Farewell Middle East?

August 1st, 2011 in Life. Tags: , ,

I have twice before (here and here) blogged about my favourite band at the moment, The Middle East. I am now devastated to report they have announced they are quitting.

This creative six-piece formed in Townsville, North Queensland, played a number of concerts locally and interstate, were ‘Unearthed’ by Radio JJJ and recorded two self-produced albums available only from the band. Then, 3-4 years ago, they broke up for a time.

Strangely, their song ‘Blood’ was picked up by a clothing company in the US that produced its own compilation albums, without (apparently) the band even knowing. Subsequently they re-formed with two new members (but the up-front creative core of Joseph, Bree, Jordan and Rohin intact) signed to Spunk records, toured Australia, the US and Europe, won the hearts of most people who heard them play, recorded a full album, and now, have announced they were finishing. It all seemed so rapid, yet doubtless the last 18 months have been hectic and wearing.

The few words from the band so far indicate that they feel burnt out, separated from real life and their loved ones by the demands of touring and recording, and perhaps feeling that the whole process of trying to satisfy the customers and sell seats and albums has compromised their ideals and relationships. It almost seems like they never really wanted to be successful, just play their music and get on with their lives – playing for friends in Townsville was more fun than rushing around the US and Europe playing and recording.

The Middle East made a lot of friends in a short time, and I’m not sure I fully understand why. They are fine song-writers, arrangers and musicians, but that isn’t all. I think added to that was their quiet anti-rock star manner, the obvious pleasure they had in performing together, in the early days at least (where they would sometimes turn their backs on the audience and commune together around the drummer), and a feeling of vulnerability, especially from lead vocalist Jordan Ireland. Whatever, they connected with most people who saw them.

I will miss them greatly – even though I only ever saw them play live once, back in the early days, I have all three of their albums, which I will treasure. I had hoped they may simply go back to playing and singing for their friends, with an occasional YouTube video and private release, but it seems unlikely as they now are scattered all over Australia’s east coast.

You may wish to remember them by this video of Deep Water, or my personal favourite, from the early days, the gloriously evocative, chaotic, moving, musical experience that is Pig Food live.

So peace be with you, Bree, Jordan, Joseph, Rohin, Jack, Mike and Mark (and also Tim, Javed and Jarrad), and thanks so much.

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