Undertones, Buzzcocks, Damned, Wreckless Eric, Hugh Cornwell

All the gigs Ive been to recently seem to have been by old bands. It started a few years ago when I was dragged to see the Undertones by Sledge. Who wants to see a fave old band who now have re-formed with a new singer? I didnt Id seen the re-formed Stranglers some years back and like all of the late 30/40something crowd had jumped around to the old numbers (especially the ones JJ sang) and politely tapped my foot to the rest. Still, it was Sledges birthday and the Undertones were in town and he wanted to see them so..we enter The Cockpit just as theyre starting up with the intension of going to the bar but hearing the first few bars of Ive gotta getta we ran to the front and moshed with the oldies. Everyone had the broadest smiles on their faces and the evening was a great success. There was no sense of in it for the money.

Sledge and myself went to see the Damned at the Irish Centre a few months later and the entrance fee was worth it just to hear the supporting Wreckless Eric sing his missive on 45s Theyre just bits of plastic to you, but theyre slices of my life Wonderful! The Damned were in effect Capt Sensibles backing band. Dave Vanian still has a fantastic voice – if youre an electronic duo looking for a distinctive voice to front your next project get him on the blower now! but it was obviously Sensible who was calling the shots. His re-living the glory days of Happy Talk gave the event a distinct cabaret feel.

For my stag do in March 2006, 25 of us went to see the Buzzcocks in Manchester. There was nothing cabaret about that, just full speed cranked up guitars with a dizzying energy. There new LP Flat pack philosophy (14 songs in 36 minutes) is a cracker, fizzing with riffs to plicate any punk air-guitarist. I managed to last for nearly an hour in the mosh pit before retreating exhausted but happy to the rear of the venue (where Stuart Pierce and Bez were spotted amongst the crowd). By the time they did Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldntve I was only able to watch and smile as the crowd went ballistic. A wonderful evening.

My mate Si and I went to see ex-Stranglers front man Hugh Cornwell at the city varieties in Leeds. I was a HUGE fan of the Stranglers (see 40th Birthay report) and loyally bought everything they produced for years. Being devoted to a band like that, you end up buying things like dodgy 12 versions of below par tunes – things that if they were by any other band youd give a wide berth.but when that male trait for collecting kicks in you find a load of very average, hardly played stuff in your collection. The last few LPs the Stranglers did with Hugh were definitely in the category. Id stopped buying them as they came out after Aural Sculpture, waiting till they were in a bargain bin. I still havent bothered getting a copy of 10. The rocking tunes with wild bass lines up front in the mix were gone and Jet Blacks banal drumming style was beginning to do my head in.

Si had bought me Hughs song by song book for my 40th an interview book with Hughs take on what all the songs on the Stranglers LPs were about. It makes very interesting reading for Stranglers anoraks like myself.

When he saw the poster for Hughs gig, billed as being based on the book (whilst at a Chumbawumba gig – still waiting for that review Si) .he got us tickets. After a pint in North Bar we got there just after it had started. It was poorly attended and I was the only bloke in there not dressed in black! Hugh was on stage being interviewed by Jim, the books co-author. After a wooden start, they both relaxed into it and it was quite entertaining.

Hughs song writing process, Tony Visconti and his bass clarinet, his excitement when the Kinks from just down the road made it to number one, his disappointment at Jet Blacks insistence on programming the drums (Jet felt it gave a better sound to their latter albums!) The Gospel According To The Meninblack was his favourite Stranglers LP to record (the revelation that La Folie was his least favourite LP was met with a startled Youre Joking! by one punter!).

When they opened up the mike to the audience, it became apparent that everyone in there was a Stranglers obsessive, only asking questions about his days with them. Do you miss them? Of course I do.I always read interviews they do and theyve never said anything complimentary about me. If they did itd give me the opportunity to phone them up and say Thanks for that but they never have. Hed done a track on a recent Mojo magazine CD of Dylan covers I asked him how much you get for doing that sort of thing Nothing it actually cost me money. My agent rang Ive got some good news and some bad news. The good is you can do all 11 verses of Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again 7 minutes, but youre not getting paid for it

There was a break and in the 2nd half hed changed from his T-shirt and jeans into a snazzy oversized black zoot suit and with acoustic guitar in hand, did a set of songs alternating a Stranglers song with a solo song. There were a few gems, Midnight summers dream from Feline that Id totally forgotten about sounded great and when he did the guitar solo from Hanging around it was so familiar that Id never noticed how intricate it was before. Overall however, his song writing limitations were rather exposed in the solo setting. A series of awful rhyming couplets had us trying to second guess what was going to end the next sentence Who gets the job, of pushing the knob

We left agreeing that it had been an interesting evening although Si commented it was a bit of an endurance event for me!. I came out vowing to see some new bands in the future..then went to the Falls 30th anniversary gig

Bob the Chiropodist

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