Honestly, I didn’t even want to go to the Cinerama concert.

It was the last day of my life as I knew it, and it wasn’t going well. With nine people crammed into our 5-bedroom flat, we’d had to arrange a shower schedule – which meant I woke up at 6:40 a.m. after what seemed like a minute or two of sleep. I very nearly didn’t get out of bed. “Fucking graduation,” I moaned to myself.

Two hours later, huddled with my friends, shivering as the cold rain saturated our long black gowns, I was more disgusted than excited. Four years of hard work, and instead of celebrating we were checking our watches and dodged the dripping umbrellas of the row of students seated in front of us. My university holds commencement outside, except in cases of “extreme weather.” But as one girl sitting several chairs down remarked, “if this isn’t extreme, what is?"

By the time my family and I met, and we gathered our MapQuest map, and most of our wits about us for the drive to New York I was only slightly damp. But the tiredness had grown into a smothering embrace, and I was fighting back the first trickles in a potential torrent of misery-inducing nostalgia. I didn’t even want to go to the Cinerama concert. I wanted to lie in bed, listening to sad music, smoking fags and generally wallowing in sorrow.

Instead I got to ride shotgun for a twice-as-long-as-strictly-necessary trip from Philadelphia to New York. Typically, we got hopelessly lost, until a highway patrolman gave my brother proper directions along with a $200 speeding ticket. Relentless rain, truck stop coffee, and Bedrock “Foundations” saw us through, though, and the venue, the renowned Knitting Factory was surprisingly easy to find.

It was with a gratitude approaching rapture that I shuffled inside and leaned against the wall. Tiny, dim, semi-crowded, but at least the bloody air was dry. There was a small balcony, but we squeezed down to the front of the room – which couldn’t have been more than 10 metres from front to back. The low slung stage was practically begging me to perch on the edge, but I reluctantly shifted from foot to foot as most of Cinerama scooted around, setting up their instruments and checking the monitors.

Now, how the rest of the evening went depends on who you ask. David Gedge rarely, it seems, admits to having a good show, let alone a good day. This one he called “particularly stressful.” From the other side of the lights, though, the show was perfect.

They opened with a passionate version of the latest single, “Superman” and the initial energy rush never let up. Playing a pick-a-mix combination of old Wedding Present tunes, songs from the two Cinerama albums, and new tracks they raised the energy stakes in the crowded room, and like the Beastie Boys never let the beat drop. Most of the audience was dancing like holy rollers at a revival meeting. After one especially fast guitar solo a girl in the front sagged against the stage and lit a fag. “You need a cigarette after that huh?” Gedge asked with a cheeky smile; the girl rewarded him with an adoring stare.

Unlike the “don’t give a shit” cool of the crowd at the last Cinerama show I’d seen, this group was nearly effervescent – and Gedge happily played up to them. Between songs he cheerfully turned down repeated requests to play “Manhattan” (“we’ve tried to play it as a five piece, without the orchestra, but it just doesn’t sound right”) and joked about no one ever liking the new songs. And of course when people shouted “we like them!” he grinned his aw-shucks grin.

Time flies, as the saying goes, when you are having fun, and I admit that when Cinerama had walked on stage I’d secretly hoped they wouldn’t play for too long. But what with the familiar magic of great music, and the appeal of Gedge’s dishy rock ‘n roll stage strut, I was astonished when they finally put down their instruments after a blistering rendition of “Wow.” I looked at my watch; they had played for over 90 minutes, and there hadn’t even been time to blink.

Walking back out into the rain, I knew the cold, the weariness, and the vague depression would all be back. Cinerama, though, had taken two long dreary hours, and turned them into an oasis of magnificent sound and emotional warmth. It was a near-perfect gig, and I couldn’t have asked for a better send off into the real world.













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Commenting On: New York Knitting Factory, 21st May 2001 - Cinerama








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