Review: Damon & Naomi - 12 Bar Club, London , UK - 19 March 1997

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I sometimes hate how much of a fan I sound at times - I decided this as I stood "chatting" to Naomi afterwards "you're're great...I love everything...etc." I cant help it - that's the way I am, and they WERE wonderful AND great, and I do love everything...

The 12 Bar is a tiny venue - the stage takes up a quarter of downstairs - and the table Jonathan had reserved for us was right at the front of the stage - I fumbled my way in as Damon & Naomi where half way through their opening number and, rather embarrassed, sunk down onto the tiny wooden chair.

Damon & Naomi sat on stage, Damon playing acoustic guitar and Naomi alternating between bass (what beautiful noise she got from that bass - it's so nice to hear a bass as a melodic instrument!) and a fascinating Indian squeeze box called a sruti which made a beautiful drone.

The first set - I didn't make notes so this is of the top of my head - included (in no particular order)

  • This Car climbed Mt. Washington
  • How Long
  • New York City
  • Information Age
  • Forgot To Get High
  • ...and a couple of others

...and off they went - in the bar between sets I ineptly introduced myself "Oh we're afraid of you" said Damon - which I found amusing because I was scared stiff of them (it's traditional for me to be scared of my heroes) - after some fumbling words from me - and an explanation from Damon that they were actually over, as publishers, for the London Book fair the previous week and the show was just tagged onto that - hence only one show - off went our heroes to be entertained elsewhere while I slunk back to my seat red-faced and settled down to one of the worst acts it's ever been my misfortune to see (although Ken today reminded me of a band called The Troubleshooters we'd seen at the Fiddler a few years back).

"Hi we're the Sorrentinos, and we're from California" was followed by 40 minutes of godawful chunky guitar RAWK music - I read for a while until it occurred to me that sitting in the front row reading while a band was playing their hearts out was an insult that not even a band as poor as The Sorrentinos deserved - halfway through the last number they "took it down" and introduced the band - I began to think that they did deserve that insult after all - but thankfully it was too late - big finish and off.

Next on were an English folk trio - now I have to admit to having a soft spot for some English folk music - I can happily listen to some Fairport Convention or Sandy Denny without really flinching (too much) - but this was a poor example - too cheery and twee, I want heartfelt and earnest from my folk music - a pedal steel guitar - and too long a set.

Damon & Naomi returned and announced that they were unprepared for two sets and proceeded to repeat a lot of the first set - they did a new song that'll be coming out as a 7" on Earworm soon - they did a cover of Colin Palmer's (ex-Incredible String Band) "Spirit Of Love" - they smiled and joked (and had a moan at the people on the balcony who insisted on talking through the set!) - and on the whole made my night - it was all too beautiful - exactly what I hoped it would be - only more so.

At the end this inarticulate fan chatted with Naomi for a short while "you're're great...I love everything...etc. etc." - it was nice for my ego to know they knew of me - we talked of upcoming events - a long interview in the Ptolemaic Terrascope ("probably the longest ever") a track on a Pearls Before Swine tribute album and a single on Blue Rose Records, the Earworm single featuring a cover of a Ghost (Japanese Krautrockers) track on the flip side name of the a-side). More Sad Hits will be re-released by Sub Pop at the beginning of May. Damon was very pleased about the live Galaxie 500 album getting released ("I always liked that tape").

I shook their hands (again) told them they were great (again) and told them to come back soon (god did I really say that) - and lamely walked away. I'm so pleased that these two of my heroes were really nice people - I just wish they'd play here more often.


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