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Manchester music reviews

Momus at IABF

Momus @ International Anthony Burgess Foundation

To be reviewed by Dave Porter March 2012


Momus – aka Nick Currie – is one of the more interesting characters to have come out of and endured the ‘80s music scene. Never your average pop star, his protean output now encompasses roles as novelist, art critic, gallery tour guide and journalist.


A protege of the Scottish Postcard scene – his first band the Happy Family featured members of Josef K – Momus fittingly takes his nominal cue from the Greek god of mockery. He quickly outgrew the jangle of indie pop to carve out an outré career as purveyor of synthesised pop with the sensibilities of Kylie and the lyrical rumblings of Nick Cave.


Records titles such as Tender Pervert and The Poison Boyfriend give a hint to his predilections. Despite being signed to Creation Records by fellow Scot Alan McGee, Momus looked unlikely to achieve the pop stardom he craved, but has doggedly pursued an artistic vision which has seen him outflank many of his contemporaries.


With songs about female masturbation, necrophilia and sleeping with the girlfriends of men who slighted him as revenge, Momus sets out a provocative stall of lyrical conceits.


A lifelong obsession with Japan has seen him live in Osaka; he rescued his former wife from a forced marriage in Bangladesh by arranging with the British Embassy for her to be flown out of the country; and he has been sued twice – in one instance paying the £30,000 settlement by asking fans to stump up £1,000 to have their own personal Momus song, with Jeff Koons contributing to his legal fund.


He has lived in New York, written several books and is famous for quipping that “in the future everyone will be famous for 15 people”. A talented photographer, a photoblog of prints and copy was published by Thames and Hudson in 2006, while other work includes  a stint as an “unreliable tour guide” for visitor to the Whitney Biennial in New York.


Now sporting an eye patch after losing his sight due to a rare condition caused by a contact lens being washed in tap water, Momus presents a dapper and visually-arresting figure. His musings on life and art have fond many outlets, including a blog for the New York Times and he remains one of the UK’s most consistently entertaining and engaging art figures.


His written work includes  a novel entitles The Book of Jokes which features bestiality and talking penises, and the Book of Scotlands, a series of startling essays on his homeland (Momus was born in Paisley) which was shortlisted for a Scottish Arts Council award.


Currently residing in Brussels, Momus was recently eulogised by Suede’s Brett Anderson in the NME as an influence on his work and other Britpop acts – though Momus himself recalls having ashtrays (aluminium it must be said) thrown at him by Damn Albarn during a gig.


Next month Momus is interviewed by Stuart Maconie in Salford for 6Music about the work of John Cage, and is appearing at the Anthony Burgess Foundation on Friday, 2 March, promoted by Hey Manchester and a rare treat for fans.

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