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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Hamell on Trial - Nice and Sleazy - Glasgow - 02/07/14

This is not a photo of Ed Hamell.
It's an egg
No Ed Hamells were harmed in the taking of this.
No audience members enjoyment of
the performance was impacted on either.
Three songs in and I want to kill the guy standing in front of me.
I mean really kill him.
Two songs in and I was considering choking him out or maybe donkey punching the fucker without indulging in the anal sex part of it.
Three songs in and my head is filled with homicidal rage that storms behind the rictus smile that I am trying to maintain.
There he goes drunkenly swaying to the right obscuring my vision again meaning that I have to compensate with a mirror sway to the left to catch a glimpse of Hamell.
Then he hitches to the left and I pistol whip my head to the right to compensate.
It’s been going on since the punch drunk sleep deprived Ed Hamell took to the stage.

I could move, but on one side is a group of people blocking me in and on the other is a space that would allow me to have the clear view of an amp.
There’s some momentary respite when he bends down from the waist and takes a photograph of his shoes with his mobile phone.
He’s apparently the weeble that wobbles but refuses fall down.
The patron saint of drunks is holding him up.
Look, don’t ask me what he was doing with the phone.
The first time that I would have had a clear and unrestricted view of the stage he distracts me with his strange need to photograph his feet.
Maybe he was focussing in on the laces and he was going to send it to someone with the message ‘look, I tied them myself’.

Meanwhile I can hear the master of the raconteurs conducting a verbal assault on the audience as he thrashes away at his guitar with all of the subtlety of a teenage boy whose hand appears to be super glued to his cock.
When I do manage to see the stage there he stands with his eyes rolled into the back of his head and firing out words of street gutter wisdom like an amphetamine fuelled auctioneer that wants to sell you the truth.
He is magnificently out there on his own, figurative and literally.
The one man show that delivers something that no one else is looking to put out there.
If you are a fan then you will know the score.
It’s the bar fly blues filtered through the bowery punk scene.
The alcohol drenched debauched dreams of Bukowski are punching it out with narcotic reality of Jim Carroll’s New York streets.
There’s some Lenny Bruce delivering schoolboy smutty jokes in there that gleefully challenges the audience not to smile in puerile delight to.
It’s as they say, all good.

Even better would be if I could see him, and at that Halleluiah, he stumbles a foot and a half to his right and stays there.

For maybe a minute there he is.
Hamell on fire.

Then the obligatory mobile phone is raised by another audience member to capture the moment, but instead of holding it in front of his own face he has his arm stretched out and is holding it in front of mine and I have the pleasure of watching the show on what must be a three by five inch screen.
The quality is fantastic.
At a rough guess maybe it has a bazillion pixels.
In fact he holds it aloft for so long maybe I could fuckin count them.
I am so happy for him that he can secure these memories through the latest high tech gadget and store them away to masturbate over at a later date.
Oh wait a minute.
That’s a lie.
I've spent a portion of the night looking at a neck and now I’m watching a miniature Hamell and misanthropy is sitting like a monkey on my back.

Is this really the live music experience now?

The performance itself is a juggernaut one.
Get in the way and he will roll right over you and that is as it should be.
Dance, start a mosh pit, strip naked and swing from the beams and I will cheer you on, and maybe even participate, but please just stop with the mobile phones.
Even apply the time worn everything in moderation rule.
Take a few photographs and enjoy yourself.
Just for the love of God stop and lift your head up and look around you.
While the camera is storing the moment in time you missed it, and so did I, and that is unforgivable.

Meanwhile the show goes on with some tracks from his latest release ‘Happiest man in the world’ added to the set that easily hold their own against the much loved songs from previous outings.
Bearing his soul after the break up of his marriage sees him in a contemplative mood on the material, and unlike that Robin Thicke fella I doubt Hamells ex wife is looking to secure a restraining order on hearing it.
There’s an acceptance of the present that sits well with his casting of his eye on a future that he fundamentally understands will be alright.
The man certainly has a way with words.
There’s no doubt about that.
He is the great communicator.
The machine gun fire of the delivery simply can’t take away the poetic eloquence of the delivery.
Neither can the jokes that he casts out seemingly at random throughout the set.
The stage antics and the jokes are just window dressing hanging around the meat of the performance, and what a performance it is.

When he opens up to the audience and asks for requests it may be akin to voluntarily walking into the lions den, but you could never claim that Ed is anything but fearless.
The broad Glaswegian accents that he is struggling to understand roar out the options with one man making it his life mission to ensure that Pussy is sung.
Ed obliges as expected.
His intro to the song touches on how it came about after watching an episode of the Sopranos and an enthusiastic woman takes it upon herself to educate him on how Alabama 3 provided the theme song.
None of it makes any sense at all to him as she slurs the music lesson at him, but she is undaunted with the communication breakdown and continues as the belle of her own ball.
Ed takes it on the chin, rolls with it and comes back with the knockout blow that is Pussy.
Exhilaratingly is a word used often by reviewers, but it is apt.
It’s an exhilarating performance from start to finish and as we all lean into the home stretch I doubt anyone could lay claim to not having a blast.
Even the guy who took a photograph of his shoes must have had the time of his life.
I mean why not?
He seen Ed Hamell and woke up this morning to find that a record of his feet being at the show is now preserved forever.

Bottom line is that Hamell on Trial is a force of nature that has a bleeding heart attitude pinned to its sleeve, and while he may be out there breaking ground where angels fear to tread it is a damn fact that the world needs people like him to do that.

If this was the sort of review that awarded stars then I’m giving his six out of five.

He’s back later in the year as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

You know what to do.

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