So I’ve been wanting to write about this British indie rockband for some time now. I am such a no-know when it comes to music I had no clue they were an indie rockband. I am thirty-two going on thirty-three and I have habits that are hard to break, as well as a taste in music and films that is probably as constant as my unchanging character (for better or worse; so if you like me, fine, but it you don’t, you can give up hope that I will ever change). I like music, a wide variety of it, but lately, I have become picky. Time flies and I am not immortal. Guess I’m stingy with my days as I am with my display of emotions, save toward a choice few people that probably see it as a curse and not a blessing. Anyways, one really has to be picky these days, otherwise you get flooded by endless waves of musical regurgitations of all the generations that think they can give us something new. They can’t, but we are easy to fool anyway. I certainly am. I have no idea what good music is, or isn’t. But lately, I’ve been getting musically surprised less and less. Probably because I don’t sacrifice enough at the altar of musical arts. I am sure I’m missing out on 90% of all the great music happening out there.
Fact is, when I am musically surprised, it is bound to last. Once tamed, those foxes will stay in my yard for good.
I flew over to London a few months ago to meet up with some good friends for a Lifehouse concert. I had no prior knowledge of this band’s music, generally speaking, except a few songs I kindof liked. They play decent rock music, melodic, easy to digest, very entertaining. Years ago I would have died for this band. I was in my early twenties and rock music was not popular, in fact, there was 1 stingy hour per week on the radio dedicated to melodic rock. Of course, when something’s not widely accepted, it tends to be considered… special. I sure as hell spent hours, weeks, years of my life in a dreamworld of my own, infatuated with the overall mood and feel to melodic rock, not to mention the guy presenting that radio show. I cherish fond memories of those times. Very fond memories. But this post-rant is not about those times, it’s about how those times were unique and how, once rock music came back on the market, I suddenly fell out of love with it. It’s probably not as simple as this but the gist is certainly it. Lifehouse would have moved me to tears… back then. They have everything that reached me a decade ago: gripping lyrics, good instrumentation, catchy choruses, and very attractive musicians.
The concert was quite okay. All but a half drunk and halitosis-afflicted woman with plaster on her arm trying to push herself closer and closer to the stage, literally yelling her way through. Once I decided to let her go before me, I was finally able to relinquish my sick stomach and enjoy the music.
I probably would have enjoyed the music a whole lot more if the warm-up band had not been so frickin’ amazing. But they were.
I have had great experiences with warm-up bands before. Tori Amos, awesome as she is, introduced us to Ben Christophers and Joshua Radin, both musicians on our shelf by now, two amazing performers/songwriters on their own. There were probably more that i saw and unexpectedly fell for but I can’t remember them right now. In any case, for the above reasons I am always open-minded and expectant about warm-up musicians. One never knows what treasure they might stumble upon. I tried to tell this to my friends who are (all three of them with me that day) fans of Lifehouse. They were eager and impatient to get to the main course. Never mind the hors-d’oeuvre, bring on the meat. Well, I am not big on meat these days, I do eat meat often but in very small portions. So I was indeed looking forward to some nice salad, spicy with a healthy dressing, fresh, crunchy, delicious.
I sure as hell got it. It was the best salad I have had, compliments of the house, for a very long time.
Three young guys entered the stage in jeans and T-shirts and after a brief introduction, started playing their two guitars and drums. Halfway through the first song I was already enjoying myself. It was rock music and it was very easy on my ears. It was not reminiscent of old times’ rock, it was not cheesy or fluffy, and before I could tell my eyes to stop, I was watching the lead vocalist’s, well, face or whatever was visible behind his microphone. And he had this great voice. He had this amazing voice, he was playing with it, he could sing highs to die for and his face really followed the notes. He lived his music. I tried to figure out what age he could be, I thought he was in his twenties. That kind of fresh-sounding, healthy rock music with the right amount of depth to it could only be made by one of the thousands of rockbands in their teens or twenties prospering today. It sounded very up-to-date and yet, conservatively structured. To put it bluntly, my heartstrings were being tugged at, big time. My friends were starting to admit the band was good, by that time I was probably more into the lead vocalist than I would have liked to be. So what if I fell for him, a little? It’s part of the whole… performer-audience exchange thing. If you don’t fall in love with the artist, something’s gone wrong. They need to have you under their spell, it’s their shamanic power, the persuasion they use to alter your state of mind, and hopefully, state of heart. I won’t beat around the bush: I was easy game. I loved the music, and I loved the guy’s voice, and I loved the way these three young lads played their music. It was unassuming and honest, very raw and yet, tender. I was experiencing emotions. Lots of them. And if I hadn’t, I would’ve, because this… this out-of-the-world moment happened.
I was unsuspectingly enjoying the view and my heart was beating in synch with the drums, when the singer either noticed me looking at him, or simply noticed me above the crowd. I am a tall person, probably easy to spot. We were quite close to the stage. As a woman, I have suffered from the curse of being tall forever, but this time, I would not have traded my almost 6 feet for anything. I was noticed and my eyes were locked into by a pair of dark, intelligent eyes. I was so shocked I forgot to think or follow the lyrics or anything. I felt nothing, really, nothing romantic, I just kept looking at him and he kept looking at me and it was a good several seconds that would usually make for a dozen pages, if I was a good writer. (I have been trying to remember what lyrics he was singing when it happened. The shock was so intense I forgot everything.) The only thing that went through my mind was this uncanny sense of union between two human beings who for a very brief time, a very limited and finite time feel each other. (Later, I have been told that today’s music-makers create these moments to make people buy their albums by alluring them. It’s a theory all right.) If you think my judgement was clouded after this exchange of unspoken thoughts- you’re probably right. I was allured into absolutely falling for this band, head over heels. I was even allured into buying their two albums. I am not for a moment sorry I bought them; The Minerva Suite (2010) is simply brilliant. Great rock songs spiced with commercial trendy pop make the album a very good listen. Jamie, the creative spirit behind the band (and very much in his thirties, Hallelujah!) would probably despise me for hearing this but like I said, I am no music expert. I only know what I like and I promise I loved the music before you stared at me, J. My friends can attest to that. All three of them.
I wish I could give a song-by-song review of the album but I have no knowledge of music and it would sound like a fan’s rave, which would be fine, but it might not be enough. I really wish I could tell people they should give this album a chance. The lyrics are often challenging, but not so much as to discourage any rock-fan from loving the songs. I seriously love the raw tenderness of the words, as well as of the music. (And I was tickled pink when I read that Jamie himself described his music the same way in a brilliant interview found here: http://www.mudkiss.com/mexicolas.htm) I don’t know what else to say, really… I adore the voice of this very married (thank God for that because he is one serious eye-candy and becomes embarrassed when being told so, God bless him), and very down-to-earth guy whose ancestors were a musical people and who is sincerely trying to make good music, make it accessible but not overly accessible. I love the fact that there are still honest, modest and simple artists out there who try to make a decent living out of decent stuff, nothing over-the-top, just pure, simple, savoury stuff. There’s nothing wrong with being available for the masses, as long as you’re setting a good example, as long as you’re giving them wholesome food for thought. Not pre-digested, not completely raw, but just rightly cooked.
I am silently hoping the band will get a very well-deserved break and they will start touring on their own. I will keep my eyes and ears open for future events for sure.
I say, always be true to yourself, Jamie, and you’ll be fine.
And I just found this, a HQ video of a song that I heard there for the first time and I am not ashamed to say it brought me to tears. “Times infinity”.