Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Thurston Moore at The Union Chapel: Blessed Be the Noisemakers

"You're so tall!" PW and Thurston Moore.
A late night missive from the poet-den. Your correspondent has just been to see the legendary black-winged angel (in his own words. Well almost.) Thurston Moore play at the Union Chapel in London's Trendy Islington. Your correspondent was minding his own business on the pavement outside when who should walk by, long black coated, carrying a blue plastic bag from the local newsagents which contained, as far as yr sharp-eyed corresp. could see, a copy of Mojo magazine and a packet of Purple Silk Cut. There were so many things I wanted to say: Thurston Moore! You are a legend! being one of them. So many things that we could discuss about the structure of his music, his harmonies, the way that he makes abrasive sounds so beautiful. I caught his sleeve. What did I say? I commented upon his height. 'You're so tall!' My friend took our picture and Thurston swept off again, spindly and kind, into the corner where he supped on a beer with some friends. There is something remarkably nice about rock stars hanging out in the pub before their gig. It should happen more often. (Of course we exchanged numbers and now I am his best friend and will be joining him on tour as lead guitarist. NB This last bit may not be true.)

The gig itself was in an old church. We sat at the very top, at the back, commanding a view of the whole chapel. The audience was a good mix of ages (including a baby, to whom Thurston dedicated a song). The songs were from the new album, Demolished Thoughts, which are shimmering and hazy and controlled at the same time, carrying all the hallmarks of a Sonic Youth / Thurston Moore production: the dizzying ascents into cacophony, the sudden lapses into harmony, the juddering guitars, all with Thurston's rough-edged Silk-cutting voice over the top, and with the addition of a rippling harp and a violin. The songs had suitably pentecostal titles: Benediction, Illumine, Space. Bliss and joy come from that man's guitar, which seems somehow to be a part of him. He shuffles and stands like a teenager; his voice sounds gravelly and timeless. He read a poem at the end: whatever its qualities, it didn't matter. Thurston Moore could read a shopping list and make it sound cool. ( Can you imagine going shopping with Thurston Moore? 'Washing powder....carrots....narcotic squads sweeping through poet dens...small flowers...don't forget the cauliflower...'). He extended an open invitation to the audience to come and visit him in Massachussets and finished his poem with 'Blessed are the noise musicians.'

As an encore he played two songs from Trees Outside the Academy - but not Honest James (my favourite); however he did play my Absolute All Time Favourite, from his first solo album, Psychic Hearts, which I happily sang all the words to (although I'm not sure anyone else did). Blessed are the noise musicians, and blessed is Thurston Moore.

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