The Feeling At Shepherd’s Bush Empire

It’s different here.  Everybody’s still a believer.

There’s radio.  That everybody listens to.  There’s television, featuring all the new acts.  And tons of TV advertising and billboards to boot.  There’s a vibe here, music is part of the fabric.  David Byrne had it right.  Same as it ever was.

At the Shepherd’s Bush Empire tonight I felt it was like 1964, and the Beatles were performing.  The venue is unlike any in the U.S., that I’ve been to anyway.  It looks like a legit theatre, but according to the history, it’s always been used for music.

On the floor people were packed in so tight it was almost like the Who in Cleveland.

And then there were THREE balconies.  Hovering seeming feet from the stage.  It was so intimate, you felt so THERE!  There was a level of excitement we used to have HERE in the sixties.  One that disappeared long ago, with the arena rock of the seventies and the MTV of the eighties.

Speaking of which, the Feeling covered the Buggles’ "Video Killed The Radio Star".  I heard the initial notes and…couldn’t believe it.

But even more stunning was that everybody knew the words.  They were singing along.  Hell, many times during the show the audience functioned like a backup singer.

You’d think it would be all girls, aren’t they the only ones listening to pop?

But there were some oldsters like me.  And twentysomething dudes who looked like they’d whomp you in a blind alley.  But, they were singing along with every word.

It’s like music is the national religion here.  Not like a sideshow in the U.S.

All the money and all the celebrity conspired to ruin the mainstream music scene in the States.  The only shit worth seeing is under the radar.  Whether it be Robert Randolph or some band in a club.  The stars?  They don’t seem to be playing to the fans, but to the media.  Their devotion is to the bank, not the listener.  It’s palpable.  The mainstream music scene in the U.S. is so phony that you tune it out.

But according to Richard, CD sales are UP in the teenage demo in the U.K.  I mean broadband penetration isn’t what it is in the U.S., but I see a lot of white headphones.  Then again, CD prices are dropping here.  Tesco is in a battle with Warner, it won’t even stock a couple of hit records until they bring the price down.  Predictions are that CDs are gonna decline to five pounds, far less than half of what they were only a few years ago.

And this gig?  Thirteen pounds and change.  Which works out to under thirty bucks.

Furthermore, it’s cheaper than that.  Because our money ain’t worth shit over here.  Lunch at the museum today, a small salad, was twelve bucks.  The ten minute cab ride to the venue?  Twenty bucks.  It’s not like we’re living in a third world nation in the U.S., but for the supposed greatest country in the world, we’re not looking too good.  Hell, the FOOD is even good in London these days.  The Tesco at the gas station doesn’t only put 7-11 to shame, it eclipsed Ralphs in quality, if not breadth.

So whatever anybody tells you, don’t take what’s happening in the U.K. to be representative of what’s happening in the U.S., and vice versa.  They’re two completely different worlds.  The U.S. has got Top Forty, comprised of hip-hop and a bit of pop, and the underground.  With dinosaurs ruling the live venues.

In the U.K., the dinosaurs tour, hell, I saw an ad for HAWKWIND in "Q".  But the up and comers, it’s a very vibrant scene.  And it’s multifarious genres, in a way we haven’t seen in the States since the seventies.

Sure, the acts sell out and do endorsements here, but it’s not as big a deal, because people don’t believe in the myth.  They know except for the Robbie Williamses, everybody’s doing it for a lark, and will be down in the pit working a day job with them soon.

As for the band…

The mix was HORRIFIC!  The bass sounded like a chainsaw and dominated the mix.  The solo in "Sewn" couldn’t even be heard.  And the lead singer was just as jive as he was in L.A.

But it all didn’t fall flat here.  The audience clapped hard for an encore.  The early twentysomething girls in front of me drank their beer and shook their asses even though none of them had a man in sight.  It was about the MUSIC!  The way it made them feel.  Real good.

Shepherds Bush Empire


One more thing.  It’s like a living record here.  I was riding the Central line back from the venue and one of the stops was…"White City"!  I thought Pete Townshend was being METAPHORIC when he named his album that.

And Harry talked about buying a house in Richmond.  Which immediately reminded me of the Faces song.

And every time I look at the tube map, "Play With Fire" goes through my brain…

Now she gets her kicks in Stepney
Not in Knightsbridge anymore

You feel the musical culture here.  You get a sense of where the musicians were coming from when they wrote those classic songs.  After all, it’s not always sunny like in L.A., you have plenty of time to think, to be introspective, to let your inner feelings and hopes and dreams out in your songs.  It’s less about shining on, and more about WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE!

But most people never do.

The Feeling is an English thing.  So many of today’s English acts just will not translate, they’re local productions and phenomenons.  Makes you wonder why we went through twenty odd years of English music dominating the American charts.

And I open the paper on the train this afternoon and there’s a picture of the Battersea Power Station…  Can you say ANIMALS???

Pink Floyd

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