I have never been a fan of Brit-Pop. It must be the “pop” bit, since I quite like “Brit” music.


If I am forced to take a side on the Oasis-Blur 90s debate, I’ll definitely go for Rage Against the Machine.
Ok, that’s not allowed, so I will choose Oasis because they are more Brit and less pop. Nothing personal against Damon Albarn, actually I think Albarn he is much more clever on his own than the Gallaghers took as a pair!

Nonetheless I bought my first Albarn’s CD only last year: The Good the Bad and the Queen. Quite far from Brit-Pop effervescence, isn’t it?
Parklife singsong gets on my nerves in the same way of Yellow Submarine and Ob-La-Di  Ob-La-Da.
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? was my favourite soundtrack during a Sheffield residency back in 1996 even if, twelve years after, I still cannot understand the question.

I look confused, I know, I have always been confused about 90s Britpop.
My serious side (which is majority) hates those jingle jangle guitars played by colourful teens that say nonsense just to have fun.
My joyful side (which is a resisting minority) cannot deny that some of those songs are as catchy and desirable as having in this exact moment a cold drink on a sunny beach of a Greek island…and I am sipping a hot tea in a freezing, rainy, English evening.


Not too involved with the two main acts, I was even less with the followers.
Pulp, Verve, Suede and of course the Supergrass were not on my album collection at the right times, some are still missing.

Yes I know Alright; if you touched the English soil for more than 3 minutes in the second half of the nineties you couldn’t avoid that. Supergrass most famous hit sold zillions of copies with the whole country singing along to the chorus…

“We are young, we run green,
Keep our teeth, nice and clean,
See our friends, see the sights, feel alright”

With those teens now adults, I think I have found the answer to Tariq Ali’s question on his fortieth ’68 anniversary article: “Where has all the rage gone?”

Dear Tariq, they have been quite busy keeping their teeth clean, revolution is a tough job.


I forgot about Supergrass after their second album.
Then I photographed their greatest hits tour called “Supergrass is 10”.
I don’t know how long is, on average, the life of a music genre, but that title reads like the first half of an epitaph. “Supergrass is 10. Britpop is over, RIP.”

It was around 2004-2005, everything was out of time, the band, the songs, the audience who left their teens for quite a while.
Despite I remember a funny, cosy interlude midway through the set when the band played acoustic guitars sitting on a sofa, I wasn’t impressed.
Nostalgia and sweethearts memories are for the ones who link the songs to those days, the rest of us (just me?) got quickly bored.


Out of Britpop, Supergrass appear disoriented, but they still try hard.
A marketing analysis would show that pays lot more to split and come back years later, (the Verve are headlining Glastonbury 2008) than trying to adapt to “the times that are changing” when you are not Bob Dylan.

Indeed, Supergrass enjoy making music more than marketing it.
Road to Rouen, their 2005 album, carries a growth although keeps a sense of confusion. Some folky songs, a couple of long “orchestral” suites, dark lyrics. They are heading somewhere miles away from their frivolous origins, but where?
To satisfy a grown-up fanbase answering the impossible question “What would they wanna listen to now?” isn’t easy. Whatever assorted the album is, it’s definitely a Supergrass album.


2008. The trio, suffering a bit, survived to Britpop death; bassist Mick Quinn, suffering a lot, survived to his own tragedy, he broke his back falling from the first floor during an unconscious sleepwalk stroll; and I, without suffering at all, survived to the news that sixth Supergrass album and tour were due early in the year.

Diamond Hoo Ha it is not a Supergrass album. It is Supergrass doing someone else. “Else” being carefully selected among the best music of this decade.

So here you have Supergrass impersonating the Strokes in The return of; a quite embarrassing nevertheless effective Supergrass-covering-the-White-Stripes in the single Diamond Hoo Ha man and even an attempt to create the Oxford version of desert rock in Bad Blood. A pretentious single that aims to be the missing link between Queen of the Stone Age and Manic Street Preachers. You judge.

There is definitely poorer music out there, but there is also a lot of much more original stuff that is worth listening before investing 10£ on a 2008 Supergrass album. My opinion.


Live my sensations persisted. It was nice to see Mick Quinn back with the guys and the opening with the new rockier songs was quite a good start. Then the setlist moved to the older material and brought back with it that irritating feeling of nostalgia.
I didn’t see teenagers’ romance tonight. There are many wives and husbands messaging the babysitter (who is looking after their babies listening to Vampire Weekend) waiting to sing-a-long their classics.
Alright hopefully will not arrive and Pumping on your stereo arrives many sms later, at the very end. A long wait, during which Supergrass seemed to be the only ones truly enjoying their music.

Time goes by, unstoppable… better I hurry up chasing that Vampire Weekend photopass.
Here you have Supergrass [myspace] and [website]

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Photo tip

I’ve got a question for anyone involved in the music business.

