He’ll never win a Brit Award, but Lawrence Hayward is a national treasure

Lawrence Hayward
Lawrence Hayward
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AS YOU read this, the Brit Awards 2013 will be a fresh memory and a talking point on the news pages.

At the time of writing, however, it’s almost possible to rouse myself to the idea that something exciting might happen, until I remember that Adele is off in America getting ready for the Oscars and so won’t dedicate her inevitable acceptance speeches to a furious multi-instalment rant about being interrupted last year. What else is there? Maybe someone deserving like Richard Hawley or Cat Power will get an award. Wouldn’t that be … nice.

It doesn’t seem like long ago that pop music was the domain of eccentrics and outsiders, or certainly British indie-pop was, with its colourful and hyperreal procession of cottage industry invented personalities, the go-to lifestyle models of choice for those who felt that not fitting in wasn’t a problem. But of course, to paraphrase the Kaiser Chiefs, everyone is average nowadays, and the Brits will never, ever see their way to dusting off a lifetime achievement award for Luke Haines or Bill Drummond.

Maybe it was Jarvis Cocker, one of the greatest of all outsider pop artists, who killed it when he got in the charts and models started dressing like him. Fortunately there are those who remember the days when DIY songwriting was a courageously narcissistic vocation – and not a career plan for handsome young men (Bugg, Sheeran, et al) – and one of the era’s leading lights, someone you’ve probably never heard of, will be celebrated in style in Glasgow this weekend.

“I’m completely obsessed with being famous,” intones Lawrence Hayward in his unimpressed, vaguely Brummie tone during Paul Kelly’s revealing and highly amusing 2011 documentary Lawrence of Belgravia. “Forget these Big Brother people, I am that original. I crave it more than anything else.”

The statement, it appears, is not tongue in cheek, and so we’re led into the world of a man whose name was ubiquitous among the indie scenes of the late 1980s and early 90s, even though his bands Felt and Denim failed to achieve any kind of commercial success.

Lawrence of Belgravia is screening as part of Pull Down the Future: A Day With Lawrence. This will also include a collaborative art event with Lawrence alongside fan Jim Lambie, and a live performance from Lawrence’s latest band Go-Kart Mozart of their new album On the Hot Dog Streets. The film is both a celebratory representation of this now 51-year-old definitive outsider and an artefact of a day when conformity and career-consciousness were not prerequisites to life as a pop star.

Lawrence, he says, dreams of the day he can’t get on the tube for fear of being mobbed, but in the world at large’s lack of appreciation there’s a perverse purity. He stuck to his guns and the few who got it are still listening decades later.


• Pull Down the Future: A Day With Lawrence is at the Poetry Club, Glasgow, on Saturday, as part of the Glasgow Film Festival. www.glasgowfilm.org/festival