Photography: Darren Aston
Arts Club 12/10/18

Is this what we’ve been reduced to? Are we witnessing the desperate, pained horror of music and the way we celebrate it finally breathing its last miserable and hopeless breath? What’s that sound? Is it the end? That agonised, guttural and wretched hacking cough of a long, slow death, as the air grows thinner around it. It’s fading away. Time slips ever further and even quicker. Is this the end of days?

What it once was is not what it now is. It lies forlorn, with its back turned on the glorious energy and blinding light of a dreamlike youth so painfully far behind it. Almost a dream. A nightmare. A long-since-enjoyed trip. Is it over yet? Has the pain finally consumed it, regurgitating itself inside out, smeared in its own entrails for the evil-eyed vulture of consumerism to scavenge from its fetid, turgid and rotten corpse? This diabolical and visceral dystopia. Music, no fucking more.

Here we have the culture of self. We are consumed by an age of filter-faced fucking narcissism, instant gratification and the buy now, fuck off-tomorrow disposability of our times. Nothing matters any more. Who cares? Nothing lasts forever, even memories. They can be replaced just as quick as they took to happen, as along as we’ve enough GB on our device. What matters is me. Just me. Taking a photo of me, superimposed with cute bunny ears or fucking cat’s whiskers. With my favourite musician behind me onstage. A picture I’ll never look at, a film I’ll never watch. Our yelled and dull conversations with our friends take precedence over the music we claim to like. But that’s fine. We’ve paid for our tickets, so we’re entitled. Entitled. Fucking entitled.

NICK MULVEY’s gig at Arts Club brings a huge crowd. Busy, busy. You can’t move. Or hear. A Friday night in Liverpool. Never the best time to go and watch a man with a guitar do two equally unmoving and depressingly magnolia sets of god knows what. Judging by the size of the crowd though, much fuss is made of this artist. Weeks later, I’m still struggling to think why. You see, this is the problem with artists building their fanbase through streaming. There’s no investment from the audience, literally, figuratively, or financially. No link. No connection between artist and listener. Albums are dead. Irrelevant, almost. People pick a single song, maybe two, and will happily buy a ticket for the show to hear and sing along to those two songs, and only those two. That’s how it works. The rest doesn’t matter. It’s disposable. Instantly. Once it’s over, they continue the conversation. Loudly, insistently and depressingly. And let’s not forget. They’ve bought the ticket, so they’re entitled, right? Don’t forget that.

Not that it matters at this Mulvey gig. It doesn’t matter at all, because there is nothing to hear. Nothing worth hearing at any rate. Just the bland, insipid and limp musings of an artist so dull, so wet and utterly soulless, we wondered how hundreds of years of folk, blues, soul, jazz, rock and roll, punk and everything else had left so little mark on him. Nothing. No lessons learned from anything. His music, at least as presented here, offers no challenge, nor solace. Free of soul, character or belief, it asks no questions and brings no answers. It neither enthuses nor engages. It is a nothing. And in the Arts Club, a throwaway nothing. Earnest in intent perhaps, but ultimately unworthy in its delivery. So, we endure the sigh inducing, eye-rolling spectacle of someone performing instantly forgettable music to an uninterested crowd of onlookers busying themselves with their own lives, their own brief and petty distractions. Music should help. On this occasion, it isn’t even a hindrance. And, like this review probably, it just doesn’t matter. None of it.

We leave at the end, and breathing the cold relief of the Autumn air, we head home to drink pints of gin and tonic and watch Japanese cartoons. And that’s fine, because we’re entitled.

RELATED
CURRENT ISSUE Bido Lito! Issue PLAYLIST