JUST AN OBSERVATION 2013

Just An Observation Monday December 30th
Sex+Pistols

Christmas has been done and dusted then –although I suspect a few credit cards will need dusted down to pay for it- and 2013 is drawing to a close whilst 2014 is hovering on the horizon. It seemed fitting then that on the last weekend of the year should be spent watching Edinburgh stalwarts The Rezillos play a secret warm up gig at the Parlour bar in Leith in preparation for their supporting slot at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations in Princes Street, where the Pet Shop Boys are headlining.
Saturday’s gig however confirmed The Rezillos as thrilling as they were thirty odd years ago. It was a thrilling ride all the way with classics such as ‘Can’t Stand My Baby’, ‘Good Sculptures’, ‘Destination Venus’ and of course their breakthrough hit ‘Top of the Pops’. There was also a storming version of ‘River Deep Mountain High’ which if they play on Tuesday is more likely to blow the main act off the stage than the high winds which did the last time the electronic duo were supposed to play this gig and are no doubt also anticipated this time.
The band were tighter than I remember them and as front person Faye Fife manages to somehow exude the attitude lacking in bands a third of her age whilst still retaining her dignity and kudos. It was also the perfect way to spend that Saturday between the hinterland of Christmas and New Year where death by gluttony and shit television seems inevitable.
As far as the television schedules over the holiday period are concerned I didn’t expect much but was still disappointed at just how bad the choices were. But then out of seemingly nowhere-BBC4 actually- in the sea of mediocrity there was ‘Never Mind the Baubles: Christmas with the Sex Pistols’ wherein the scourge of the establishment-according to the outdated press ideologies of the time- and catalysts for the punk revolution played a benefit gig for the children of striking miners. It was a reminder-and occasionally it is needed- that here was a generation who hoped to sweep away the lies and hypocrisy of the previous ones but were crucified by the press in the process.
It was also a reminder that even though the agenda was serious it was also a hell of a lot of fun and this was borne out by footage of Johnny Rotten smeared in cake belting out the lyrics to ‘Bodies’-surely their most controversial song at that time- whilst a bunch of kids jumped around joining in on the chorus of ‘Mummy, I’m not an animal’ with more verve and feeling than they could ever apply to ‘Away in a Manger’. This was by far my favourite television moment of the year and ranks up there with any other all time favourites. It certainly-along with the Rezillos gig two days later- kicked this still beating punk heart into quick time.
Elsewhere it has been a sad year for major losses. Nelson Mandela’s passing will definitely be seen as the world’s biggest loss of 2013 and stands in stark contrast to the divisive feelings which ran through the UK when Margaret Thatcher bowed out in April. One has a legacy which dwelt on creating a unified nation whilst the other seemed to deliberately perpetuate disharmony and division. Two different types of leaders who at one point in the eighties were polar opposites and adversaries but it is Mandela I hold in highest regard and whose legacy I hope continues to grow and acted upon. For Thatcher’s legacy there is no need to look further than George Osborne and the cast of ‘Made In Chelsea’.
At least in Scotland there is a chance in 2014 of voting for independence and do away with the possibility of a Tory government ever making decisions for us when they have no representation or interest in anything north of the border.
Another loss this year which was a major blow was that of Lou Reed in October when the rock and roll pioneer succumbed to complications after a liver transplant a few months earlier. It is safe to say that Reed was a pivotal figure in music presaging the whole glam-particularly influential to its leading light David Bowie- and the punk movements. It is also safe to say he introduced realism into a genre which previously had still dealt in frivolity and even those who challenged this, such as Dylan, still felt obliged to cloak their true meaning in poetic garb. Reed cut through all this and his attitude was an indifferent and irreverent ‘so what?’ which is still as powerful today.
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If 2013 can be said to belong to any one individual then I would say that the aforementioned David Bowie is definitely the prime contender for that title. Entering the fray unobtrusively and with no fanfare on the morning of his 66th birthday by lunchtime he was global news. That he followed this up with his best album in over thirty years and the V&A retrospective exhibition of his life and career merely propagated his presence, importance and relevance.
His unassuming entry back into the spotlight was probably one of the best marketing strategies ever. In a world where you know via Twitter when Lady Gaga has belched or Tom Cruise has farted the fact this major star can record and release an album with no-one knowing anything about it is short of a miracle. By not making a fuss he created one and it is a lesson to anyone who wants to make an entrance that perhaps over saturation is perhaps not the way forward. Managing to maintain and sustain this position in the media throughout the year is also amazing in our ever evolving culture and even more interestingly what exactly has Bowie himself had to say about this most talked about ‘comeback’? Not a single solitary word that is what!

So it is hard to say what 2014 will bring as the last year has been one of those years where treading water seems to be the norm-cinema and theatre have been particularly disapppointing over the last twelve months- so it is hard to say which way things are moving. I do hope that this tendency to keep introducing new words into the language which are more suited to toddlers than grown adults-‘onesies’ and ‘selfies’ I mean you- abates and we remember our language used to be respected and revered and this is one tradition which I personally feel does need to be maintained.
That is it for 2013 and personally I have had a ball of a time. I hope 2014 brings as much happiness and good times as the last twelve months have and here to round off is the Rezillos doing ‘Top of the Pops’ on Top of the Pops some thirty five years ago

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