Sunday, May 24, 2015

Viv Albertine and Tracey Thorn in Greenwich Park

My Champagne Friend bought us tickets to this event-in-a-tent last night. Swallowing hard because it was Eurovision night, I realised that it was the right decision to go along because it was a thoroughly absorbing evening.
The interviewer was particularly good; he wasn't sycophantic and he joined the dots between the two women very skilfully, but Viv and Tracey duetted very well (it could so easily have been a duel rather than a duet, if egos had come between them).
Viv's humour pulled the talk away from the technicalities of writing and pulled Tracey into feeling quite comfortable talking anecdotally; on the other hand, Tracey's gravitas pulled Viv towards giving a broader context for her experiences.
There was a lot of laughter and a lot of passionate talk about music and the right to be heard the way they wanted to be heard. Both women are assertive in different ways, but also very clear about the self-sabotage and struggles with self-esteem that have beset them.
The audience were entirely drawn in. Although space was made for readings from their autobiographies, the real deal was the talking and the way the two listened to each other.
Being a powerful woman can be isolating and lonely. Over the tops of our motley heads and to a backdrop of noisy rock covers from a tent further down the Thames bank, the small gap in years, genre and experiences between the two (such a large gap too, in rock years), closed in front of our eyes and crystallised out our own lives for us. Both praised Patti Smith, and both criticised music today, saying rock's moment is over.
(I actually disagree with that because I work with young musicians; young people communicate in code and just because we don't understand it doesn't mean that it's meaningless, or inauthentic to them).
The evening was cathartic. Every time I see Champagne Friend I feel better, and to share such an interesting experience with her was better still.

Back home, it was time for the scores. No change there; politics and corruption that we all know about already were in full flow. I haven't even heard the British song and I realised that I've already listened to 45 student songs and judged them this week, so perhaps missing Eurovision wasn't such a bad thing.
It's back to the grindstone now, with a list of uphill struggles to struggle uphill with.

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