DAMAGE (PART 2)
At midnight our congregation are ejected by the insecurity guards; there's an event booked in this room called 'Mirage' or 'Motiv8' or something. Whatever. If there's music, alcohol and over-excited women, I'm happy. Preston Skool Disko or the Venice Bienalle, it's all good. But I took one Butchers round this Gaffe and I knew it was time to turn in. All the women, and I mean all of them are wearing those hideous turned up 'Boy Shorts' with stilettos on the end of their fat, bruised legs. The Disc Jockey's dropping a particularly grim brand of Tech-house or Hard Dub or some such nastiness, accompanied by some rudimentary projections of late eighties screensavers. I do a circuit of the room, in search of one redeeming feature that could induce me to stay another minute in this knocking shop for robots. By the time I've returned to my original spot, several packs of short sleeved Wayne Rooney clones have formed, presumably consulting one another on the subject of which of my arms to make me eat first. I duck out thru the car park, where a brutalist smoking area has been fenced off for Geordie night clubbers. Through a wire mesh I ask one of the scary-looking lasses for a light.
'I feel like a zoo animal!' I joke.
'We're the animals, mate' she giggles.
This event has absolutely nothing to do with the Alabama 3, but you try telling Rob that. As far as he's concerned, it's his own personal aftershow party. He's back by the DJ Booth, larging it in his cream silk jacket, recruiting 'Soljas' to his 'Army of Love'. Good luck to him. I'm not getting off the bus for any money.
Half an hour later the Pram starts rolling west towards Manchester, Thank God. I settle down in the back with D.Wayne to watch a film. Over the years the Reverend has reached a point of Zen-like equilibrium in regards to touring. Basically, he doesn’t get off the bus unless he's getting paid. The rest of the time you'll find him in the back lounge, drinking a rather nice red rioja, watching Fassbinder, or maybe Fellinni, or maybe 'Top Gun’. Unfortunately, on the Zoo bus, everything is broken; the only discs that play are Roy 'Chubby' Brown and a Black Crowes live DVD from 1997. Okay, lets watch 'The Crowes'. Call it research.
'The Crowes’ jig earnestly up and down on a stage set out of Wagner's Ring Cycle. They're doing it by the book, desperately trying to fabricate authenticity. A bunch of American stoners trying to sound like British Cokeheads (Led Zep,) trying to sound like African-American Smack-heads (Led Belly, Howling Wolf). And you thought we were contrived. It's at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore East, and they're taking themselves so seriously it's making my rectum hurt.
This game is not conducive to a reliable sense of self. French Post-Freudian Psychoanalyst Jaques Lacan posited the 'Mirror stage' as a crucial phase in the evolution of the psyche. He characterised it as that moment when the infant is confronted by its reflected body and recognises the image as itself. This 'specular' moment is, for Lacan, simultaneously the birth of self-consciousness and of self-delusion. For him, the child's self-apprehension is Meconnaissance, an impossible self-objectification that splits the psyche irrevocably. Nowhere is this principle better demonstrated than in the tortuous self-identifications of the average lead singer. Take Adam Ant for example.
Adam Ant is not Adam Ant. Adam ant is, genealogically, Stuart Goddard, a boy from West London who went to school in Marylebone, started hanging out with the Bromley contingent, joined a band, and shortly thereafter called himself Adam Ant. He wrote some brilliant pop songs and then millions of people said 'your Adam Ant. you're Fantastic!' And Adam Goddard said to himself, 'I'm Adam Ant. I really am, and I'm Fantastic!’ And he was. Ten years and later he's walking up and down Chalk farm Road in a Cowboy outfit, hauling bits of machinery thru the windows of a Camden pub. And as they're carting him off to (the loony bin), he's screaming 'I'm Adam Ant! I'm Adam Ant!!!' and the nurses are saying 'of course you are...’ Now he's supposed to be Bi Polar. He isn't. He's a victim of specularisation*. Just like me, just like you. He was just better at it. Pop is an inducement to grandiosity. The more fantastic your public image, the more people buy into it, the more the mask eats into your face. Ask Adam Ant, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson. Just ask Larry.
Actually, where is Larry? He's not in the front lounge, or the back, and he's definitely not in his bunk, it's only 2.a.m. He might have copped off in Sheffield, but with what? There was less talent in that place than a P and O cruise ship. Slowly, the news filters down the wire from the Crew bus. Larry has gone out and got his head kicked in.
It's a band tradition now that Larry gets a kicking once on every tour. Last time it was Oxford, where Larry got gay-bashed after spending too long powdering his nose in the gents with a floppy-haired man called Greg. But this time, it looks bad. His nose has been broken. He might not be able to sing. As the bus hurtles towards Manchester, Ed and I discuss the implications. It's only the 5th date. If Rob can't sing, we'll probably have to cancel the tour. That means angry promoters, disaffected agents, insolvency. Bad Blood. We've always had naughty-boy reputation, but it never stopped us from making the gig. We pride ourselves on the fact that while Winehouse and Docherty are cancelling left right and centre, we've never blown a date, whatever state we're in. Ed's fuming. He's had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get a Visa for our forthcoming American shows, and now Larry's jeopardizing the whole operation.
The bus veers violently to the left, and pulls over. We're not even on the hard shoulder. In front of us, the Crew Bus has also pulled in. Whatever's happening, it's serious. The driver's risking a fine by stopping on this unmarked stretch of the A628...
Larry appears at the door, with a face like a botched hysterectomy. He's been ejected from the Crew bus for running up and down demanding personal security-guards, spraying the drummer with his face-blood in the process. Without a word he staggers past us into the back lounge. I decide to go and see if he's still alive. I'm greeted by a spectre out of an Abel Ferrara film. He looks like a victim of Gangland retribution, the front of his cream suit jacket soaked in blood, his nose four times its normal size. There's no way he'll be able to do a gig tomorrow, or anytime soon.
'Fuck me. What happened, Larry?'
'Don't know. This big black geezer by the DJ booth just turned round and twatted me.'
Peering into his glassy, purple eyes all I see is.... peace. He's serene. Joyful.
What's he doing? From certain points of view, particularly his own, this is Genius. Larry's not a stupid man. He knows you can't fake Rock' n' Roll. Unfortunately for us and our G.P.'s, Dionysian revelry, particularly our Hank Williamsonian version of it, traditionally concludes in dismemberment. One could argue that He's making a supreme sacrifice, paying his dues, selflessly casting aside considerations of health and safety in the name of his incendiary art. One could alternatively, and to my mind convincingly, argue that he's an attention-seeking Queen. Mirror, mirror...
Having said that, so what? What's so terrible about a bit of collateral self-harm in the name of art? Omelettes...eggs. You want to live forever? Good luck with that one.
N.B. Larry made the next show. He was spectacular.
(c) Orlando Harrison 2008