Lawrence of Belgravia

On Thursday I went to see Lawrence of Belgravia (Nottingham Broadway Cinema), a very none rock doc about the eponymous Lawrence, musician and creative behind Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart and above all Lawrence.

My reference to Felt goes back to ‘My Face is on Fire’ on the 1983 Cherry Red sampler ‘Pillows & Prayers’. At the time about all I knew was that they were local (originating from the environs of Birmingham), smartly dressed, low-fi and quiet cool.

The first album ‘Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty’ was a near goth/T-Rex crossover album of acoustic strumming and drums and whispered & mysterious lyrics. The singer had a distinct style and at the time I think we all thought we were in on the next big thing.

Watching the film and listening to Lawrence, it seems we weren’t the only ones.

Since Felt and the 10 albums that followed the debut, Lawrence has started and stopped Denim, the idealised perfect pop band and more recently Go Kart Mozart.

Lawrence, in the movie and in person at the subsequent Q&A is wholly unaffected by the absence of the celebrity he admittedly craves. His commitment to the ‘muse’ and the band (a friend and cohort greater than the sum of its changeable parts) keeps him moving on, creating & and realigning his on-going assault on the perfect pop outcome. With regret he still takes the bus, he battles the local council for housing, negotiates free session musicians based on his undeniably brilliant back catalogue, and moves through his life with integrity and humour.

Lawrence of Belgravia is wonderful and enjoyable portrait of an artist that will always have a place on the list of ‘eccentric’ British creatives (Barrett, Drake, Cope, Hitchcock) that always follow the art but don’t get the recognition they deserve – but in the land of BGT, The Voice & and every other poisonous ‘talent’ challenge, how surprising is that.

The film is beautifully made and filmed, urban kiffle, stripped walls, second hand shops etc could have been designed by Hollywood’s finest. The truth is though that when Lawrence is in the stylish hat boutique searching for the chapeaux that will style another ten years after his blue Perspex visor baseball cap, when he finds the one that does the John Lennon 1975 NY look, it turns out he didn’t have enough money on him to buy it.

Well, when the new Go Kart Mozart album ‘On the Hot Dogs Streets’ comes out in June I’ll buy it and hopefully contribute to his next hat shopping trip.

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