Monday, 8 May 2017

Supersonic / Touch the Sky

I'm just going to hitch a couple of minor thoughts together in the same post, one's about Oasis, one's about Kanye West.

I watched the Oasis documentary from 2016, Supersonic - it was the early hours, I could have watched a few other films I need to catch up on, but for some reason I watched that.

It was a good work. It avoided the cliches - didn't mention Blur or Cool Britannia or Blair or Britpop. It didn't go past Knebworth in 1996. It gave the band some meaning - not all that much, but a bit.

It gave context, did show the sillier, lighter more childish side of Liam Gallagher, while not disguising how toxic the atmosphere around the band must have been (bullying, sackings, breakdowns etc though not for the two protagonists).

I can't say it has made me think about or listen to the band in a new light. I listened to Definitely Maybe today - it's still exactly what it always was, no more, no less.

But the thought I took away, which I've thought about before in the context of a few other bands, is that moment, if you're just a guy who's got a band together with their mates, and you're hoping for the best but no great expectations, when the guy you've been told writes the songs plays you something he's been working on, and you go "Hang on a minute, this is something, we've got one here!" The nervous delight you must feel.

With Noel Gallagher, when he joined his brother's band, he played them All Around the World (in 1992, well before they broke and five years before it was released). Well, now, it's a bit of a lump of a song, hardly one of their classics, but just hearing the ambition, the way with melody and universal sentiment, the sudden nudge "we might all get rich off this guy", it must be quite something.

Stevie Jackson talked about the same thing when he first heard Stuart Murdoch's songs - he couldn't believe what he was hearing.

Of course, it doesn't happen like that all the time, in fact it probably rarely happens these days when rock bands hardly have any successful songs which make them rich. Still, a nice moment to imagine.

On to Kanye. Kanye at Glastonbury in 2015, specifically. Two years ago - perhaps I've been making my mind up all this time what I thought about it (I only watched it on telly, I should add).

There's a fierce determination amongst the indie music press to anoint Kanye West as the great genius of the age. He tells us how long he spends on an album, what a genius he is, what an artist he is, and a lot of people go along with it. His albums are always near the top of end of year polls.

I'm quite a fan, mainly of the album Yeezus, but quite often I'm sure I'm missing something, but I think that Glastonbury album confirmed for me that, no, I wasn't.

When the songs were good, they were great, but the more I think about it, the more of a profound exposing disaster the set was.

A lot of people complained that it was just one man jumping around on the stage to a backing track, with no real music being created. I can partially forgive that, but it does suggest that either didn't see the point of, or was unable to, show that he could orchestrate his music to an even small degree. I mean, I'm sure he could ... and that's not the point, sure.

But what the show demonstrated was his huge lack of judgement, his complete failure to understand what would work in a wider context - a challenge which most artists who do the main stage at Glastonbury, even if its not their natural territory, meet a lot more successfully.

Arrogance might be a part of it. Arrogance on its own is fine, if arrogance leads to the right calls. But thinking the Glastonbury audience would think him getting on a crane for 10 minutes was awe-inspiring, or thinking singing along badly to Bohemian Rhapsody would hit the mark ...

And that's how I felt about his next record really. Just a bit of a poorly judged mess. Kanye West doesn't have to be hated or loved, he can just be a bit shit sometimes.