I awoke before dawn, still over excited from our Brixton Academy show. Last night was a late one, predictably. Strolling into Cardiff centre as the first signs of daylight appear, I realise I've only slept three hours. The lack of sleep adds a slightly surreal glaze to my early morning mooch as I set forth in search of coffee.
Cardiff is cute. Dylan Thomas called it "Little Dublin" I believe, and I can see what he meant. There's a charm to the maze of streets and arcades that makes the place feel familiar and welcoming. I walk around the castle walls, through town and up to Millennium Stadium, where there appears to be some kind of cultural exposition taking place. I note how it's surrounding pavement is adorned with various mosaic-tiled national flags, embellished with images of articles synonymous with the countries each belong to. For example an origami bird, a fish and a volcano frame the Japanese flag. A bull, a bottle of wine and a guitar border the Spanish tricolour. Positive stereotyping? The jury's out.
While circumnavigating this huge building I'm reminded how really, in terms of "bums on seats", sport still dwarfs music. It's considered a huge achievement when a band or artist performs in a stadium, but the world over; these modern day coliseums are regularly packed to the rafters with punters, literally jumping out of their skin with excitement. What could we in the music business ever do to rival this? Concoct a situation where musicians compete with one another? Develop a system whereby each town has an act they support, thereby investing a sense of territorial pride in said act's success? And by extension -this is where it would get interesting- a state where bands habitually interchange musicians, for extortionate fees? Following this ridiculous train of thought I wonder; what qualities would be valued most during the transfer window? Song writing? An ability to perform blistering guitar solos? Or less obvious, esoteric qualities that make a band great? Could there be a video game where the player manages a band, instead of a football team?
Ambling back through town towards the venue, this flow of thought leads me to consider what impact the Internet has had on sport, if any. By contrast, it's crippled the music industry- specifically the value of recorded music. Firstly in monetary terms, as a result of free downloading. Secondly in terms of the cultural value people afford it. The latter I believe is by far the most devastating. Recorded music, despite the hard work that goes into the writing and recording process, is fast becoming a disposable commodity. This is arguably inevitable, considering these days it has to be digitally compressed to the nth degree to fit on a mobile phone, or be streamed on YouTube.
When I talk to any industry folk, the general consensus seems to be that the music business is in an unpredictable flux. "It's like the Wild West now", is a phrase I've heard more than once. On the upside however, many legacy bands that had "retired" are coming out of the woodwork to tour again, as they can no longer rely on the pension that once was their back catalogues. On some level this has breathed new life into live music. It's lopsided though- without a source of income from record sales it's increasingly difficult for new bands to break through. I know this all sounds pretty downbeat, but the truth is I remain optimistic. I'm sure a new order of things will soon establish itself, hopefully based on a fairer ideology than has hitherto prevailed. Besides, historically speaking, times of hardship have always produced some amazing music. Bringing it back to my original question though, has sport been similarly affected by the Internet revolution? I'm obviously ill qualified to say for sure, but somehow I doubt it. Good luck to them.
The show tonight turns out to be a relatively calm affair, with a unexpectedly civilized and attentive audience. Sunday night crowd? Ok... I guess some bands have a scripted nightly routine to perform, regardless of the atmosphere in each room. Absolutely nothing wrong with that I say, in fact I commend such consummate professionalism. But ours is a band that reacts very much to the collective personality of the people watching us. Folk would be surprised how much crowds differ from town to town. As I mentioned though, it was nice...just sedate. We responded accordingly, playing a tempered and considered show. We all thoroughly enjoyed it actually, though I imagine some were disappointed we didn't end with Fuck Forever, closing as we did on Minefield. For the benefit of readers who were present at Cardiff, I'll try to explain. To play Fuck Forever certain atmospheric conditions must prevail. If the barometer is off, the rendition will be terrible. It's best not to play that song if we're not going to do it justice. I'm aware this sounds vague, but that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
Thanks for continuing to read these by the way. To be honest I find it therapeutic, unpacking the day's events like this. We're in Norwich tomorrow, last night of the first leg. I've been told it's a surprisingly pleasant city, so I'm looking forward to having a scout about on the bike. Maybe catch the last of this Indian summer?
Night then x.