This gig was was a big deal for us. Mike had tried hard to get us on one of their line-ups for a long time and somehow he got Steve and Paul from Track and Field to agree. At the time we didn't know that they had already seen us, supporting Stereolab at The Alleycat in Reading. We also didn't know that they weren't all that enamoured with us. Their first impressions, was that next to Stereolab they 'couldn't see the point'. Obviously they came around to liking us in the end as we ended up playing another gig for them in the Summer of 2000 and eventually went on to release three albums with them.
This gig was a big turning point for us and perhaps moved us towards the second phase of our career, where stopped trying to chase record labels and we embraced our inner indie-ness. Certainly it was our first London gig where we were playing to both a full house and the right sort of audience. At the time the most memorable thing about the gig was it marked the first time that I had ever received a parking ticket (and I learned that Easter Sunday is not a national holiday as far as traffic wardens are concerned.)
In terms of the set-list, we played a pretty solid and reliable set of 6 songs. 'Plastic Surgery' was by then a regular opener. I think this is one of the last times we played 'Suivez La Piste', a song we always struggled to get right live and one that only me seemed to like anyway. 'Electron' was in the pipeline as a forthcoming single. 'Spacer' again crept into the set. 'Make it soft' was pretty new at the time and already becoming a song we really enjoyed playing. This show also features my favourite live recording of 'My everyday silver is plastic' (which at the time we were still calling 'Nashville'). I remember feeling goosebumps from excitement as I stared out at the audience while playing the melodica refrain at the end. I felt at the time that I was living out my own Bernard Sumner fantasies.
As was regular for a Saloon gig, where we felt we had to be as difficult as possible, no attempt was made to play either track from the new single 'Shopping / Song for Hugo'
The gig was recorded by a lovely French girl called Anne who had written nice things about us in the fanzine that she wrote for called 'Creme Anglaise'. This was definitely one of our favourite zines and I remember a previous issue with a lots of articles about Belle and Sebastian knocking about our house for a while. Anne recorded the gig and sent me a tape of it which (for some reason) she recorded the debut Badly Drawn Boy album on the other side. I loved getting my first Saloon bootleg; it reminded me of my mispent youth when me and my mates would sneak off to Kensington Market on school trips and buy badly recorded Joy Division, Cure and Mission C9O's and almost get beaten up on the way home by putting then on the coach stereo on the trip back to school.
Saloon: Live @ The Monarch, London 23.04.00, a set on Flickr.
Photos by Rattail and various others.