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Alone, in a darkened room . . .

Friday: Bloco Vomit.

I went straight from home to the Wee Red - I hadn't made the pub meet as I was in Morningside, but they were a bit late so I hung around talking to Sarah and Gary and buying a CD (which I didn't expect freedb to know about, but it does) until various others (Steve, Jenny, Phil, Charlotte, Jane, Stu) arrived. The first band were Where Next Columbus, a relatively conventional band fronted by Gary, with another guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. Not bad. I'd like to see them again. With better sound next time, maybe - the Wee Red's a small place and the acoustics aren't so good.

Maracatu Sem Propósito (Pointless Maracatu) play maracatu, surprisingly enough. What this translates into in practice is "lots of people with drums", and it somes from northeastern Brazil, as far as I can tell. They seem to be an offshoot of the Samba School, and one of them - Raz - was a torchie last year. Going to a gig and finding out that you know people in all of the bands doesn't happen to me very often. I must be hanging around in the wrong circles. They were very loud - there were about a dozen of them, mostly with drums, but a few other percussion instruments also - and they were very good. Catchy and percussive stuff. I would like to see them again too.

Finally Bloco Vomit were on. I saw them once before, in a pub basement in Islington about seven or eight years ago. Friday was their tenth anniversary gig, and their 101st, so they know what they're up to by now. I get the impression that they're one of the country's foremost samba-punk bands . . . in that I've never heard of any others, at least. So what do you get for your money? Well, there's Gary with a guitar (in a long silver lamé dress in this case) and about another ten people (Sarah being one of them) on assorted latin percussion. They started with Roadrunner, passed on via Jilted John and Love Lies Limp, through Gloria, to finish on Surfin' Bird. Open up came as a bit of a surprise, as did Have Love Will Travel - but welcome surprises, in both cases. As for what they look like - well, the phrase "Mad Hatter's tea party" comes to mind. Fine stuff. I definitely plan on seeing them again.

Saturday: The Gin Palace

Another band I saw in Islington, but not at the same time.

I got to the Cabaret Voltaire (some of you may understand it reminding me a bit of the Q club - it's a very unobtrusive place, and has only a tiny sign, flat on the wall outside, so unless you already know where it is you'll never find it) a bit before Lara, Seth and rLex arrived. The support band, The Nukes, were very obvious as they went to the stage. This wasn't due to the suits, though, it was because of the dancers. As band, they're a standard three-piece channelling the shade of Link Wray (even to the point of covering Rumble), which is just fine by me. I was put off a bit by The Missiles, though. These are the dancers I mentioned. There were three of them, dressed like fifties airline hostesses, except without the skirts. Very forgetful of them, but at least they'd remembered the big knickers. They swayed and shimmied as demurely as I suppose anyone can in that situation, but I was very underwhelmed. I thought it made the band look a bit desperate.

Between bands we noticed that something was making our clothes fluoresce red. I was wearing mostly red, which I hadn't been when I left the house. My trousers had gone from black to red, so had the fleece I had under my jacket, and my shirt had gone from green to orange. Seth was orange from head to toe, and as Lara had actually come out in red, she was practically incandescent. Pictures were taken, and will presumably be available at some point.

The Gin Palace arrived, and kicked arse. IMO. Alex wasn't really taken with them (see his review for details), but I was. The Nukes were comparatively civilised, but the Gin Palace had the usual aggressive (brutal, even) guitar and drumming, although admittedly the vocals weren't as clear as they should have been. The Cabaret Voltaire also has acoustic issues. I should probably just blame myself for always going to see bands in bricklined cellars. Halfway through the set they seemed to relax a bit, and Meaghan started making a few comments between songs. I thought it was flowing nicely by this point. Snappy two-minute bursts of energetic noise and hollering generally work for me, and there were plenty of them going. I could have happily watched them for much longer. Just after they started Zbyz and Joyce turned up too, and after the gig was all trooped over to KJ's for a couple of pints. Gary (a different Gary) was there, and it was good to see him, even if it was very briefly. I always think that Gary Fortune is a real boys'-own-hero kind of name - he should have been an astronaut or a test pilot.

Sunday: Bauhaus

I went to the bike co-op round the corner to pick up a catalogue for Ed, and had a chat with AJ, Nicky, Iain MacLennan and said hello to another Graham at their combat practice on the Links, then went to see Ed. The charge nurse has decided that shandy's out, which Ed wasn't too happy about.

After that I went round to Lara and Seth's for dinner, and then after I'd gone back to the flat to pick up my ticket, Lara drove us over to Glasgow. I haven't been to the ABC before. It's a long way up. Mind you, I used to go to Rooftops occasionally, further down Sauchiehall Street, and that was a long way upstairs too. It's small, though, and the ABC's huge. It used to be a large cinema (amazingly enough) and it probably feels bigger now than it did then, as I assume there would have been a suspended ceiling. There's not now. It's cavernous. All the roof girders are exposed, which I think looks rather pleasing. They also have what looked like the biggest fucking mirrorball in the world. It's about ten feet across, I think. I want one.

To start with, the room seemed full of fairly normal people, which was odd, but it soon filled up with bloody goths, as we'd expected. I checked the merch stall for Kick In The Eye shirts - I lost mine sometime in the late eighties - but while there were a couple of revived ones, I was disappointed. I got the tour CD, which is just the original Bela 12" with a song from the last reunion called The Dog's A Vapour (which is quite mellow). Interestingly, Freedb seems to know about this as well.

