Tuesday, January 11, 2005

South Asia Benefit gig: The Little Explorer, The Dragon Rapide, Tigers!, Day For Airstrikes, When
Words Escape, Raucous, Grayson's Hour, Durai, Cornish Tinmines
Sunday, 9th January 2005
The Phoenix, Manchester

It doesn’t take George Monbiot to figure out that the recent devastation in Southern Asia could have been minimised significantly in a world where wealth and resources are not so ridiculously (and purposefully) misplaced. It’s no pain in the arse for a Premier football club with more income than a remote island to throw a few thousand the way of a natural disaster, and the pathetic crumbs of “aid” donated by Western governments simply seem embarrassing. That is, until you read that Blairs government gave £1bn (20 times the aid money) to the Indonesian military, then a month before Christmas supported an arms fair in Jakarta. Then it becomes outrageous. The Indonesian military by the way, killed 20,000 civilians in Aceh and was still killing them right up until the day when it was hit by a tidal wave.

Luckily for our sense of shame, the British public have been donating a lot, apparently. As always, and as we seem keen to point out in the music scene, there is certainly a case of bandwagon jumping from people who never have and never will make a charitable contribution again. I suppose it’s better that they do this than bandwagon jump a national uzi fetish, but obviously, it’s pleasant to search out those genuine humanitarians. This is the point where I say, “yes, this is still a concert review.” As if it isn’t task enough to try and organise a 10-band line up, to do it so speedily is admirable. We don’t seem to have any trouble coming together in large numbers for benefit gigs, the sad thing is we don’t show unity of this scale all the time. The bands are a mixture that you wouldn’t normally expect to see together, which goes to show it can work.

The afternoon danced into the night from the rising punk of Durai to the non-stop noisities of Raucous.  From the easy mid 90’s emo of Grayson’s Hour to the twangly delicacies of Day For Airstrikes, and the kazoo’d madness of Tigers! to the sleepy sparks in The Little Explorer (who almost didn’t turn up at all).  Every band brought something positive to the table, and even though some claimed not to have fingers (I’m looking at you, When Words Escape!), the community vibe in the second floor venue was excellent throughout. Get your bum over to www.manchestershows.cjb.net for more gigs, and for information on the generous people who damaged our ears for free this past Sunday, www.mancpunkscene.co.uk would be a good place to start.

Between the door charge, cake/CD stall and additional donations, this day raised just under a £1000 for Oxfam ( www.oxfam.org.uk). An amazing feat. Let’s hope it’s not the last of its kind for a while after the BBC take their cameras off Sri Lanka, leaving the general populace back on the happy shores of apathy, far from any natural or man-made disasters.