Yep - the Manics have long been known as rugby fans; being Welsh helps. I was fortunate to see them in 1996 at the Crocodile Cafe, a small, but reputable music venue in Seattle. The Manics had been touring the US as support to Oasis after earlier playing with them at two massive 100,000+ gigs at Knebworth. However, when a dispute between the Gallagher brothers (not for the first or the last time) brought the tour to an early end, the Manics stayed on with a handful of pick-up gigs including this one in Seattle. It was my second time in the city - both times for work - and this time I'd arrived a day early, to have a look around, including a visit to the Sub Pop store, and to line up things to do in any spare time I had; one of those things was the Manics gig. I was in Seattle for an airline conference and after the last night's gala dinner, I convinced a number of Brits, Kiwis and a handful of Americans, to head along. Seeing the band up close in a venue the size of the Kings Arms, amidst a crowd of no more than 150, was tremendous - spine-tingling stuff. Most of the tracks came from Everything Must Go, plus their cover of Bacharach's 'Raindrops Keep Falling..' among others. For the Manics, who were otherwise unknown in the US, the highly excitable Brits and Kiwis jumping up and down in front of them and yelling their lyrics back at them, reportedly made the gig one of the highlights of their tour. It's one of my favourite gigs, ever.
House-hunting all year kept gig selection to a minimum for me ... but you mention both Paul Weller and The Fall in your post - just two of the many folk that have graced our lands this year in the return to live touring in the midst of the download age - Weller was the genuine long-awaited highlight for me - and his set on the third night, from old Jam B-side Art School and Pretty Green from Sounds Affects through to plenty off Wake Up the Nation and 22 Dreams was as good a set as I could've hoped for. But the contrast with Mark E Smith - one of Weller's peers - couldn't have been more extreme. A history of bands breaking up around him means that Smith now has his band under tight contractual rein. But while the current Fall were as tight as you could imagine (but who would want their job), Smith was tottering around like the boss who's well and truly lost the plot. I left at about 11pm - only grateful that I'd seen Smith years before, near his best albeit with a far less reliable band, at the Town Hall in the early 90s, but annoyed I'd wasted $70 on this toothless old duffer. Another major music event of note - the Pixies at the Vector Arena reprising Doolittle and then some - the only downside was pre-ordering the CD of the show but it never turning up...
Yep - the Late discussion (compared to last month) needed a bit of rark-up and I think Wayne provided that. The tighter seating area this month, compared to last, was a good idea (maybe that was due to fewer ticket sales this time?) but it did provide a more intimate venue, compared to the top floor area above the atrium used last time, which while impressive, was a fairly expansive place and the panel on that night lacked a bit of reach. In providing a more academic approach, Wayne challenged a couple of other speakers to think a bit more precisely, rather than providing just glib but entertaining asides and that also generated a bit more tension among the panel - and a bit more fun for the audience!
Late is a good idea - this was just the second I've been to - my interest being piqued by the review of Neil and Liam Finn playing Late in April - why did I miss that??? But this time 'round - relaxing to Phil Dadson's trio and seeing Lawrence Arabia live for the first time was a great complementary treat to the initial panel discuss. The night was rounded off by Arabia's "3ZB win-a-wish" comment after Don McGlashan joined him (and the WLG ukes) for the Front Lawn's A Man & A Woman. Great stuff.
Let's hope Late can continue to deliver - and between 300 to 500 people milling around the Museum late (and in the partial dark) on a Thursday night has a kind of novelty factor all of its own.