Saturday, April 04, 2009

Eliza Carthy, Mick Jagger Centre

I don't mean to be rude, but Dartford really is a horrible place. In my kinder moments I think of it as being what Brighton would be like if it wasn't next to the sea. But that makes it sound nicer than it is.

No matter, because we're here in the arse end of nowhere to see the splendid Eliza Carthy at the Mick Jagger Centre.

Mick Jagger's from Dartford, you know. He set this arts centre up. you know. They sure as hell don't let you forget who paid for the place. The walls are festooned with murals of Mick's face with its big mouth, and everyone working there wears a T-shirt with Mick's face with its big mouth. Sorry, that's Sir Mick. I'm sure he wouldn't want us to forget that.

Having attempted to negotiate the giant roundabout full of chavs being stalked by the police and arrived late, we find everyone else milling about, There are technical problems. Eventually we get into the hall and settle down for the support, the trickily punctuated mawkin:causley.

They're good. We like them. They play good music well. It's a nicely put together sound. I'd probably have bought their new CD if it had been on sale in the foyer afterwards. But there's something not quite there. I can't quite put my finger on what it was. It's that edge. They're a bit polite and tame. I wish they were a bit rougher and sparky. To be fair, they're not helped by the audience, which is as flat a crowd as I've seen in a while. Somehow I expected the audience at an Eliza Carthy gig to be reasonably young, but I find myself in a position I rarely do these days outside a classical gig: I'm bringing the average age down. Age is no excuse for being as subdued as this, though. "Good evening!" the lead singer says. "Good evening." they mumble back politely. "How are you?" he asks. "mmmwmmmwfffverywellthankyou," is the gist of the murmur that follows. It's like a primary school assembly, only with pensioners. Is this what they mean by second childhood? Maybe it's just what Dartford does to you.

Eliza Carthy does have that thing I can't put my finger on. Ah yes, I remember: presence. There's that extra bit of electricity in the air from the moment she appears, the sort that comes from being experienced and utterly confident at this.

Unfortunately the technical gremlins are still hanging about, and there's a bit of a hiatus just as the band's warming up: microphone problems threaten to put a halt to the set altogether. She handles it well - I'm not sure I'd stay so level-headed in this sort of situation - and manages somehow to give the impression that the gig's still happening when it's clearly not. Eventually they manage to sport things out, but by then there's been some momentum lost and there's a bit of a sag until they get back into the swing of things. That may also be partly because by then I'm feeling a bit hot and stuffy though. It may also be the continuing lack of audience reaction -just a smattering of polite applause between songs. I wouldn't want to have to work this crowd, it's like a morgue. Or a classical concert. It's OK though: by the end the energy's all back again, and we even get an excellent encore about blow jobs to send us out into the night, where the pubs are starting to empty out. We get the fuck out of Dartford.

1 comment:

Cheerful One said...

The audience were considerably better behaved than a primary school assembly. Primary school children would have eaten mccauley:caulkin alive.

I liked them but they made me long for Bellowhead.

Eliza Carthy was fab and I'd love to see her with an audience that was actually alive.