Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Luke Toms / John Carey

Another excellent Cardiff Barfly gig this week, headlined by Luke Toms, notable for his look – reminiscent of a Russian anarchist out of Wodehouse, albeit one who’s recently had a bath – and a voice which calls to mind early ‘70s Bowie in impassioned piano-ballad mode. Accompanied by a three-piece band, his sound is somewhat more soulful than his Edwardian gent image might suggest, calling to mind Tom Waits. The “hits” “Peace By Myself”, Hangover Blues” and “Fools With Money” went down well amongst the ridiculously small audience – obviously, the cool kids were a few hundred metres away watching Maximo Park in the Students’ Union – and his more unfamiliar material seemed pretty strong as well. Very special. First on in support were AMOA – an acoustic guitars and drums trio led by two Afro-British brothers, whose pleasant songs were interspersed with acapella moments and amplifier problems; some of the melodies seemed to lacked distinctiveness on first hearing, however. Also on was Broken Leaf, whose set consisted largely of tragic trad-folk love songs (although he also gave us Morrissey’s “Satan Rejected My Soul”) accompanied by plangent electric guitar – good stuff.
A remarkable programme on BBC4 last night – “The Menace of the Masses”, in which John Carey reiterated points made in his eye-opening book “The Intellectuals And The Masses”, in which he pointed out the disdain in which the working-classes, non-European races and popular culture were held, during the Edwardian era, by writers commonly considered to be left-liberals – H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, D.H. Lawrence, E. Nesbitt, W.B. Yeats etc. The idea of education for the poor was deemed to be undesirable, and Wells even suggested that “inferiors” should be exterminated. Carey suggested that such extreme eugenicist views directly contributed to a climate in which Hitler and Stalin were permitted to flourish. Valuable evidence that the concept of supposedly progressive individuals embracing illiberal causes is by no means a new one.


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