Joe Nawaz – Playlisted

April 27, 2023

The Joe Nawaz one-man show, Five Days, premiered at the Imagine! Festival of Politics and Ideas in March and will be returning to the stage in the autumn. Joe is publicist with Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, and a writer and performer who lives and works in Belfast.  The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival runs from 27 April – 7 May. This is his Playlisted feature for Dig With It, Issue 10.

Joe Nawaz. Photo by Stuart Bailie

ROXY MUSIC – For Your Pleasure
I could have picked any number of Roxy Albums, but I’ve chosen For Your Pleasure. It was the first I got my mitts on, and one of their very best. And that fella Eno’s on it too.
I fell in love with Roxy Music at the tender age of 14. Nicky Campbell of all people played ‘Virginia Plain’ on late night Radio 1 and I sort of knew immediately that I loved this band.“The Second Roxy Music Album” was the exciting legend inscribed on the sleeve of For Your Pleasure. And then there was THAT cover image. And then you pressed play… what follows is savage, foxy and unsettling. And that’s just the first song. There really is “all styles served here”.
Suffice to say that Roxy Music opened a window on a world of possibility to me. I still recognise their DNA in so much great (and not so great) music to this day.

THE GO-BETWEENS – 16 Lovers Lane
There’s no such thing as a bad Go-Betweens album. I find it faintly ridiculous that Grant McLennan and Robert Forster – two men so wildly different in temperament and taste – found and connected with each other so instantly, so easily at uni in Brisbane. It was as natural as breathing to them. Like I said – ridiculous.  And The Go-Betweens really was the perfect “separate but equal” partnership, with the head and the heart always tussling for supremacy. 16 Lovers Lane is the album they had been building up to for a decade. It’s masterful. My happy-sad place. One of the few albums I’ll play straight through without skipping. Maybe I’ll even cheat and Listen to ‘Quiet Heart’ a second time before moving on. Like I’m doing right now in fact…

SUEDE – Suede
I’m usually unfashionably late to the party, that’s if I’m lucky to be invited at all. But the first Suede album was a rare case of right place, right time for me. When I saw Suede’s first ever Top of the Pops performance in 1992 it felt like I’d licked a battery.
Brett Andreson was the pop star I didn’t realise I needed. A pale, androgynous youth bitten by the Bowie bug and not averse to a bit of lippy and a blouse (me that is), Suede, briefly were a mustering point for kids who craved “style and substance”, or at least liked the sound of those words.
And that’s what the first Suede album was. Stylish and substantial. Dirty crunchy glam guitars and flailing vocal histrionics. A visceral and exciting call to arms. It’s not my favourite Suede album, but it’s the most important one. When that Bernard Butler riff introduces ‘The Drowners’, like a skipful of chainsaws being tipped out of a top floor window. Suddenly I’m back there, sashaying with a sadly lamented fringe on Lavery’s tiny dance floor.

I love a bit of Richard Thompson, me. He’s my “gateway drug” for English folk. My best mate James – who’s a guitarist – turned me onto him years back. Because RT is the guitarist’s guitarist, isn’t he? I’m equally in awe of his song-writing chops. “Unflinching” isn’t in it. This goes double when he’s putting words in Linda Thompson’s mouth. And make that a treble if it’s Shoot Out the Lights. It was their last and probably best album together. Their marriage had already crumbled by the time of its release, and he’d confected these raw and sometimes not so subtle vignettes alluding to the separation.  She sounds incredible – vulnerable and defiant. And RT’s sneering android impression has never sounded better. Listening to it now, I can’t quite believe how they toured this together, performing these songs night after night. It still packs a punch. So many great, twisted (and occasionally downright moving) moments. And it reminds me of late, winey nights in a Leicester bedsit.

A vibrant rebuttal to the lie that you can’t judge a book by its cover…  My brother is always tipping me off on cool new bands, and occasionally, if I’m smart, I’ll listen because he has great taste. But in the case of LCD Soundsystem it was the cover artwork that sealed the deal. I thought it looked amazing and suggested frayed, tawdry glamour in New York lofts. My favourite kind. The fact there was a bonus disc of extra material didn’t hurt (these things matter when you’re on the breadline). And fortunately, it does exactly what it says on the label – it’s fucking brilliant from beginning to end. All killer, no filler, as they say. Whenever I spend any length of time thinking about this album, I have to go put it on. Which is exactly what I’ll be doing in five minutes time.

(This feature is extracted from the print Issue 10 of Dig With It magazine, out now. See our online shop.)


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