I went to see them yesterday night- last time I saw them was almost two years ago, I think, at the Klinker in Stoke Newington, and a fight broke out (it wasn't their fault)
There was a strong aroma of garlic and armpits from the audience and a very high brown-beard'n'glasses quotient, which was quite London-Musicians-Collective for a gig organised by PlanBmag, but it was strangely reassuring to know that this subculture survived the ravages of punk and the upitsownarseness of New Romance, drifted obliviously through Rave, and looked the other way while Hip Hop told us all off and said it was going to kill us.
The first band (which I liked) matched the audience perfectly (as I am told Elvis did) but I'd really come to see Shimmy Rivers, and was delighted as the band assembled on stage, looking happy, playing pat-a-cake, and cheering 'Yay!' as the last member arrived on stage panting and still holding his cycle-helmet, fresh from work and still wearing his stripy tie.
Puff! went the dry ice and I made a mental note to be holding my mobile phone at all times, just had mine nicked and you know how much robbers like the fog.
Ben the drummer had a My Little Pony on his kit; Mu was throwing handfuls of yellow plush Easter chicks into the audience from a box on her keyboard.
'This is the biggest audience we've ever played to', said Rod, and they started.
Tall men came and stood in front of me (the b*stards!) but I slid to the side, stuck my head in the speaker, and watched the Spirit of Punk live on!
Rod flung his fringe around, Ben was standing up behind his kit, Mu was miking up an Olivia Spread box..
Whack whack wallop twang!
By the second song they are in their stride (Rod has announced it as the last song)
What's that cymbal doing on the end of a washing line?
The third song (Wink, according to the abbreviated one-word setlist but probably a longer title) should be a Song For Europe- starting with a catchy riff, then ho ho ho in the canyons go the voices....
Jane looked like Nico from the Velvet Underground as she played her harmonium mysteriously in the background.
Then there was the wavy-arms song, Portrait (in a word) with drums like White Riot that could show those camp Scottish pipe band snare drummers a thing or 2.
Mu's chicken shop was a little depleted by now...
'If you can all pretend to gallop for the next song, something good might happen', said Rod.
Nobody did, which is a shame because I was hoping the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus would appear and pirouette on top of the speakers.
The kit started to collapse and Rod started to look like a Ramone brother, screwing up his eyes and yelling with a passion.
Richard moved from bass to guitar and they played the closest song they had to a ballad- Pink Skies, but it was a Shimmy ballad, so it was extraordinary.
'The next song is called something', said Rod, and snarled like a Glaswegian navvy over the thundering drum rhythm; I could imagine dancing the Dashing White Sergeant with a crusty in creepers. The sax coughed and wailed like a sea-lion on speed; Jane switched to clarinet....
At this point I decided to stop scribbling and start listening, to enjoy the music.
At the end they left the stage one by one, Jane last of all with a little wave to the audience of beardies.
Go and see them!By the way, they wrote their set list in red, and I I advise against this, having had the problem of writing road directions in orange felt pen a few weeks ago. You can't read those colours in the dark!