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Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle Pete Astor is Coming to Town with a Worm in His Brain or No. Come and See For Yourself

Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle

Pete Astor is Coming to Town with a Worm in His Brain or No. Come and See For Yourself

by Ancient Champion, Columnist
first published: February, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

Almost Prayed, Like Frankie Lymon and Worm In My Brain. By any metric an impressive number of wholly unforgettable tunes

Pete Astor, the esteemed singer and songwriter who founded the revered late last century British bands, The Loft and The Weather Prophets, is returning to Birmingham’s RocknRoll Brewhouse in the Jewellery Quarter on  Thursday, March 7th. The Rock’n’Roll Brewhouse may be the city’s best intimate independent venue. A joy to visit no matter who is playing.

There were few songwriters among the C86 set - a musical movement gathered slouching around the rambling cassette tape given away by the NME - gifted with the insouciant temerity of Pete Astor. I want all of my songwriters to be like Joan Didion in the search for truths, however, the scene that originally delivered Pete, was riven with uniformity. Astor’s bands rose above all that.  The 1986 Weather Prophets LP, Diesel River, will be most remembered for Almost Prayed, Like Frankie Lymon and Worm In My Brain. By any metric an impressive number of wholly unforgettable tunes.

In my rocknroll back pages, Pete Astor leading the band through, “Worm in my Brain,” is a chapter header. “It goes wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” count them, and then it goes, “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle,” meanwhile here comes a stellar guitar part, distorted and minimal, and it’s a timeless reminder that British songwriting need not be cosseted and conforming, it can be loose and raw and dare to engage.


Mesmeric, understated and subtly stunning,
Like Frankie Lymon created a stink in the tabloids, as a hierophant for heroin - the hitmaker Frankie Lymon (‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’) had died of a drug overdose in his mom’s bathroom 1968 when he was just 25. Through the miasma of time I wonder whether everything Pete Astor wrote can be ascribed, apocryphally or no,  just like Peter Perrett from the Only Ones, to the drugs that fueled an era. It’s the map and the territory.  I don’t know, I was much more a suburban lout, the alcohol companies had gotten their hooks into me first, and the local St. Leonard’s-On-Sea bodega offered a steady supply of discounted, out of date Kestrel lager.

Okay, that’s mythmaking all round. There were no bodegas in St. Leonards.

In addition to playing and recording with a full band, Pete ventures out onto the live circuit with just his trusty guitar, his songs and a box of his memories. At these intimate events, he’s so close to the audience you’ll hear his fingers buzzing over the wound strings on his fretboard. He takes questions, tells stories. It’s so charmingly good-natured, it would actually make for a great Outsideleft Night Out at Cork’s. If we could afford him. 

“An Evening With Pete Astor, offers a bit more narrative.” He says, “I like Sonic Youth as much as the next person, but it’s not Sonic Youth. Pull up a cushion, enjoy the music and the storytelling.”

Pete’s new Stories and New Religions LP (Tapete Records) will be available in March; reworking songs he’s less well known for.  “Songs don’t just have to exist as their [original] recordings.” Pete explained recently on Adrian Goldberg’s Brum radio show, Adventures in Music, “I love the idea that a song can be changed quite radically… These are songs I might have neglected, just put out as B-Sides and bonus tracks or something.” Over time, the response of fans and musician friends to songs he perhaps hadn’t originally cherished so much, had convinced him to look again through a new lens. Oh my god I love this. An artist actually given to introspection and revision, years later. Where, after all, does art end?

That’s way more than you need to know about what I think I know about Pete Astor then. I am reliably informed by broadcaster and writer, and in this instance, promoter Adrian Goldberg, that there are still just a few tickets left, go get to that with EventBrite here→, the RocknRoll Brewhouse is bijou after all! Alright it is just perfect. 

Cognition, I’m amazed at my own ability to shift long term memory stuff in and out of the hippocampus, while wondering what it’s still doing there to use it now. Now where did I put my keys?


Essentials
An Evening With Pete Astor
Thursday, March 7th, 2024
Birmingham Rock’n’Roll Brewhouse,
Jewellery Quarter.

Tickets from EventBrite here→.
Check Pete’s Bandcamp page here→
The RocknRoll Brewhouse on X here→
Adventures in Music Adrian Goldberg’s Radio Show here→

Ancient Champion
Columnist

Ancient Champion writes for OUTSIDELEFT while relentlessly recording and releasing instrumental easy listening music for difficult people. The Champ is working on Public Transport, a new short story collection that takes up where 2021's Six Stories About Motoring Nowhere (Disco City Books) left off. It should be ready in time for the summer holidays. More info at AncientChampion.com


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