Another year, another project for Lydia. This time around, she teamed up with James Johnston and Ian White of lounge lizards Gallon Drunk to play a few European dates in celebration of her new book The Gun Is Loaded. While in the past fifteen years or so Lydia seemed to continuously get better with age and always managed to bring something genuinely new and intriguing to the table, this was the first time the live experience felt like Lydia-by-numbers. The deconstructed tribal rhythms and screeching guitar with Lydia rambling poetry and profanities atop seemed like a pastiche of tried-and-tested aural signifiers for ‘experimental music’ rather than anything truly experimental. Perhaps I’m doing Lydia injustice, though, and my inability to enjoy the set simply had to do with the ugly shadow of London’s full-scale right-wing shift hanging over the weekend. Suddenly, Lydia’s world of self-indulgent sexual exorcisms seemed oddly irrelevant. Quite frankly, I didn’t give a damn about “dirty sexy cigarettes”, to quote a lyric, neither did the band’s studied exercises in dissonance particularly draw my interest. Instead, I yearned for something simple, aggressive, and tough to accurately express the way a lot of us felt given the background of a BNP neo-fascist elected into the Greater London Assembly and a rich kid Tory yuppie deciding our fate. The moment demanded something to push everybody into a less arty and more militant frame of mind. This was not Lydia’s fault, of course.
The audience was a diverse mixture of veteran bohemians, goths, and assorted misfits, as well as younger, trendier kids whose attendance was symptomatic of the recently renewed interest in the No Wave. They seemed to enjoy what was, in a way, a return to Lydia’s musical roots, even though Lydia would probably hate to think of it that way.
I felt comfortable in this colourful crowd, and luckily no one poured Zyclon B granules through holes in the ceiling. What do you mean I’m paranoid?
A reasonably enjoyable evening, even though hanging out and drinking at Elephant & Castle roundabout with like-minded folks afterwards seemed to have more relevance than the actual gig.