The Cut Season 3 Episode 30

We’re pulling up the drawbridge and dropping the portcullis. The world can crash and bang about on the other side of the walls for a while. It’s safe here and if you’re quick, we’ll hold the gate for you. Welcome, brave traveller. Cuppa tea, or something a little stronger?

This week, a feast in the air and from the sea, a hit of romance and a rough guide to The Sandman. Take a pew, pilgrim. We’ve got this.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 29

Hang on, wasn’t it the weekend like, three days ago? Is time speeding up? Is an etheric energy, formed from our collective desire to have done with the week, somehow having a dilatory effect on time itself? Or are we just really busy?

Regardless of how we got to this point, here we are. Thanks for joining us. We celebrate the life of a British comics great, talk burgers with Bob and enjoy not one but two burrito-themed links. Sink your teeth into this!

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 28

This week felt as if a warning shot we’d been waiting a very long time for finally went off. We’re going through a set of crazy science fictional scenarios—pandemics, heavy weather events—which seem more mundane than the Big Bangs we were led to expect, and all the more scary for it. More sleepless nights ahead, we reckon.

But amongst the strangeness, beneath the pitiless skies, The Cut remains, as nonsensical and arbitrary in our selections of weekend reading as ever. We’re off to the coast for the weekend, to dip our toes in the sea and eat some fish while we can still go outdoors.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 27

We can’t festival like we used to. Nearly a week after the end of Readipop (hope you all enjoyed our overview of the event, by the way) we are still achy of limb and heavy of head. And we didn’t even go that hard! Age can be cruel to the party animal, doubly so when we’re still hauling ourselves out of lockdown torpor. Still, fun was had, beer was drunk, boogies were boogied. Already looking forward to next year.

However, we have other business to attend to, feeding the maw of the hungry link-eating machine that is The Cut. This week: beats, seances and 21 flavours of Mountain Dew.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 26

Last week’s post, on artificial sentience and the rules of personhood (who says we don’t know how to have a good time here?) span naturally out of our usual process for link-gathering here at The Cut. We’re always fascinated by a good idea explored well, and the story of Blake Lemoine and LamDA deserved more than a simple paragraph. Once we began to consider the implications and map them onto current events—well, we had 1500 words. We’ll try and do more of these sort of posts, just to switch things up.

In the meantime, we’re back on our basic bullshit. Check out linkery on film restoration, stomp boxes and the rebirth of twee.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

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The Story Of Sentience

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before. There’s this guy who works with computers, a software developer. As part of his duties, he has to interrogate the equipment, a quality control pass to make sure the program is working within normal parameters. He discovers, or realises, or believes, his particular piece of software is not only over-performing—it has developed a soul.

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 25

I mean, we can’t even. The news is acting like a kid after an illicit raid on the cookie jar, jabbering wildly and flinging stuff around so quickly that we simply don’t have the capability to keep up. So we won’t. We’re sticking to our lane, hands firmly on the wheel at ten to two. If we seem to be gripping a little too tightly, our knuckles whitening… that’s just the way we drive, yeah?

Anyway. Either the greatest or the worst sandwich in the world, salt, yanks and the world’s most satisfying checkbox await your attention on the other side of the fold. Join us. It’s safer in there.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 24

And we’re back. We hope you were suitably well-behaved whilst we were off being all windswept and interesting. Thanks for the love you showed last week’s archive post. If you care to go digging there’s plenty more on the site—Excuses And Half Truths has been running for a veeeery long time.

Anyway, let’s have some linkery. This week: singing cars, a simple cut-up and the worst writer in the village.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

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Private Universe

Remember…

1994. The Together Alone tour. The first time TLC and I saw Crowded House. There were a line of strange, ridged constructs along the back of the stage, like monolithic artifacts of a forgotten age. Lit in rippling colours, there were times when they almost seemed to come alive, dancing gently to the music. A Maori choir and drum troupe came on for the title track and rattled Wembley Arena to the foundations. We had been fans before. Now we were hooked.

