Hoxton Pony, London
January 19, 2011
This was to be the debut and sole performance of Outsider Music, Luke Haines’ most successful solo album to date. An album of some notoriety in that it was individually recorded 50 times (by Haines in his living room) and released last September at a princely sum of £75 a pop. An artistic experiment and a gamble of sorts, it was an undeniable success for Haines, the old adage about fools and their money standing true — all 50 volumes of Outsider Music disappearing quicker than anticipated. With each volume a unique item on its own, buyers have been reticent on sharing and as of yet, no copies have surfaced. So Haines – 1, Rich Fans – 1, Poor Fans – go eat a shit sandwich.
Tonight’s performance, referred to by Haines as “Outsider Music Vol.51”, is for the benefit of those who’s music-as-art patronage amounts to a tenner a head in the downstairs portion of a s-wank Shoreditch establishment. The Purcell Room of the Royal Festival Hall obviously unavailable. “I’m Paul Daniels, this is Debbie McGee”, Haines offers by way of introduction, a sidelong glance to his artist-in-residence wife who’ll be painting Haines as he performs with it later being raffled off post-show. Dressed like a disco hitman in his white suit, black open neck shirt and fedora, Haines is affably aware of playing an album that very few have heard, explaining that it won’t be a complete playback by way of an apology to those who shelled out £75 that there were “a couple of crap songs” .
For those who were turned on to the idea of Outsider Music but turned away at the price, the material runs parallel with that of his previous album 21st Century Man. The only difference being one was recorded in his living room and the other wasn’t. Outsider Music is a succession of familiar themes and characters that have appeared throughout Haines’ work, taking potshots at Anthony Gormley in “Angel Of The North”, finding Jesus on a train bound for Seven Sisters (“Jesus Is Right On”) and spending an evening in the company of Alan Vega of Suicide in “Alan Vega Says”. There’s no denying Haines has a way with words. His lyrical jibes, his mocking asides are what we’re all here to listen to, the music itself appearing almost entirely supplementary at this point in his career.
A future project is revealed, a concept album about the flamboyant manager of 60’s British wrestler Kendo Nagasaki titled “Requiem For Gorgeous George Gillete” which elicits a few laughs among the blank looks. You can’t tell whether he’s joking or if he’s serious, but perhaps that’s the way Haines likes it. Towards the end of the set, things come full circle as various points of The Auteurs songbook are pulled up and given their due, including a double backwards glance at The Auteurs peerless debut album New Wave with the rarely played “Early Years” and “Home Again”. Such songs will never grow old, yet you look around and see 200-odd bodies craning to see in this uninviting venue and wonder where it all went wrong for Haines, or if this is the way he wanted it to be; an outsider and his outsider music.