Conversations with Mick Head.
It is the last weekend in June, or as is is more commonly known these days, ‘Glasto weekend.
While the annual, booze, drugs and mud-assisted, cultural cross-pollination is at full toilet/tilt in Somerset, I am gazing out of the window at the less traumatized fields of Northern England, as my train heads towards Liverpool’s Lime Street station. I’m sure of two things, firstly I will not be met by Mick this time, we are scheduled for ‘brekkie at his early tomorrow and secondly, my own ambivalence about not being at ‘Glasto will be in line with a similar lack of giving much of a fuck about England’s predictable early departure from the world cup. The ‘haters’ outside of Merseyside will collectively gnash their teeth and point to the 5 Liverpool players in the starting 11, the red half of the city and a lot of bluenoses….will not be ‘arsed, simple as that. You know where you stand with ‘Scousers, they speak their mind, not yours. They are also not ‘arsed about the ongoing lazy middle class journalism/comedy which mocks (from a distance of course) the ‘trackie wearing ‘scally, who as ‘legend’ goes, was most useful to the rest of ‘us’ when digging a hole under or throwing a rope ladder over the fence at ‘Glasto and ‘jibbing the fucking students’ in for a tenner. Those days are long gone, ‘Glasto has changed, it had to and I’m not so stupid as to suggest it is without its merits for doing so.
Can you seriously imagine what would happen there these days if there were no police etc on site and nothing but a crap 15 foot fence to keep all those ‘scousers out? I’ll let your own misconceptions conjure up whatever you will with that scenario. Anyway I’ve not been in years but fully intend to take my daughter, Tabitha if I win the lottery anytime soon, I’m pretty certain that most people who would struggle to have a good time there, are probably already dead on some level, or just not interested in such shenanigans.
The next day Mick and I meet up in the area of the city he has called home for a few years, he looks well and after a warm exchange of hugs, yeah HUGS, we set off for a stroll through Bootle.
I ask him if he’s been watching the BBC coverage of the festival.
“A bit, I was chatting to Alice (his daughter) about it last night on the ‘phone.”
I immediately fly into my, admittedly somewhat cynical but SPOT ON conclusion that Arcade Fire are the Emerson Lake and Palmer of the ‘Ket generation but Mick is far too generous a spirit to collude with me, either that or he’s simply ‘not arsed.
What he is very much concerned with is securing a venue for his next gig that at time of writing remains secret, such is the lack of discipline I currently have as a writer, Im sure by the time I get this piece finished, it’ll probably have been and gone. I can, however assure you, it will be/was brilliant.
To be continued…
The gig at the Scandinavian Church, or the ‘Scando if you speak ‘scouse, is yet again one of those ethereal evenings, where all present are embalmed with melody and soul. The venue, built as it was to try and reclaim the seafaring Scandinavians on shore-leave, from the alehouses and fleshpots of Liverpool, seems an apt location given that the man we have come to listen to and indeed most of those assembled in front of him, would in all likelihood, also be in need of similar pastoral care were we all sloshing around this particular city back when it was at the centre of empire.
The gig is wonderful….more of that later, suffice to say I’m not prone to extravagant claims, at least not as often as my befuddled brain would like me to be, somewhere along the line I’ve stumbled across the ‘off’ switch which controls the previously unbridled flapping of my stupid mouth. There are few things in life that can sneak up on it (it’s located not far from the fuck-it button) waving an AAA pass before turning off the power supply to that particular bit of kit, Mick Head and the songs he writes are one of those things, it’s a powerful magic and thankfully, I seemingly have no defence against it.
A week earlier, Mick and I had decided to take a stroll through Kensington our thinking being we need to find somewhere to start the telling of his story. As yet, we are both still undecided as to whether or not, now the time is right (yeah I’ve just squeezed in a couple of his lyric there get me!) to tell this story, but we both agree there’s no harm in taking a constitutional through the streets of ‘Kenny to see how it feels. We start at The Weighing Machine, it’s a pub situated opposite a sign proclaiming the regeneration of this much maligned neighbourhood. I have no idea if this process has actually started yet, I’m a visitor, Mick is a native so I’ll let him tell me. Two trips to the bar later the three of us (we’ve got Ste Evans with us to provide additional commentary) are suitably adjusted to begin. When I say suitably adjusted, I mean, we are no longer thirsty, it’s hot out there.
65 Leopold Road is where ‘Biffa used to live and where, in the basement he and Mick began to learn the art of magic, developed their chemistry skills and forged a deep friendship, out of which they then formed their first band. Liverpool football club were kings of Europe, Julian Cope was making a serious dent in the local supply of LSD and The Boys from the Blackstuff was on the ‘telly holding up a mirror to the ongoing decline all around. From the once seemingly unstoppable, proud parade of ships in and out of the docks, now little more than a nautical impression of an old drunkard looking for the last available watering hole in town, to the silencing of the industrial machine(s) that had generated the wealth to construct the monolithic warehouses, into which these vessels once disgorged their booty from all corners of the globe.
If you need to escape, but don’t want to actually leave and you’ve accepted you’re never going to grace the fields of Anfield Road or Goodison Park, then music and magic, poetry, chemistry and melody, may be your only option. You go down into the basement of 65 Leopold Road and you form The Pale Fountains.
To be continued….