Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Verlaines - A review of Self-review and review of review

I can clearly see the issue at hand here. Critics pulling bands apart, and then band pulling apart the critic's review of a live show out of their anger over the reviewer's lack of understanding or scope. The Stranglers were a band who certainly loved to take their pound of flesh out on rock scribes, so it's good to see the Verlaines having a go at it as well.

Graeme's writing in print or in lyrical form has always fascinated me, and it's always great to see musicians go over someone else's body of work... but it's even more interesting when a review gets a rebuttal from the band themselves. I like it for scope; you read both sides of the story and go, "ahh fuck yes!" And for whatever reason, too.

In a previous post, I did have issues with the Verlaines more recent output. Nothing too huge, just a little delusion on my part. See, the thing is I like the Verlaines ca. '82-'89 more so than say '89 to now. That's not to say I don't enjoy their recent output. At the end of the day, I'm fucking grateful that they still exist - even if it's not a dream line-up or what-have-you. Gotta keep the fantasy and reality at different poles. I copped a beating from Darren Stedman about this, but I now consider myself redeemed. It all makes clear sense to me.

Hindsight's shown that the Verlaines are an evolving creature, and not a Flying Nun era jukebox. Are there that many people out there who've seen a recent show and thought to themselves on their way home, "shit, they didn't play Icarus Missed"? Probably not. Graeme's written a lot of rockers, ballads and chamber pop pieces - surely there's going to be a 100 odd songs that aren't going to make any given setlist.

Corporate Moronic has been out for over six months, and where's the harm in playing most of the album? I for one would like to hear how different a live version of Paratai Drive would be to that of the studio arrangement.

One of the odd moments of the rock critic's analysis of the show was how Graeme Downes was working the door at the venue. Why not? An audience member would be eyes glued to the band, so why not have Graeme eyeball and stamp every patron who comes in to see him?

Something tells me that the reviewer from Real Groove owned a copy of their "Greatest Hits" album (err... You're Just Too Obscure For Me FNCD476)and perhaps a promo copy of Corporate Moronic and set out to cover the events of a near 30 year old band. I guess it doesn't really work that way. Knowing who you're going to review helps. You don't need to know that Jane Dodd's played nothing but a Gibson Ripper bass, or who did the cover art for the Over the Moon record, but perhaps the understandings of a working band would help.

What I would really like to know is: what was the setlist?

The review in Real Groove
The review of the review in the Verlaines blog page

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