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Last of the true believers?

As I filed in to the Jayhawks‘ gig at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire last Friday, someone handed me a flier advertising an indie festival taking place in September. Indie Daze gathers many of the undisputed superstars of that long-lamented scene (Jesus Jones, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, others) under one roof, hopefully with the intention of interring them so none of them can make any more music.

The aforementioned Jayhawks (who weren’t an indie band, by any definition) were fantastic; playing songs from their incomparable Sound of Lies record to restrained applause while the crowd went mad for their more celebrated, and to my ears, inferior songs. (The fact that the Jayhawks’ primary songwriter shares my opinion of his back catalogue cheered me up no end.) But quite why I was identified as someone who might like Ned’s troubled me greatly. Must have been the fact that I went alone.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the gig but am increasingly wary of my music tastes – certainly in terms of the bands I go to see live – getting stuck in the past. The current glut of bands reforming to play their old songs without daring to create anything new is possibly attributable to the ease of discovering music online, but if the average age of the audience at the Jayhawks is anything to go by, there aren’t many new listeners jostling for space at the front among the ageing hip-replacement-sters. If the Indie Daze crowd is full of youngsters it will only be because natural selection has seen off the original audience.

That’s why the evolution of one of my favourite bands, That Petrol Emotion, has cheered me up no end. The Petrols were themselves formed from the remnants of the Undertones, replacing Feargal Sharkey’s tremulous new wave yelp with the energetic Seattle babble of Steve Mack. If I’d ever appeared on Stars In Their Eyes, Steve would have been my chosen star. (That sentence may contain several obvious flights of fancy.)

I am such an advocate for my enthusiasms that by the time the Petrols called it a day, I was taking a bunch of friends to see them each time they played. Indeed I bought 12 tickets to watch them at the Clapham Grand in 1994 as my birthday present, and had no trouble finding willing attendees. Steve Mack obliged by stage diving into the arms of my pal Phil, who uttered a nonplussed “Hello” into the singer’s mic; possibly the only occasion in Phil’s life when he hasn’t been able to come up with something funny at short notice. You could dance to them, pogo to them, sing along to them, and once you’d finished doing that, play air guitar as they pulled another hook-laden, riff heavy gem from their catalogue. To say they didn’t get the attention they deserved is understating it (although compared to House of Freaks, another band I worshipped, they were practically the Beatles).

Anyway, back to the now. In another sign that I am possibly getting on a bit, talented musicians with a superb back catalogue are now having to ask for support from their fans before they release a record. Four fifths of That Petrol Emotion have reinvented themselves as The Everlasting Yeah, and if their track record is anything to go by, their debut album will be a) great; b) loud, and c) definitely worth playing air guitar to.

In order to get it made, they’ve launched a Pledge which I have just contributed to. Listen to this, this and this, and tell me it’s not worth the price of three caffe lattes to help these guys get their record out there.



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