We intercepted, captured and interpreted this incoming transmission as it was broadcast across space and time...
There was talk of Lew and talk from Lou but no time was spent in either Lieu or the Loo etc Etc EiTC...
Presented here for the first time in full...
Sugar tongs primed, refractors tweaked and hair straighteners only just remembered, we’re off to the seaside that is Southend.
A relatively painless manoeuvre negotiating the M25 and its’ allies and we’re at the hotel with the sugar tongs reclining on the window sill gazing out to far horizons, well, the Isle of Sheppy at least…
All spruced up and a wander past the Cliffs Pavilion in the glorious sunset for a quick fish and chip tea and a little libation before heading back for the main event – The Stranglers with Ruts DC supporting.
The Ruts are on as we go in and we’re soon into the rhythm with Jah Wars which I’m reliably informed is all about jam making in the WI, everyday’s a school day eh!? (wf)
In no particular order we also hear In A Rut, Babylon’s Burning and the superb Music Must destroy amongst others (soz, memory’s not what it was and I have got ManFlu!), a perfect set for getting us ready for what’s to come.
The lights dim and Waltzinblack sets off the tingle in me as it does every time I hear it and they’re on! Straight into The Raven and I’m laughing and crying with the sheer joy of just being there and sharing it with like-minded folk.
The band look well and seem to be enjoying this tour so much, there’s something there that has been missing for a few tours, the mojo is in great working order.
A blistering set including one of my all time faves Bear Cage – oh wow, hearing that live is something else! Always great to hear Genetix, liking Freedom a lot this time round too and couldn’t resist providing the missing trumpet backing on Was It You (I always liked that bit of brass).And to really knock the orgasmatron off the scale, on comes Lew Lewis for the encore and belts out Old Codger on his trusty blues harp! Innit!?
All too soon it’s time for NMH and the bright lights of the Pavilion suggest it’s time to gather and go.
Dazed, but certainly not confused, until next time…
The thick fog gave way to a smoky haze which had been a permanent feature since the advent of steam power and the industrial revolution. Dusty street urchins could be seen gathered sheltering in shop doorways huddling together in a vain attempt to escape the clutches of the icy cold breath of the last remnants of Winter.One of these forsaken children had strayed from the group and was to be found with his nose pressed to the window of a local dining establishment, drooling at the fine nourishment on the other side of the glass. It appeared to be simultaneously so close yet so far out of reach…He sighed and thought to himself “Will I ever get to see The Stranglers and Ruts DC on the Classic Collection Tour?”But hope was just around the corner…Shards of light had begun to pierce the dark of Winter’s gloom, accompanied by shoots of green and trees in bloom. The realisation dawned of the auspiciousness of this moment – the Vernal Equinox - when the subsolar point appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator. The beginning of Spring. And whether it is due to the unique gravitational pull, which is believed to occur at this time of year, or other factors, the increase in available light brings with it hope…The air was crackling with potential…It could be seen, heard, smelt, touched, tasted…“Tonight” he thought “Tonight!”...
Blimey we’re in the third week of March! So… Well, it’s the annual Stranglers Tour innit! So… Well, things are so hectic – Guildford presents the 1st opportunity for EiTC… Go on… And the Ruts DC are supporting this year… Really! Yes! Well what you waiting for? Skates on!…
The mythical mystical city of Guildford beckoned us in, luring, enticing with sensual stimuli – sights, sounds, smells…
…here I chanced upon one of the city’s celebrated daughters Lil who acted as our Sherpa this evening as we once more descended the drunken staircase into the bowels of Glive, whereupon the following phenomena were encountered…
…whoah, ‘old yer ‘orses!
…why of course before descending the staircase we rendezvoused with SiB and Son, stopping off for a quick hello and how do with Messrs Miller and Hegarty and Owen and Jacq among others – there was also a brief hello with The Members JC Carroll…
…Okay as you were!
Review – Ruts DC
… At 7.45pm prompt Ruts DC took the stage and proceeded to stun us with a set rammed to the brim with Ruttishly brilliant nuggets new and old.
There was barely time to draw breath between numbers as they cranked out a superb upbeat uplifting set with apparent ease barely breaking a sweat.
Guitarist Leigh Heggarty was on fire tonight as he ascended from being merely in the zone to a whole new previously undefined level of six string skilfulness while providing some excellent BVs!
