Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Coal Exchange, Cardiff

Opportunities like this only come along once in a while, for Sebadoh are one of the most contrary of beasts. Rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic, let alone this side of the Severn, you just have to hope that this time that they deliver upon the promise of a spectacle, rather than Lou simply delivering his spectacles to the crowd, as he did during his onstage strop at the Reading festival a couple of years ago. For someone who spends so long much time singing of forgotten friends and ruined romances, he certainly knows how to break hearts and cause disappointment.

As sure as that Reading performance was fuelled by conflict between opposing ideals, so is the spirit that lies in the midst of Sebadoh. Fortunately for Sebadoh, although perhaps not so fortunate for us, a mid-ground has been found, a content rather than happy medium, in which Lou's quiet introspection and Jason's hard-core tendencies hold a meet and greet before each is permitted to get on with their own thing.

In the way of a compromise, Lou shuffles up to the microphone in his cardigan, tucks his hair behind his ears, stands very still and mumbles ever so gently as he gently caresses note after lonely, melancholy note from his guitar, while Jason screams like a man out to prove Henry Rollins as a fake, wrenching pure driven noise from his guitar, while, of course, also standing very still.

All these shenanigans mean that tonight's performance is one of two halves. First we get Lou – the man that, with no disrespect to Jason, we’ve all come to see. We’re in awe of his delicacies; the poignancy of his own perceived personal inadequacies cut us to the bone, chilling us with his tales of woe and unrequited emotion. Expressed in this manner, Lou is capable of achieving the seemingly impossible, raising your spirits and warming your heart with the knowledge that suffering can sound so beautiful, while leaving the nagging doubt that no matter how many times your heart is broken, it will never feel so eloquent, so welcome, as this.

Then Lou and Jason swap instruments and position, and the atmosphere is lost, the warmly enveloping mist is blown away, and you're magically transported to a cheerier place, for all Jason wants to do is (indie) rock. Ultimately though, we're not here to be cheery. We want to be reminded, in fact we need to be reminded, that no matter what misfortune befalls us, we can take heart that Lou has already been there, and that the devalued have all the best tunes.