Carter USM at Brixton Academy, 10 November 2012

Carter USM at Brixton Academy
This is why I am not a professional photographer

Good things come to those who wait. I waited twenty-one years for it, and this month my patience was finally rewarded when I got to see Carter USM, the best band in the world, play Brixton Academy, the best (big) venue in the world.

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that twenty-one years of anticipation would be too much to live up to? That now that I’m, frankly, 30 Something, and they are, well, older than that, the frenzied excitement and wild fandom of my teens might have faded, and the sparkle and energy of their live performances dulled? I’ve never seen them before so I can’t tell you it was as good as seeing them in 1991, but it was as good as I’ve ever imagined seeing them to be, and better. As good because it was as thrilling and lively and boisterous a show as you could hope for, and better because it hadn’t occurred to me until I had the evidence before me that south London is full of people who love Carter as much as I do, who know all the words and were having exactly the same amount of fun as me. I have always said that the reason radio will never be killed off by Spotify and its ilk is that there is something transcendent and intimate about being one of a group of people who don’t know each other all sharing the same  musical experience, and if a DJ can do it then a band can do it times ten. The last time I wrote about them I said I liked to keep Carter as my own secret band, but it turns out that sharing them is even better.

Other things: this may be the first gig I have ever been to at Brixton where I didn’t drink anything more exciting than a Pepsi, and that was good too, because I was in a place I loved, full of people I loved, watching music I loved, and none of it was the fake love that a couple of vodkas inspires (“No, YOU’RE amazing”). I wanted to hug everyone there, and I still do.

(That said, we skipped out of the aftershow party quite quickly because we were tired and flaky, so we didn’t get to have our photos taken with the band themselves, but that’s probably for the best. If you shouldn’t meet your heroes, you definitely shouldn’t meet your superheroes, right?)

I posted this over here rather than over there because it’s not a review. It’s a thank-you note. To the band, to everyone who made the show happen, to Shona who bought me a ticket (and who has a photo of me, aged 15, in a knocked-off Carter t-shirt which was my pride and joy) and to everyone who was there on the night. I got beer spilled on my difficult-to-wash jumper and I lost my voice, and everything about it was perfect.

Onward and upward

Dang. I was so close to being right about Holland winning the World Cup! But I’m glad Spain won it, because they deserved to, and because I have more Spanish than Dutch friends. Although I have just inspected my bank balance and it turns out the cash I would have won had Holland beaten Spain would have been very useful (payday is Thursday). Oh well.

Anyway, I’m going to move on and pretend none of it ever happened, and I’m going to start looking forward to the event of the year, the Lambeth Country Show at Brockwell Park this weekend. The Lambeth Country Show is worth our council tax on its own. There’s live music, actual animals, jousting, fruit and vegetable shows, craft stalls, cake, cider, a funfair and sheep-shearing demonstrations. It is the most fun in the world, and it’s all free and on my doorstep. Who needs holidays?


When I said

Paris does human-scale street life better than any city I can think of off the top of my head, with the possible exception of Beijing.

What I really meant was

Not including London, Paris does human-scale street life…etc etc.

London is bigger, so there are more places where it doesn’t happen, but when it does, it’s as good as anywhere else’s. I was reminded of this yesterday coming through Brixton Market, which is still the most interesting place I know in London.