That was my idea…   Leave a comment

Tonight I had a barney with the wife, then got caned to kill the anger, and then, feeling like the world was generally against me in some way, I went home to receive the following email from Richard “Rosey” R*E*P*E*A*T:

Do you remember Kurt Cobain? He died 10 years ago this April.

In homage to the man who must the most influential on underground musical culture (for bad as well as good) in the past 25 years, and remembering a very successful gig Richard Brown organised to mark the 5th anniversary of his passing, R*E*P*E*A*T are hoping to organise an event a The Portland Arms on Saturday 10th April.

What I had in mind was to ask various people to perform just two or three Nirvana songs each, ‘unplugged’. Higher profile people I’m asking are

Chris T-T
Jazz from Right Turn Clyde
Steve Adams / Broken Family Band
Greg McDonald (Dawn Parade)
Seymour Glass (MBA)
Greg from Neo
Houston 500
Cosy Cosy
Bomb Factory

As you’ll see, I’m after people who can interpret Cobain’s songs in a variety of imaginative ways. As I don’t expect everyone on my wish list to be able or willing to play, I’d also ask some of the newer bands in Cambridge to go on earlier in the evening.

I’d organise the gig as a benefit for a local mental health charity (maybe Granta again) and Love Music Hate Racism.

If you think you can make the gig and would like to play, please let me know in the next two weeks so that I can finalise the programme.

Thanks a lot


R*E*P*E*A*T, PO Box 438, Cambridge CB4 1FX

Now the funny (funny! ha!) thing is that I’ve been doing quite a bit of thought-based work recently on the subject of how to organise a very similar event myself. After all it was I who was responsible for the first such Cambridge event on the fifth anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain (God rest his soul, he was a true punk, fuck it) However, rereading matey’s email I am forced to reconsider the contribution of Mr. Richard Brown, the famous impresario, as I had hitherto considered that night to be a Pete UM baby, a la Roger Waters. Its true that I may have been encouraged by Richard Brown to put on such a night, and indeed he became the de facto promoter because of his relationship with the Portland Arms, and he may have suggested a few bands and even given them the go-ahead to play. I also recall that although I definitely did the posters it may have been him that got them printed and put out on the streets. I remember because he dissed my poster even though it was genius and had taken me quite some time. Anyway, the point is that it was my idea (and I’m almost 50% sure of that) and I’m the fucking No. 1 Kurt Cobain fan around here, kapeesh?

Ultimately though, it’s nice to be asked to play, and I’d rather not have the pressure of organising everything. Yeah? No, yeah, really. I’d been thinking about it a lot and although I was pretty sure I would have made the preliminary enquiries necessary to assess general interest in the idea, I personally was unsure whether I felt ready, willing or able to commit wholly to the project, such that it wasn’t. Thus far I hadn’t done anything more than have a discussion with Mad Andy about it. I told him about how I was toying with the idea of using the Kurt’s Death 10th one to kick-off a series of tribute nights including a Beatles one and an Abba one, and he suggested doing a Bowie, which is a damn fine idea. I’d fire off an email to representatives of The Vichy Government immediately for that one.

The last one was called Come As You Are. I think this one would have had to be Nevermind.

Several days later…

Right, I wrote the majority of the above when I was still under the influence of various things, not least an injury to my pride. As you may have sensed though, during the course of writing it I realized that my feelings on the subject were a bit more ambiguous than I had originally thought, and what had started out feeling like a kick in the teeth rapidly became somebody doing me a favour. Just shows how good writing is for making you think a little bit harder about what you really think about something. It also helps to jog your memory, because a more accurate sequence of events started to filter through eventually. I could go on and on about this, but I think I’ll just try and summarise the pertinent points of my new position on the original Kurt tribute night and this new upstart one.

1. What happened was Richard Brown and I were talking about the approaching 5th anniversary of Kurt’s death and he suggested doing some sort of gig to commemorate it in some way. “Great idea!” I said, “I could get The New Fashion Heroes (my brother’s old band) up to play at it!”
2. Richard Brown and I had an almost equal role in deciding which bands were to play and liasing with those bands. This was in at least a few cases a question of the band hearing about it, asking to play and us going, yeah, OK. I designed the poster and Richard publicised the gig.
3. The gig quickly became a proper Kurt tribute night, with loads of bands doing one, two, or three Nirvana songs, which meant that my idea of putting the unknown New Fashion Heroes on at the end to play for a full half hour, with only a couple of Nirvana covers (off Bleach) seemed like a bit of a stupid one in retrospect.
4. I do like to think that the gig itself was a bit of a triumph, albeit a bit chaotic. For starters, the place was rammed, even though most of the people were in the various bands. When Hofman played the place went mental, and it’s the only time I’ve seen people standing outside the venue but hanging through the windows to see what’s going on. There was that camp bloke with the handbag who took it upon himself to act as stage security too! (Somewhere I have a video of that night, or my brother does, or did have). Gordon Mackenzie sang a couple of tunes with The Return Of Id (I think) and I believe that was the first time that he’d been onstage, which is a cool thing. Also Big Al (Brooker) did a really brilliant hardcore digital version of Negative Creep, which is also really funny on the video because he doesn’t know what to do with himself because he’s just playing a tape so he just keeps patting his stomach self-consciously and looking about. Also worthy of mention is Mad Andy, who somehow managed to keep getting onstage and do yet another Nirvana song in the style of hyper-camp cabaret Kraftwerk, which annoyed me at the time but steals the show on the video rather easily. In fact no-one was shit, apart from me. I just copped out because I couldn’t sing any Nirvana songs in tune so I sampled the opening bars of the Unplugged version of Where Did You Sleep last Night? and looped them with added samples of what sounds like snakes spitting. Richard Brown played bad bass along to it and I wore my Kurt Cobain commemorative shorts (Kurt Cobain: 1967-1994) onstage. I also gave away some special Kurt dogtags I’d made for the event to lucky winners who were able to answer questions like “Name three members of Duran Duran” What a twat. Then everyone left for the New Fashion Heroes and my brother broke the band up onstage at the end a la Ziggy Stardust. In the Portland.
5. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to play Rosey’s night because even five years down the line I don’t know enough about music to copy chords and so-on, and I still can’t sing any Nirvana songs to save my life, but I might do something to show goodwill. Ha ha. Otherwise it might just be a load of sheepish-looking bods with acoustics trying to appear vulnerable and enraged at the same time. I don’t think I’ll wear the shorts again though. And I’m glad I’m not trying to organise another one, really I am. Honestly.

Posted January 14, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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