Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
13 March 2014updated 03 Aug 2021 2:34pm

The 6 Music Festival: malfunctions and malapropisms

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

By Antonia Quirke

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.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

“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.”

Content from our partners
What I’ve learned from more than fifty years of making watches
New Statesman and the Webb Memorial Trust Essay Competition