They Might Be Giants
Thursday November 22nd 2001
The Astoria Theatre, London.
credit card screw up - no ticket!!!
I nearly didn't go to this, but memories rekindled by writing the 1994 TMBG Ticket text changed my mind. I was also a little scampy in the crisp bag at the time, so the outlay of dosh for travel and accomodation didn't cheer me up.
But I went. I took two days off work, deciding to fly out the morning of the gig at 9am and come back at 9pm on the Saturday. This gave me the maximum London exposure for the minimum amount of bucks. I would be attending the gig with Dr. J, who was arriving in London a couple of days ahead of me. Oh, and both concert and flight tickets were booked on-line in about fifteen minutes - good old intermenet).
Getting to London turned out to be fast and easy, mainly because I travelled with Aer Lingus (as opposed to the slightly erratic Ryanair). Having flown out on-time at nine in the morning, I was walking up towards Centre Point (my new Mecca) shortly before eleven. This is where things became slightly more interesting.
Checked out a Moog Liberation and some other crazy stuff near Centre Point, then saw an ad saying that TMBG would be playing a gig in Border's Book Store at one o'clock that very day. This was good news, except for the fact that I was meeting Dr. J at one o'clock in a different location (Tower Records at Piccadilly Circus - the magazine section). He was e-mailed, sent a completely useless text message, and I considered the implications of just not going to meet him and checking out all of the John's lunch performance on my own.
But that might have been cruel, so I went to meet him and prayed that he'd drag his notoriously late ass into Tower on time.
He did arrive on time, and we ran/tubed as fast as we could to the bookstore (this included some excellent running across junctions in front of Centre Point). Thankfully TMBG were late, so we arrived and caught the whole show, albeit from the back of the crowd. Needless to say they were great, and after playing their tunes they sat themselves down to sign everything everybody had. I came away with my Mink Car CD signed, as well as a signed Mink Car poster that was advertising the signing event itself (a certain irony).
The rest of the day was passed with subtle events like Dr. J buying himself a 1st generation iPod (he's that way inclined), and me finding a nice old British European Airways bag in an Oxfam shop (BEA are now gone, or else they turned into British Airways - I'm not sure). Then it came time to see TMBG play again...
Despite a screw up with the credit card collection that delayed entry to the gig and deprived me of a souvenir ticket, we found ourselves in the second row (me, Dr. Jay, Moya and Tris). Support was by an okay Chicago band, but my feet were good and tired by the time the boys came on.
The gig was superb. Flansburgh once again led the show, jumping all over the place and playing with a dedication and happiness that surpassed other "more cool" bands. Linnell seemed a little quieter than Flans, but still sang at the top of his voice (and he occasionally jumped around a bit too). The crowd did their usual trick of singing along, and during most of the later fast songs a very healthy mosh-pit had formed just to our right.
They took care of all the tunes we needed to hear, but left out a few biggies like "Ana Ng" and "Don't Let's Start". This wasn't really a bad thing - they were concentrating on the newer tunes from Mink Car and Factory Showroom. They finished their final encore with the legendary "Fingertips", and we all sang along to what is certainly the strangest pop tune on the planet. Aside from that the band were entertaining and very skilled. "Shoehorn with Teeth" was played with a real Glockenspiel in an extremely amusing way, and the John's kept us constantly amused with a string of one liners and quality banter. There was also a reasonable amount of excellent guitar posing from all three string players, and the backline of Matchless amplifiers confirmed Flans's commitment to the total guitar sound that makes the current TMBG shows rock more than ever before.
But I'm not going to write everything down, that's not what this page is for. After the show I managed to get a set-list, and then bought a copy of their Christmas CD (I had all the mouse mats I needed). We went outside, got the tube back to the hotel, and ended a busy and eventful day.
I've since put a photo diary of this trip into my London section. Click here to have a look at some photos of John and John doing both their bookstore gig and the main Astoria gig. You'll find the photos are under "003 Hearing".
Here's a video Dr. J shot whilst we were there.