Marc Almond, because he can


Marc Almond, as pictured by me, at the Paradiso in Amsterdam on October 27, 2007. Gushing review now available.


I have lived
These My Dreams Are Yours
Tears Run Rings
Your Aura
The Idol
Dream Lover
Child Star
Mr Sad

If You Go Away

Redeem me
Pearly Spencer
The Boy Who Came Back
Hand Over My Heart
Ruby Red
I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten

Backstage I’m Lonely
Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart
Tainted Love

Say Hello Wave Goodbye

The Church: still soldiering on

Where do rockbands go when they grow old? The small room upstairs at the Paradiso.

It’s unfair perhaps and it must smart, but The Church soldiers on. All the good bands do. Whether you perform in front of thousands or in someone’s living room, you play as if it’s your last show.

I go see young bands, I go see the big names, I go to club gigs, I – reluctantly – enter stadiums to watch the megas. And I get jaded about concerts and complain I’m not getting what I need from them, most of the time.

Young bands especially, I find, have no stage craft and no mystique. (There’s always exceptions – Arcade Fire for example have plenty of both.) I want bands and their frontmen in particular to make me believe. Believe them. Believe something. I like to see bands play because they need to, not because they want to.

I go see bands full of expectations and come away disappointed a lot of the time. So when I went to see The Church I expected them well past their heyday, coasting on past glory. Instead I watched four guys soldiering on with more fire in the belly than a lot of the new ‘The’-bands put together. Overcoming ridiculous technical problems, they played blistering versions of songs from their vast repertoire.

Steve Kilbey - The Church

Frontman Steve Kilbey, past the pretty but sporting a distinguished bearded look, still oozes star quality despite the weary, dog-tired I’m-too-old-for-this-game vibe that surrounds him. He commanded the room. How do I know this? He asked people to lay off the ciggies because they hurt his throat. Dutch people don’t like to be told ‘no’. But they obeyed. And when the pauses between songs became longer and longer while the drummer and techs tried to rid the stage of a persistent buzzing, nobody complained. Kilbey made up stories to pass time, people listened.

I left the Paradiso floating several feet above the ground and with a keen, renewed, interest in the band. I spent the weekend gorging information, properly obsessing and hungry for the chime of Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper’s riffs.

Next time, give them back the big room, Paradiso.

Steve Kilbey - The Church

Ben Christophers, Paradiso, Amsterdam

God damn The Frames’s audience who didn’t have the decency to shut. the. fuck. up. during Ben Christophers’ support slot in the Paradiso an hour or so ago.

His songs are so brittle and how beautiful they sounded in that quiet 14th century church in Dingle late last year.

I don’t think Ben enjoyed fighting the Paradiso din. He rushed through his encore.

Made a bad decision and ended up on the wrong side of his guitar, which makes for shite photos (Flickr set) and I didn’t feel like moving to the other side. George (because it was George and not that guy I knew in high school he looks a lot like which always confuses me) gave me his Sigma 70-200 to shoot with and I didn’t feel too good and didn’t feel like talking, especially with Ben playing.

I think I’ve a cold coming on.

And fuck the Frames anyway, I left before they came on. Thinking about that Sigma, of course. Fuck.

Continue reading “Ben Christophers, Paradiso, Amsterdam”

Unforgettable Fire

It was October 6, 1986. I think. I’m not sure of the exact date. I don’t remember things like that. I never had to. I had Pimm Jal for that.

I saw him in the Melkweg venue, recognized his face from interviews. He was starting a U2 magazine and I wanted to contribute.

In January ’87 I we met again at the U2 fan club day in the Paradiso. Sandra was there as well. Something clicked, we became inseparable. For days they would stay with me in my flat in Utrecht, until my flat mates despaired. Or we’d look him up in Osdorp, played table football and enjoyed his mother Lies’s food. We were children still. Children with great plans.

Pimm Jal and I disagreed often and were almost opposite personalities. But we agreed on one thing. We shared an almost irrational passion to document that which cannot be put in words. The magic of music, the heartbeat of the live concert, those moments of ecstasy. They had to be captured. I embraced lyricism, Pimm Jal the facts and figures, and thus together we described the indescribable.

Collectormania. An obsessive fan’s dream of a magazine. A world wide institution. Pimm Jal, driven, charismatic, took me and many others along on a journey. He could talk about his plans for hours. He wanted an office, a news room, rows of typing machines, just like on TV. Just like in ‘Lou Grant’. Pimm Jal’s thinking was unDutch. It had to be big and all-embracing. PJ Publishing. Today Amsterdam, tomorrow the rest of the world.

But most of the time we were just talking bollocks in the pub.

We traveled through Ireland, the three of us, for three weeks. Hitch hiking from village to village. PJ and two girls, we attracted a lot of attention. We played silly games on the bus, shrieking with laughter, drunk on joy and many pints of Guinness. Unforgettable days, an unforgettable journey.

Our little group grew. Pimm Jal had an unquenchable thirst for people and he always managed to find the finest, sweetest of all. Pimm Jal brought us together. He shared all his friends and his amazing family. We were all U2 fans, but it wasn’t about the band anymore. It was about us. Dinner at Bojo’s, tea at Pimm Jal’s, fireworks on Nassaukade. The rest was background music.

Ten years ago, I really don’t remember the date, after an evening of drinks in Reijnders and dancing in Mazzo’s, Pimm Jal, Sandra and I stood on Bloemgracht at seven in the morning, watching the sun rise. Tired, but happy. “Amsterdam,” Pimm Jal said, “Amsterdam is the most beautiful city in the world.”

{ as spoken today at PJ’s memorial service }