Remember…

2005. Neil and Tim as The Finn Brothers at the Royal Albert Hall. Nick Seymour turns up on bass, and for a moment we think there’s a full-on House reunion on the cards. But something’s off. Support act Bic Runga runs off stage in tears after struggling through an emotionally fraught set. At stage centre, a mike stand with a fedora on it. It all becomes clear. Founding member, drummer and class clown Paul Hester (the hat on the stand had been a trademark of his) had taken his own life the previous night. We realise we have, however inadvertently, been invited to a wake. It’s an extraordinary, sorrowful but uplifting show. They start—the rotten bastards start—with Don’t Dream It’s Over. All bets are off from that point. We mourn together.

And on and on. So many shows. Breakups, reformations, solo projects. The sound, the feeling remain. The warmth. The sense of family.

Remember…

The end of 2019. A world tour is announced. I am poised over the keys of the laptop as the seconds tick down to ticket-release. Tension. Mild panic. Forgetting the Ticketmaster password. Peering anxiously at the spinny wheel as the order is processed and…We’re in. Birmingham Arena. June 2020 can’t come soon enough.

Yes, right, well. About that.

The obligatory shaky, out of focus phone shot of a concert.

Two and a half years later, Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, Liam Finn, Mitchell Froom and Elroy Finn stroll on stage, strap on and fire away. A crowded house (come on, you know I had to) at what is now the Utilita Arena goes nuts. Opening salvo: Distant Sun. Well, of course it bloody is. The first line goes ‘Tell me what you think you would change…’

Pretty much everything from March 2020 to here and now, thanks.

From there it’s a spirited, joyous romp through the back catalogue. You know more Crowded House songs than you think. But this is no greatest hits package. There are enough golden nuggets included in the set from the most recent album Dreamers Are Waiting to remind us that this is still a vital, powerful group of musicians with fresh songs to sing, fresh stories to tell.

They look great, by the way. Neil’s in a white suit, hair glinting sliver in the spotlight, up in an Elvis-high quiff. Liam (who treated us to an impromptu solo set, unannounced, slightly annoying as most of us were still in the beer queue) is a spit for Ewen McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi with a soupçon of Marcus Wareing thrown in. Nick, always the fashion plate, rockets around the stage in (there’s no easy way to put this, best to just rip off the bandages) a kilt. Elroy and Mitchell just sit on the back line and get on with the job. Let the rockstars rockstar.

Two hours vanish, a sacrifice to the time gods. There’s a little less between-song banter these days, but otherwise all the elements of a great Crowdie gig are in place. Plenty of singalongs of course, where the band drop out and The Crowd take over. I choke up during Fall At Your Feet. Gods, I’ve missed this. Once the band roll into Better Be Home Soon I feel like I’ve been worked over like a punching bag. It is every bit as emotional as I expected. Catharsis is too weak a word for what I’ve experienced.

Why this band? Why these songs? You may as well ask why these clouds, why this grass? For as long as I can remember, Crowded House and their blend of warm, domestic, gently sensual psychedelia have been a part of our lives. Simple and comforting as a fresh cup of tea or clean set of sheets on the bed. They understand how the small things can inform greater truths. Every gig reminds me how Neil and Nick and whoever else plays with them have an innate ability to take any venue and make it intimate and welcoming. Live music is a communal experience. Neil and crew understood that when they live-streamed a set of musical experiments at home in New Zealand through lockdown which turned into a whole album, worked out with a global audience in tow. Crowded House bring that feeling of togetherness to the forefront and enfold their audiences in a big, fat hug. Lean in. Let it go. It’s ok to cry if you want.

In a strange and frankly still unsettling world, this was the moment we needed, the place to be, the songs to sing. To quote from the song: It’s only natural that I should want to be there with you.

See you on Saturday, housemates.