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Eden Sessions - The Cornish Glasty - Part 1

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:39 UK time, Monday, 30 June 2008

Another in an occasional series of live reviews and event reports from ChartBlog which serve to prove one thing above all others...going to gigs is about everything other than The Music, MAAAN...

The Eden Project

So, it's June, it's raining, it must be time to investigate the Eden Sessions again. This is partly because the Eden Project is local to me, partly because the bands are usually quite good, but mostly because everyone is going crackers over Glastonbury this weekend, and Eden has three Glasto acts playing over the same weekend, and their toilets are nicer.

So, Friday night was the Verve, warming up for their Sunday night headline slot at Glasto, and last night was the Raconteurs, supported by Vampire Weekend (which I'll tell you about in part 2, tomorrow). Later on this month there will be Bill Bailey, KT Tunstall (plus Guillemots) and then the Kaiser Chiefs (supported by Late Of The Pier). Still with me? Cool, let's do this thing...

The Verve - Richard AshcroftThe Verve's pre-Glasto warmup could have been warmer, truth be told. The weather was drizzly and windy and cold, which left the poor road crew covering each electrical appliance with big sheets of black plastic before the band came out, and mopping the stage.

And when you consider just how many electrical appliances a band like the Verve need, plus the decks for their pre-concert DJ man, that's a hell of a lot of black plastic. At one point, they pulled out a massive carpet of the stuff, big enough to cover the entire stage.

It did lead me to wonder a) how the concert organisers got hold of it in the first place and b) what an ecological theme park like the Eden Project is doing with enormous bin bags like that.

Having said that, the drizzle combined with the dry ice looked quite Christmassy, so that was nice. Never mind that it's the end of JUNE, for Gawdsake, in depressing weather like that, you take your pleasures where you can find them.

Crowd SurfboardFor example, I was chatting to a friend about crowd-surfing, and how the Verve's audience are the wrong sort of crowd to do it, for a variety of reasons. This led to the possibility of creating some form of crowd surfboard, complete with padded wetsuit, especially for Cornish gigs. Apart from the fact that it would scrape the faces of everyone it passed over, and therefore annoy them enormously, this could be an amazing way to pass the time at dull concerts, or make astonishingly good concerts even better. Someone should tell the Dragon's Den or something...

I would have started scribbling down the blueprints for it then and there, but for the strange way that people react if you pull out a notepad in a crowd and start writing.

There's a scene in Family Guy where they poke fun at people who sit in Starbucks with laptops, pretending to be writers in a really obvious and public way. This is an uncomfortable joke for anyone who has ever had to, y'know, sit in Starbucks and write something on a laptop - mainly because there's a massive element of "HEY LOOK AT ME! I'M A WRITER!" to the whole experience - and it came back to haunt me a little when, in the middle of all the drizzley misery, I had to pull my notebook out and write stuff down for future ChartBlog use.

Should you ever be in a similar situation, you'll notice that people to your left and right will all try and sneak a peek at what you're writing, in case you've got information that they need to see. So here's my tip for dealing with it, just write in very clear block capitals at the top of a page "OH MY GOD, SOMEONE NEXT TO ME STINKS OF DEATH. THE STENCH! THE STENCH!", and you'll find you suddenly have a bit more room. It's a bit like Moses at the Red Sea, only with people, a notepad, and no Moses.

Meanwhile, back with the Verve...it became clear very early on that the band don't really do fast songs or slow songs. All of their songs lollop along at a broadly similar pace, the kind of pace you need if you're doing that slow rolling swagger that Richard Ashcroft and Liam Gallagher nicked off Ian Brown. Some of these songs are louder and more dynamic than others, and the band play with great velocity, but it's really all about what they do with that one groove.

The Verve - Simon's hatWell, that and Nick McCabe's astonishing and twittery use of guitar effects pedals (pedals which are presumably all connected together using (drum roll, prrrrrrm)...Nick McCables!). Oh and Simon the bass player had a black farmer-type hat on, but no black wellies. This stylistic inconsistency is not to be encouraged.

"This song is for people who go on websites and moan", Richard Ashcroft announces at one point, before leading the band into one of their earliest B-sides, 'A Man Called Sun'. It rains. Speaking as someone whose job it is to go on websites and moan, can I just say that I found this turn of events highly enjoyable, irony-wise.

After that, it was just a question of waiting for the big anthems - I'm sure your dad can tell you what they are if you're unsure - and watching Richard cup his hand around his microphone to add a telephoney quality to his foghorn of a voice. Who says worthy can't be fun?

Stay tuned for Part 2 - The Racs and the VamWee, same time tomorrow!

Go to BBC Cornwall for a full Verve gallery...


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