Faber Social: Andrew Weatherall, House of St. Barnabas, London, 29th March 6

Faber Social: Andrew Weatherall, House of St. Barnabas, London, 29th March

After a year of being artist in residence for Faber Social, Andy Weatherall, music producer and DJ, handed over that title to DIY musician, famous for his time as Scritti Politti’s frontman in the most wonderfully epicurean style, curating a cultural union of writers and influential music-makers, with Lee Brackstone, creative director of Faber and Faber, and “cultural alchemist” (as regarded by Weatherall).

Hosting the day in the notable private member’s club, House of St Barnabas, Weatherall held the air of organising a delightful clique of revelry, djing between sets, entertaining his guests. The chapel, an illustrious setting to witness firstly Mike Garry read his poetry in his residual Mancunian accent, paradoxically underscored by a conservatively classical string quartet. Accentuating his roots, this mating of strings and northern lilt highlight the extraordinarily uncouth in his expressive prose.

Mike Garry

Concluding the first block in the chapel, Mr Garry had struck a profound chord in the audience, as the applause for him was rather overwhelming. Weatherall during breaks would entertain these awe-inspired lovers of music and lyrical maturity, indulging us with chilled out sets far removed from his usual (renowned for his raves, and days of techno).

The next block of artists, journalists and musicians began with Bob Stanley, (@rocking_bob, recently known for his title Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, the Story of Modern Pop, published by Faber why of course) interviewing former Scritti Politti vocalist, and new artist in residence for Faber Social, Green Gartside, extracting insightful anecdotes from the artist about his time in Camden, squatting in his leftist flat, creating DIY records with other members of the band. There was however a sense of unease from Gartside being interviewed consistently apologising for his waffle, forgetting that the audience wished to inhale these stories of pop and rock and roll.

Gartside and Stanley

Significantly his love for art (studying it originally in Leeds before establishing his music career, joining bands) was overpowered by his desire to make pop music, highlighting the creative battles that often pursue in us, appropriately told at a night that fuses literary spoken word with acclaimed music.

That was swiftly followed by author Michael Smith and Andrew Weatherall juxtaposing their talents combined to enable this audience to witness the live version of a product they had created last year, Unreal City, Michael Smith’s nostalgic and vividly descriptive prose underscored by the production talents of Mr Weatherall. Produced as a limited edition product adjacently combining Smith’s word mastery with the art, filmwork and music of DJ Weatherall, the unique commodity is unbound, held together by a sleeve.

Suitably next on the agenda was Michael Smith’s interview with author of The Colony Room Club 1948 – 2008: A History of Bohemian Soho, Sophie Parkin, as they nostalgically discussed London’s Soho with a remorseful reverence yet fondness that allowed the audience in Soho’s private member’s club, The House of St. Barnabas, to gain an insight into a stigma attached with the area. Elaborating on Smith’s consideration of the capital, this interview addressed the history and ethos of the area, and evokes a particular lifestyle that was attached to London’s Soho.

The latter section of the evening saw Green Gartside, the fresh, brand new, Faber Social artist in residence, pose questions to Andrew Weatherall, forcing him to dispel more about his history and career as a DJ and producer. Dubliner, Cian Nugent also performed a fantastic but short set of folk music, including a regaled cover of Black Flag’s track, My War Blues, just prior to one of the most anticipated, and informative moments of the event, which saw Andy Weatherall interviewing renowned dynamic German musician, Irmin Schmidt, who will always be acclaimed for his unique work with experimental band CAN. Insightful anecdotes, such as that of John Lydon of Sex Pistols fame requesting his joining of the band, amused and entertained the attendees, but the key revelation from this interview was that of a CAN biography being published of little surprise by Faber & Faber. An opportunity to target loyal rock fans, Faber struck a chord with this news, urging Schmidt to market this new book, and effectively is now on my list of new titles to be on the watch for.

Irmin and Weatherall

Concluding the entire evening, aside from Weatherall impressing us with his well-known ability to lift a party DJ-ing into the wee small hours, was a rare sight I had previously beheld many years ago in a town hall in Fife, Green Gartside and Alexis Taylor (a name held dearly close to successful band, Hot Chip) performing Scritti Politti, in amidst vivid musical expression of Benjamin Britten’s work. However, watching this in an immersive elaborate chapel, a private member’s club albeit non-profit (informed by Weatherall himself on this, a clear advocate of this joint, where he had curated a gig to raise cash for the chapel, headlined by the poignant artist Beth Orton), was more refined with a sound that held more tightly, decisively less raw and DIY.

Yet, with a London crowd, a strong affection for musical accreditation, high production values, literary prose and the entertaining storytelling from those that have remained ingenious on the scene, this did not take away from an insightful creative fusion that I believe we will see more and more. In the cusp of our literary climate musical lyricists are edging in, and if this encourages a book-buying public, then like many others that will no doubt follow, Faber as a publisher are juxtaposing acclaimed works that shed light, yet also enhancing, creative talent with an encouraged more collaborative approach. I am already intrigued about the curated Social that Gartside will host.



All photos by Marcus Bastel

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.