Living with…Athlete…for a week

“I’m away with the fairies now…”

I was going to spend my week with an angry 21 year old Canadian woman but Saturday night changed all that.

Two whole days of stripping, filling and papering our backroom had left me stir crazy.  A break for the excellent Coventry Godiva 80’s night left me hungry for more, so even though I was shattered I headed off at 9 to catch the headline act for the Saturday night.  Athlete.  I was absolutely shattered and knew little to nothing about them, but who cares.  A beautiful summer evening and free live music called out.

And it was worth it.  Not that Athlete do anything ground-breaking – but what they do they do well.  Straightforward rock tunes over a glass of Westons cider and the sweet smell of numerous roll-ups was all that I needed, or could probably take! I stood close to the front amongst the Athlete enthusiasts (one of them must have been a band members’ mum I would guess, but it stopped me from feeling TOO old) and let the whole arm-swaying sing-along stuff just wash over me.

And I loved it.  So much so that I ditched my music plans for the week and downloaded the group’s singles collection when I got back.  Singles 01-10.  That’s what I like – an album that delivers exactly what it says on the cover.

Through the next few days the album was on loop while I decorated.  My favourite track is probably The Outsiders just for the words “I’m away with the fairies now”.  But, in truth, the whole collection is great company – good old fashioned melodies, interesting if not challenging lyrics and a clean wide guitar and keyboard sound.

A mention for their biggest  hit single Wires – a genuinely moving account of facing illness in hospital.  Of seeing someone you love critically ill and plugged in with all the fears that come with that.  Sentimental? Maybe.  But it did it for me.

And You Got The Style – for some reason this was the one song I did know well before!  The quirky very English lyrics mean that Athlete for me are more than just another Coldplay sound-a-like:

Oh it’s getting hot in here
Must be something in the atmosphere
Oh I could be laughing about it
And making the most of the true british climate

So I would heartily recommend them and other things permitting may catch them again for their tour in the next few months.  And this time, I’ll know the lyrics and join in.  I don’t know about the arm swaying though – depends on whether I’ve recovered from giving the ceiling four coats of paint.

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Music for watching paint dry

As Athlete looped on the CD player for the 4th time that day, I realised that I had a history of musical decorating memories.

People talk about where they were when JFK died; when the planes hit the World Trade Centre.  And although I clearly remember where I was for the latter, one of my other clear memories is what I was doing the day that Freddie Mercury died.  I was varnishing a kitchen ceiling, and can probably judge the coverage of that ceiling on the songs that Radio 1 played that day.

Under Pressure above the cooker.

Crazy Little Thing by the backdoor.

Radio GaGa above the fridge freezer.

I had to stop varnishing for Bohemian Rhapsody as I kept seeing a little silhouetto of a man.

One living room was always be marked by listening to a Stevie Nicks solo album on a continuous loop all day.

Paint for 20 minutes.

Carefully turn over the lp holding by the edges.

Paint for 20 minutes. Repeat again.

I couldn’t name the album now let alone a single song from it, but I bet if you played it I could join in with every word and could sense every change in the casual langour of Ms Nicks’ voice and the songs.

For a couple of days I had to emergency decorate a spare room with the help of a friend and we shared it with non-stop Virgin Radio.  We debated every song – did we love it, did we hate it. By the end I think we were grateful not to have to listen to the Virgin playlist again – too much Oasis back then really for my taste.  But a lot clearer about each others’ tastes…and I wonder if radio executives use the music that you need for decorating as a guide to their playlists.  Nothing too challenging, something that you can sing along to – something that could be new but is also half-familiar.

So there is no offense intended here for Athlete, but thanks for making the transition from festival stage to wallpapering table so well.

Twotes of the week

@richardowczarek: Pressing the pelican crossing button even if there’s no traffic. #britishness (just In case dear)

@jamesrbuk: Greater love hath no woman than this: that she lay down her 168-year-old newspaper and its 500 staff to save her career

@Its_Death: Giving the interns a pep talk. “Remember. There’s no ‘I’ in team. But there is ‘tea’. So put the kettle on.”

@MrsStephenFry: If nobody buys next week’s News of the World, this will stop now. Right now. Enough is enough. #saynotoNOTW

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