Wouldn’t you prefer a concert photo policy changing from standard “first 3 songs” to “LAST 3 songs” (no flash)?

Recently this interesting NYT article raised the issue on how photographers restrictions are putting photo editors in troubles.

An extract clarifies my point:

“It’s harder for me to find that amazing shot,” Michele Romero, a photo editor at Entertainment Weekly, said of shooting only the beginning of a show. “If something happens, it happens at an encore or halfway through a concert. Imagine if Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar and no one saw it. That kind of photography doesn’t happen anymore.”
The photograph of Mr. Hendrix with his guitar aflame was made at the end of his set at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. These days — with restrictions on time, the use of a flash and even on how close photographers may get — it is harder than ever to capture those moments that convey something special about an artist or show, Ms. Romero said.


Supergrass are a professional band probably in need of media coverage and you could see from some important details.

Throughout the first three songs there was great lighting, I found myself shooting in a rewarding daylight stage.
I switched the aperture from usual f/2.0 to f/5.6-f/8 which really happens only at daytime open-air gigs.
I used a faster shutter, it was easier to focus even with longer lenses, there was no need to wait for a decent spot to light up Gaz and I could shoot constantly all through the 3 songs. I had good depth of field and even nice backlight effects.

The band is committed, they are aware photographers are there. Their passion impresses the film but Supergrass are an exception, not the rule. They don’t need time to warm up.
Unfortunately this is not the standard, as the article states, most acts get to their best only at the end, when photographers have already been kicked off.

A dream concert photo policy would be “LAST 3 songs no flash”.
Any band would have time to get in the mood, as photographers we can study the stage presence, spot the best poses and the best angles before starting shooting. Any photographer out there agreeing?


~ by Valerio on March 28, 2008.

9 Responses to “Supergrass”

  1. I always considered SUPERGRASS the dark side of brit-pop, but I agree with you they have not completed their development.
    Curiously I was listening Alright yesterday at seven o’clock, while returning from work and before reading your writing.
    And the evening before I saw the astonishing video of Bad Blood on AllMusic in TV.
    What can I say?
    I’m not totally involved with them, but I continue to appreciate their effort to grow.
    Something that never affected Oasis and Blur, probably because of their huge success.
    But when Supergrass destroy their instruments at the end of Bad Blood, Jesus……THAT’S ROCK AND ROLL.

  2. I totally agree, the last three songs would be much better and in addition to that the photos would be more interesting, in the perfect case.

    Oh, and I admire those good conditions. What a beautiful dream, an almost-daylight stage… Unfortunately it stays a dream at 99% of the concerts. ;)

  3. I am all for “as few restrictions as possible, please” but shooting the last 3 songs would certainly be more interesting in most cases…
    I feel lucky at times that I’m not a professional, which sort of limits me to the more informal situations, where people tend to be a lot less fussy. At this type of concerts a well lit stage however is rarer still… :-(

  4. I shoot for a venue in the north west, and have been resident for the last 16 months. As a photographer working primarily in one venue, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know, and befriend, all of the security staff, bar staff, technical crew and management.

    At a recent Subways gig, the show rep informed me that towards the end of the show, the lead singer (his name fails me right now) would be climbing onto a speaker stack and jumping into the crowd. True to her word, he did, and it was an incredible sight.

    Last three songs should be the standard. I’d expect too, that bands would like to see themselves at their peak of the show.

  5. Awesome to see Bryan’s theme here ;)

    Also, I definitely agree. A lot of precious stars and starlets will disagree though – they can’t be seen sweaty!!!

  6. I’ve dipped into and out of paying attention to Supergrass over the years; I actually appreciate their non-mainstream attitude, although I don’t think it is their decision at this point.

    Their tour schedules are lousy, often visiting random cities without hitting better venues, I’ve missed them both times they have toured the US in recent years.

    Their website is actually quite good and offers a nice free player of b-sides rarely heard.

  7. thanks for your comment Jacobull,

    Supergrass were huge in UK at the top of Britpop era, more than 10 years ago, so they are on the downhill today. Their touring and everything else reflects it. Still retain a solid fanbase here that allows them to have new albums produced and sporadic touring, difficult they’ll be able to gather new fans though.

  8. I agree with the last 3 songs rather than first three. I photographed Blood Red Shoes last month, i was allowed to shoot all the way through but i also got told the band preferred shots towards the end as they are all sweaty and energized so it captures the most memorable part of the gig.

  9. Hi Carrie-Anne,
    the bands like nice pictures of them what they don’t understand the only way to get them is to allow us to see which is the best moment in a gig. They are busy playing and are not in front of a mirror so they don’t know. If only managers understood!

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