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Up From Below #6: Iggy Pop and Blondie
The North's best newsletter talks about the oldies
In this week’s Up From Below, I take a trip down to our country’s fair capital to see some legacy punk acts give it their all.
Dog Day Afternoon
There’s this new(ish) format of gig that has really taken hold post-pandemic, where promoters put together a stacked lineup with a broad theme, rent out a big field, and chuck thousands of eager folk inside to gorge on overpriced pizza and lukewarm cider. It’s better than it sounds.
Dog Day Afternoon, as it’s billed, is an aging punk’s daydream, with Iggy Pop and Blondie up top. With gig prices being what they are, there’s a lot to be said for these sorts of events.
For £65, we got the two aforementioned all-timers, Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers, and Generation Sex, and I don’t think I’d be far wrong saying that a ticket to Iggy Pop alone would cost you north of £70 in an arena setting.
The drawback here is of course, you have to factor in travelling out to wherever the local council will let the organisers create the carnage, in this case Crystal Palace Park, but once you’ve navigated the logistics, there’s greatness to be found.
Music aside, the whole ordeal is worth it to see an overeager punter absolutely Superman punching a poor woman’s nachos straight out of her hand and then simply lamenting “Sorry, it’s my favourite song” as she looked at him with the glare only a mother can produce.
But back to talking tunes, Blondie were the clear standout, as any eager Glastonbury viewers will be aware, they’ve still got it, and on Debbie Harry’s 78th birthday no less, she shows true gratitude to the crowd and gives everyone a glorious rundown of the hits.
As great as these days are, they’re long, and standing in a field for ten hours takes it’s toll on a man with dodgy knees, a bad hip, and who is generally a 54 year old in a 24 year old body.
What I’m saying is, we left before Iggy Pop ended. Was it because his body was knocking me a bit sick? Perhaps. Do I feel shame in knowing that I was outlasted by a 76 year old man who has done every drug under the sun and then some? No, absolutely not.
If I’ve learnt anything from over 800 days of sobriety, it’s that my body needs rest. So I give it over gladly. I can’t express how happy I am to not have to drink something called Liquid Death to carry on an evening through to the bitter end.
And whilst these sorts of days are great for acts with tons of fans and money already behind them, they’re either completely out of the question or completely pointless for smaller acts, who still struggle to make anything from their performance.
Yes, they might sell a few tickets to a future tour show, or an extra couple of albums to the real converts in the crowd, but if they have to strip back their performance or take an actual financial loss to play to people who are just seeing them as background noise before that-bloke-from-40-years-ago hops on stage, you can see why newer acts are struggling at all to get a foothold on the live music ladder.
I realise the theme of these newsletters for the past few weeks has done nothing to help, but I’m just a man, going where my girlfriend tells me to, and reporting back. I promise, we’ll get back to discovering new acts together soon.
This admittedly isn’t much of a new discovery, Ratboys have been around in the indiesphere for a number of years, but their new album is shaping up to be a belter. They were the first band I contacted and interviewed for Up From Below in its original form over five years ago, and they were as brilliant then as they are now.
The latest single, The Window, is a real showcase of everything that makes them great. It touches on their country leanings, carried by Julia Steiner’s signature sound, whilst also flirting with their indie rock roots, all tied together with a lovely poppy chorus. The album of the same name is out in August.
There’s only one thing I can wholeheartedly recommend happening in Leeds this week. There’s a lot of comedy going on as part of Leeds Comedy Festival though, so go check out those listings and find summat funny whilst music rests for a little bit. It’s where a lot of really good folk test out their material before taking up to the Edinburgh Fringe, so you’re sure to find something worth a tenner.
McFly at Millenium Square, Thursday 6th July - you know you want to
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