Andy Macleod: Anoint My Head – How I Failed to Make it as a Britpop Indie Rockstar

Just the Tonic at The Caves
Aug 14, 16-28 (13:30)

Death themed awards bait, surrealism, interpretive dance, clowns. Ooftie, a day at The Fringe can fair take it out of you.

Sometimes what you really need in the middle of a jam packed ‘Find the next big thing!!!’ day of speed-walking up hill & down dale, from The Pleasance to The New Town, is a show you want to buy a beer for, hang lazily about in one of the loose queues dotted like capillaries along the sides of The Cowgate, & try to feel vaguely cool and louche, spotting semi, or full blown, famous comedians doing likewise & wondering if they’ll be sitting next to you watching the show that you’re going to catching next, giving you that unique, electric, hit of a brush with fame & all the possible glory it could bring.

In this respect then ‘Anoint my Head’, an hour of laid-back meanderings on one mans experience of trying to make it big in the Britpop era is really just the ticket. Ironically, given the shows premise being predicated on precisely our hosts lack of success in ‘hitting the big time’, the frequent musical interludes (of original, unreleased material no less) are easily the standouts here.

The shows title is taken from the classic Steve Martin comedy The Man with 2 Brains. Within the film the phrases context is a line from an absurd love poem. Within the context of the show it works on three different levels. Our hosts still born rock’n’roll career was as founding member of ‘The Pointy Birds’ themselves the protagonists of the aforementioned surreal, rhapsodic, musings of Mr Martin.

“Oh Pointy Birds, oh pointy pointy. Anoint my Head, anointy nointy”

The second level this works on is the very funny, and gloriously absurd, songs performed throughout by our host. You see The Pointy Birds USP was their own Britpop take on comedy tunes, which had more than a passing stylistic similarity to the poem providing their moniker. Think Spinal Tap dressed as Brett Anderson from Suede, manging to squeeze references to Jeremy Beadle and the Devil into the same love song. And making that rhyme. This was also as we discover, somewhat unsurprisingly, their main commercial downfall. Risque rhyming couplets about marrying a squirrel may make for great fare in madcap 80’s comedy classics, or at an International Arts festival. Not so much in the uber-arch reviews section of a 1993 edition of The NME as it turns out.

The third level the title works on is as a neat metaphor for the music industry as a whole, and A&R men and wannabee managers in general. They tend to shit on artists heads from a great height.

The guitar skills displayed are at times wilfully akin to Father Ted attempting to hit the final chord in ‘My Lovely Horse’, but this sits firmly within the tone of the show as a whole. Names are dropped throughout, with each ‘surprise’ guest appearance in the plot being cheered by an audience clearly enjoying the laid back ‘does what it says on the tin’ nature of the afternoon. It’s a fabulously un-taxing insight into the lower levels of the UK music scene at the time. It is also intriguingly an insight into what it was like to work in a record store featured on the front cover of an Oasis’ single during the period in which they began making their name.

If all of this sounds up your street, and you fancy the opportunity to have a few laughs at Ricky Gervaise’s expense to boot, Anoint my Head will certainly be guaranteed to please.

Ewan Law

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