I NEVER thought I’d see the Cosmic Psychos in my hometown of Birmingham – dreams don’t come true that often, surely – so in my haste to buy a ticket for the show on Thursday 4th April, I reached for my mobile, without my glasses, and ended up buying tickets for the 3rd in Manchester instead. It took me a day to realise, but did I panic?
No. It must be fate. ‘So what?’, I thought, ‘Manchester is a place I’ve never visited and the venue looks tiny, so this will be a perfect place to see these Aussie drunks!’
We got there early, about 4pm, and Manchester, or at least the central bit, it turns out, has a bit of an edge to it. Now, I grew up in a suburb where fully grown men hollered at each other in public, spat on the floor, and swaggered around the local shopping centres trying to stare you out whilst you helped your mum with the shopping, or crossed over three lanes of traffic when you were doing your paper round to say ‘come on then mate, you reckon you’re hard do you?’ I don’t think I’ve ever been to a city centre though that has the same feel. There are zombie faced youths slinking around amongst the shoppers; like they’ve just taken 20 times the recommended dose of a legal high and now they’ve got no bus fare home. There are loads of beggars. It’s shocking. Sorry Manchester. As someone else said, England in 2019 is a bit like the fall of Rome, but with wifi – a house of cards that just needs a prod, and it all tumbles down. It takes an outsider to see it, and the veneer is thinning everywhere, but believe me, inner city Manchester is one stock market crash away from an INFERNO.
For a Wednesday afternoon, the Wetherspoons was suspiciously heavily guarded with bouncers but it seemed a safe bet so we sat there for a couple of hours looking at greasy menus before returning to check the car hadn’t been nicked. It hadn’t, but it did have a parking ticket on it! ( I successfully appealed though ).
Now the venue. Night People is a club in the gay quarter and it seems ok, if you like to drink in a big concrete cellar. At 7pm on a Wednesday it was surprising how many drunk, and I mean really drunk blokes were in there. So wasted that it couldn’t have just been alcohol. Bordering on a kind of helpless drunk. Does Manchester have a good drugs supply? The Psychos attracted a varied crowd. Were they really there to see the band?
The stage there is tiny, and poked away in a corner. The first band on were pretty good at what they did, playing generic fast strummed indie rock, if you like that kind of thing. The place started to fill up with more normal looking punters by the time support act Lucy and the Rats took the stage. This is female fronted punk pop, which is not my bag, but fair dos, they were listenable, and the crowd liked them.
The Psychos appeared around about now. You have to wonder what it’s like touring when you’re old and knackered, playing to bunches of drunken bastards everywhere, proudly acting like the morons you’ve encouraged them to be, or maybe even exceeding those expectations. Looking at the band as they gathered at the back of the room, they seemed pretty detached, like they just wanted to get it done. Like it or not, these guys are successful artists, not the bums they portray. They’d played in Glasgow the night before. Had they perhaps been traumatised by the locals, or pelted with bottles of Buckfast? Had they been to the city centre earlier and seen the dribble faced people, or the Wetherspoons, perhaps?
By the time Lucy and the Rats had finished I was determined to be right at the front for the Psychos, so got a place by the left hand PA stack. I have waited my whole life to see these bastards!
Things take ten minutes or so to get sorted on stage. I look around from my commanding position. It’s £8 in, there are 80 people here, tops. 20% of them are so drunk they can hardly stand and are asking other people for help, including one bloke who needed us to type the password in his phone for him. Take away all the fees, cuts and touring costs along the way, and I wonder what sort of living they can make out of this. I conclude that they’re definitely doing it for the love, but if so, well….they’re hiding it well.
But then, oh my god, we launch into ‘Pub’! ‘At The Resale, at the Peter Schon……’ The crowd goes nuts. And then straight into ‘Nice Day To Go To the Pub!’
Things get better – they pull out oldies ‘Dead in a Ditch’, ‘Custom Credit’, ‘Lost Cause’, ‘Thank your Mother For The Rabbits’, as well as the newer stuff the crowd are baying for like ‘Fuckwit City’.
Well, it all ended far too soon. 50 minutes? They went on, stuck to the script ( it was the same the night after ), and came off again. Still, they can definitely play and a tiny venue suits them perfectly. I’d previously wondered whether Macka can really use that guitar or not, but watching him soloing on the old stuff the answer is definitely yes. Dean is a really good drummer too, although he didn’t answer to the name ‘Dean’ when we tried to tell him. We did manage to get a souvenir stick from the front of the stage. And, unlike this bunch of Mancunians, I was going to see them again in Birmingham the next day! ( they actually did the same set pretty much, but also played classic track ‘Rip and Dig’ from the album ‘Go The Hack’. They looked much happier too being a bit closer to the equator ).
Afterwards I bought a M t-shirt and the new album, which upon washing somewhat ironically shrank to the kind of tightness you’d only wear at a gay club ( the t-shirt not the album ). I don’t know, cotton products and race to the bottom capitalism eh? Still at least my daughter gets to wear it now. Hang on, come to think of it, she was wearing the last one I bought off them that night, because that shrank as well. Will I ever learn?.
Overall a great night. Thank you Manchester, and see you in hell!