I've decided to do just one blog posting about the Troxy, and do it first. Tomorrow I will write about the rest of my London trip. I think many readers who want to know about the Troxy aren't that interested in the details of my trip, and vice versa. And if you're interested in both--well, you'll have that too.
So--without any more ado, here is my account of the Troxy gig.
First--what we like to dub "Foxxgate" started a bit after 3:00, when I went to the Queens Head pub, the official meet-up place. It took awhile for everyone to show up--myself and Phil were the first two to show up, then Fons, and then Chris, Brian, Gem, Garry, and Tapio. I took some pictures, but many of them came out blurry for some reason, so my apologies to those of you I know on Facebook--only 2 or 3 photos came out.
We headed over to the Troxy, arriving at about 7:30. Mark Jones was in the middle of his set, and I had missed Mirrors, who were supposed to have been very good. I sat up in the VIP balcony, as I wanted a good view of the visuals. John Foxx came on at 8:00, opening with "Shatterproof". Here is a clip I took from my vantage point:
The set list was excellent--here it is, direct from the Maths Facebook page:
He's A Liquid
The Running Man
The Quiet Men
The Man Who Dies Every Day
Hiroshima Mon Amour
The band seems to have been the same one playing with John at the Roundhouse last year--John, Benge, and Serafina Steer managing most of the synths, and Robin Simon on guitar. As most of you know, I am hardly a technical or sound expert; however, the set really sounded fantastic, like there were no misses. (Judging from how relaxed Steve Malins looked later in the evening, I'm guessing that everything went as it should musically). I'd never heard John do Hiroshima Mon Amour live, so that was a treat. And while I love Interplay, I'm glad he mixed up the setlist. Makes sense, really, as the audience is not just Foxx fans. The audience also seemed better behaved than the Roundhouse audience last year.
The only negative was the visuals. The set started with Jonathan Barnbrook's visuals, but then about halfway through, there were no visuals at all, or just sporadic ones. I asked John about this later, and he said that Karborn's visuals "wouldn't go"--they did not work for some reason. That was a bit disappointing for me, as the visuals are part of what makes the set. (Mercury Retrograde strikes Karborn again--last time was Liverpool). In the grand scheme of things, though, everything that went right went really right. So, kudos to John and everyone else for an excellent show.
Here are some good photos of the entire show by Matey Bloke.
After John's portion of the show was over, I spent time at the VIP bar talking to Rob Harris. Rob then left to take some photos of Mark Daniels' set, and I sat down. Gary Numan came on after that--he opened with "Down in the Park" I was recording it with my digital camera, when suddenly towards the end of the song, I saw John Foxx walking up the stairs. He saw me and said hello, and then stood at the back watching the visuals. I got up and joined him, as I'd wanted to chat with him a bit, and doubted I'd get much of a chance at the aftershow. We talked mostly between songs, and that was when he told me about Karborn's visuals. He was up in the balcony to get a good view of Gary's visuals, which were well done. We were there through much of the set, then John had to go backstage again. I went and joined Steve Malins, who I saw sitting just a couple rows ahead of where I'd been before. He was sitting with a man whose name I don't know, but who I recall seeing at the DNA exhibition in July of 2009, the man that Karborn thought was Steve's brother ("Brigid--is that Steve's brother?" "I have no idea. Why don't you ask him?" "No--no, I can't ask him. I want it to be Steve's brother. I like the idea that he's Steve's brother. If he's not, I'll be crushed. We can just say he is, right?"). I did shake hands with him, but it was really difficult to hear him when we were talking, so I didn't get his name. Steve's wife was also there, a row ahead of us, and as we were heading to the aftershow, she rather cryptically mentioned a trip to New York this year. Sounds more definite than last year, when Steve said it was "indefinite", so I'm hopeful.
Incidentally--I should note that the trip to New York would not be a gig, so American fans, don't get too excited yet. The last time I talked to Steve about it, he said it wasn't likely before 2012. It's incredibly complicated to do substantial gigs if you're a foreigner entering the U.S., especially on the tax side, and I'm sure they're not overflowing with copious amounts of cash, so it takes more time than you would expect. It's easier for John to do small things like exhibitions, but even that has an associated cost--Lord knows that I know it's not cheap to travel regularly between countries.
John showed up rather late to the aftershow, and then left early. I did talk to him briefly, but as always, there were many others who wanted to talk to him, and as usual, I didn't want to monopolize. This is probably the first time he's asked me if I was going to get back to the hotel safely--Limehouse is what you would call a "mixed" area, and that particular area is not so good, from what I could see ("Dodgy" is how my British friends describe it). I did end up walking back to the hotel with other friends staying there, so it was fine. I didn't see Steve or his wife again, and I ended up leaving about 15 minutes before the aftershow was over, so I don't know if they ever made it.
As we were leaving, we saw security throwing someone out, and realized quite suddenly that it was Rob Simon. We looked at each other, and said, "What the f**k?" I don't know what the Troxy security was up to that evening, but they had this more-than-aggravating habit of hassling those with AAA passes. (That's "access all areas"). They were arbitrarily deciding who could be certain places, and who couldn't. They apparently decided that Rob Simon didn't belong there, even though he had a pass and showed it to them, and when he argued, they threw him out. Rob told them that they were a bunch of a-holes, and I was certainly on his side--there was no reason for the forcible ejection, especially not someone in the band. Rob Harris intervened to keep a fight from starting, as I don't think anyone wanted to see him get arrested. He then came over to where I was standing with friends, and said, "Sorry for that," but was clearly still pissed off, and with good reason. He went over and was talking to the organizers when we left. I found out later that he was let back in through the stage door, so I'm glad it was sorted, but it was very unnecessary.
I ended the night having a drink at the hotel pub with the same friends, and went to bed around 2:30 am. When I got up at 6:30 am I was ridiculously dazed and hung over, but had to begin the trek home. I'll talk more about the other details of the trip in my next post.