Frontman/Bassist Segs was clearly cooler than an extremely cool thing as he quipped with the crowd and his bandmates and demonstrated unrivalled skill in his ability to simultaneously lay down the (serious) bass and sing.
Master Skins-man Dave Ruffy – a joy to watch perform – with the outward grace of a swan gliding across a calm pond – the onlooker unaware of the unseen effort occurring just below the surface – creating a kind of disparity between what you are seeing and what you are hearing. Peerless, effortless (apparently) and brilliant!
That’s the three constituent parts – enough on their own – but add the Aristotelian metaphysical summing of the whole and the resultant greatness is nothing less than magic!
Not a single second of their 45 minutes was wasted – absolutely superb! The classic Ruts tracks were well represented as was the new album Music Must Destroy. Highlight for EiTC was the mightiest ever rendition of Mighty Soldier (but also in fact just being there for a great set).
The sound tonight was magnificent.
And kudos and much gratitude to The Stranglers for having the balls to put such a fantastic support act on the bill!
Well how can you follow that?
Well there’s only one way to follow that…
Review – The Stranglers.
Your prescription is ready.
Just what the Doctor ordered…
Cue Waltzinblack and enter stage left and right The Stranglers.
The Raven started off proceedings sounding tight and right with all elements crystal clear and perfectly synchronized.
The nice thing about catching them this far into the tour (third week), is just how tight the band are. The early bugs and sound problems have largely been ironed out and this is the best sound I’ve witnessed at Glive. The vocals and BVs sounded great tonight!
The band were clearly enjoying the themselves and this enjoyment naturally rubs off on the crowd.
Tonight JJ was in his element as he interacted with crowd while playing, mouthing suggestive comments to the more nubile parts of the audience or mouthing in my general direction how good Jim is, as I was gawping at him (or so it was perceived at the time). All the while never dropping a note. During Golden Brown he was raising a chuckle with his affected almost balletic dancing. At one point, someone held up their young son near the front to which JJ quickly responded, “he’s not mine!” A broad grin, excellent vocals, killer bass lines and more than a sprinkling of menace – in his element!
Meanwhile, his partner in crime Baz was on fine form serving up the classics alongside the more recent with a firm hand, a cheeky grin and a twinkle in his eye, all with the requisite good pinch of menace. On the classic Mk1 songs, while always faithful to the original, he’s never afraid to imprint some of his own personality into the mix as well and that works brilliantly. On Strange Little Girl for example, his (and the bands) delivery is great – Baz’s voice shines on this tonight while the guitar work on the solo with the flange type effect is fitting and authentic.
Dave delivers! Grinning like the lovable demonic keyboard wizard that he is. A joy to behold with the eyes and the ears. The keys are clearer to these ears than they’ve been for some while, particularly the organ sounds. The solo of Walk on By was well and truly nailed! A transcendental experience. Brilliant vocal delivery on Genetix and on BV duties. Dave delivers!
Jim! JJ is right! We’ve heard about the DVD mentoring from the live-retired drum master and founding father Jet Black… Which is fab – they’re big shoes to fill… Jim fills them exceptionally well, pouring every ounce of his being into the performance, including BVs. Now he’s tackling Genetix too. In terms of shed building this guys got it nailed. I was transfixed during 5 minutes, by the power and energy of Jim’s playing, superb! For sheer presence alone he registers a 9 on the Richter scale of menace.
The set tonight (and on the tour) is great and really does seem to strike a balance between what they feel dutybound to play (GB, ATS, Peaches, NMH) and what they want to play or what they throw in as a surprise.
The MiB are firing on all cylinders, interacting with each other and the crowd and playing out of their skins. At one point Baz teases the punters up on the balcony with his (surprisingly good) mock Surrey genteel accent! We are also treated to the ‘Get on with it!’ routine where they down tools and have a beer as an indignant reaction to an impatient punter, which makes for a good bit of theatrical comedy. I can understand some people complaining about this if they’ve been to several gigs on the tour but what the heck it’s all good humoured, a bit of light hearted fun.
Highlights too numerous to mention so I’ll try to narrow it down; Bear Cage – Superb! (only ever saw this live in 1980 with Ian Dury on vocal duty IIRC…), 5 Minutes – off the scale! Down in The Sewer – menacing magnificence! Go Buddy Go – unsurpassed! Who Wants The World – Trump/Putin! I could continue but won’t as hopefully by now you get the picture…
Finally at zero hour a brief pause in proceedings as Baz takes the time to dedicate No More Heroes to the recently deceased local fan Anton De Croft, touching!
