Sometimes it feels like the world is just one great big website, “Under construction”. And there’s no place where that looms larger than “the London”. From the second you get into Kings Cross station, it becomes blatantly apparent that to get from A to B then you have to take a route via Z. Having said all that, it actually turned out that I had the smoothest schlep ever to Chiswick. 5 and a half hours from home to The George and Mildred. The capital was operating at something like 26 and a half days later, if not the full 28. The Easter retreat made it easier to navigate and only the tourist hotspots were anything like busy.
Word is that The Stems show was an unprecedented gas, good shout. But the trip out to Nigel Park wasn’t to be for the auld yin here.
And Good Friday turned out to be great. Everything went pretty much according to plan give or take. A George IV pie saw us off into town to hook up with the Malmo-mian division at The Ship. This pub played host to all the luminaries that played the sadly long-gone Marquee just along the road.
A pint with Per and Mats and then of around the corner to Berwick Street. Primarily to meet Brother Patrick and the Bainee family who were hooking up with Sean and Lynn there. It also provided an op to check out the ailing record store situation. It’s pretty bleak on that front but I think it’s pretty much the same everyplace. And besides, we were due in Kentish Town for what turned out to be something of a gathering of the clans.
The touts were out in force to capitalise on tonight’s hot ticket. These fuckers are the scum of there earth and the quicker something can be done about ‘em the better. No dampener of course because we all had tickets and The very Rev. Martin Percival even had one to sell but there didn’t seem to be a lot of actual prospective punters looking to buy. I hope the scalpers lost their shirts. Despite these rats being all over the streets, there was indeed that magic stuff in thon air.
Another ale in The Bull and Gate (hadn’t been in for years) where time seemed to have stood still. From there it was off to The Pineapple, to try and establish who the opening acts were and whether or not they’d be worth catching. The remainder of our crew were in there and by the end of play there was a small army on the go. Brother J was holding court in the conservatory (with the fag packet – sounds like something outta Cluedo, right?)
The social aspect of it all, and not the actual Guinness, was a little disorienting. It was great to discover that the great, grammy-nomnated Alex Palao who I hadn’t seen for well over 10 years was also “in the house”. It was a complete and utter pleasure to also discover that the esteemed Lutz Rauber of Soundflat was also in attendance. A General in this NBT army for forever, it was a gas to finally meet. What’s more, he brought glad tidings that Trich Boonaraaa had travelled from Germany with his crew. Of course, the B’s should really have been opening instead of what did but…
So I made a quick return to the B&G to inform the troops that, in my opinion, it’d be best to stay in the pub because The Sonics were gonna be on at 9.30pm. On the way back to the jaggy fruit, I walked straight into Ms Eichert. The gods were indeed smiling.
So finally getting into The Forum, familiar faces festooned the ruddy place. It was a meet and greet session all the way to the (almost) front Roslie hand side of the stage. The atmosphere and stench of wanton anticipation was palpable. This was perhaps the coolest audience I’ve ever been a part of. Particularly in the UK. I took my place beside General Rauber and the lights went out. The church-like, singalonasonically speaking waves of noise lapped over the crowd all the way to the back. You want to know what they played? Well, it was the same as Cavestomp far as I recall. I was having way too much of a whale of a time to be taking notes.
It’s not necessary to get into a forensic account here but I will say is that they turned the place into a giant frat house. I overheard some dunderheads mumping about the “Vegas-style” intros and some of the hard rock tendancies. For me it added to the social club-ness of the show. While I think the Brooklyn venue might have been more akin to the places they played back in the mists of the 60’s, this London venue was duly transported back to that proximity.
I see (and hear) plenty of allegedly delkiver the goods, that people wet their breeks over and I’m telling you straight. Almost none of them could match these old guys pound for pound.
If you want to remember how it was before there was anything like The Sonics then you can do that by visiting the catalogues of Norton and Big Beat. It seems incomprehensible that anybody reading this doesn’t have the entire catalogue but you never know.
By encore time I had worked myself forward a little more and ended up with just Trich Boonaraaa between me and the stage. That and punching the air to “he’s the git”, (to the “tune” of “The Witch” is a heady mix that was to be savoured. I imagine that if there was an odd look on my coupon, it was most possibly a grin.
The “programme” intimated that they’d play a song entitled “Boss Hog” but they didn’t. I wonder if it’s about the Jon Spencer combo or the guy off Dukes of Hazzard. Perhaps we’ll never know…
Dirty Water Sonics pics here....
Went to the meet and greet thing afterwards and got a couple of things signed for folks. It was a solid honour to shake hands with the guys who probably invented punk rock. Larry Parypa reckoned that the crowd was a little reserved. Then again, he may have been kidding.
Ran into my old mucker Rudi Fuzztone in the bar. It must have been nearly 18 years since the COF days. Of course, he’s done more than most to push the music of The Sonics over the decades since they called it quits. Along with The Cramps and The Nomads, these Pacific Northwest anthems have been delivered in an evangelistic whammy like an uppercut to the hooter. Lest we forget that Girl Trouble are from the same town, Tacoma.
There’s a new Fuzztones album in the pipeline, ready to drop fairly soon. Whether the world is ready or not.
Saturday saw a reconvening in the aforementioned Ship for another couple of snifters. Penny went home, per and mats headed for the airport and the ARP (Auld Rockers Posse) headed for 229 Great Portland street, albeit a tad later than anticipated. This meant that we missed The Branded and got there as Los Chicos were doing their thing. Most entertaining it is too and I’m not used to seeing something this good of a Saturday afternoon. Turns out it’s a warm-up for a show in Stoke Newington later that evening. No rest for the wicked and that’s what this combo is. Brother Tony Thewlis joined them for a rousing rattle through “Shake Some Action” and wir ain Steve Coleman could barely contain himself as they served up a slab of super rock in the form of “Living Legends”.
Sir David of Arnoff went back to Chiswick and the rest of us headed out to Wood Green. There a stonking evening was spent soakin’ up the hospitality of Yan and Steph. The soundtrack started with Steppenwolf and ended up with Bo Diddley via The Lolitas and Nancy Sinatra. Time took it’s toll and it was time to head back.
Sunday was much lower key. Mr Cruickshank was heading back north and after we dropped him at Kings Cross, Penny, David and I went to the celebrated Filthy McNasty’s. Very cool hostelry that I’d heard about but never crossed the threshold of. We decided that this would be an ideal spot for Mr Arnoff to have his punk rock photos displayed and hatch a plan to make that happen. Watch this portal for details.
From there we dropped in on T+V who entertained us with a couple of episodes of Greg The Bunny and some vintage Aussie glam. It was almost all over.
So the trip back was somewhat uneventful. There were a couple of things left undid but we didnae half pack in a veritable mess of action. It was all kind of humbling in a sense because this type of camaraderie is all too rare. The choice of alleged support on the Sunday show never happened so that was a blessing. Maybe it was one of those urban myths? Had it come to pass it would have been a great steaming bowl of wrong.
I’m sure the Sonics gave it everything though because that’s what they’re in the business of giving. They gave us a damn good wallop on Friday night, that’s fer damn sure.
Since then I’ve had all kinds of conned-puter scares. At one point the patients vital signs were in doubt altogether so I’m kind of relieved to have gotten this far. The grey matter is beginning to feedback. The festivities continued last night as Mr Stefan Conrad and his entourage hit Edinburgh. It is largely down to this guy that I discovered the joys of those Boonaraaa lassies.
So it was a pleasure and a privilege to spend time with you folks. I doubt it could ever happen again but I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it might.
Hopefully this stream of unconciousness makes some kinda sense... ?