Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Detectorists, written by, starring and directed by Mackenzie Crook is rapidly turning out to be my favourite thing that's been on television this year. If you haven't seen it, it's a sitcom about a metal detecting club's two most enthusiastic members played by Crook and a truly excellent Toby Jones.
I've read so many times that it's a 'gentle comedy'. To me a gentle comedy conjours up OAPs rolling down hillsides in tin baths. This isn't that kind of gentle comedy. It isn't a Not Going Out gagfest either, what it is is a beautifully-crafted comedy. The script has gorgeous lightness of touch, the characters speak how real people speak, from a discussion about what was on television the night before ("Fifteen to One's not the same without William G Stewart. I like Toksvig but she's always joking") to minor misunderstandings (a phone conversation we only see one side of "Do you like swedes?....No, the vegetable").
It also doesn't venture into the cliche that anyone who is an enthusiast of anything is a bit of a nerd. I always find that sort of thing kind of insulting. As though you can't be interested in any subject that doesn't involve sport or beer without being seen as some kind of social inadequate. Oh, and the original music's lovely too. All this and it shows off the English countryside at its best.
The series comes to an end on Thursday, this is giving me the same sort of feeling I get when I'm nearing the end of a book I've really enjoyed; you know it's going to end so you try and prolong it for as long as possible. It's a mark of the programme that I could quite happily sit and watch them all over again right now.

Detectorists: BBC4 Thursday night 10pm. Most episodes are still available on the BBC iPlayer. If you haven't seen it, try and catch up, it really is lovely.


Thursday, 16 January 2014

Shut yer face

I was inspired to write this post after reading this article on The Quietus. I thought I'd add my own two pennerth on talking at gigs. In short, it annoys me. It annoys me beyond belief, I think it's incredibly rude and I'd ban persistent talkers from gigs. For life. I'm not against a bit of between-song chat of the "Hey, that was good" or "They've dropped Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep from the set", but I am against that constant hubbub of chatter.
Let me give you an of example of talkers at a gig.
Last October, my wife and I went to see Martyn Ware's side project British Electric Foundation at the Sheffield Academy. Those with only a passing knowledge of electronic music know that Ware, formerly of The Human League and currently of Heaven 17, is from Sheffield. So, as you can imagine, we thought it would be a typical homecoming show with an appreciative and rapt audience rooting for the returning son. Not a bit of it. Throughout the performance we were subjected to a constant din of people stood at the bar talking. And because there's the small matter of a concert going on at the other end of the room with, you know, AMPLIFIED sounds, these alcoholic berks had to speak LOUDLY. A lot of the songs in the set were of a quiet and contemplative nature, like Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory treating us to a mesmerising performance of The Associates' Party Fears Two and BEF's keyboard player Berenice Scott's excellent version of Blondie's Picture This (BEF specialise in cover versions) but on and on they nattered. It impaired our enjoyment of the concert massively, and it wasn't the fault of the band, they were fantastic. And that's just one instance, there's many more.
Also in October, as mentioned in my last post, we saw Steven Wilson. We saw Wilson twice last year and on both occasions there was an almost complete absence of talking. I think you can put this down to two things: 1) Wilson's audience are perhaps a little more respectful of the people onstage 2) both shows were seated, so you had to be in your seat, to fully enjoy the show. Now, I'm not saying all gigs should be all seater, that would be stupid but it certainly makes you think.
I often wonder why people have gone along if all they're going to do is talk. I'm guessing that they might have accompanied people who were more enthusiastic about the performance than their chums, and if so, who are they talking to because if you really wanted to see someone you'd tell your chum to shut the fuck up. Or perhaps it comes from this thing of having to be there - "Oh yeah, we saw Bruce Springsteen do an undercover show at The Borderline" purely to impress their mates.
Anyway, sometimes, audiences, silence really is golden.