While Chuck Berry replaces Sancho Panza…
A top night!
If you’ve not done so, make sure you catch one of the remaining dates on this tour, you will not be disappointed!
For me tonight the whole concert experience is akin to having one’s soul re-aligned. Sublime!
Sugar Tongs aside, EiTC is yet to make it to the classic collection tour!!!
Birmingham is always a blast but YT will have to wait...
Fortunately Gizzard was there and brings us this account of the evening...
15 STEPS TO BIRMINGHAM
Here we are all again, March is upon us and it’s the annual Stranglers tour of the UK, still no news of a new album(it’s in the pipeline we hear…?) The tour is called ‘The Classic Collection’, does this mean a new range of clothing or the ‘greatest hits’? We are promised ‘new old’ tracks in pre tour interviews so it looks promising and also a set change every night…
My interest in seeing the band live has waned over the last 3 or so years, they will always be my favourite band without question and in 158 gigs I have only come away really disappointed once(AITUK Birmingham 2005), from a personal point of view I think seeing them so many times has took the edge off, plus the same ‘hits’ and the lack of new material hasn’t helped, so now each tour 2 or 3 gigs max instead of previously 7 or 8.
I have never been one for not wanting to see the set list before I go to a gig, so after the first gig I want to know, I had seen what was being played and to be honest it didn’t really ‘excite’ me, the only real standouts were ‘Bear Cage’ and ‘15 Steps’ and that was because I had never seen them performed live. There were other songs I was pleased to see back but there were also a few that I have heard/seen played to death but hey you can’t please everyone…..
So I leave home around late afternoon in my new 17 plate Black automobile, plenty of CD’s for the journey, starting with a live recording of Toronto 1980, hells fire it must have been good to see them then!
And so to Birmingham, always liked seeing the band there as it’s always a very healthy and appreciative crowd and this time was no exception, before the actual gig there was a fine meet up of black clad people old and new in the nearby Railway pub, always good to meet up with old faces and new.
And onto the gig, wanted to get in early to check out the Ruts DC, have never seen them before but have their albums and have heard good reports so was keen to check them out, by the time they came on at around 7.45 there was a very healthy crowd and they didn’t disappoint, the set was a mixture of old tracks and new ones from their very fine album ‘Music Must Destroy’, highlights for me being the title track and of course the oldies ‘Jah War’, Staring At The Rude Boys’ and ‘Babylons Burning’.
And so to the main event, the place was now rammed and it was very hot, the lights go down and the familiar WIB comes out of the PA and we are off, have to say the new stage set up of the bricks doesn’t do anything for me, a plain black background with the white or red logo would suffice.
JJ looks in fine form(hope I look that good at 65), he actually seems to look younger each tour, the sound is spot on and the hits are rattled through, highlights were for me are ‘Never To Look Back’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘WWTW’ and of course ‘Sewer’, ‘Bear cage’ was very good but I thought it might be better vocal wise.
Both Baz and Dave are on fine form but the keyboards in certain songs don’t sound right, they sound very ‘plonky(is that even a word..?) and he even partly misses singing one of the lines of ‘Genetix’.
Jim does a fine job on the drums but to me it doesn’t look right without the mighty presence of JB and his drum kit, I know that is not going to change but that’s my opinion and in no way takes away the fact that Jim does a very good job and is a fine drummer.On a personal note whilst I was looking forward to seeing the band again I was not as excited as I have been in previous years, as noted above live interest has slightly diminished, that said I really enjoyed the gig, the band are playing as tight as ever and the future however long that may be looks just good for them, although I want to hear new material, I may be in the minority here as the average Stranglers gig goers will only want to hear the old material but not me, it’s been a long time since ‘Giants’ and a new album is well overdue, I would also like to hear some different ‘older’ tracks and more stuff post Hugh, this though has been and will continue to be debated for as long as the band continue and probably further.
To sum up another fine live performance in the company of good people, now FFS get that new material out!!
We managed to coax the sugar tongs back to life...And they were ticking over nicely...Which was just as well as the following message nearly caused an overheat malfunction in the Pigeon to English translation matrix...
The Stranglers Review reading
It’s traditional now that the Stranglers go on tour in March. This year’s March tour consists of 19 gigs. And an added bonus support of the superb Ruts DC, who are promoting their new album “Music Must Destroy” 6 tickets booked for me. Taking in a couple of new cities; Newcastle and Leeds. But my first gig was the Reading Hexagon. A venue I first went to last year on the “Black and White” tour. I thought last year was so good, I decided to go again!
