Louder Than War’s lively discussion on the role of the DJ has reminded me of A GREAT EVENT.
I speak of a very short DJ set by Brakes frontman Eamon Hamilton at an impossibly scenester Queens of Noize night at the Barfly in Camden, London.
This would have been way back in 2005 or thereabouts. The perma-grinned Queens, Tabitha and Mairead, had been playing a succession of obvious indie selections to a squealingly excitable crowd. Perfectly-coiffed girls danced with Docherty-hatted boys to a soundtrack of Clor, Hot Hot Heat and all the other rubbish that was ‘in’ that week. Everybody pretended to be off their heads. One man actually was.
Eamon was called up to the decks for his superstar guest set. He staggered onto the stage with a battered record box bought that morning from a flea market in Brighton. The beautiful wasters in front of him were awestruck to be in the presence of this Rough Trade recording artiste and former British Sea Power piano player. What would he play? Some Strokes perhaps? Or something by Little Boots?
Glassy-eyed, Eamon wobbled into position behind the twin decks that hung by chains from the ceiling. There was a clatter, a screech and an electrical pop as he dragged the turntable arm clumsily across the grooves of the Suede single that had been playing up to that point. There was a sudden, serious silence. Tabitha and Mairead smiled on and tried bravely to banish the dead air with an Art Brut side. But Eamon brushed them away, pulling a truly battered copy of the ‘Dusty In Memphis’ LP out of his box. He swayed there, under the lights, squinting at the label, while the guardsman-jacketed fools in front of the stage watched on – confused.
He shoved the record in the direction of the turntable, threatening to topple the whole DJ set-up over as he twisted the plastic, trying in his entertainingly inebriated state to find the centre hole. And, after that, the correct speed. Eventually, he succeeded. The nervous silence was broken by Dusty’s sweet voice.
“Breakfast in bed… you don’t have to say you love me,” she sang sweetly through the rugged, undeserving Camden PA. She sounded sweet, soulful as she ever did, and utterly incongruous. These little bastards didn’t deserve her, I remember thinking. But maybe it will cure them of their fashionista disease? I scanned faces looking for a sign that a young life was being changed by the song – but there was none. The Libertinettes looked bemused, baffled and braindead – like Nathan Barley extras. The air was suddenly exhilirating.
One of the Queens waved a British Sea Power record at Eamon, in a gallant attempt to get him to raise the tempo above the Sunday morning seaside slumbertime that he was aiming to replicate. But it was to no avail: when the record finished, there was another half-minute of stark, staring silence as Eamon tried to get the needle to play the same song, once again.
He was gently encouraged off the stage and the idiots applauded. They didn’t know why. One of the Queens put a Larrikin Love record on, and order was restored.
Eamon walked back to the bar and had a pint. Good work, Eamon.