This is the thing about first times, they are always bigger than anything that came before and we keep having firsts until we die, which is the last first time for all of us - one of many things which feeds our cultural obsession with death. When we are in our teens particularly we're going through a lot of life firsts and we tie music and music-firsts to them which is why I think it's easy to cling to the music we liked at that age as being 'better' because at the time it felt more important.
People tend to assume when we talk about firsts, or about music for that matter, we mean romantic (and sometimes extremely unromantic) stories about sex and love, but you go through so much more than that. The first time you stand up for yourself or travel alone somewhere new, the first time you identify with something bigger or break a promise. These are all big firsts and the music you associate with them might be something you didn't even notice at the time.
I was that clusterfirst age when Sleater-Kinney, along with many other bands, were on my radar. I'd have to listen to late night radio to hear them though because the nearest record store wasn't very near, music online was only an idea and their live UK shows might have well as been on Venus. Scarcity certainly adds to the allure of music sometimes. Today I have my very own record player and could type any song into my phone and find it in seconds. It's an amazing thing, but I am more attached to the songs I have on vinyl/cd that I had to leave the house to acquire.
The joy I've found with Sleater-Kinney's return is that they didn't come back to hawk out those memories and squeeze another turn out of our nostalgia, they came back with an album that is new and as good as any they've had before, built on the experiences of the intervening years. A New Wave and Bury our Friends are fast becoming some of my favourite songs. It's exciting.
The o2abc show itself - the tour has been rocking around the country and the women have been playing hard. The technical skills and sound is all there, tight, loud, engaged and the set very well paced with old and newer stuff. They have grown up and with that lost a little of the raw edge of being 20 years younger and fighting the good riotgrrl fight - but that doesn't make the show worse, it just makes it different. I'm happy to seem them happy, getting along well and writing great music.
They still have a strong left wing message and one of the great things about the Glasgow gig in particular was TYCI's efforts to organise a collection on the night for the Glasgow Women's Aid which I was happy to be able to donate to.
The stage set backdrop of a creatively torn fabric wall with strategic fans beneath had the effect of looking like a volcanic cave crumbling and being blown away by heavier numbers then a little later appearing like an underwater grotto as soft blue green lighting swayed during softer songs. Simple and yet hugely effective.
As for firsts - this was the first time I ever got to see Sleater-Kinney play live, a dream come true for me and I got to fall in love with their music all over again. It's nice to think there a whole lot of future fans out there who haven't even heard them yet, but one day they'll discover a record and it'll be the first time they fall in love with the band too.