Arriving in Reading I met my friend Adam Cooper at the station. We checked into the IBIS hotel, where we were staying with our friend Alex Owen. At the lobby I met fellow forum member Greatkudu.
After checking in we had a walk to the venue to try meeting the band around sound check time. The walk to the venue gave us time to talk on all things Stranglers. We arrived at the venue at 4pm as we thought that’s what time the band would come out. At the entrance were several fans, I saw Andy Miller, so we had a talk with him. After a lengthy chat, the band came out of sound check at 5pm. Baz and Dave quickly shot off into the awaiting car. However, JJ stopped and talked to fans. It was at that point I asked JJ if I could have a photo with him. JJ said “Well everyone else is”. So I got another photo with JJ. My first was in 2005 at his “Songs and Stories” tour in Salford. Then me and Adam headed off for a Thai curry. We arrived at the venue in time for Ruts DC. It was great to bump into friends Sam Holiday, Owen, Andy and Karen.
Ruts DC took the stage at 7.45 and Ruffy the Drummer said they had not played in Reading for 37 years. And that they would be playing songs from their new album “Music Must Destroy” which is good because I own it (and most excellent it is too – EiTC).
They started off with “Vox teardrop” from the new album. Which Captain Sensible plays on. I like “Music Must Destroy” the song and they play it. Segs the bass player and singer says it’s because we’re still so very angry. He shouts “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” at the start. From RATM. I really like the chorus “We are not your property”. They mix new songs with old songs. So, they play reggae dub song “Mighty Solider”, and their old single “Shine on Me”. Back to the new album they play “Kill the pain”. Obviously most of the crowd are waiting for the popular songs “Staring at the rude boys”, “In a rut” and “Babylon’s Burning”. But it is “Psychic Attack”. Which I am waiting for. They go off to a good applause
Time for The Stranglers at Tonight’s Sold out gig at the Hexagon. These days it is now impossible to not know the set with social media websites. I think I waited a day before I caved in. With the bands back catalogue from 1977 to 1982 supposedly being re-released, it would likely be a set mainly consisting of songs from that time period. Whilst there are many from that time period I would like to see Dropped. I would like to say “Always the Sun”, “5 minutes” and Walk on by” (sacrilege etc Etc EiTC!) for one (that’s three! EiTC). But these are must play songs. Baz has said in interviews there are several folders. “The must play folder”, “band request” folders and “Self indulgent” folders. Whilst he gave away the band would be playing “Dagenham Dave”, and an unplayed song from “Giants”. I guessed at “15 Steps”. I tried to keep the rest of set a Surprise (That was Ruts DC Surely! EiTC…).
9pm. “Waltzinblack” airs from the PA. Like a bus timetable that is timed to Greenwich mean time. Bang on!. “The Raven” starts off. My favourite all time song. So it doesn’t get much better for me already. “Was it you”? next, it looks like Dave has new Keyboards and “Grip”follows. Jim has a very nice looking new drum kit. It looks like a “linpig” (Ludwig??? EiTC) kit. Up next “Sometimes”. I have heard this a fair few times now but never get bored of it. It is clear the band are getting on as good as ever. “Never to look back” is up next, one of my favourites from “10”.
Now it’s time for the first wave of hits. “Strange little Girl” makes a nice return to the set. The first song the band ever wrote this is the classic collection, “Always the Sun” to which Baz and JJ seem to be having banter onstage by pulling faces at each other. We are well and truly in the hit parade now as “Golden Brown’ is up next.
A mad lighting effects. I am thinking to myself at this point Ok it’s a greatest hits set!
…but a keyboard run started off…
“No” I thought to myself it can’t be!!!
A heavy bass line followed and…
I can’t believe it!
I have been waiting years and years to see this…
I just watch in Amazement.
Baz playing a stunning Gibson SG.
And his voice on this is very very good.
He sounds as mean as Hugh!. With “GMBH” and Gee I’m Living in a Bear Cage”.
I was totally surprised by this and this is worth the ticket fee alone!!!
“Genetix” next which is as good as ever (first time with Jim on Drums! EiTC). Only JJ seemed to start his bass solo too early. “Walk on By” which replaces “Midnight Summer Dream”. Which I am a tad disappointed about. Now time for the “Giants” set “Freedom is insane”, and then Baz starts a guitar line to “15 Steps” which is a really interesting version. I really like this song on “Giants” so I am glad they are playing it.
