In the last week, 2 great bands decided to call quits on making awesome music. That’s not to say that they’ll start making awful music, just that they decided to call time on their bands and play some farewell shows.
I’ll maybe write about Fight Like Apes later. But this piece is dedicated to Allo Darlin’, who finished up with a hot, sweaty, sing-a-long danceathon on Sunday at Scala in London.
I was privileged enough to be there and I genuinely mean to use the word privilege.
But before we get to Sunday, I ought to tell the millions of readers to this blog a bit about the band that I am currently calling the greatest band to ever have written and sung about finding love, losing love, inferiority complexes, swimming (lots of swimming) and fat men eating sausages.
I can’t remember the first time I heard Allo Darlin’, but I remember the second. I was in the car park of Birmingham Airport getting ready to drive home from a days work in Dublin (none of this is relevant). As the DAB radio kicked in when I exited the car park I heard a beautiful, beautiful voice singing about how they could name a star after you and you’d still be complaining. I instantly thought it sounded like something else I’d heard recently and when the name appeared on my radio screen, I realised it was a band I had heard previously on BBC 6 Music.
As soon as I got home, I bought both albums and consumed them as quickly as I could. Elizabeth Morris has a voice that can make the hairs on my arms stand to attention. Which is good, albeit erect arm hairs are pretty useless.
A 3rd album followed to complete the set and give me 31 great songs to play in various order (chronologically by album, alphabetically by song title or , sit down for this one, randomly). I have played these songs over and over and over and over. I’ve even listed them from 1 to 31. But that keeps changing. Isn’t that what is good about great music, you can find something new each listen?
The song writing ability of this band is exceptional. This isn’t the traditional verse, chorus, verse, chorus, come up with any words just so they fit the tune and get on with it band. These are stories that are put to music so eloquently, so beautifully, so wonderfully. Stories that name check many artists, cities and experiences. Singing about chopping onions or bumping in to someone in a swimming pool or asthma inhalers.
I dare you to try to not sing at the top of your voice to Weezer (Kiss Your Lips) or to not dance like a maniac to My Heart Is As Strong As A Drummer or to not grin like an idiot when Paul opens up Bright Eyes. Go on, try not to do those things.
I have spent hours enjoying all 3 albums over and over again as well as devouring anything that I can find on YouTube. The live clips range from playing in someone’s back garden for a birthday, to playing outside a shop or setting up next to a fence outside a fairground (not in the middle of Paris).
And then I found the clip that cemented their place in my heart. Playing on a dreary day outside what looks like a BBC building, Allo Darlin had campaigned for BBC 6 Music to be saved. A music station so important to me and here is a band that has done things in their music and in their actions to change my life, to have an impact. Elizabeth sings in a couple of songs about being told she’s not a success or that she’s less successful than others. Success doesn’t have to be measured in cash or in record sales (although, I appreciate both of these would have been very good). If success can be measured in impact, then Allo Darlin’ have become the most successful band in my life.
And so to Sunday where I went a did some dancing on my own, to a record that I do own, in a place I’ve never seen before. This band weren’t awful and I like them an awful lot. I had a feeling this day would be amazing.
The video below is of the last 12 minutes of the show. Weezer, Paul Simon, balloons and confetti. What isn’t there to love. I was hoping Bill was going to crowd surf at the end, but instead he looked like he just fancied a rest.
There is now a huge Allo Darlin’ shaped hole in my life. A record is not just a record, a record can hold memories.
Bill, Elizabeth, Paul and Michael. Thanks for the memories