Tag Archives: Neutral Milk Hotel

NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL||ALBERT HALL||17/5/14

Saturday’s sunshine has seen a mower Holocaust wrought on many a lawn. These outdoor carpet-barbers spent the good weather making their immediate outdoors looking good for the inevitable deluge next weekend, and I suppose the bees still made honey in 1945. On the top deck of this bus there’s a several-headed Cerberean man-boy in Jacamo clothing, his alcohol deafened heads vocally overcompensate, amplifying their laughter to an inner-ear blasting level for the rest of us, making this comparatively brisk trip through the Curry Mile feel like a marathon.

“FUCK OFF!”

One of the heads pokes out of the window slit and shouts at what he believes to be Iranian and Iraqi flags.

“SLING IT…FREE DENMARK!”

“…and you can stick your oil up your arse, an’ all!”

“Indians are okay, it’s their neighbours that are the knobheads, innit, eh?”

(Reticence from the rest of his heads.)

‘Look at it, I just hate that they’ve made it their gaff.’ it says, before making plans to come back. Yes, the racists are returning to Rusholme later on for “a Ruby Murray”.

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(Chief UKIPPER: Nigel Farage)

Nigel Farage’s bulbous eyes watch all this on his underwater crystal ball as he re-hydrates in an attempt to counter this midsummer in May, and in readiness for his upcoming assault on Europe. His fish lipped, upside-down clown mouth tautens into that delighted/gag-reflex combination of a laugh he has.

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(A young Russell is schooled by a man doing anything it takes to inherit a fortune)

Meanwhile, Revolutionary-Jester Russell Brand feels a tingling sensation in his winkle, something markedly different from the chlamydial tickle to which he’s become accustomed. No, this urethral twinge seems to herald something of colossal import as the political philosophy he was schooled in by Richard Pryor in ‘Brewster’sMillions’, later spouted-out of his well-practised mouth looks to be yielding unexpected results as credulous good men prepare to do nothing.

“It Can’t Happen Here.”

“…But then they buried her alive on evening, 1945…”

I’m thinking about Godwin’s Law in the Albert Hall. You know, that old “internet adage that is derived from one of the earliest bits of Usenet wisdoms, which goes “if you mention Adolf Hitler or Nazis you’ve automatically ended whatever discussion you were taking part in.” I’m thinking about how, ironically, God-win will see Devil-Prevail, and possibly be responsible for the next rise of fascism, or at least result in everyone being too cool to object or protest. The atmosphere inside isn’t quite as I had anticipated; rather than the clamour that surrounded the announcement of the tour there’s a sense of expectance and entitlement rather than jittery disbelief of what is about to transpire, which admittedly flakes away somewhat for unbridled adulation as the band take the stage.

Jeff Mangum looks like he just this morning crawled out of the self-imposed-exile-from-the-public-eye that characterised him in the early 2000s, his lengthy grey facial hair far out-stripping the many checked-shirted competitors in attendance. Mangum slowly walks across the stage strumming the introduction to ‘King of Carrot Flowers Part 1’, and the band file-in behind.

‘…Part 2’ comes banjo-crawling over an impression of a cornfield, the audience break into a communal declaration of love for the undiluted idea of Christ, and two-dimensional hand-painted cardboard cut-out plants and flowers rise behind the band and out the pipes of the now ornamental wall-organ that makes up the back of the stage their inseminating stamens also sprouting out of the bells of the muted trumpet and French Horn, snaking their way up toward the sunlight dying behind the stained glass, and the Singing Saw’s ascending, whistling pitch of the impending ‘…Part 3’ propels us “Up and Over…” into the stratosphere. When it ends, burning up on re-entry they launch straight into the galloping ‘Holland 1945’.

Mangum presses his hands together as though to pray, bouncing them off his heart and out towards the audience with a humble shake of his grateful head, and gets respite from the ‘Aeroplane…’ by landing ‘On Avery Island’ for ’A Baby For Pree’ and ‘Gardenhead’, hushing the majority of us up for a few minutes. Julian Koster acts as the band’s mouthpiece, and speaks, dresses and behaves like a 15 year old, beautifully so, and after Mangum has sung himself into a potential heart attack during ‘Two Headed Boy’ and excused himself from the stage to exorcise the tightness in his chest, Koster regales us with half a joke about a man who has half an orange for a head. When Mangum abruptly returns Koster promises us “the other half later on”, which we never get, making this unforthcoming “other half” of a Two Headed joke a sort of a punchline in itself.

Our alternative Albert Hall repetitively combusts with imaginary confetti like the Last Night of the Indie Rock Proms, climaxing with the ineffable majestygasm of ‘(Untitled)’ and shudders and sighs through the laconic crescendo of ‘Two Headed Boy Part 2’ and ‘Engine’. Unlike their contemporaries’ re-treads of former glories, Neutral Milk Hotel in 2014 are still as incandescent a conduit for beauty as they were when they called it a day. They visibly and audibly enthuse at this music that has transcends adulation, criticism and even its creators, almost as much as we do.

I walk toward home through the Tuxedoed Lizards smoking E-Cigs outside the Midland and wonder if I’ll be unlucky enough to get on the bus ferrying the Curry Mile Hydra, my synapses still crackling with a Louisianan crackpot’s Anne Frank wank fantasy.

Please take a vote away from a racist today.

Setlist

The King of Carrot Flowers, Part One

The King of Carrot Flowers, Parts Two & Three

Holland, 1945

A Baby for Pree

Gardenhead

Everything Is

Two-Headed Boy

The Fool

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Naomi

Ferris Wheel on Fire

Oh Comely

Song Against Sex

Ruby Bulbs

Snow Song, Part One

(Encore)

Ghost

[untitled]

Two-Headed Boy, Part Two

Engine

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