“Dagenham Dave” up next. One thing I notice the band are playing superbly. “5 Minutes” and then “Peaches”, “Nice N Sleazy”, then another great Surprise “Down in the Sewer”. Always a joy to hear this song another one of my favourites I never tire of hearing it live. It’s a song of four individual parts climaxing in the “Rats Rally” finale. The band go off to a very loud applause and come back for a shortened encore tonight of “Go Buddy Go” and “No More heroes”. I sat here typing this review out as we are in a car with Mark Owen at the helm with me Alex and Mrs Owen heading in the direction of Newcastle for my 2nd part of the tour … Marching on in Black
The Sugar Tongs have been offline due to a malfunctioning T-unit and what with cloning technology being what it is at the moment (etc Etc EiTC), Elvis had to resign himself to the fact that in this (or that) instance he wasn’t (currently isn't) able to be in two places at one moment.
Fortunately help was on hand...
Cue John Dewhirst…
Whether it is Seasonal affected disorder (SAD) or age, the passing of winter and the coming of spring is always a welcome occurrence. March can be hit and miss in terms of the weather but it is a month that has assumed a particular significance, heralding the start of the touring season for the Men in Black that can be relied upon to brighten the mood.
I have seen The Stranglers on most tours since 1979 but have no hesitation in saying that those of the last five years or so have been the best for sheer all-round enjoyment. I am not alone in confessing that there was a phase in an earlier decade when I attended gigs more out of a sense of duty or habit than a compelling case of having to be there. But how things have changed! At the start of the decade I had a deep-rooted fear that a forthcoming tour was going to be the last but The Stranglers remain the band which continues to surprise and defy.
The last forty years bear testament to the band’s ability to reinvent itself with different styles of music. This decade however has been a statement of vitality almost akin to a rebirth, sufficient to persuade myself and others to commit significant chunks of time to follow the band across the UK on its annual March tour.
This year The Stranglers began their 19 date schedule in Lincoln on 7th March and I was fortunate to be there. It was the first time that I had visited the city and walked the streets having only previously been to Sincil Bank to watch the football. (Baz Warne alluded to the recent FA Cup exploits of Lincoln City and I share his sentiments of goodwill towards the club in its forthcoming Quarter-Final tie at Arsenal. As a supporter of Bradford City and someone at the Valley Parade fire in 1985, I share a certain affinity with the Imps.)
Although based in Bradford, I work across the UK and on this occasion had the relative convenience of travelling from Sheffield, only 50 miles distant. I arrived in Lincoln in the early afternoon and enjoyed a few hours wandering around the city before getting some food and heading off to the venue. It was a great day with spring sunshine and a nice place to visit. There is also the friendliness of the people in black from diverse backgrounds but with one thing in common.
What I have discovered is that when you attend a Stranglers gig you can be assured of a decent, charismatic venue (Fibbers at York included) and in that regard, the Engine Shed in Lincoln rates highly as one of the best. As far as sound systems go, neither was the support band plagued by the sort of issues that occurred in nearby Skegness last October.
It is very easy to take for granted all the incidental stuff that makes for an enjoyable experience seeing The Stranglers but the common theme is that you get good, solid entertainment. The Ruts DC were no exception to this and once more we have another hard working, enthusiastic band in support.
The atmosphere at the Lincoln gig was in many ways characteristic of what Stranglers concerts have become and the enjoyment of the evening is evident not only on the faces of those in the audience but on stage too – as well as the road crew. Everyone has fun. It is quite a unique bond between all concerned and what is so refreshing is just how down to earth it all is. All quite matter of fact and with no pretentiousness.
There is also the relaxed manner in which the band performs consistently to a high standard. Yet whilst it could be claimed that this comes from the familiarity of the band members it overlooks the professionalism of those concerned. For all the laid back delivery there is a wonderful team ethic and attention to detail that few of us have the privilege to witness in our day jobs. Also noteworthy is that this discipline is maintained during the entirety of a tour, a stamina challenging routine of at least four concerts per week that would test the energy levels of performers thirty years younger.
In terms of the music, Ruts DC gave a good performance that featured songs including ‘In a Rut’ and ‘Babylon’s Burning’. Crucially these were musicians who wanted to be there and were enjoying the occasion as much as the regular Stranglers fans.
