Monday, March 25, 2013

Young, gifted and skint

Well that was a busy few days in mad-guitar-World...

On Thursday night The Skints played at Brunel University in Uxbridge. I'd heard a lot about the band not least from my old friend Andy Peart (more about him in a minute) but had never seen them or indeed heard much by them. This was a good chance to rectify the situation although since the show was a 'student only' event (I thought they stopped doing that sort of thing years ago?!?) I was doubtful that I'd be able to attend - fortunately the afore-mentioned Andy knows the band and managed to get my name on the guest list. I spent a good amount of the first song trying to work out where the lead vocal was coming from (I never spot a singing drummer!) which set the tone for the rest of the evening as the young lady in the middle played a bewildering array of instruments - keyboards, guitar, flute, saxophone and probably some more that I've forgotten - during the course of their set. Equally bewildering was their choice of Sam Cooke's 'You Send Me' as a cover version - a great song but for me a bit out of place. Still a good gig overall and I'm glad that I managed to see the band at last.

Incidentally Andy used to write for Sounds magazine as well as producing the excellent 'So What' fanzine - he now writes for 'Vive Le Rock' and has a piece on Ruts D.C. in the next edition. Excellent!

Talking of Ruts D.C. - at last weekend's show in Stockton-on-Tees several people told me that Stiff Little Fingers had played 'Staring At The Rude Boys' at their Newcastle gig the previous evening. I've since discovered that they've been playing it on the whole tour with Jake Burns preceding it with words to the effect of 'if you saw this band you were very lucky'. Sometime during the day on Thursday I received a call from Segs asking me to 'have a guess what I'm doing tomorrow night'...
Myself and my old punk mate Pete made it through the wind and rain to The Assembly House in Kentish Town for 8.30pm. I'd told Pete something like 'a mate of mine is working with SLF' and we were to meet him in said public house at the allotted time; the first gig he ever went to was Ruts D.C. at The Fulham Greyhound in 1981, and his face when Segs came over was a sight to behold. After a quick drink we walked over the road to The Forum where the band were due on at 9.30pm. I've always been something of a fan of the band, having first seen them around the time of the 'Hanx!' live album. These days Ali McMordie is back on bass (replacing Bruce Foxton) and they sound pretty much the same as they ever did i.e. very good indeed. Several new songs were featured, and they all sounded good enough for me to say that the projected new album should be well worth getting. After the main set finished with 'Suspect Device' they went off for a few minutes before returning for Jake to say a few words before introducing Segs who came on to a hero's welcome. 'A blistering version!' said Dave Ruffy as the song ended and I have to agree. (You can find out how good it was for yourself if you click here.) After the show we met up with Segs (he and Dave were immediately collared by fans for photographs) and then myself, Pete and punk gig stalwart Coppo went to the aftershow party in the upstairs bar. We set ourselves a curfew of midnight, which was just as well given that we got back to Pete's car to find that the hazard warning lights were flashing. We decided that someone must have bumped into it as Pete was certain that he hadn't left them on - either way we were faced with the grim prospect of a flat battery. 'Don't worry lads' I said with far too much confidence given what happened next, 'I'm in Green Flag'. I get membership with my bank account - but when I spoke to them I found that I doesn't cover me in someone else's car and that wed have to pay a call out charge (£108!) and further charges according to what then had to be done. Bugger! After a suitable amount of swearing Pete came up with a plan - ring around cab companies and see if any of them have any jump leads. Within 10 minutes we were pushing the car from Kentish Town Road into a side street where a cabbie gave up a jump start (at a cost of £10) and we were on our way. An eventful evening - but that 'ring a cab company' idea from Pete was a good one wasn't it?   
T.V. and Leigh share a
'Status Quo moment'.

My only gig of the weekend was my first show of 2013 with T.V. Smith, at The New Cross Inn in New Cross. (I've been looking forward to typing 'New Cross Inn in New Cross' all weekend. It's a simple life sometimes isn't it?) Coppo offered myself and T.V. a lift to the show (that's another drink I owe you mate) but heavy-ish traffic meant that we sadly arrived too late to see the wonderfully-named Fishtits meaning that as I can't find them anywhere on the Internet we can only speculate on how they sound; however I did see Emergency Bitter (great raucous fun), On Trial UK (good old school punk) and The Phobics (excellent garage-y rock 'n' roll) all of whom were very entertaining. From our point of view we'd had a rehearsal on Wednesday which went well but I'd not had chance to run through the songs between then and the show meaning that I felt a little under-prepared. Whether this was the reason I started 'You Saved My Life Then Ruined It' in the wrong key I guess we'll never know. (It sounded terrible! T.V. thought that it was his fault - it wasn't!) That aside the show went very well, including responding to a call from the audience for 'The Servant' (we hadn't rehearsed that one or played it for ages - here it is from the gig!) and with T.V. as wonderfully energetic as ever. After the gig a chap came over and asked me if I'd sung with SLF the night before - he seemed terribly disappointed when I told him that it wasn't me. Well - it wasn't! In the meantime T.V. did a roaring trade in t-shirts and CDs including his latest re-issue, a Cheap anthology. I've been looking forward to this for some time, not least because I've written some sleeve notes for it - a blog posting on my (brief) involvement with the band will follow shortly but in the meantime you can get the disc from T.V.'s website here. I can't recommend it highly enough!

Back To Zero reconvened at Soundlab Studios in Loughton yesterday morning. Andy, Sam and Squirrel had got together in my absence last weekend, and we continued the good work with more progress being made and everybody pronouncing themselves happy with the way that things are going. There's still a fair bit of work to do before our gigs in May (more about them nearer the time) but it's all sounding very encouraging.
From there I made my way to The Crown and Treaty in Uxbridge for the monthly open mic / jam night (actually more of a 'jam early-evening') which proved to be a highly enjoyable affair. It also proved to be a rather longer and shall we say 'confusing' session than I for one was anticipating so the exact details are sketchy, but it was a good way to end the weekend. That said I've got to leave in a half hour or so for an Upper Cut rehearsal, and I don't mind admitting that I feel, to use a technical term, absolutely knackered. Still the last thing that I'm going to do is complain - on Wednesday T.V. said that I'd 'spent too long in the wilderness' and that it was great to see me so busy. It was a nice thing for him to say, and without counting too many chickens there does seem to be a change in the air at the moment on many levels, although next month is significantly quieter than this one and I still don't seem to have very much money... ah well, let's see what happens next.

Well what happens next is a launch party for the new Ruts D.C. album 'Rhythm Collision Volume 2' this Friday at The Hare And Hounds in Birmingham. I've never had a launch party before! It should be fun... and I'm on Music Scene Investigation this Sunday evening at 9pm - on with the big headphones once again!

No comments: