tour leaflet


Throwing Muses

2011 UK Tour


Tuesday 1st November 2011

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea

Bexhill-on-Sea has always been regarded as one of the more elegant seaside resorts on the south coast, with its manicured lawns fronting splendid Victorian and Edwardian terraces and, as such, you might have thought it one of the least likely places in England to host the opening date of Throwing Muses’ 2011 UK tour. Fittingly, the venue was one of the country’s bravest buildings, the De La Warr Pavilion, a modernist masterpiece that has raised as many eyebrows at its stark, uncompromising existence as the band itself, one of the trickiest, most abrasive and ultimately satisfying acts of all time. Outsiders both.

We hadn’t visited Bexhill for a number of years and it was a sad to see the town centre looking a little worse for wear, but with some quality improvements underway on the seafront, hopefully the investment will serve the town well. The Pavilion itself was looking in pretty good shape after its 1980s renovation and two hours after leaving home we were lunching on the terrace in bright sunshine before browsing the Warhol exhibition and taking a promenade. November in England, strolling on the beach with no jackets, preparing for Throwing Muses in Bexhill. Strange days indeed. This could mean only one thing: Nepalese for dinner.

Slight mistake. The food was excellent, as was the Nepalese-brewed beer, ‘Nepal Ice’, arriving in huge bottles of well over a pint. Refreshingly light and smooth it was only after we had wiped a few out we realised it was 5.3% in strength and we weren’t big drinkers. Managing to stand, we wandered in random directions until eventually we found our guest house. Tracy attempted to get into the wrong room and I had to drag her away from the door just as she was about to break in on some unsuspecting strangers. Correct room and we had a while to let the eyes refocus before making the long journey, literally across the road, to the Pavilion with doors advertised at 7.30. It was already long past but the gathering fans were held in the foyer for some time while it appeared some last minute soundchecking was going on. This was no doubt the support band, Peggy Sue, who had struggled to make the journey down from London possibly after being caught up in the nightmare blockage on the M25, Europe’s biggest car park. The trials and tribulations had obviously hit the band pretty hard as when they first took to the stage we thought somebody had dragged four random strangers off the streets, given them instruments and told them to play. Thankfully, they managed to gather their wits, songs began to take shape, and by the end of their set they were sounding mightily impressive. Good work in trying circumstances.

The stage was cleared and the Muses were next. Their first UK gig for nine trillion years, a very decent venue with a nice, high stage, and parts of the audience glowing with Nepalese joy. They take to the stage with no fanfare, cue applause, the customary “get on with it”, and off into ‘Soul Soldier’. Bloody hell, I hope it doesn’t all sound like this. It doesn’t. The nasty guitar noise is put to rights pretty sharpish, the band find their feet and the adventure begins ...

In truth, are there any three musicians in history who have made such a glorious racket as these Muses? I'm just staggered there are people listening and staying still. By ‘Shimmer’ I'm itching and by ‘Speed and Sleep’ it's taking all I have not to hurl myself spinning round the hall flailing my arms in reckless abandon as I do when I play these records at home (is it just me?). It's only there are people in the way and it's just not done in Bexhill. In fact, I haven't got away with that since I first saw Public Image all those years ago. It's loud, it's fixating; in fact it's punishing. I've never seen the band as ferocious as they are tonight. Absolutely breathtaking.

Dave Narcizo has got to be one of the best drummers to watch, weaving magnificent patterns as he drives the band along. Loudly. He's living this, and so is Bernard Georges, grooving with his bass stage left. This is what I came for. I'd looked with surprise at the European set lists with Kristin's solo sections, but tonight was all about the band. As it should be. After all, these tours don't come along every day of the week and are precious things.

The set builds up into a crescendo. ‘Limbo’ is more powerful than I ever suspected it could be; ‘Furious’ never fails to sweep me away and I realise I have spent half the gig with my eyes closed lost in the glory of it all. A storming ‘Vicky’s Box’ leads into ‘Bea’, again assuming monster proportions, and then it’s over ... a lifetime too short. The venue erupts.

As the opening bars of 'Pearl' introduce the first encore, it brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. This shocks me. I'm not particularly sentimental, but it wouldn't have taken much at that point to set me off blubbing like a weed. It's not just that this is one of the finest songs ever written, but it's the realisation. If the Muses' music is fine art as recent discussions have hinted then it underlines why music is the finest of all the arts. With painting or sculpture you get an end result and make of it what you will. It can be the same with music as you have the recording to contemplate. But bands play live and when do you get to see an artist paint? As the song ebbs and flows it is being recreated; it takes on new meaning, new shades of light and dark: it is a living thing. And it's brought to life before my eyes and in my ears. These are important, important songs and it is vital they get heard. Eight years is too long; almost a crime. They can't be allowed to die; they mustn't sit on a dusty shelves or lie forgotten in chainstore racks. The world is a better place for this.

And how do you follow perfection? By shooting the world down in flames. 'Mania' seethes as few other songs ever could and as Armageddon breaks out all around, my eyes are drawn inexorably to Bernie who is bopping along with his bass as if he doesn't have a care in the world. Is this the coollest man on the planet? I'd say. 'White Bikini Sand' is the second encore; great to hear and a gentle farewell to a magnificent evening.

