Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Tears - London - October 25th 

Straining finances in order to see two gigs in one week, I went down to the Hammersmith Palais with a Clash song in my head on Tuesday. And it was very much worth it.

I've seen The Tears play eight times in 10 and a half months, and insane as that sounds, it's nothing compared to some of the fans I've met at those gigs. The band is one of those that built up a real groupie culture over time, maintaining the same winning combination of beautiful, Bowie-like singer and musical guitar genius that made Suede so good ten years ago and has kept so many people hanging on ever since. But a lot of us go to all those gigs for more personal reasons, and for me it's been my way to escape during the worst points of this awful year. These are the songs that saved your life, as Morrisey would say. The beautiful music from the stage, the noise down at the barrier, the hours waiting in line with all the other crazy drunken fuck-ups - it all goes into the experience and makes these trips more than just more gigs.

This show was particularly good, and the band obviously put a lot into what will be their last show in England for many months. It all had something of a reunion feel to it, with one song dedicated to all the fans who'd been following them around for the past year. The performances were all tight and energetic, with Brett on absolutely top form throughout, jumping into the pit with the audience at a few points, and getting a good number singing along for the first time since they began touring last December. Bernard Butler was quiet and angry, but equally storming on his guitar, with some of the best solos on the album songs that I've heard yet. He took to kicking things at every given opportunity, showering the drummer Mako with water, and nearly hitting the bouncer next to me with his flying mike stand. But, true to his sweet personality underneath, he then came over and apologised. As for the music, b-sides and new songs were mixed in with the standard stuff, shaking the set up quite a bit, and boding well for any new album that might come along.

The band's so beset with bad luck - mainly due to the shittest record company in the world, Independiente - that that second album might never come, but Europe After The Rain and "Berlin" had all the classic appeal of any of their very best songs from the Suede era. No one's really been able to say that The Tears' music is "better than Dog Man Star" yet, but these new songs, together with the way they perform the older ones now, suggest they could easily have that title soon. Really beautiful stuff, and I'll miss seeing them, as I doubt I'll get to any more gigs now even if they do release another album.

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