When “Gangsters” first came out The Specials (or The Special AKA as they were then) played at The Greyhound pub which was a small venue near us in Fulham. My sister asked me if I wanted to go and I said no for some reason. What a fucking idiot.
Saw the Dum Dum Girls on Tuesday night who were absolutely fabulous. Whenever you go see a band for the first time there’s always that nervous worry in the back of your mind about how good (or not) they will be live, but those fears vanished the minute they kicked into the first song (though I thought lead singer Dee Dee Penny’s vocals were mixed too quiet). Cliched and creaky though the genre might be, there’s still something thrilling about a good rock combo, and their drummer was especially good at nailing a primitive, sometimes Glam-Rocky beat. The girls all looked very stylish too, it might seem a trivial point but I appreciate it when a band (girls or boys) makes an effort with the visual side and doesn’t turn up on stage in jeans and t-shirts like they just rolled out of bed.
They played all of the new album Too True to start and then another set of older songs which made me want to buy more of their records beyond the two I have. The emotional “Coming Down” was the highlight of the evening for me, but as I’m not into filming shows myself this clip of them singing it is from a different show earlier this year.
After the gig I joined the queue at the merchandise table to buy an album, but instead of the usual bored road manager or drummer flogging gear there was group leader Dee Dee herself selling stuff. Oh, the glamourous rock and roll life! Great though this was, it meant the wait was even longer as people kept posing for photos with her and asking her to sign the records. So when she served me I did the polite English thing of not bothering her too much and just bought a record and left without getting it signed. Bloody wish I had done now, my mate did take this picture though.
Look! It’s me buying a record from a sexy girl rock singer!
I know Bruce isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there might be something wrong with you if this record doesn’t make you want to tear your clothes off and sing along at the top of your lungs — preferably while standing under a corner street light at night in the rain.
Posted in honour of the USA qualifying from the Group of Death to make the next round of the World Cup. There’s something wrong with the natural order of the universe when America is better at football than England.
Friday night I’m walking down the street toward the venue where I’m going to see Angel Olsen in concert when who should walk quickly by me in the opposite direction all on her own: none other than Ms. Olsen herself. For a second I thought she was doing a runner and wanted to shout after her “COME BACK, YOU HAVE A SHOW TO DO!” Thankfully she must have just popped out to get some smokes or something because an hour or so later there she was on stage with her band.
Olsen’s voice is so extraordinary she can silence a room by just standing there and singing, so not surprisingly the best part of the concert was when the band left her alone on stage with just that voice, a guitar, and her intense “don’t fuck with me” stare that has probably stopped several men in their tracks in the past.
Not that Angel is some deathly serious no-fun zone, she was funny and chatty which usually I enjoy but there were times when I thought she was maybe a tad too nonchalant and breezy which often undercut the emotional impact of her material. I also wish that the whole band had come back for the encore instead of just her doing a quiet solo number again. Would have been better to finish in big style with the rocking, anthemic “High Five” instead of tossing it off three songs into the set.
These are minor quibbles though, it’s quite something to hear that voice in person and wonder how something so heart-stopping and elemental could come out that sweet-looking girl in the baseball cap.
This was the first concert I’ve been too since I got my iPhone but I only took a few photos and didn’t shoot any video because I didn’t want to be one of those people. Thankfully there were very few distracting phone screens being held up (except for some twat in the front who I swear spent half the gig texting someone) but this guy to the left of me shot the video above.
In case you’re wondering about the banter at the start, someone in the audience asked her where she got her shoes so she made a joke about how smelly they were after being on a long tour.
The B-52s captured live in a small hometown club before their first album had come out. The video quality makes it look really ancient but it’s “only” 1978. Then again, that was 36 years ago. Gulp.
It’s Thanksgiving here today so I thought I’d start the weekend early with this marvelous clip. Another one to come tomorrow.
Notice there aren’t any girls trying to jump on Ron Mael. I think one does near the end but she probably just felt bad that his brother was getting all the Teenybopper action.
In the old, dirty (and cheaper) London like the 1970s of these photos you’d see concert ads like these plastered everywhere, and in areas like Camden and Ladbroke Grove with a happening music scene and a more bohemian population the walls were often like dense collages of old and new posters pasted on top of each other in thick layers.
This constantly-changing gallery was a highly visible sign of the vibrancy of the city’s music scene, and these cheaply-printed, often illegally posted posters were a very rock and roll form of advertising. More than an email alert anyway.
A couple of gigs well worth going to above, like The Police with The Cramps at the Lyceum, and Rockpile with The Specials (bottom of the bill!) at the Palais, while below on the right there is a poster advertising the strange combo of bland soft-rockers Sad Cafe with punk poet John Cooper Clarke. Think I’d rather have gone to see Motörhead at The Music Machine..
This must be the strangest one though: Prog Rockers Curved Air with the New York Dolls third on the bill. I like to think people had more eclectic tastes back then, but more than likely the Dolls got booed off or had beer cans thrown at them by angry hippies.
I’ve seen some great headliner/support combos in my day: Orange Juice/The Pale Fountains, The Pretenders/UB40, U2/Public Enemy, and Siouxsie & The Banshees/The Associates. Sadly that last one was a bit of a disaster as the punks in the audience didn’t care for their avant-garde artpop and showered Billy Mackenzie in spit and beer the whole time they were on. The poor sod just stood there in a big fur coat and took it with a massive grin on his face.
I never saw this lot in concert but the song has the word “Wall” in the title and it’s live too, so what the hell.
Download: Over The Wall (Live 1981) – Echo & The Bunnymen (mp3)
This was the only record by The Tubes I ever owned but I’d loved to have seen them live because their shows were (in)famous — for reasons which are clear from this clip, especially the last few minutes. I think seeing this would have blown my teenage mind.