Sunday, August 13, 2006

Many thanks to Martin Percival for rustling this up in spite of his "on tour" status...
The Cramps - Lokerse Feesten - Lokeren Belgium - Weds Aug 9 2006

Many towns and cities in Belgium and the Netherlands have an annual festival, often subsidised by their local authorities. Can you imagine that?! The 32nd annual such festival in Lokeren in the Flanders region of northern Belgium this year featured the double headlining bill of The Cramps plus Bauhaus....all for 10 Euros! Remarkable value for money and it proved to be a very well organised and fun event.

I arrived in Belgium earlier in the day and headed to Antwerp by train to meet Dirk "Ungawa" Roeyen in his home town. Dirk is a hardcore Cramps afficianado and even wrote a book on the band back in 1996. He and I then headed out on the short drive to Lokeren with 2 of his pals.

The festival site holds 15,000 and, although not sold out, there must have been close to that number present by the time the Cramps hit the stage around 9pm. I've only ever seen the band play at a festival once before, Reading in 1990, and it was strange seeing them play in the light! As had been rumoured prior to the gig Lux has dyed his hair a sandy blonde colour and he's also lost a bit of weight since their last European visit back in September 2003. He was on very fine form, as were Chopper and Bill Bateman, and both Lux and Ivy were actually looking younger than they did 3 years ago. They must have a picture up in their attic somewhere!

The set opened with "The Mad Daddy" and was swiftly followed by "Rock on the Moon". Lux was stalking around the stage and clearly enjoying himself. His first quip for the crowd was "You come - they give me wine!" and before long he was slurping down his favourite red wine straight out of the bottle. As usual though a fair amount was spilt.

Jake from the Lords of Altamont was spotted stage side and it was good to see this long time Cramps fanatic working with the band again.

By the time "Caveman" was completed the first mike stand had gone to meet its maker and wine bottle number one was empty. "Let's Get Fucked Up" followed and Lux was well on the way to working himself up into the frenzy that we've all grown to love from a Cramps show. He made his way down to the pit in front of the stage and the TV cameras filming the festival for the stage side screens picked out a happy looking Dirk in the front row.

At the close of "Dames, Booze, Chains and Boots" Lux's PVC trousers were slashed and gaping, just in time for "TV Set". "That's a GOOD song!" was Lux's assessment of the classic from the first album, and I don't think anyone present would have disputed his opinion.

"Psychotic Reaction" saw some great harp playing and much rolling around on stage as the sun went down. The set closed with "Wrong Way Ticket" and the final song was introduced as "some bad advice straight from hell"
before going into "Tear it Up". There was no encore so the set did close in a rather frustrating fashion for long time fans. Only 50 minutes and everyone wanting more. However it was great to see that a lot of people at the festival, mainly there to see Bauhaus, had clearly really enjoyed what was, probably for the majority present, their first Cramps show. For a band to still be so hot live 30 years into their career is incredible. This was likely just as well as Bauhaus later had equipment problems and consequently only played 12 songs. They also gave a more than passable impression of a band falling apart in public..... but let's not dwell on that.

At the end of the evening I decided to pass on the local delicacy - horse meat sausages - and headed back instead to Antwerp a very happy Cramps fan greatly looking forward to the London gig the following week where maybe we'll be treated to some new songs and I'm sure a longer set. I also suspect that night will see Lux in a more "traditional" state of frenzy by the end of the show!

Just for the record the set list was:

The Mad Daddy
Rock on the Moon
The Way I Walk
Hanky Panky
Hang Up
Fissure of Rolando
Papa Satan Sang Louie
Big Black Witchcraft Rock
It Thing Hard On
Let's get Fucked up
Dames Booze Chains & Boots
TV Set
Psychotic Reaction
Wrong Way Ticket
Tear it Up

Martin (LOTC member 610.....oooops - that was 25 years ago!)

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