About nine months ago, I got tickets for a band called Arcade Fire without knowing a great deal about them. And I was blown away. They were the single greatest thing I've possibly ever seen.
Last night, I managed to get tickets for the latest NEW! EXCITING! HOTT! things from over that side of that big ocean thing, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Understandably, I was excited. Secret gig, small venue, up-for-it crowd all excited about their first show over here...couldn't fail, right?
Wrong. Last night I saw the most disappointing gig I've seen in a long while. The songs are obviously good, the sort of thing that I could see myself getting really excited about, but it just didn't work in a live setting. It would be wrong to blame the crowd, even there were more than a fair smattering of hipsters dying to scream to their friends 'I was there!' in five years time, and probably not that bothered about the tunes. Despite this, there was silence between the first three or four songs, the silence of aniticipation as we all waited to be grabbed by the heart, to be moved, to be entertained. By the end of the gig, no-one cared anymore.
So why didn't it work? It's a difficult question. The songs are good. But the performance was terrible. The singer didn't say a word to us throughout the gig - go on mate, just a quick hello would be nice - and seemed disinterested and not at all bothered by the crowd in front of him. The songs had no life, no energy, nothing to set them above the myriad of other bands I've seen this year.
I've seen a lot of bands this year, some great, some bad. None of them were as disappointing as Clap Your Hands last night. There's a line in 'Satan Said Dance' that goes something like 'it's nothing like what you expected'. Never has one band summed up their own gig so prophetically.