The back catalogue of The Stranglers is so extensive as to make a mockery of any description of the set list being one of classics. There was probably an ironic grain of truth in the admission by Baz that it is in fact what the band wanted to play. The choice of songs showcases a real balance of musical talents and underlines the credentials of Jim and Baz alongside J-J and Dave – it is difficult to believe that the former pair are relative newcomers to the line-up.
The Stranglers never fail to be innovative and the rendition of ‘Bear Cage’ deserves special mention – a version that is destined to be a new live favourite. So too the contribution of Dave’s swirling organ that was particularly noticeable on the night. A new song – ’15 Steps’ – was given its (live) debut and was well received (15 Steps is the closing track on Giantseitc). Other favourites included the opener, ‘The Raven’ as well as old favs ‘Dagenham Dave’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Buddy’ and ‘Down in the Sewer’. If this was the choice of tracks for an album it would be nothing less than balanced – a classic collection indeed.
On the basis of the first gig we have a great month ahead and much to look forward to. I remain in awe and have nothing but praise for the band – The Stranglers surely offer the benchmark for what a good gig is all about. Whilst there have been many videos of live performances, the one that is missing is a film about the hard work that goes into making these tours such a success and allowing us to celebrate the coming of spring!
See you next in Glasgow…
Words: John Dewhirst
John was co-founder of the longest surviving football fanzine The City Gent and has written a number of books about the history of both rugby and soccer in his home city, Bradford: https://johndewhirst.wordpress.com/@jpdewhirst
He is the proud owner of a Triumph Bonneville T120 – black, of course.
Archaeologists recently working in the eastern wastelands have unearthed a rare artefact around the area of Antler Hill. It is believed that this artefact, a capsule, may contain the key to unlocking the great Cypher Columbidae…After being blown by Doris then forced to go down……to clarify, it was a bit windy so the trains stopped running, thereby necessitating the need to take the tube instead...
The sugar tongs headed me in the direction of the end of the world, whereupon Guildford Lil was to be found somewhere around the middle east…
Eventually we wound our way to Dublin to witness a siege at the castle… Well it was more of an occupation.
Here we encountered a warm welcome from Mr Bloggs, PiL and assembled occupiers.
We were watching a Reindeer dancing on the table when all of a sudden sight, sound and other sensual stimuli informed us that Occupy had taken the stage.
And what an occupation it was, as they delivered a set of Punk and New Wave classics with a bit of Johnny Cash thrown in for good measure.
Dance and revelry was the order of things for the next half hour or so – the castle-dwellers joined together in song – and we were served a solid foundation of rhythmic delights from drummer Steve and bass player Paul who together created the perfect platform for guitarist Seamus to ply his skilful craft – these elements in combination systematically and sympathetically complimenting the apex i.e. that of frontman Steve Cooklin as he led the way through the set. A journey across time with a steady hand at the tiller.
All too soon it was all over as Lil, Bloggs and YT(EiTC) retired to and were joined at the bar by Paul, Raj and Maurice.
Here, among other things, there was talk of the great pilgrimages to Staines after the notorious Opal Mint decriminalisation act was passed there toward the end of the last century. Before we ourselves took pilgrimage to India where we found sustenance and good company at Namaste and we nattered until way past last tube time…
Guildford no Putney no Guildford no Putney...
Guildford yes Lil...
Putney yes Half Moon...
The (yes) Monochrome Set!
A set of sugar tongs flew past the car on my drive up the A3. Swerving to avoid them set me on the road to Putney. It seemed only fair to take the hint although the view of the clouds was sadly lacking in Elvis shapes. There might have been a half moon if the drizzle had abated though.
The Half Moon was a good destination. And improved by an encounter with a Time Lord in the form of Tom Baker although apparently preferring the nomenclature of John and ready to provide aural transportation via keyboards not TARDIS.
Sidestepping for a moment into the beer garden I found Loopy Lou and Mr Bloggs with friend, Mick, a man for whom there is no internet alias as yet, a wisp that defies the electronic ether and exists only in…reality (note: please read that in an increasingly doom-laden echoing voice of disbelief). Better still was the presence at the table with them of Bid gently limbering up the vocal cords with civilised conversation.
Following an incredible antler related light show we moved indoors. Forces beyond our control meant that there had been a few changes to the line-up for the evening over the weeks leading up to the rendezvous. First to take the stage were The Fallen Leaves who drew a good crowd for their advertised brand of “R&B with an English accent”. We caught the second half of the set and very dapper they were too.
