If I could plot a week of gigs…

Billy Corgan and chums giving it their all..

Well, this week’s been very cool, and largely in a selfish ‘spending lots of money on live music’ way.

Put it this way; if you’d had said that in a week I’d have been able to see The Smashing Pumpkins and Grinderman, I’d have sniggered at you. Two of my favourite bands, and definitely my two favourite front men, Billy Corgan and Nick Cave.

Tuesday then – got a little email from someone who read my desperate plea on Last.fm for tickets, and flogs me one. I was a bit sad that my housemate couldn’t come along, but he told me to go and have a good time.

So, after writing a presentation, away I went to Shepherd’s Bush on my own. It was the only gig I’ve been to where touts weren’t selling tickets, but buying them instead…such was the level of the demand. I met up with a load of cool Pumpkins fans (who tended to be Scandinavian or Australian, oddly) and got this close to the door, when I saw the 3 people in front of me kicked out of line as they had fake tickets.

To say I was a little worried would have been putting it mildly. Happily, I got in.

It was the first time I’d seen a gig at Shepherd’s Bush, and I was very impressed. The ticket was for standing in the (tiny) area in front of the stage. Yes, I had a damned amazing view. I make bugger all apologies for being the big person at the gig (I’m 6’3″), but I tried to let the little people go in front of me. I did, though, take some photos, breaking Lauren’s gig rules by taking a few photos, which can be found on my flickr

And what of the gig itself? Well, it was fucking brilliant. Best gig I’ve ever seen, by a long long way.

I’ve heard people say Corgan is detached and remote, but he wasn’t tonight, bantering with the crowd nicely (especially during the second encore) and generally being a rock legend. His singing’s improved, which was great.Jimmy Chamberlin is the best drummer I’ve ever seen in the flesh as well. The new folk were good too, adding more weight to the argument that the Pumpkins are Corgan and Chamberlin.

Thirty Three, Muzzle, Hummer (acoustic, brilliant) and Cherub Rock were my favourites. I got throughly crushed at the front, but it was fantastic.

Oh, and they played for 3 hours. On at 8, off at 11. Two encores, which is pretty special. Most of the set list can be found below (it’s a wee bit blurry/dark, but that’s a camera phone for you). Add to that Cherub Rock and Muzzle (the last tune, and one of my favourites of theirs).

If you want to listen to most of the gig, go here and here, which is a recording of the Paris show (most of the songs they played in London are there). You can also find a better copy of Muzzle from the London show here (not from me). The new single ‘Tarantula’ is pretty damned brilliant as well – a return to their Siamese Dream heyday.

So, how was I going to top that? Well, Wednesday brought around Grinderman, Nick Cave’s new band (the ‘mini seeds’ gone raaawk).

Above: Nick Cave preaches to the converted. Photo from Obo-Bobolina

Now, unlike the Pumpkins, I’ve seen Nick Cave do his thing with the Bad Seeds (his main band) before. So my expectations were high, and I had one of my housemates with me (who naturally distrusts live music) who was a big Cave fan.

We ambled to Kentish Town’s Forum, pausing to eat the best Fish and Chips I’ve had since moving to London (they DO get worse the further South you get, I’m sure) before arriving at the venue.

After seeing Seasick Steve as the first support (he was very good – great live), we had the misfortune of watching NYC Synth Punks ‘Suicide’ play lie. The clue’s in the name; they were bloody dreadful. So we decided to hang back until Cave came on.

Well, he duly did, and it was a cracking gig. Shame about the atmosphere. You got the impression that the majority of the audience had come to do a crossword rather than listening to the down and dirty tunes that Cave, Ellis, Casey and Sclavunos had come to serve up.

So we did the only natural thing. Yep, we moved to the front, and the gig improved immeasurably as a result. No Pussy Blues was great live. Cave on the guitar is odd to behold – but it works, though I think he performs best without a guitar; more room to dance and flail around the stage.

Then, in the encore, he did some form of duet with Suicide, which was….odd. But ok.

I still think the Bad Seeds are better than Grinderman, but it was a fun gig. And my musical week was great fun.