Saturday, March 08, 2008

MGMT / Virgin Passages...not Virgin Passes Bar Academy Birmingham Monday March 3rd 2008

I ballsed up a bit here. I'd been meaning to get tickets for this gig a while back...but didn't. Then, all of a sudden, as if by magic, it sold out. Yes, I know gigs do that, but I was hopelessly unaware that MGMT were being played on 'the radio' and thought that they were a little more obscure. First stop, ebay. No joy. They had tickets for the Dublin gig at £30 a pop. Bit of a jaunt that. Next I tried Seatwave. Close, but no cigar. They enticed me with the promise of a ticket by listing the gig as available...then informed that that it had sold out. Thanks for that. There was only one thing for it. The...TOUTS. Yes, those dodgy geezers who hang around outside venues shouting 'buyorzelltckitsanyonegotanyspareticktstickskkkskkkskkskks'. So, I trudged down to the Academy, strode up to Mr Tout and asked for an MGMT ticket. He hadn't got any. He did have loads of Sum 41 tickets. They were very good he said. I won't get in to MGMT he said. It was sold out he said. I KNOW. THAT'S WHY I'M TALKING TO YOU. Anyway, not wanting to get beaten by a sold out gig, I lurked by the entrance of the Bar Academy like a Venus Ticket Trap. I waited. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. People went in. 30 minutes. More people go in. So near and yet so far. Perhaps I could pretend to be one of the band. Naaaah. Haven't really got the look. 40 minutes. Getting...cold now...losing...will 50 minutes. Body shutting down. Can't go...on...I'm going out now...I may be some time. 58 minutes and 12 seconds. Wait. I see two people. They're going up to the entrance. Man goes in his pocket. I see tickets. There's more than two. But there's only two people...agghhhhh...wait. I hurdle the barrier like a nutjob 'Spare tickets?' 'Errr....yes...we've got two' Oh deep joy. 'How much?' (this is where I'm expecting to get stung) 'Just the ticket price...£6'. Oh bless them. I was in.

First band on, Virgin Passes, were a gentle lot. I can't find their My Space page...or any site to do with them. They almost seem not to exist. Was I dreaming? Ahhh. They're called Virgin Passages. Right ho. That explains it then. I blame the cold. I'm not sure if tonight was the best audience for them. The gobby cow standing next to me was less than impressed. I was less than impressed with her, but there we go, live and let live eh? Musically they're like lying in a field of wheat on a summer's day, with the breeze blowing gently on your face, a huge blue sky above you and nothing on your mind but the wonder of nature.

On to the main event. The reason why I was so keen to see MGMT is that they are, right now, one of three classic bands (and I use that word wisely) from the streets of Noo Yawk. We have Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer and this lot. Why are they so good? Well, there's that whole (wanky word alert) fusion thing going on. All sorts of different styles. We're living in world with a rich cultural back catalogue and these three bands seem to be mining it particularly well. Of the three, Vampire Weekend are already big. Their Academy 2 gig sold out in about 6 seconds. MGMT are next. Current single Time To Pretend is being played to death. Quite right too. It's awesome. Arcade Fire with more wibbleness. Can they cut it live? Yep. Live it makes even more sense than on record. Their recorded sound is pretty 'fat' in places and, although I think there's only two of them in the official band, on stage there's 5 of 'em, plus loads of FX pedals and other gizmos. On stripped back tracks like Pieces of What they're just as good though (always a good sign). Shades of Bolan and Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud era Bowie. Time To Pretend adds nice little synthy touches, there's echoes of early Pink Floyd, Sparks...all kindsa great shit. Weekend Wars was truly historic on the night. Spine tingling. For most of the night the audience, a mix of thirty something musos and trendy young folk (with the exception of the gobby cow next to me) were still. Entranced perhaps. Set closer, Kids, saw some mild moshing as lead MGMT leant over the barriers like a new musical Christ to bless his followers. For a moment my head was lodged in his armpit. Can experiences get more holy than that? Exactly. Gig of the millenium. At least.

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