Agony Shorthand

Friday, January 07, 2005

You'd like to think that there were camcorders & video recording devices abounding during the punk & early UK DIY eras, but the paucity of visual material of some of the pioneer acts of the age proves otherwise. I've seen almost all of the FALL stuff from this time, and given that landmark band's decided lack of visual (and commercial) appeal, surely there'd have to be some YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS video/DVD stuff out there too, what with their sparse melodies, cultish fan base and cute-as-a-button singer? Well, this is it -- a two-night stint recorded at New York City's Hurrah Club in 1980, the sole visual document of the band playing live in any format. It also happened to be the last shows they ever played, though I don't get the sense that they knew this at the time. If you're a fan of the band, and I am, you'll certainly appreciate a glimpse of their no-frills, hush-hushed minimalism in the flesh. Warm, skeletal drones like "N.I.T.A.", "Final Day" and "Credit In The Straight World" sound just as pleasant and simple in front of an audience as they do on the records. The drum machine is fired up, the keyboard hums softly, and the band makes their strange, uncompromisingly eerie pop music, the likes of which is truly theirs alone. However, "no frills" extends to the live package as well -- it's not as if they're up on stage kicking out the motherfucking jams like the Motor City Five or anything. Singer Alison Statten stands stock-still and mouths the words of her very fine songs, while her compatriats Stuart and Phil Moxham move a 'lil tiny bit when the tempo of the song subtly changes. Anything else would, in actuality, come off as completely ridiculous. And did I notice some very loud catcalls at the end of the second night's set? As the band was walking off the stage for the last time ever? Perhaps they were opening for The Misfits or the Bad Brains and the crowd was getting ready to slam their asses off. I think it's worth some investigative follow up. I'll get right on it. In the meantime, check out this incredible labor (or "labour") of love website on the band. And by all means, buy the CD reissue of "Colossal Youth" and make it an essential part of your musical life!