A short break was followed by the arrival on stage of The Monochrome Set. All were cool, calm and collected. Except for the hired hand, the frenetic drummer who picked up the pace (or according to alternative facts – it was actually Mike Urban their full time drummer, who was on the last album and is happy to sign autographs etc Etc EiTC). Dr Who had become his own glamorous assistant, delightful in powder blue and nimble of finger. Andy “The Stare” Warren, tidy in black, makes one wish that one had a job that they could carry out with such unflappable, mellow ease. A man at one with his bass. Finally Bid, bringing the whole together, completing the set.
An excellent opener was provided in the form of Eine Symphonie Des Grauens. The set flowed smoothly from there, picking out tracks from throughout the years. As a relative new comer perhaps I could not appreciate the addition of Leather Jacket as much as those who had been waiting for its reappearance in the set for twenty years. It was however a great track and the rabbits at the front expressed their delight to one another. Newer tracks were Cosmonaut and Stick Your Hand Up if You’re Louche from last year’s album and only a relatively few weeks older, the hypnotic Z Train, a particular favourite of mine. Waiting for Alberto and Cowboy Country eased us towards to the close.
After a brief moment TMS came back with Bliss and an outstanding He’s Frank to finish. Mr Bloggs singled out Frank as his standout track of the night and then added Walking with the Beast as also being up there with it. The opposite end of the gig was Lou’s choice as her favourite, Eine Symphonie. A pair of bookends those two.
Have to say at this point a big thank you to Mr Bloggs for directing me in the, er, direction of TMS a couple of years ago. A very good recommendation that I’m happy to pass on to any reader who’s made it this far.
We remained behind at the end for amiable chats with the participants and half the crowd. A hint to anyone loitering after a TMS gig, if an otherwise friendly woman accosts you with the cry of “The…” please make her evening with a response of “…Monochrome Set” and a few further lines of the song. Running away is not an option but distraction techniques such as talking about cats can work for a time.
Beyond this was the pub disco. A few stalwarts dominated the floor, their ranks swelling and contracting with the unusual ebb and flow of hits and dance numbers. Somehow Nena’s multiple Red Balloons got us all up on our feet but it was late by then and it had been a long day, judgement was not at its best and nor perhaps were the moves. The DJ selected Prince’s When Doves Cry as a suitably uplifting track for a last dance… Great for encouraging punters to turf out. A chorus of “Guildford Lil” outside the Half Moon got everyone moving before the rain came down.
You may have heard of Occupy!
You may have heard of Sir PiL!
You may have heard of Stamford!
You may have heard of Rebus Bloggs...Read on...
The Voodoo Lounge, Stamford
Ever been to Stamford?…
Well I have now, and what a great place it is! And The Voodoo Lounge, situated in the cellar of Mama Liz’s bar/restaurant, is a great little venue…
We venture up the A1(Ba**ard)M to go and see Occupy, a Punk/New Wave cover band from North London. I found out about them from their Bass player, none other than Paul Cooklin (or Paul in London to those in the know).
The Journey was eventful but as I have been criticised in the past for giving too much of the revue over to the journey to the venue and the Ednas consumed, I will leave that out.
On arrival we found Paul holding court in the main bar, he was in a very jovial mood and was nursing a glass of his usual Pinot Grigio.
The support for the night was George Linton, a singer songwriter who played some very good guitar and sang a great mix of tunes. I thought he had a bit of an acoustic “Groundhogs” sound, with perhaps a bit more blues and a touch of Neil Young. Catch his web site here www.georgelinton.co.uk
After a very short break, Occupy took to the stage. A four piece, Guitar, Bass, Drums and Vocals. Straight into a powerful version of the 1959 classic by Vince Taylor “Brand New Cadillac”. More Clash was to follow after some very good Jam/Stranglers/Dead Kennedys. Radiohead’s “The Bends” was a highlight for me as was the very fine “Hurt” from the Johnny Cash catalogue, and The Stereophonics song “Dakota”.
Add to the mix some more Radiohead, some Ramones, some more Clash and Pistols and Stranglers and it makes a very fine set indeed. Altogether a worthwhile trip up the A1(Ba**ard)M for us.
Brand New Cadillac – The Clash
Eton Rifles – The Jam
London Calling – The Clash
Hanging Around – The Stranglers
Police Truck – Dead Kennedys
The Bends – Radiohead
Silly Thing – Sex Pistols
Hurt – Johnny Cash
Dakota – Stereophonics
Start – The Jam
Creep – Radiohead
I wanna be sedated – Ramones
Clash City Rockers – The Clash
Submission – Sex Pistols
Babylon’s Burning – The Ruts
Holiday in Cambodia – Dead Kennedys
Well it's been awhile… Apologies for delay in transmission…
So there we were in 1967 California – on the strip!
