Monday, May 10, 2010


I should explain: a few minutes before I boshed off that last post on Bren's laptop in a cafebar on the main concourse, I'd just seen Viv Albertine play a live set. I'd seen The Slits play in, errrm, not quite sure - '80? 81? - the exact date eludes me. But they were great.

30 years later, solo Viv was still great, tho - v. pleased to report - in a totally different way. Backed by a thereminist who she'd only met two days earlier and a guitarist who she'd only ever played twice before with, the music fused written song-structures with an inspired, but fairly minimal improvisational chasis (the encore was a song that her accompanists had never heard before). "I like it when stuff goes wrong; when unexpected things happen..."

The songs were playful, but also very direct - v. emotionally raw in places - riddled with musings on love n sex, and peppered with stinging references to assorted broken relationships, etc. The performance painted Viv as oddly vulnerable, yet someone you wouldn't ever want to mess with. A woman who was both fragile, yet full of street savvy. A life lived, not one watched half-heartedly from the sidelines.

The inter-song preambles were similar: both nakedly honest and extremely endearing. "Hook-Up Girl" was, like, ouuch! It takes a lot of bravery to put yrself on the butcher's table like that. But the show was a lot of fun too: "Couples are Creepy" is a terrifically wonky-yet-catchy singalong - Viv certainly isn't afraid to poke fun at herself, her tangled life-story or her own painful emotional predicament - while another song overtly auto-dissected and lampooned her own self-declared MILFdom.

But there was also an echo of sadness and regret when she talked about innocently dicking around in Flowers of Romance with a pre-smack Sid Vicious and other later-to-be-famous friends. For a moment she sounded - and looked - kinda haunted by her own past. "I never slept with any them," she said.

Viv and the women of her generation taught-by-example their own brand of feminism - a form of self-empowerment wh/ I still find pretty fucking inspirational all these years on. It's something sadly lacking from a lot of younger female performers these days. The self-empowerment has been replaced by, I dunno, some variety of dumbed-down self-entitlement. It's a shame; I think a lot of the lessons taught and the ground gained by Viv and her contemporaries has been lost.

So it was great to see that fire still burning brightly. She's still out there doing her own thing and still - by her own admission - making it up as she goes along.

Anyway, literally a few minutes after I wrote the previous post Farmer Glitch bumped into Viv post-gig. Then she vanished, but Bren quickly mobilised and tracked her down. A couple minutes later I look up and he's gently guiding Viv over towards me for a chat. Duuuuude. I could kiss ya.

About 30 years ago I got to shyly stammer "hello" to her at a Pop Group show in Bristol.

This time I get to stammer a few sentences. Some of them actually made sense. She's an extremely nice lady is Viv. Super easy-going.

I might be exile right now, but - hey, guess what? - I couldn't be more happy:

You should buy her CD. It's ace.

And you really should go and see her live. Cheer her on. I'm biased, of course, but we definitely need more Vivs in this world.


At 11:32 pm, Blogger Pete Um said...

"The self-empowerment has been replaced by, I dunno, some variety of dumbed-down self-entitlement."

Another nail hit on the head with the KS blog-hammer. I think The Man wants to do that to us all tho...

I used to struggle a bit with that kind of feminism when I was younger, yet this piece makes me feel a kind of longing nostalgia for it. You never miss your water till your well run dry.

At 7:14 pm, Blogger Dominic Zero said...

VIV!!! VIV!!! VIV!!!

At 11:33 pm, Blogger I am not Kek-w said...

That's kinda what I said, but with more stutters in it.

Jesus, I nearly wept when she signed that CD.

At 3:40 pm, Blogger Dominic Zero said...

I reckon I'm goona have to have a wank. Right now.


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