80s Matchbox, Jilted John & Leonard Cohen @ The Big Chill

True stories, we went to Dorset Herefordshire on the weekend, primarily to see Leonard Cohen, secondarily to cook bacon and egg sandwiches on a relatively futuristic camping stove (there's Luke making some excellent eggs up there). Good times!

We were lucky, however, in that another pair of musical collosi were on the bill. Quite unexpected, I thought only, like, Groove Armada played The Big Chill. The Big Chill is basically a middle class music festival for people who used to be clubbists but have since paired off and spawned. Lots of fancy wellies and wheelbarrows full of children and that sort of thing. So, you can imagine my surprise to find The 80s Matchbox B Line Distaster on the bill.

They were playing the Mighty Douche curated tent, and there was no time allotted, so we had to sit through hours of mainly awful stand up and musical comedy before the 80s came on, by which time we were pissed so I, for one, pogoed like a teenager. The 80s are still the best band in the world, despite having lost half of their original line-up.

Sadly I have no pictures of the new members as my fine lady mysteriously took about thirty photos of frontman Guy alone. I have no idea why.

The next day, even more amazing to my eyeballs was another name on the bill.

Jilted John.

Yeah, that Jilted John. Gordon is A Moron Jilted John. Paper round-missing, mouse-collecting Jilted John. Performing his first live show in three decades.


I was like, 'what the fuck'? Jilted John put one incredible concept album out at the arse end of the seventies, and that was it. Dude was a teenager then. The whole album was about growing up and falling in love and getting dumped and doing your paper round, I still play it to this very day.

I was excited. What would happen? What does he look like now? Last time we saw him, he was young and moddish and beautiful. Since then there's been rumours of him turning into John Shuttleworth, but who believes rumours?

Anyway. Quarter to five, and the familiar chords of Going Steady, the B-Side to his smash hit Jilted John chimed out across the field, and I ran over to the stage. There he was - Jilted John, flanked by his band, including one-time adversary Gordon The Moron on "backing vocals", which involved some robot dancing and forlorn stares.

Anyway, it was GRAYTE! John was wearing some shorts and looking like a middle aged man, Gordon looked like a forlorn psychopath, Gordon's teenage son lurked about playing bass, and a nice ole cowboy played a guitar. Someone played drums too, obviously. They played Going Steady, Baz's Party, The Birthday Kiss and a morose Gordon-lead number about how the grass on the other side is always dead. We were treated to a single new song, the poignant and well intentioned Keira Knightley Eat Your Dinner, and the set concluded with a raucous Jilted John, the merry "Gordon Is A Moron" chorus drowned out by a jubilant crowd. Obviously they had not rehearsed a great deal, but that added to the charm. They were onstage for less than 20 minutes and it was revelatory. I demand a tour!

Here's a video Luke took of the last song. That's my hat and arm pumping.

After that I almost didn't care about seeing Leonard Cohen. But then I did see Leonard Cohen, and he was even better than last time, in ways. He didn't play as long, due to festival time constraints, but he was as warm, humble, and sonically awesome as before. The unexpected bonus this time was the wonderful atmosphere conjured by the Big Chill crowd.

I think my favourite song was Anthem, again. Although Hallelujah was kind of amazing, helped out by an uncharacteristically tuneful crowd. I'm Your Man was visceral and raw, and Tower Of Song was biblical in its power and authority.

He's playing again In November. Surely he doesn't need the money by this point? Maybe he wants a solid gold toilet. I think he deserves one.