Seeing The Doors in their prime…
You all know how sensitive the sugar tongs can be! Well fast forward 50 years, to the Half Moon Putney (one of the best venues in London). And, it would appear we had a stowaway – because standing there, right in front of us on stage was Jim Morrison.
It was uncanny, we must have inadvertently brought him forward in time from half a century previous! And here he was making the best of it – he had managed to assemble Ray, Robbie and John to continue the good work in an alternate future London etc Etc EiTC…
So, as with all excellent tribute bands it was a case of close your eyes and it could’ve been the real deal! However, in this case it was – open your eyes and there was Jim Morrison standing right in front of you! Alive she cried! The Doors Alive!
What a fantastic recreation – a fitting tribute!
Who do you love? Break on through, Peace Frog, Hyacinth house, Spanish caravan, soul kitchen, strange days, tell all the people, backdoor man, 5 to 1, People are Strange, Light my Fire and many more…
Before long it was back to matters pertaining to time, as the two hours or so had passed in a flash and it was The End, then it was The End!
A fantastic set from a fantastic band at a fantastic venue!
It’s been a right old week for the Sugar Tongs…
Whilst aiming for Finchley in 1976 to witness the Finchley Boys first meeting The Stranglers at The Torrington, we accidently got the date out by a week and ended up at a different gig the week before, still in The Torrington, Finchley Boys present too, not The Stranglers but The Damned…
…And we didn’t even get that right, somehow we ended up in Guildford (home of The Guildford Stranglers but not Guildford Lil) Forty years later to witness The Damned still giving it their all…
I chanced upon Guildford Lil and SiB so to celebrate we partook of some sustenance in India (Maloncho to be precise), which was nice…
Then, we navigated the drunken staircase paid our dues at the bar and took up a nice spot on the barrier for the latter half of a set by none other than The Members.
Who sounded somewhat stonkingly brilliant in here tonight serving up a tight dish of well sculpted punky pop delight with numbers like, Chelsea Night Club, I ain’t Gonna be your Bitch No More and Sound of the Suburbs to name a few (hopefully correctly too etc Etc EiTC)…
JC Carroll engaged all who were gathered with his charm and wit being as he was in the Zone! Tales of time machines and super moons had the tongs a twitching. Reports from SiB up in the balcony was that the sound tonight was a bit boomy but from where Lil and EiTC were stood it was spot on! Great Stuff.
In the seeming blink of an eye we were being treated to the wonderfully atmospheric Sanctum Sanctorum issuing from the PA heralding the imminent arrival of The Damned.
And arrive they did kicking off with a mighty Street of Dreams. Once more the sound was superb and no prisoners were taken as they kicked straight into Nasty, then fast forward a decade or so to what was probably the most recent song played this evening Amen.
There was a fantastic atmosphere on stage with the lighting and back drop and the energy of the band was high, with Dave Vanian covering all corners of the stage like some manic hovering/prowling vampire.
The brilliant Disco Man next then Eloise before they headed into Strawberries territory, where we were treated to the sublime Under The Floor Again backed up with a stonking ignite and the welcome surprise of Life Goes On.
Back in time to the Black Album for Wait For The Blackout and History Of The World…
Back further MGE – Love Song, Antipope, I Just Can’t Be Happy Today, Plan 9 Channel 7 and the traditional set closer Smash It Up.
Then it was all over etc Etc EiTC…
In true pantomime style – Oh No It Wasn’t!!!
A quick breather and they were back to 76/77 to treat us to the whole of their debut Album the brilliant Damned Damned Damned. Captain put a shout of gratitude out for absent friends as he introduced it as Brian James’s masterpiece and mentioned Rat Scabies in his words “what a fucking drummer!”
And it was brilliant as you would expect from this line-up.
All too soon it was all I Feel Alright and goodnight…
But still they came back for more and treated us to a perfect nightcap in the shape of the majestic Curtain Call! Perfect!
Earlier this year in May I was stunned into silence at the brilliance of The Damned as they took The Royal Albert Hall by storm – no review was forthcoming but know this, for EiTC it was right up there as one of the greatest gigs ever and tonight was pretty Damned good too…