I found myself facing a bit of a conundrum regarding the night Stereolab were playing, as there were two concerts by bands who have arguably seen better days on that night, with Electric 6 being the other one. I know that Electric 6 are not so kewl with the trend people these days, but they have made some of my most favourite tunes ever (as proven by science (or iTunes play counts)), so I felt like I owed them and was curious as to whether they still had it live or not. Stereolab, in contrast, are a band that I had grown a bit tired of, finding their recent live performances a bit dull and turgid. So – how did I find myself going to see Stereolab rather than Electric 6? Basically, I am a sociable fellow, and a good few of my pals were heading off to the Lab while no one was off to the Six (for my friends too are slaves to the kewl). So I joined them.
And actually, the Lab were great. Like really great. For a band I think of myself as following closely enough over the years, I was struck by how little of the stuff played I recognised, but this was not a problem – the motorik sounds of the Lab washed over me, and it was almost better that the tunes were largely anonymous.
This was my first time seeing the band since poor May Hansen was mashed by a truck. I had heard from some people that they had previously sounded a bit thin without her backing vocals, but this time round they just got one of the other musicians to replicate all her la la la las. Problem solved.
Another great thing about this gig was that Laetitia Sadier seems to have had some kind of personality transplant and is no longer annoying (or maybe the passage of time has made me more tolerant of other people's foibles). She has also become smokin' hot, with separation from Tim Gane obviously bringing out the saucy divorcee in her. For all that, she seems to have acquired an almost endearingly lame style of dancing from the Your Dad School of Boogie, though she did rock out in an amusing manner to 'French Disko'. One of my friends reckoned, meanwhile, that Tim Gane will shortly be appearing in ads for Tony Quinn's patent weight loss programme.
One thing that occurred to me in the course of the concert was that maybe their previously no-fun live appearances were a product of Tim Gane and Laeititia Sadier's relationship sliding into shite. I mean, it must be no fun being in a band with someone you are separating from.
Anyway, that's about the size of it. The concert was so great that I have dug up my old Stereolab CDs and listened to them again. And ripped them to the computer (apart from their best one, Transient Random Noise Bursts (With Announcements), which seems to not like computers). I have also considered posting on the interweb the review I wrote in form of a play many years ago when I first saw them play; it could be my tribute to the late Mary Hansen.
Audiencewatch: there were a lot of stinky people at this concert. Like, really stinky. I remember going to the bar at one point, only to be faced with a reek reminiscent of a meeting of the A.R.E. Weapons fan club. I wonder why this would be so. Stereolab do not strike me as the kind of band that soap dodgers would be drawn to, but the facts cannot be denied. Maybe the then cold weather (the gig was in the middle of an extreme cold snap) meant that a lot of people were not washing as much as usual, and then in the warm environment of the Tripod they were having to remove outer layers of clothing and release their musk to the world.
There was some kind of Finders-Keepers/B-Music night on upstairs after the concert, so we hung around for that and got all excited when Andy Votel played the Selda song. We also watched some plonkers try to balance beer glasses on their heads (with predictable consequences) and waited in vain for the DJs to play the "heepies" song from the Cross Continental Road Trip record. And so to bed.
The next day I listened to the Stereolab tour single I bought after the concert. It sounds like Stereolab.