I listened to Philiphobia for a year or so when it came out about 10 years ago. Aidan Moffat’s morose interpretation of an explicitly drunken existence sat perfectly with everything I thought I aspired to at the time. Any comparison between the music of Arab Strap and my own life was, and still is, utterly ridiculous. Although we must retain some hope, don’t you think?
Ten years on and with the new album, The Last Romance, Aidan Moffat is still living his humorously normal life of darkness and despair. In Chat In Amsterdam, Winter 2003, there is an awareness to the self destruction that resonates with anyone that can at least identify with him:
â€œIf I’m having so much fun how come I’m crying every Mondayâ€?
â€œ24 months of bargain pills and cheeky lines and stolen beersâ€?
Great! Combine this with the musical talent of Malcolm Middleton and you have a great record. The Last Romance is what happens when brilliant people don’t move to London and have Children, it’s a collection of songs that haven’t been written for the sake of it, or simply because that’s what someone does. It is a great record. Now if I don’t leave it there I’ll confirm Mandy’s accusations of being a, â€˜Complete arse licker’.
So on to the 100 Club, a place of legend and myth, most of which is almost definitely bullshit. It is what Victor Lewis-Smith would describe as a Tardis venue, small on the outside but big enough inside to accommodate the 150,000 people that claim to have seen The Pistols at, â€˜That famous gig’.
My cynicism turned out to be surplus as the 100 Club came up trumps on the venue front. Straight out of the Seventies it has the vibe of a slightly downmarket Gentleman’s club, a bit like the Winchester Club in Minder, only bigger and without George Cole. The bar staff don’t wear matching Polo shirts and thankfully, don’t act like arrogant students that need plugging into the mains to wake them from the dead. They also serve Flowers IPA on draught, almost unheard of for a music venue in London, or anywhere come to think of it.
Arab Strap play most of the new album and plenty of stuff I’ve never heard before. Aidan swigs Stella continuously and swaps uncomfortable looks with his partner, this adds to the their edgy and at times brilliant atmosphere. Dream Sequence sounds as huge and as enjoyable as I expected it to, a moment when the band function as a whole and literally start running way with it all. I can’t help but imagine Moffat narrating my own life as I envisage myself on the way to work:
â€œI stand on the tube and smell the breath of the man next to me, a woman places her Starbucks cup on the floor and I want to vomit on the back of her headâ€?.
Jonsey mentioned that they covered a Bonnie Tyler track during the encore, by which time the IPA and Stella had done its job.