Monday, October 23, 2006

New York, London and Matlock

The title of this post may well look like a particularly odd set of tour dates (now that I've said that I'll be doing them myself) but it actually refers to the bands I saw last night at The Forum (I still call it The Town & Country Club) in Kentish Town.

First up, The Philistines with Glen Matlock on bass. Back in 1992 when I was in The Price we played with Glen & co several times and I got to know him fairly well (it took me ages to recover from the first time he phoned me up!) although they were called The Mavericks initially- yes they had to change their name! Paul O'Brien was on guitar then, now they feature the excellent Ray McVeigh who used to be in The Professionals with Paul Cook & Steve Jones. And good stuff it was too with 'Suck it and See' from the days when we gigged with them amongst the newer material. They also resisted the old Pistols songs (they often play 'Pretty Vacant') which I guess would have been an easy way to get the audience on their side. McVeigh's guitar strap was so long that he could balance the guitar on his foot (I'm not making this up!) and Glen's came off in the first song (if you're reading this Glen we sell things in the shop that'll keep it on). Pity they were on so early.

8.30 and it's time for the Towers of London, 5 thin men with immaculately unkempt hair who could be brothers, but probably aren't. And what an excellent row they made, somewhere between Hanoi Rocks and Guns'n'Roses with all the right things in all the right places- sweary lyrics, gratuitously mad guitar solos and lots of clothes being taken off as early as the second number. It would be interesting to see them again to see how much was rehearsed and how much wasn't. Still, judging by the amount of blonde bombshells watching from the wings it looks to me that they'll get to where they want to go; I'm just not sure they've got the songs to go with the act and the attitude. But what do I know? Whatever I thought of them, I hope they don't care what I think.

And then my friends, The New York Dolls. From the moment David Johansen drawled 'when I say I'm in love you'd best believe I'm in love L-U-V' and the band crashed into the opening chords of 'Looking for a Kiss' it was an 'I was there' sort of gig. Everyone says they liked the Dolls back in the punk days but I'd never actually heard them. No one I knew had heard them, we'd only heard of them, mostly from reading interviews with bands who namechecked them as an influence (Pistols, Clash, Damned, all the punk bands basically). I saw Thunders and Nolan in The Heartbreakers and thought they were brilliant 'though I'm more than aware that there were good and bad nights... but what was amazing about this was how, with only 2 original members (Johansen and Sylvain, everyone else is dead, sadly) the SPIRIT of the band remained intact. It also struck me how some of the songs had a kind of 'darkness' about them, an amazing power that I also saw in Iggy and the Stooges at Hammersmith last year, and in The Sex Pistols at Shepherd's Bush in 1996 (2 of my favourite ever gigs). Suffice to say that as they played 'Jet Boy' and I found myself singing 'LIKE HE WAS MY BABY' at the top of my voice, they sounded to me like the best punk rock'roll band ever, playing the best punk rock'n'roll song EVER. And believe me when I say that I don't write those words lightly. It felt like a reason to play music, a reason to play rock'roll, a reason to be alive. Yes, they were that good. Really.

I love playing the music I play with the Blues Bros./Commitments shows but it's time to play some rock'n'roll again. I must make some phone calls... and find some time from somewhere!!

Outside the venue I saw the singer from the Towers of London with a beautiful blonde girl trying to wrap herself around him. I decided he's wasn't going to be waiting for the same 'rail replacement service' bus as me. And I was right. He wasn't.

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