Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip

Thu 3rd October, 2024
8:00 pm - 10:30 pm (Doors: 7:30pm)
Mik Artistik's Ego Trip

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Tagged in: Indie

“… it’s human, it’s real and it has soul” – Iggy Pop after naming ‘Sweet Leaf of the North’ as his favourite song of the decade.

“Best live band I have seen all summer” – Gideon Coe

“As mad as a wasp trapped under a pint glass” – Shaun Keaveny.

On stage – a 69-year-old man wearing a string vest and sun-hat plays air-guitar with what appears to be a crook lock. Backed by musicians bringing a beguiling blend of funk, punk, pop and rock and roll. It’s a thrilling alchemy of music, poetry, ramblings, and anarchy.

It’s rare to see someone walking the tightrope between genius and insanity in front of you, but Mik Artistik makes a living out of it. At times it seems his balance may fail him, and for a fleeting moment he flirts on the cusp of madness, but always manages pulls himself back from the edge. Just.

Compelling, mesmeric, spellbinding…daft.

Mik’s an artist who manages to hypnotise and terrorise in the way that no other does, all whilst making music to save souls, cause confusion and spread genuine hilarity along the way. Who else out there sings about love, mortality, invisible cloaks, Adidas Sambas, and plastic garden ornaments?

His meandering, ad-hoc, flights of fancy are legendary – as is his partner in crime Jonny Flockton’s exquisite guitar playing. He has a chameleon-like ability to bring melody, form and musicianship to the teetering chaos that looms over each performance.

There is a reason that Mik Artistik’s Ego trip have become legendary Glastonbury performers since they first appeared there in 2007 – for many the festival doesn’t start until they’ve seen them.

The story of how Mik got to this point gives you a sense of where his fearless performances come from. In the early 80’s after art college, he floated around working odd jobs and labouring on building sites. After a period “on the dole” he decided to leave state support behind and live off his wits. His grand plan: to take an ironing board to the Merion shopping centre in Leeds and sell old ties off it. Sadly, this wasn’t the entrepreneurial innovation he hoped it would be. But fate would intervene, and 1982 he drew a friend in a launderette (it was the 80’s, remember) on a paper bag in biro.

He had a talent, and realised he could make it pay.

Mik spent the next thirty years stopping people in pubs, shops and street, offering paper bag portraits. This was a man who was comfortable taking a chance and didn’t care what people thought of him. So, when he found himself on stage in a pub improvising a story – and had the crowd in the palm of his hands, he knew he’d found his true calling. First, in stand-up, where he finished runner up on Channel 4’s “So You Think You’re Funny?” (The winner was an act called Peter Kay, we’re not entirely sure what happened to him).

But it was in In 2003 that things changed forever. He decided to mix his comedy with Jazz at Open Mic Nights – and the Ego Trip was Born. A few years later, as Mik was turning 52, they made their Glastonbury Debut – it was to become a beautiful relationship, and the are now said to have played more gigs there than any other artist (even Coldplay…ehem). It’s not unusual for them to play 10 gigs each year on Worthy Farm.

But this isn’t a band whose talents only translate in live gigs. Their songs have an innate ability to provoke a response on the radio too. Connecting to our primal emotions of love, fear and joy. There’s a reason that Iggy Pop fell in love with the band, and named their song Sweet Leaf Of The North as his favourite track of the decade.

“Pop” is the latest offering from Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip. A heady mix of self-reflection, optimism…and silliness.

We’ll leave it to Mik to talk you through it…

This bloody album took some finding unearthing. It was down in a long muddy trench and me and Jonny got our hands mucky, dragging it out. It’s not a barrel of laughs but neither is it without hope or moments of hilarity.

I love the range of it. the dreamy delicacy of ‘So Many Things’, the frantic propulsion of ‘Panic in the World ‘. We’ve sat with these songs for a bit and scratched at them, added bits of scaffolding, and I’m always amazed when a song stands up on its hind legs and takes its first tottering steps.

There are quite a few slow tracks. ‘Living in a World ‘ and ‘Fraction of the Country’ both have a thoughtful pace, short and sweer and usually end up together in the set like a battered pair of slippers.

‘Put it in a Fuckin Box’ is ridiculous and wonderful to play. Thoughtless, raging, and fast. It covers the ground and will be the wedding song of wedding songs I predict.

As ever, a sense of place is important. Literally and metaphorically. ‘Bingly’ is light, debonair and strolls around West Yorkshire at a civilised pace. It’s blues but not that sad.

‘Old Guy’ is Norman Wisdom/Frank Howard music hall madness.

‘When I get to the Country’ is another chugger and relates the problems of being distracted while trying to work. Loads of bands headed out of the city in the sixties and seventies to focus on their work and “getting back to the country” was seen as a solution.

‘Windows Doors Conservatories’ is a bit of a lament about working weekends and lack of job satisfaction. I remember seeing a double-glazing van on the way back from the seaside with some friends and felt sad for the driver as it was a sunny Sunday afternoon.

‘Bin A Long Time’ is a rant and has me railing at ‘feeling over the hill ‘. Everyone hits a wall sometimes, run out of ideas, and loses the ‘muse’. I’m just telling meself off, giving meself a gee up!

‘Squishy Squishy Squishy ‘ is a wild strutting rocker and marries painting, power chords, and a killer chorus.

‘Flumptious City’ is McCartney meets Robert Crumb and has a cartoon running through it from beginning to end. It may end up as an actual animation.

‘Pop’ seemed to be a good title. It’s obviously a joke. We are older men with baggage and the material is not particularly commercial. it’s heavy and dark in places but also daft and lovely and hopeful. Lots of pop songs are hopeful youthful, and occasionally a wild card grabs the public’s imagination. Gangnam Style…Daft Punk…Bohemian Rhapsody…Gnarls Barkley…

So why not. Let’s dream and put ‘Pop’ out there in the world.

‘Pop’ is released August 18th and Iggy Pop will have the exclusive first play of ‘Bin A Long Time’ on his show the same date.