listen without prejudice


THE first draft of this review was gushing prose, non-stop verbiage - used thus to indicate enthusiasm . . . (1)

The second draft featured a lot of staring out of train windows, references to loneliness, alcohol, the abuse of power and (mostly) the absolute importance of arrogance. The implication being that Gene have come this far in such a short space of time mainly because of their self-belief. But I quickly realised that argument, although not completely incidental, was also a load of bollocks. Gene have come this far in such a short space of time because they write fucking great songs. Also, I'm partial to their brand of music. What brand of music? Why, music which affects me, of course. Music which comforts me in times of stress. (2)

The third draft was mainly composed of long lists of bands Gene have been compared to (The Faces, The Smiths, The Stone Roses) alongside consummately- reasoned arguments on why Gene outshine them all. You'd best believe it that the words "here", "now" and "trembling lips" got mentioned. (3)

The fourth mentioned alcohol again, in rather more abundance. By now, I'd remembered to mention Paris. (4)

The fifth one just went WAH! in four-inch-high letters. (5)

By the sixth draft I'd remembered to incorporate the set-list, and was even getting round to recounting how Martin had very diligently written out the words to three songs in the margarita bar afterwards, when a freak gust of wind blew the paper out my hand. (6)

The seventh didn't incorporate any full-stops at all, my enthusiasm by now getting far the better of me. It also mentioned the word "star-struck" (with reference to the journalist) in such embarrassing quantities that I felt as ashamed as the last time I snogged a tipsy 17-year-old girl. (7)

The eighth was going swimmingly with actual descriptions and lyrics quoted from all the songs - those sudden violet bursts of guitar distortion in 'Sleep Well Tonight?', those elongated vowel sounds, the middle section of 'Child's Body' where suddenly the world seems to turn into one gigantic, freewheeling, giddy carnival - when I suddenly remembered I'd forgotten to mention either the rousing encore of The Beatles' 'Don't Let Me Down', or the way that when Martin received a compliment from the audience, he'd always thank his mother.

Damn. (8)

The ninth started just fine: with that line from 'Be My Light, Be My Guide' ("Oh, I've been waiting a long time . . ."), the implication that I've been waiting a hell of a long time for a band of Gene's genius to appear, but of course that was bollocks too. I sure didn't miss them when they weren't around - but I sure as hell would now if they suddenly disappeared. (9)


    (1) Rock utopia is where you find it. You need to look, though - it's like falling in love. You need to be receptive, an active receiver. Gene in Paris was as close as I've come to rock utopia in mainland Europe as . . . well, quite a few other experiences, actually. I started the review thus to indicate I was - first and foremost - a fan over a critic. Like, I need to!
    (2) Let's be obvious here. But it seems rock commentators often lose sight of this very simple fact. Also, re: arrogance - has there ever been a great artist who hasn't possessed this trait in one form or another?
    (3) Who cares what went before? What matters is the NOW!
    (4) Just being honest. I doubt that I will ever get over my hang-up of being a rock critic - chameleon, cipher, commentator, call it what you will - of people attaching significance to what I write. Thus the continual need to be self-deprecating.
    (5) Thus indicating the futility of rock writing.
    (6) The original review mentioned the lyrics, and even the songtitles with cursory descriptions, thus adding colour to the piece. I didn't feel it was necessary to include same here.
    (7) The fan shining through again. This is rock utopia I'm experiencing here, remember? I could hardly sound learned, now, could I?
    (8) I'm a craftsman. I know what is expected from my craft. Mostly, my creative time is spent thinking up new ways to put glitter on the same old pieces of shit.
    (9) You never miss what you didn't have.