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.

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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.

Chicken Two Ways: Soho, Memory and That Whole Proust Thing

The Cut is away. In a change to your scheduled programme, we offer a gem from the archives. Please join Editor Rob as he takes a Proustian ramble through his back pages via the medium of fried chicken. Trust us, it will become clearer once you dig in.

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 23

Happy Pride Month, everyone! Like all other corporate entities, The Cut rushes to jump on the bandwagon, hoping to chase down a quick handful of the sweet sweet pink pounds. However,as general policy, we believe you are worthy of love no matter your gender, orientation, weight, colour, age, faith, position on the Myer-Briggs scale or point on the RPG alignment square. You’re all good in our book.

A minor organisational note—we are on a much-needed group away trip next week, so operations will be on a very low burn. We have lined up a treat from the archive so you don’t feel abandoned. We’d never do that. We are too full of love to let you down.

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

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 22

It’s been a horrible week. We’re not going to try and sugarcoat it. The day job has been punishing, the news from home and abroad almost unbearable. We’re making the attempt not to let it all roll over us, crushing our bones into the tarmac and greasing its dreadful wheels with our tears. A reset isn’t possible under these circumstances—we need to learn a lesson and find a way forward which doesn’t simply shrug off events.

And also focus on some good things, like the construction and polish of this newsletter. Writing and reading is a balm. We intend to slather it on thickly this weekend. We hope you can join us.

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

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 21

Looks like we’re into the rainy season. Which brings a sense of relief to the extensive parkland in which Cut Central lives, and a sense of panic as the greenery wakes up and evolves into almost instant jungle. We’ve got some gardening to do is what we’re saying. With machetes. It’s possible the flamethrower will have to come out.

While we gird our loins for the task ahead, there’s a newsletter here for you. No, no, you relax and indulge in some light reading while we plunge into the undergrowth, edged weapons held high. Send out a search party if you don’t hear from us next week.

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

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 20

It’s Eurovision Day! Here at The Cut we have a complicated relationship with the greatest international song competition in the world—there were times in the early 2000s when we nearly gave up on it all together, sick of the politics and the lackluster United Kindgom entries. We’re here and we’re paying for most of this, seemed to be the attitude. What more do you want?

Nowadays we’re more relaxed, simply enjoying the eccentricity and joy of the show. This year the UK has an adorable rock teddy-bear bringing the goods with a huge amount of goodwill behind him. Even though it’s blatantly obvious which country will win this year, we know it’s going to be a fun night. Editor Rob will, as usual, be hanging out and live-tweeting the experience—feel free to join @conojito as he rants and raves on that Twitter.

Meanwhile, we have a newsletter to bring you! Comics-heavy this week, but we know you all love that really.

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

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 19

The French phrase ‘M’aidez!’ from which we get Mayday as a shorthand cry for help, apparently originated as ‘merde merde’. Translating as ‘we’re in deep shit.’ Dunno why we thought that was pertinent but there it is, make of it what you will. We hope you had a pleasing Bank Holiday week, Star Wars Day and whatever other excuses for celebration came to you.

This week, spend some time with us in the woods, The Batcave and in a queue.

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

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The Cut Season 3 Episode 18

Another three-day weekend? Already? Don’t you lot have work to do? Where will we end up if we’re all lolly-gagging about enjoying ourselves and indulging in a little self-care and being actual human beings instead of adding to the coffers of the state and big business like we’re supposed to? We hope you’re happy, that’s all we’ll say.

No, seriously. We hope you’re all happy.

Enjoy the long break with us as we offer up a couple of American bar tours, a really good playlist and a primer on how to create an evil empire.

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

Featured image of Reader’s World, Holland MI via Midwest Modern (@JoshLipnik) on Twitter.

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