After the gig, as we were leaving, there was something very Rock playing, but beforehand it was dub - we think this was the band's choice. Their liking of dub is obvious to anyone who's listened to a lot of their stuff - particularly Bela, the longer version of She's In Parties and the various B-sides - but it isn't very widely commented on. A shame, really.

They came on at about half-past eight and went on until after ten. There was obviously a huge cheer when they came on. They're pushing 50 now, but doing pretty well. The first thing I noticed about Murphy, though (well, the second - he did have a nice suit on) was that he's going a little thin. Lara was making unkind jokes about this, imagining Daniel Ash i the dressing room - "Now, what am I going to do tonight with all this hair? Shall I tie it back, or spike it, or leave it down? Maybe not that, because all this hair does get in the way a bit, doesn't it Peter?"

Ash, in turn, had a big pair of shades glued to his face. Actually, I'm not a hundred percent sure it was Ash. It could just as easily have been Bono (Lara thinks that "Pete" might have actually have been Tony Blair, but pay no heed - she's a philistine). He had a mirrored guitar with a sticker on saying "Ash", though, so perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt.

The brothers look pretty much the same. They were wearing . . . black! And, unsurprisingly, they played impeccably and let Murphy and Ash get on with the evening's main task - trying to upstage each other.

It started a bit low-key. The first few songs were workmanlike rather than surprising. When they hit She's In Parties, though, it took off and flew. The enthusiasm picked up, and they didn't put a foot wrong after that. Murphy apologised for his voice at one point, but I couldn't hear anything wrong with it. The range of songs was interesting. They didn't just play singles, and all the albums were represented. Severance turned up during the encores. All We Ever Wanted Was Everything went down very well (dedicated to the audience, with a promise not to leave a 23-year gap this time), and Spirit was terrific. Murphy had a couple of coat changes - a big red velvet one for Telegram Sam, and a great bit long swooshy one for the invevitable Bela, during which he hammed things up wonderfully. The first time I saw him was in a university lecture theatre in late '86. I thought he was godlike, and he hasn't lost it. Ash kept grabbing the spotlight (that guitar's very distracting) but Murphy's an old pro when it comes to upstaging, and spent most of Rosegraden Funeral of Sores walking a circle around him (widdershins, naturally). I should also say that the way they ended Ziggy Stardust was cheeky beyond belief. If you're going to one of the other gigs, I envy you. I'd happily go and see them again this week.

Sadly, on the way out we saw a poster advertising a solo gig by Bob Mould. Last week. We were heartbroken.

After getting dropped back off, I went to Neon. This was fun. I nearly laughed myself sick after one of Lisa's quips (I may expend on that later - it concerns The Sign of the Snail) and Tef told me a troubling yet funny anecdote about a friend's hobby. I also talked to some biology students - one of whom asked if I was a student or had graduated (it was dark, ok?). One of the others was really into the Gaia hypothesis, and I tried (unsuccessfully) to explain why I have no truck with this. There's something nice about discussing really technical things in the pub. It makes me feel like I'm some sort of intellectual.
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Should be seeing Bauhaus on Friday. Go on, envy me. Thanks for the heads-up, sounds like it should be a great gig. :)
I hadn't heard bauhaus before, but following Zotz's post i checked them out... they're quite good.
I am staggered by the idea of a samba-punk band. Sounds interesting and, er, unique.
Gaia
I thought the original Gaia hypothesis was merely that global temperatures were homeostatically maintained by greenery having a sort of reverse albedo effect.
Re: Gaia
It's more involved than that. What Lovelock proposes varies a bit depending on when you catch him, but essentially it's that the planet's ecosystem functions as a co-ordinated unit, with parts - organisms and species - acting for the benefit of the whole to maintain conditions for life, rather than growing as best they can in local conditions (the more usual biological position).

The problem with this is that it can't be squared with evolution. Any species which failed to co-operate with this mechanism would benefit from not having to compromise their own welfare.

It's analogous to the situation in a multicellular creature - the individual cells must act for the benefit of the whole rather than for themselves. This doesn't happen either automatically or entirely reliably. There are complex mechanisms to prevent cells from simply growing and dividing using all available resources. When these mechanisms fail or are suborned, a tumour results. Very often, of course, this is fatal.

It's also important than inappropriate cells aren't able to reproduce the organism, as this too would remove the coherent pursuit of the welfare of the whole. Hence the division into germ-line and body (somatic) cells that we see in multicellular creatures.

The problem which Lovelock fails to address is that it just isn't in anyone's interest to compromise to the benefit of a different species unless it also benefits them themselves. There's also no goal-seeking behaviour - the sort of teleology he proposes is one of the cardinal scientific sins. Nowhere does he manage to explain how the various component organisms are supposed to "know" what action they're supposed to be taking, which they would have to do for it to work. his "Daisyworld" model has black flowers becoming more common if the temperature drops. But what if white flowers are better adapted to the cold instead? Actually, as far as I can tell white creatures are better adapted to cold conditions, and for thermal reasons as well as camouflage. I've never seen an argument in favour of this that doesn't just come down to very clever hand-waving. It's a shame, because he was a terrific scientist in his day.
photos
Ah yes, the photos of the redness will be available soon!

They did the thing for Ziggy last night too. Cheeky. :)

I smiled all the way through last night's gig.
Excellent. They got a 5-star review in today's Guardian, so I guess the Manchester one was pretty good too.

It mentions that they didn't play in venues anything like this size twenty years ago. In Edinburgh they played in Coasters, which is now the Cavendish. Not tiny, but not massive. Highbury Garage sized, perhaps.