Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pavement Artist

The other evening I was listening to Mr J. Holland's wireless entertainment show and he was interviewing new young star turn, Adele. She's the one that had that irritating tune out a little while back about chasing pavements. I was staying with my parents at the time and my Mum has little time for what is nowadays termed "R & B" (Leona Lewis "very pretty but that shrieking gets on my nerves" that kind of thing). I think her summary of Chasing Pavements was even less charitable and was voiced almost every time the song was heard.

Something Adele said during her interview struck a chord regarding the transient nature of modern fame and the instant pop-culture era we live in. It was also pretty revealing about how bloody clueless today's "stars" are. She was talking about breaking America, how big the country is and how hard you have to work: "It takes two weeks to tour the UK" she said, almost dismissively. You what? 2 weeks? You stupid stupid woman. Even though I was alone and nobody could hear me, I did some thinking out very loud. She'd only just admitted that she hadn't performed live before she became well-known, except to her peers at her alma mater, the Starz R Us BRIT School in Croydon. She got famous through Myspace. I'm sorry Adele, being a topfriend on Myspace is no substitute whatsoever for slogging up and down the M6 in a Transit full vomit, fag smoke and takeaway bags honing your craft in front of 25 disinterested and extremely pissed punters at the Robin2 in Bilston or getting heckled by the nutter in the flying goggles at the Musician in Leicester. In one throwaway remark you've completely rubbished the efforts of real musicians flogging their guts out four or five nights a week for a slice of the bar just because they love what they're doing. You even had the audacity to play records by Joan Armatrading, one of the hardest working and unassuming artists in the country and the peerless Ella Fitzgerald who despite being one of the biggest stars in the States 65 years ago, couldn't buy a drink in the bars of the hotels she was playing in. You've gone from Myspace to 25 quid tickets in big theatres in a couple of months. Have a rest love, you must be shattered after all that.

Joe Brown, one of the most constantly cited influences on musicians in this country, is celebrating 50 years in the industry this year. He still does a couple of tours every year and that's not two tours of two weeks - he does 50 or more dates a time and he's knocking 70. Two weeks wouldn't get him out of the South East. Conversely, our local rock club here in Crewe, the Limelight, has started cancelling gigs because of lack of interest and that's a crying shame. One of those was by Dr Feelgood for heaven's sake, one of the best live bands this country's ever produced (admittedly no original members left in this line-up) and a couple of months ago I went and saw the Blues Band, at another local venue that holds 800. There were 70 there at most and Paul Jones rather sadly asked if we could bring a friend each next time. But they won't give up touring. I do wonder whether there's a huge section of society that believes all live artists to be famous and that famous means "off the telly". My only consolation is that Adele, and those of her ilk, will be struggling in a few years, probably billed along the lines of the one I saw recently, "X Factor Boot Camp Contestant". Hard work that fame mullarkey.

6 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Dave said...

I am pleased to say I'd never heard of her before reading this. I shall do my best to forget her immediately.

8:23 am  
Anonymous Steve Dix said...

It's the same for comedy, except you don't have the transit van, the vomit and the company.

A lot of my gigs atm are unpaid "show your face to pay your dues" stuff.

The irony being that I've earned more via comedy than I ever did by being in a band.

9:44 am  
Blogger Pamela said...

I've never heard of her either---but then that's no mark of shame considering I rarely hear of new talent (or no-talents) until much later. I live in a cave you see. :)

4:27 pm  
Blogger Rol said...

There is a philosophy of a lot of modern bands that all you have to do is play the big cities, and the audience will come to you. I always like the artists who make the effort to come and play out in the sticks. We had Lloyd Cole in Huddersfield last year and both Billy Bragg and Richard Hawley have played Holmfirth. Good on 'em!

4:26 pm  
Blogger Murph said...

Was he billed as "Radio 2's Paul Jones"?

10:23 am  
Blogger Richard said...

No but he did mention that he does a programme on Monday nights, which got a rather loud cheer.

12:28 pm  

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