Thursday, June 12, 2008

Never mind the bullocks

To Birmingham then, to see lesser-known London punk rock combo The Sex Pistols at The Academy where they're warming up for their 'Combine Harvester' tour. Myself, East, Big Andy Miller and Fast Tony Clarke met up sometime around 2.30 p.m. yesterday at The Pipemakers Arms in Uxbridge; by 3 o'clock we were in the Big Andy-mobile getting some petrol and by 10 to 5 we were heading into Birmingham on that really scary road with no central reservation (they- whoever 'they' are- can change the number of lanes that go in either direction by means of overhead signals according to the amount of traffic going in or out of town. It's mad!) after a reasonably uneventful journey. East's sat. nav. got us totally confused but we got to the venue eventually. I played at The Academy 2 several years ago (we were supporting Stiff Little Fingers) which is the smaller of the two venues on the site- I think it used to be called The Hummingbird? The Scruffy Murphy's pub on the corner was already overflowing with leather jackets and mohicans so we opted to walk into town to find some food and have a look around. The Bull Ring shopping centre is presumably on the site of the old housing development and is very big indeed- Tony and myself opted for noodles in Selfridges (really! They had a life-size bull made out of sweets for £20,000 and everything!) whilst Andy and East went for the dreaded big yellow 'M'. We also found the HMV shop- there go the wages...
With Scruffy Murphy's showing no signs of getting any emptier we decided to go straight into the venue- and what an excellent venue it is, reminiscent of The Hammersmith Palais in many ways (rectangular with the stage along the long wall and a balcony around the other 3, if you see what I mean) 'though The Palais was bigger if I remember rightly. Somewhat inevitably it's threatened with closure which would be a great shame- we need all the live music venues we can get in my not-so humble opinion. After a visit to the merchandise stall (there go the wages- again) it was time for a drink and to decide where we were going to attempt to watch the show from. We opted for a spot on the dancefloor a few yards in front of Glen Matlock's bit of the stage 'though as the place filled up it became increasingly difficult to hang on to.
Sometime around 8.45 and with the dancefloor getting even more crowded the P.A suddenly got louder- 'Ace Of Spades', 'Teenage Kicks', 'Going Underground', the D.J. knew his audience well... then, Vera Lynn and 'There's Always Be An England' and we're already getting too hot, thinking about moving back a bit as near-panic sets in among the latecomers trying to get down the front- and there they are at last, 4 lads who shook the world, without whom we'd all still be wearing flares and listening to 20 minute-long songs about goblins, the last great rock'n'roll band playing one of the greatest rock'n'roll shows of all time with Cook and Matlock beyond brilliant, Jones's guitar sounding like every electric guitar should sound ('though no one else's ever does) and Rotten looking as though he means it (maaan) more than ever, the dancefloor's a seething mass of leather and sweat, every second counts because nothing as good as this can happen very often and everyone who saw it will remember it for ever as one of the greatest shows that they ever saw, will ever see, and will ever hope to see again.

It took us ages to get home because they- whoever 'they' are- had closed the motorway. But it didn't matter, because we'd just seen The Sex Pistols.

I could have written more here, but in many ways I think I said enough back in November around the time of the Brixton gigs- besides, there's the upcoming Hammersmith show (shows?) to contend with... 'not-the-sweetie-bull' photo taken by East on his mobile phone- he took a couple of Pistols shots too, but they didn't come out quite as well as this one. If you click on it you get some idea of the actual size of the statue!

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