Punks Live: Carbon/Silicon
1) First time at the Highline. My wine sleeps down the street. Pleasant second floor ballroom. Oddly crowded entrance vestibule. Arrive late from an interview to sold out show, find perfect view from corner of balcony. Great sight lines. No sound problems. No worries. People started looking.
2) Kudos to Carbon/Silicon and crew. Albums given away free online. (Except for new, properly mastered studio album The Last Post, copies on sale in hallway for $10.) Tickets for this, Mick Jones’ first headlining New York gig in twelve years, just $15. People started caring.
3) Two drinks: $22. Since when did a drink cost more than an album? When do we get to start downloading drinks for free? How much more would it have been if my friend wanted a mixer in his vodka? Calling power to account.
4) It’s a 16+ show. I don’t see anyone younger than 25. I see plenty people my age and older. Plenty ex-punks. People started growing.
5) Mick Jones and Tony James. London SS ‘75. One to The Clash and B.A.D. The other to Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Bassist Leo ‘E-Z-Kill’ Williams from B.A.D. Drummer Dominic Greensmith from Reef. Two guitars, bass and drums. No DJ. No samples. No toasting. Carbon/Silicon embrace the computer age but this is basic rock’n’roll. People started liking.
6) You’ve heard the MP3s? Specially the pre-Last Post ones? Then you might expect as much. The show is sloppy. In a good-natured way. Something is ventured. Something is gained. But no barriers are broken. There’s no revelations. No ecstatic highs. No grating lows. Carbon/Silicon is about the beauty of the guitar riff. Play the same over and over. And over and over. And when you’ve played it over and over and over and over, play it over and again some more. Vary it every so slightly. Only the astute listener will know that you’re doing so. But subconsciously they’ll recognize the difference. This is how dance music works. Mick Jones knows all about dance music. Big Audio Dynamite found a new dance sound half a decade before everyone else latched on. In Carbon/Silicon he’s doing the same thing he did with B.A.D.. But with simple guitar riffs, easy bass, minimal drums. People started slowing down.
7) Want proof? Check “Buckethead” from their MP3 page. (Download or stream.) Eight minutes forty five seconds of the same guitar riff. With a story. I love it. Better’s on the way.
8) I love Mick Jones’ voice too. Always did. He’s not a good singer. He’s a great vocalist. I want my voice to count.
9) Gen X had the best guitar riffs. Tony James doesn’t pull them out for Carbon/Silicon. He just rotates around the groove. Having fun with his old best mate. The way that good life feels.
10) Regurgitated Clash riffs? But of course. 1977 becomes Clash City Rockers becomes Guns On The Roof becomes… What The F**k? What they always had.
11) Two old geezers pushing fifty. White shirts, black trousers. Out to work. Out to make music. Out to avoid a real job. Out to have a good time. Out to entertain. Educate. Inspire. Every precious moment becoming what is real.
12) The MP3s are okay. I downloaded a few a while back. Forgot about the rest. Then my mate Jezz played The Last Post’s “Feeling The Blues” on his brilliantshow. Realized how much I’d missed Mick and his music. Try to make it right.
13) WDST played “The News” this week. And all of it is good.
14) I like seeing old friends at gigs. But I’m there to see – and hear – the band, not catch up on the years since I last saw my old friend. Looking with very different eyes.
15) I no longer make notes at gigs. Not on paper. I jot them down on the Blackberry. Very 21st Century Punk of me. But for some reason, this show’s notes got wiped. I only have the heading: Carbon/Silicon. This information now comes as a surprise.
16) This much I know. It was a 90-minute set. I saw 60 minutes of it. Key later songs: M.P. Free. The News. War On Culture. The Network’s Going Down. Oil Well. Why Do Men Fight? They don’t need to fight.
17) They’re back for the encore almost before they’ve left the stage. Bruce Springsteen should be so quick. Mick admits as much: they’re scared the crowd might leave out front while they’re chilling backstage. Realize what they could lose.
18) Outside on the west side streets, Christmas parties are letting out. Everyone wants a cab. No one can get a cab. They’re all getting angtsy. But this is New York, the subways run all night. Started smiling at everyone.
19) It’s barely twenty degrees. It’s December in New York. The wind cuts right through you it’s just like a knife… And the weather’s good.