The 6 Music Festival: malfunctions and malapropisms

Hosts Shaun Keaveny and Craig Charles were left a bit lost for words.

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6 Music Festival 2014
BBC Radio 6 Music


Midway through Radio 6 Music’s coverage of its first indoor festival in Manchester, Shaun Keaveny and Craig Charles hosted an hour purportedly given over to mingling with festival-goers (1 March, 3pm). “You and me have got to go out and meet the punters,” admits Charles. “It’s called a vox pop and we’ve got to do a load of it.”

Neither host sounded anything approaching keen: 25 minutes later, they were still dawdling inside, complaining about the messy habits of the BBC make-up artists wielding black mascara to cover the grey in Charles’s beard. Both Charles (49) and Keaveny (41) seemed preoccupied with decrepitude. The subject came up repeatedly. Their one comment on Marc Riley of the Fall was: “He’s aged well, hasn’t he?”

The festival, in the Victoria Warehouse, was well attended, if chaotic. Trouble with speakers marred several gigs – none of the tickets left available were particularly cheap and lurking punters might have been a little boot-faced. When Charles and Keaveny eventually started making their way out of the building, they were further detained by some photos on the walls.

“There’s Cocker and Lamacq pointing jokingly at each other,” sighed Keaveny. “Beautiful photo, that.” Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age was apparently up there, too – the colossal ginger Elvis. And Laura Marling. “Gorgeous,” stressed Keaveny, “in a wedding dress and plimsolls. She looks haunting.”

Charles went up for a closer look. “Ephe­meral,” he breathed, as though from the depths of his omniscient soul. “I think that’s the word.” Yes, Craig, but possibly the wrong one. Not since Whitesnake’s 1982 classic “Crying in the Rain” has a malapropism hung so heavily in the air. (Who could forget David Coverdale singing, “A heart full of sorrow/Paints a lonely tapestry”?)

Keaveny considered this. Did Charles actually mean “ethereal”? Or, indeed, “effeminate”? Or was he suggesting that Marling and her music have a phantom, transient quality, moving at a cosmically unnatural pace – a behemoth with a butterfly’s life-expectancy? Keaveny weighed it up . . . and amiably let it drop, walking out to brave those vox poppers, agreeing, “Yeesss. That is a very good word.”

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She presents The Film Programme on BBC Radio 4. She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article appears in the 05 March 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's power game