Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Seaside Rendezvous

Four years ago we went to 'Skint on Fridays' the London residency of mid-league DJ Norman Cook. We'd been before, and seen Norm play slots at a couple of festivals. We were fans, and, though it's hard to believe now, it was nice to be part of an 'underground'. Norman was about to release a new single, The Rockerfellar Skank. Simon had 30 friends there, including Her, it was a warm spring evening and there were good vibes all round. Norman's set took the roof off, it had everything, Run DMC, Blur, Prodigy, Young MC, Deadly Avenger. He dropped Rockerfellar Skank and during the proposterous break down he stood and grinned with his patented finger waggling in the air. We all stopped and applauded, he then proceded to drop Out Of Space and we all sang along. It was a 'moment'.

If I've had better nights, but I don't remember them. Since then we've seen Norman play Fabric and Brixton Academy and Homelands and, now, Brighton Beach in front of 250,000 people.

The organisers couldn't have predicted a 700% growth on last year's crowds, so there can be no criticism of the fact the sound system was inadequate, nor the way the event stretched the Brighton infrastructure to its limits.

Like The Beatles at Shay Stadium, this wasn't about the music or the performance, which was OK. This was about the defining moment, a higher gear that Norman couldn't have imagined he had. But it was also about the chaos, which was friendly and unthreatening always, the boats in the sea, the police helicopter hovering above the crowds, getting onto the beach and seeing the heat haze distorting the distant stage, it was the enormity of the event and knowing also, that nobody was in control. This wasn't corporately constructed, you didn't go down there thinking that you were going to be part of history, like attending a royal funeral, it was an exciting accident, you had no idea how it would turn out. Because it was so far out of my sphere of normalcy, I now can't believe I was there, it was superbly exciting.

Despite all the chaos, we were eased through without a care, we got steak and chips in the Laines, and got to the beach about an hour before he went on. We missed Midfield General because we were stuck in traffic. What we saw of Diggers was excellent - Leftfield, KLF, er, U2. We could pretty much hear everything and had good-ish views. When they pulled the plug on Norm, we hiked back to the car, and were home by 1am. So whilst the whole place apparently collapsed, we had a rather easy ride.


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