Thursday, 8 April 2010

523 BIG STAR, The Posies, London Mean Fiddler, Thursday 9 August 2001

This was finally an opportunity to right an ancient wrong; ever since Reading Festival 1993, when I overlooked the returning Big Star for a note-perfect but sterile New Order set, I've felt a little guilty. Particularly after I'd heard that the Gigolo Aunts and Teenage Fanclub were all grooving down the front... So, we sorted tix for this one and I wasn't about to let a broken collarbone (thanks to footy!) get in my way! Beef (who got separate tix) drove, and we parked up at Shepherd's Bush, hitting the old LA2 sadly too late for first band Arnold.

Ken and Jon from The Posies were, unsurprisingly, the main support for Big Star - unsurprisingly, as they play guitar and bass for Alex Chilton's lot! But first, we had some magical acoustic moments from The Posies' back catalogue, along with a smattering of numbers from their recent "Nice Cheekbones And A PhD" EP. As ever, the vocals were faultless, the harmonies tight and soaring, and set closer "You're The Beautiful One" prompted shivers down my spine as its' stark, haunting and beautiful tune, perfectly rendered, wove its' magic spell.

Despite it being pretty much a given that we wouldn't hear anything better than that tonight, I was really up for Big Star, but Rachel and I sensibly extricated ourselves from the heaving dancefloor and sorted ourselves out on the balcony, bumping into Wannadies vocalist Par Wicksten in the process for a nice chat about their current plans and strategies.

Ken and Jon then returned to the stage, this time as back up boys for the legendary Alex Chilton, main inspiration behind this seminal 70's band Big Star. A whole tranche of my favourite artistes cite this man as a key influence, and it was easy to see the lineage in this splendid performance. Chunky, old school rock'n'roll mixed with touching acoustic balladry, mixed with irresistibly harmonic pop, to deliver a superb aural concoction. "I Am The Cosmos", with vocals from Jon Auer, was an obvious highlight, as was "Thank You Friends" (from whence the Gigolo Aunts appropriated the opening riff for "Mrs. Washington") and the touching "Thirteen", a song Elliott Smith has spent his entire career trying to re-write.

Excellent also was Chilton's enthusiasm; touching 50 and dressed like an accountant on dress-down Friday he may be, but he led Big Star through a 1 1/2 hour set climaxing with an astonishing, if slightly askew, reading of the Beach Boys' classic "Wouldn't It Be Nice", then dragged them back onstage after the 11pm curfew had passed and the house lights had gone on, for a rambunctious workout of KC And The Sunshine Band's disco classic "Get Down Tonite"!

Bits of the set may have dragged a little for me, and I do confess I'd have benefitted from having played my copies of "No. 1 Record" and "Sister Lovers" a little more often of late, but I thoroughly enjoyed this set, and am glad that the ancient wrong has now been set right!

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