Archeologists recently uncovered some ancient runes located around the conjunction of major Ley Lines situated to the North and West of the great sprawling Metropolis. What they discovered upon decryption of the messages held within will astound and amaze you! The full transcription follows below, so spark up the kettle pull up a pouffe and enjoy...
I’m no slave to big brand loyalty. I’m perfectly happy to test out shops’ own brands and alternatives. But then there was Sellotape. It had to be Sellotape, I stood no nonsense with inferior varieties that would not tear smoothly, I bypassed these for the one true adhesive tape. Oh but curses upon the school art project or the helpful birthday child wrapping their own pass-the-parcel that used up a whole roll of the precious tape. Salvation was at hand though. Did you know that the pound shop sells bundles of sticky tape rolls with a handy dispenser thrown in? Happy wrapping resulted.
The Tropic in Ruislip had booked the well renown Stranglers tribute band Straighten Out, a very acceptable alternative to the original (and let us bow away for now from discussion over line ups and recipe changes in relation to that big brand). A tried, tested and trusted brand was anticipated for the start to the late May bank holiday weekend until disaster struck in the form of guitarist Phil’s finger fracture. As Facebook filled up with best wishes for a speedy recovery so too did the eyes of those who looked to the Tropic for Strangular entertainment. Now I’d hate to suggest that Philip at the Tropic headed to the pound shop for a solution but an alternative was certainly sought and a resolution found. Step forward the Dead Ringers from Peterborough. Who bring us Nick Moon on guitar and vocals, Geoff Hayward on bass and vocals, Scott White on drums and backing vocals, and on keyboards is Rob Poynton (a young Jet Black lookalike, one might risk saying a dead ringer).
A bank holiday crowd can be unpredictable in numbers and apparently many of the Tropic’s regulars had splashed out in search of sun depleting the audience somewhat. Those that had splashed into Tropic made full use of the space available and were quickly on their feet as Dead Ringers took the stage. A largish room, small audience and a band that had only played about half a dozen gigs together? Sometimes these things gel in their own special way. Indeed Sometimes began the show.
Sometimes you can spend ages searching for the end of the sticky tape. You carefully hold the roll to the light and ease your fingernail over the surface at snail pace to catch the contour ripple. You hold yourself in anticipation of the tape splitting as the strip is raised. For a moment you are nervous and tense. Is the beat going to hit the right tempo? Are the keyboards going to swirl? Will there be tune but no passion? How will the voices sound? And damn it, will the bass growl sufficiently?
It takes a few songs to get used to the changes, to become attuned yourself, to ease the audience in. Wisely the band don’t relent on the pace as Straighten Out and Nuclear Device follow. Geoff slides into vocals with London Lady sounding particularly like JJ. Nick announces that next will be a slow one and produces expert pub rock guitar work on Mean to Me. These guys mean business. The audience responds, the applause pitches higher and the dancing gets crazier as the night wears on.
We are treated to Tank, Sleazy, ATS and Curfew before the first half is wound up with three in a row from NMH: Bitching, Dagenham Dave and Heroes itself. As Parrot Boy says they’re playing as a very tight unit with all the bass and lead solos being well executed and the keyboards are making quite a difference, being rather special.
I have to admit that at the start I was not convinced by Nick’s voice but it really was only a matter of time before my ears adjusted. By the time we hit Always the Sun I was sold on it. You can’t talk Stranglers without some discussion of Hugh/Paul/Baz vocals and a tribute is no exception. I was however particularly pleased with the singing on Duchess, a favourite of mine and one that really only Hugh’s voice can usually provide the polish to for me.
After the well-earned break the audience is on its feet and looking for more while the band are looking confident and ready to banter. Longships and The Raven give way to Grip. There is mention from the stage that a Facebook comment hoped that Golden Brown be omitted, they apologise and play it anyway. This elicits a snigger and a groan from my companion as the author of the aforementioned comment. For me GB is the weakest track of the night, could it be the keyboard sound? We aren’t given time to dwell on such matters as Dead Ringers storm through Duchess, Peaches and Toiler. Scott comments on his admiration for Jet continuing to play Toiler into his seventies. Parrot Boy singles Peaches out as a highlight of the evening “spot on”. Sweden, Five Minutes, Hanging Around, Something Better Change (the dancers are going wild by now). Geoff pulls off Ugly (sorry, thought about rewriting that but what the heck).
The set finishes with a decent length Sewer. There’s nothing worse than a band skimping on Sewer and this is so good that you don’t want it to end.
Encores are in order. I may have to take cover when I say that I yawn when the Stranglers start Walk On By but these chaps made me fall in love with the track all over again. An achievement as they say before starting it that they’ve not played it on stage other than at the sound check. Go Buddy Go brings the evening to an exhausting end.
Nick, Geoff, Scott and Rob are gracious in their acknowledgement that they are on stage tonight because of Straighten Out’s misfortune and they wish Phil well. The audience are with them in echoing those best wishes but are equally keen to show Dead Ringers of their appreciation for the entertainment provided tonight. At the end we spy Leigh Heggarty from Ruts DC in the house looking like he’s been enjoying the set. My trip back to Guildford takes half the time that it did to get there but it was worth the journey. I promise to demonstrate proper crazy dancing next time (without air guitar).
Just as my Sellotape substitute has proved effective I like to think that Dead Ringers will stick around too.
Brand loyalty, brand awareness, working with a product like the Stranglers’ output is a high standard to attain but give Dead Ringers a go. The fansinblack aren’t so old that they’re stuck in their ways, are they?
Words: Guildford Lil.
Photos and Ejaculations: Parrot Boy.