Oh I can barely wait. The tickets sold out in the blink of an eye; Oxford, two nights in London, followed by a homecoming in Manchester and a date in Glasgow. Now, I’m not laying the blame entirely at Howard Devoto’s door, but my O and A level results would have been significantly better without his distraction.
You no doubt know of Howard’s pedigree? Of how he and Pete Shelley invited the Pistols to Manchester for that legendary gig. How he and Shelley formed the Buzzcocks then invented, yes invented indie music with their DIY Spiral Scratch EP. He’d no sooner done all that than he promptly left, with a first album in the offing, and formed Magazine.
Magazine were different. Very different to anyone else around at the time. By the time kids around the country were learning how to pogo from the Daily Mirror and reading that the Sex Pistols were calling the Queen a moron, Howard was writing songs under the influence of Dostoyevsky and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Not content with inventing the indie concept, Devoto can lay claim to have formed the first post-punk band, a full year before PiL. The band had a synth player for a start, and had to fight off comparisons with Yes and Floyd, precisely the very music punk was meant to destroy.
All the same, this was the beauty of punk, or of what it should have been. It was about individualism, of not being like everyone else. That it morphed into a morass of mohicaned identikit idiots is not the fault of the original ethos. Howard Devoto was an individual, not quite of this world. He had a vision and he shaped it with excellent, acomplished musicians (the brooding funky bass of Barry Adamson, Dave Formula’s keys wizardry and the late John McGeoch’s guitar virtuosity) and wove into the music complex, wordy lyrics of alienation.
They weren’t with us for very long first time around releasing just four studio albums and a clutch of great singles, but should any of you doubt the importance of Magazine; there would be no Radiohead without them and how many bands have had their songs covered by Jarvis and Morrissey? Why, they’d only need Scott and Elvis for the set!
I could go on all day, but I won’t. This is not the time to debate the rights and wrongs of reforming, of tinkering with a great band’s legacy. I have serious misgivings about the London shows being at the appalling Kentish Town Forum , but wish Howard and the boys the best of British. I also have fears that the music is inextricably mixed in with my school studies and several unwarranted memories may come unwrapped, but I’m prepared to take the risk.
Here’s the man and the band with one of their poppier numbers – Model Worker from the Correct Use of Soap.
I was going to leave it at that for today, but someone’s ingeniously done this with their cover of Goldfinger (John Barry may be a huge influence on all sorts these days but not back then), issued as the b-side to their second single, Touch and Go.