Sorry, I know that’s an unusual and profane way to start a piece of writing, but the wind has been knocked out of my sails somewhat. I just attended an absolutely perfect gig by The Electric Soft Parade. There wasn’t a single song that I would have wanted to hear that they didn’t play – and played brilliantly. They’re a fantastic unit and their between song banter was hilarious. We got “Start Again”, “Empty At The End”, “Silent To The Dark”, “Idiots”, “Mr. Mitchell”, “The Sun Never Sets Around Here”, “Summertime In My Heart”, “Brother You Must Walk Your Path Alone” and a spine-meltingly wonderful “Welcome To The Weirdness” amongst many others; just the right balance of everything that Electric Soft Parade do brilliantly. It was a magnificent show.
Unfortunately, just before the end, Thomas announced that Electric Soft Parade were going to be no more. After that gig, that’s it – the last time they were ever going to be playing in the UK, ever. It was like a bucket of cold water had been thrown over me… even after three (or maybe four) pints of Gaymers Cider it was instant sobriety. They make the best album of their career and, in my humble opinion, one of the best albums of all time and… that’s it. The end. Never Again… which would have been their last song had they not came back on for one last encore and performed “The American Adventure”.
I couldn’t put it in words when I spoke to Tom after the gig. I muttered something about calling it quits after the best album of their career, but that really didn’t do the way I was feeling justice. I know that there will be more music from Thomas and Alex White, they’re too talented for that to actually be the end, but there was (that past tense is breaking my heart right now) something really special about ESP. Something that shook the world when their debut “Holes In The Wall” was released and something that was absolutely perfected with last year’s “Idiots”, my absolute favourite album of 2013 (and you can check my ‘blog if you think I’m just spouting hyperbole because of tonight). The melodies, the harmonies, the beautiful power of the music… it is an extraordinary piece of work that everyone who loves great music should check out.
It’s a bit of a downer. I should have come away from that gig feeling on top of the world, but, instead, I feel a bit mournful. I was hoping they would take that album and build on it. Write and perform something so goddamn gorgeous that the world simply had to take notice. Actually, for me, that particular album was “Idiots” and, although it received critical acclaim, I don’t think they are exactly buying yachts to dock in Monaco any time soon. In fact, I saw Thomas at a Franz Ferdinand gig in March and he told me that he’d received a freebie from a mate because he “wouldn’t be able to afford that sort of thing”.
I almost don’t know where I’m going with this. The injustice of the way the music industry has gone really gets to me. How can the guy on lead guitar and vocals tonight be a bit short of cash? It doesn’t make sense. You see the plastic clowns and barely literate “pop” artists raking it in whilst the guys in ESP genuinely wonder how they are going to finance their next project. It would be childish of me to say, “It’s not fair”, because, yes, as conservatives are fond of reminding people (usually when they’ve just screwed them over), life isn’t fair. I don’t know if success and revenue would have kept ESP together, but it might have helped.
Still, we have a new, upcoming Alex White solo album coming up. Thomas has a new group and we’ll hopefully hear something new from him soon, too. We have the albums which remain criminally under-heard. We have memories. Shit, even as I type that I know I’m being really sentimental (and that explains the swearing a little), but that’s what people do when they really care about something. They played their fucking hearts out this evening. I doubt if I’ve seen many better drummers in my life than Damo was this evening… and they didn’t even sell out their last ever gig. Well folks, if you weren’t there, you missed a treat and, possibly, your last ever chance to see Electric Soft Parade and, fuck me, they played like their lives depended on it too.
The title of their third album is “No Need To Be Downhearted”, but I wish I could believe them. Still, it was a privilege. The very best of luck, my love and thanks go to Tom, Alex and all of ESP. Thank you.