Monday, June 11, 2012

Momus at the CCA, Glasgow, 8th June

[This sounds a cop-out, but I really do have enough of staring at screens sometimes. What follows is what my diary says, without the usual editing down / up. Might still be OK, and the occasion deserves to be acknowledged.]

7th June. Momus in Glasgow tomorrow. Just listening to Bibliotek for the first time, it’s nice, very gentle, sound-wise. No big tunes standing out, but that does tend to take a few spins.

9th June. Live, the song ‘Bibliotek’ had more of a kick to it – ‘No one takes me out / And no one takes me back / To my bibliotek’, a hymn to neglected books which presumably springs from Momus’ own forays into authorship, but which also taps into the whole book / ebook debate, for who could regret a neglected ebook in quite the same way? Of course, his song ‘Datapanik’ is all about lost data, but it is personal data, and it is definitely panic, rather than regret, than the loss of porn videos and women’s contact details causes. I wonder if the two songs, with their short titles ending in ‘k’, are a deliberate pair?

He played at the CCA’s club room: small, stylish and sweltering. The radiators were on, the air conditioning units in the ceiling were off. A slowed down clip of Momus’ head and moving fingers was projected on to the wall at the back of the stage, and this, alongside a large upwards-pointing red lamp in one of the two window recesses, constituted the lighting. He began crouching with a growled, bitter cover of Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat’s ‘Ballad of the Bastard’. I didn’t identify it immediately, Momus’ ‘I Want You But I Don’t Need You’ suggested itself too. Then a rousing ‘Love Wakes the Devil’, rolling inevitably before a more impassioned climax than the record musters. Momus’ vocals throughout were laudably uninhibited, swapping more often to the higher register than the records do, and louder too. This must be the biggest downside of his tendency to make records at home, in surroundings which encourage intimacy more than performance. ‘Widow Twankey’ from Joemus was treated to a cracked falsetto bellow, deliberately ugly, and on the ‘Ashes to Ashes’ cover he had a good stab at Bowie’s controlled, loud croon. Come to think of it, octave hopping is a trick of Bowie’s too – e.g. ‘Heroes’ or the two versions of ‘It’s No Game’.

Perhaps the highlight of the set was ‘We Don’t Have to Make Children’, which departed quite drastically form the original, stretching the idea into old age and death. So,
We don't have to make children
When we make love
Kids are so noisy, they take so much time
This way the pleasure is all mine
eventually became, ‘We don’t even have to make love’. Momus’ back became increasingly curved as he mimed encroaching decrepitude, and then imagined the death of the partner – after sketching out the details of her decay too, the swelling curves, the sagging tits (described with more relish than disappointment). The themes of ageing and death kept recurring, in a later song he stretched out to mime being in a coffin, and in ‘Hypnoprism’ he stroked his failing hair to accompany the line,
I’ve got a spotty case of alopecia
And yet, these brazen observations of things most fiftysomethings would want to keep quiet about were not self-pitying, merely part of the insatiable curiosity which drives his ever prolific output.

There was variety, too – he asked us to imagine that his own head, projected behind him, was that of a beautiful woman, and caressed the wall where the image fell

[the diary entry cuts off here, without even mentioning ‘The Charm Song’. But I don’t have time to reformulate these thoughts, Momus, I have to find new things to be interested in. You taught me that. Thanks for the gig, it was great.]

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