48 Hours In Worthing With The Fun Lovin’ Criminals & Kula Shaker.
48 Hours, Two 90’s Rock Bands, One Hollywood A-Lister and An Eye-Opener Of A Weekend For A Young Spaniard Called Peru.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals & Kula Shaker Come to Town
I moved to Worthing seeking many things and escaping another place. I always escape, at some point.
In this case, I was abhorred by five years gradually losing my regard for the human race in London. But didn’t want a radical change, so Brighton sounded like a plan. After speaking with a couple of patronising estate agents, I understood that Brighton wasn’t indeed a radical change and hardly change at all. Inadvertently I bounced west to Worthing.
‘It’s just 25 minutes away from Brighton’; I thought, ‘I will have a quiet life there and jump into Brighton for the weekend…to see gigs and stuff’.
Then I felt Worthing wasn’t that bad; it had all I needed to climb further up the Maslow pyramid: WIFI, a Kindle (I had already had it with me), and a long beach to walk and meditate. I was finding myself, and gigs and fun wouldn’t necessarily contribute to that.
But then I tripped on the same stone I always trip on: having an idea of how things are going to be. I was wrong! the first local people I met made a living, creating precisely what I needn’t at all, namely large scale music events.
They were showing the locals that Worthing is not just 25 minutes away from Brighton. Worthing is…. Worthing, and that is more that enough to have a great night out.
There seems to be a timely match between bands that were big a couple of decades ago and the Worthing locals. The bands want to revive the flames they once sparked and the locals, who with a grin on their face, mumble things like ‘Now all these 90’s bands are coming into Worthing,‘. Now with more than a hint of irony, they immediately go ahead and buy a ticket for two bands that had their breakthroughs in the same year I turned ten. 1996, or 20 years ago. (Yes, 20 years ago for all of you reading and inadvertently groaning).
The Fun Lovin’ Criminals touched down on the Friday (See the interview with them here), and Britpop guitarwangers Kula Shaker landed on the Saturday. Both took to the stage of the Worthing Pavilion to sell-out crowds, which included A-List Hollywood types (The Countess of Grantham, Downton Abbey’s own Elizabeth McGovern was there to get down). And me, well I had no plans on a Friday afternoon, but as fate turns up and hands me a pass, so I ended up showing up to both gigs, for free…
Friday – Working My Passage – Fun Lovin’ Criminals
I knew the Fun Lovin’ Criminals from my sister, who at 13 years my senior, was one of those people who enthusiastically bought CDs, at £17 a piece, a couple of months before their cases snapped apart.
My girlfriend was a stewardess at the gig. You remember that line from Pulp Fiction where Jules Winnfield says that the fact that his girlfriend is a vegetarian effectively makes him a vegetarian?. This applies to many things, and that night it applied to my experience of the event. I kind of became a steward too, in the sense that I viewed the event from the perspective of the people who are working making sure that everyone has a great time, rather than those who came to party like it was 1996.
From the back of stage, in the blaze of lights and waving hands, the Pavilion looked a drastically different to the place to the one I had visited before during cooking events for the elderly. (That’s what counts for fun in Worthing normally)
In Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert suggests that we are terrible at imagining future events. This has always happened to me; I tend to imagine them as scenes of a movie. And when I finally experience the reality, everything is completely different. This happened to me on that day. As everyone who I knew, there was working, I shared a sense of responsibility and felt the tension that is necessary to ensure that a lot of people get their rocks off to funky guitar riffs.
There were moments though when I did relax and enjoy those pier-bulldozing drum bits and those radiant if almost-masturbating guitar solos by Huey Morgan. To me, that electrifying, playful and ‘loco’ Loco guitar lick is enough to approve them forever. I fail to believe there is no one in Youtube doing a tutorial on how to play that unbelievable riff.
But I don’t know if the sound was weak, or me being just a bloody foreigner, but the only word I got from Huey Morgan in the whole show was the F-word, which was delivered joyfully in copious amounts.
At the end of the gig, a bloke gave me a flyer promoting the Stay Up Late campaign, which is rising awareness for yet another nonsense rule to prevent disabled people from staying out later than 9 pm, as if they were animals or little kiddies. I would love to get involved with this cause, as people with disabilities are the ones that capture the energy of rock n roll in its purest form. Seeing them at the show made me happy.
Guest List 2.0 – Kula Shaker
Saturday a Kula Shaker gig, and for some inexplicable reason, I became the last person to enter the venue as another sell-out show was starting.
This time, my situation was the way around: I didn’t know the band, I wasn’t there as a steward so I was free to relax and enjoy.
I now regret that I didn’t know this band. Even though they were top-charting in the 90’s, mainland Europe was perhaps too busy with Euro-pop to allow anyone other than the Spice Girls and Oasis to command the new British invasion.
At early stages of the Kula Shaker concert, I experienced the usual as part of the audience to a band you don’t know: you are not as much into the vibe as most of the people around you. Then suddenly, when the gig is coming to an end, you realise that you are right in the place to be.
The music brought me back to the last rock festival I attended ten years ago, my dancing alter ego overtook my non-dancing one, and we gradually got drawn into the front row. It was then when they started doing ‘Govinda’.
The song, which delivered as an encore, evolved gradually, getting the whole of Worthing chanting along the only song fully written in Sanskrit to reach the top UK charts ever (Of course, I learnt this fun fact after the gig, thanks, Wikipedia). A rock tune inspired by Indian music that transmitted that ‘one love’ we need so badly, in Worthing and any corner of this hurried, individualising world.
I secretly dedicated the song to George Harrison. And then thought about Herman Hesse and his novel Siddhartha, where the protagonist has a best friend called ‘Govinda’. I was so curious to confirm this connection that I even tweeted Crispian Mills, the Kula Shaker frontman. Who wouldn’t reply to this tweet?
In any way, the song and my feeling for that very performance wouldn’t have happened without our history of colonialism.
It looked to me that the band are a great example of people who propose an unusual idea without any hesitation and without caring about what people may think. And in fact reaching the top of the charts doing so. A great example indeed. To round up this love, at first sight, Crispian Mills seemed to be enraptured with the idea of playing in Worthing (or beside the seaside):
A handful of days after the weekend, the tide is back low. Life continues in Worthing, but my plans for withdrawing myself into solitude seem now quite distant.
Everybody needs a good time.