Song over, Bernie and Dave rush off as if they have pressing engagements. Kristin stays around for an extra three nano-seconds, waves and departs. Of course, this is all wrong. By rights they should be taking their bows and then be carried round the town with heralds proclaiming their greatness. Bexhill, wake up, your town has been enriched tonight. You should never be the same again. But that wouldn't be cool and in this business coolness still counts.

I leave the hall with the audience still screaming for more and am astonished at how loud they sound from the outside. I cross the road and two minutes later I'm back in my room. I make a cup of tea. All I can hear in my head is ‘Mania’. I like the irony.


Wednesday 2nd November 2011

Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Wednesday dawns bright and a pre-breakfast stroll on the beach sees some brisk southerlies urging home the breakers. There’s time for a leisurely journey home before heading off to London and we travel via Normans Bay, take tea under the walls of Pevensey Castle, search out Herstmonceux before lunching in Eastbourne and journey over Beachy Head (can you see the real me?) to Birling Gap and homewards. As we head for Horsham station, it rains. Damn. Annoying jacket time, always a hindrance at a concert.

The Shepherd’s Bush Empire is an irritating venue. Not that’s there’s much wrong with it per se, one of the capital’s myriad of Edwardian theatres, but the one solitary stop on from Hammersmith makes the difference between getting home just after midnight or crawling in around two in the morning. We take the walk from Goldhawk Road, collect the guest list tickets (thanks, Billy) with no problems and pass the merchandise stall which is still selling t-shirts only to tiny people. The stage appears to have been invaded by a crowd of Occupy London protesters making a godawful racket, so we have a drink and when they have been herded away take up our positions for the main event. Oh bugger it, there’s another support band who clearly don’t feel loved, and probably aren’t. The Spectrals produce some decent-enough tunes reminiscent of the latest Arctic Monkeys album, but don’t look as though they are enjoying themselves in the slightest. It’s all wrong.

Muses time, and today the band obviously feels more relaxed. A double edged sword this. Kristin is more chatty and Bernie more animated, though Dave has a few problems with his drums and doesn’t look comfortable at the start. He soon gets into the mood, however, and inevitably the mellower atmosphere has an effect on the performance: it is not so tense or intense as at Bexhill; not so driven. Don’t get me wrong, the band are still great but what is gained in effervescence is lost in bite. Kristin is still mesmerising to watch; she doesn't rush around the stage but when she stares straight ahead, head rolling from side to side, it somehow captures the essence of what I am feeling. This is for real. The set changes. ‘Devil’s Roof’ and ‘Start’ are dropped down the list and ‘Hate My Way’ is in for ‘Mexican Women’. Oh my. Possibly my favourite song of all time and despite my pleasure at its inclusion, how fierce would it have sounded at Bexhill?

Far more tightly packed than the day before, we start to wonder if we had made the right choice to stand rather than loaf around on the balcony. We had forgotten this was London and that would mean the seven-foot bloke would stand in the front row. So, the view is not so great, but the music still carries us away with the same build up to the big finale.

More changes to the encore as Kristin comes out alone to perform the much-requested ‘Fish’ and we’ll give her that one: ‘lonely is as lonely does’ makes it somehow fitting. Dave and Bernie return for ‘Pearl’ (gulp) and ‘Mania’ (is that a true story? Fantastic!) and the second encore sees ‘Devil’s Roof’ finally make the cut before ‘White Bikini Sand’ ends it all with touching grace.

The only thing on my mind as we stroll to the tube station is Norwich. I know I can’t make it but I’m trying to devise some plan to get away. I feel low because I live in terror that this band won’t play here any more and I won’t ever see them again. But the X-Factor will be on every year of my life. God help this world. Throwing Muses are simply a huge part of what makes life worth living. Where else these days can you find the quality, passion, beauty and pain this band evokes? We know there are new recordings in the bag and surely that must be worth another venture over here?

Even a cup of tea doesn't help.

Set List

1. Soul Soldier
2. Devil's Roof
3. Shimmer
4. Start
5. Garoux des Larmes
6. Speed and Sleep
7. Bright Yellow Gun
8. Shark
9. Mexican Women
10. Hazing
11. Tar Kissers
12. Limbo
13. Furious
14. Vicky's Box
15. Bea

First Encore
16. Pearl
17. Mania

Second Encore
18. White Bikini Sand

de la warr

Set List

1. Soul Soldier
2. Shimmer
3. Start
4. Garoux des Larmes
5. Speed and Sleep
6. Bright Yellow Gun
7. Start
8. Shark
9. Hate My Way
10. Hazing
11. Tar Kissers
12. Limbo
13. Furious
14. Vicky's Box
15. Bea

First Encore
16. Fish
17. Pearl
18. Mania

Second Encore
19. Devil's Roof
20. White Bikini Sand

memory stick

The Throwing Muses Flash Drive containing the 2 CD Anthology in Apple Lossless format, the 30+ pages of hi-res booklet art in pdf format, and a live television concert of Muses at Primavera Sound filmed by the Spanish channel TV3.