Imagine one of your favourite bands from twenty or thirty years ago split up and slipped into an obscutirty tied up with record company goings on that made it impossible to get hold of any their records. That didn’t matter too much as you had them first time round on vinyl and over the years one of them became one of your favourite records. A strange lilting record about childhood and dogs.
Imagine spending a Friday evening with that same band, the guitarist and singer, more or less playing in your front room.
That is what happened to me Friday night in a room on the top floor of The Jericho Tavern..
Somewhere upstairs in the attic in the pile of old NMEs going back thirty years there is probably a review of their first short album, The Backyard. It was the same time as REM and in my mind I lumped them together. But there was something different about Miracle. Legion. They were not quite so fully formed but with their rough edges they could have been something different.
But it was their second album that did it – Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. It was one of those records that get under the skin and you can never quite get hold of. I bought it when it came out in 1987 and there are probably years that have gone by when it doesn’t get played. But every so often it comes out and it is like it has never been away and over the years the songs have drawn me in.
There are a couple of songs that can stop me dead in tracks – especially All For the Best – which may be about a father and son, or maybe brothers, and regret and memory and how love can endure through those things.
There were only the two of them playing Friday night – Ray Neal the guitarist and Mark Mulcahy the singer.
There were only about 25 people in the audience. Most of them men of a certain age with straggly beards and all being careful not to catch anyone’s eye although most of us were there for the same reason with our own worn copy of Surprise, Surprise, Surprise propped in near a record deck somewhere at home. There were a few tables and chairs set up in front of the stage and given the size venue they could have been playing in your living room.
They played All For the Best at which point I could;d have gone home happy. But then they played Gigantic Transatlantic Trunk Call and I was a pool of beer smelling jelly on the floor.
You can download most of their music from http://www.mezzotint.com/store.html
You know you should.
I was back home on Saturday dozing in the garden, listening to the rain and cooking prawns with rice.