were late, they crashed the van on the way to the gig. Turns up at Newcastle, starts unloading the gear out of the van and this bloke says “Oh, what you’re doing.” “We’re the Happy Mondays, supporting James.” He said “This is a Simply Red gig, you’re at the wrong venue.” So they got back in the van, turned up at our gig, they’d missed their slot and we were just about to go on stage at this point and they piled out of the van and they were backstage, effing and jeffing, and blaming each other for it, and this, that and the other. And it was just like “Oh God, what have we done, what have we done”
Larry : They were a complete and utter shambles weren’t they?
Jim : They were.
Larry : But they were so apologetic.
Jim : They were lovely. They really were lovely. They were cartoons. They were It was “What’s happened today with the Mondays. Is everybody here? Just about. It really was” They were funny.
Larry : It really was, it was like having your own daily copy of Viz.
Jim : Yes it was.
Larry : It really was. You didn’t know
Jim : They lost the tour support didn’t they? They “lost” the tour support.
Larry : One night we came off stage, got backstage and went to the dressing room and went in the dressing room, no beer, everything had gone. All our clothes and money were still there and everything, but the entire rider, all the food.
Jim : We knew they had a party in Manchester and we were wondering (rubs chin) ” I wonder who’s done this then.” There were security on the door, they must have got in through the window, the door was locked and they had no idea what was going on.
Larry : They completely cleaned us out and the next day they were really sweet and apologetic.
Jim : Didn’t give it us back like.
Larry : They had this really banging party so they left as soon as they got off stage, nicked all our beer, and sodded off back to Manchester for the party.
Jim : But they were great as well as a band. They were brilliant, we used to go out and watch them every night and they were wonderful.