Daisy Rodgers Music presents Loud Mountains + Billy T'rivers Solo show + Waltz in the Shallow End, Fri 10th Oct
St Aldate's Tavern, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 1BU
REAL NIRVANA, Sat 25th Oct
Level 3, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 5NX
THE VOOZ, Sat 25th Oct
Green Dragon, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1AA
LOCARNO BEAT, Sat 25th Oct
Redhouse Social Club, Purton, Wiltshire
WIREBIRDS, Sat 25th Oct
Rolleston, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 5NX
Co-codamol haze isn’t a band it’s my drugged up head! Eyes streaming, nose blocked and blunt axe to brain pain, I dragged myself to the ‘Peter and The Test Tube Babies’ gig at The Furnace on Saturday night. It was Dermot Fuller’s birthday, lead singer of The Charred Hearts the support band - and I was interested in the First group, Strength in Blunders…this was their debut gig. They’re young and untried…but are they talented?
The venue was populated by the usual suspects and there was a buoyant mood though I had expected a bigger turnout. At the bar it was shoulder to shoulder, while 4 or 5 pogoing lads had the dance floor to themselves in a messy wrestle of slippery, slidey elbowy anarchy. Unfortunately alcohol quaffing and subsequent spillage ensured bodies slammed into the ground with the regularity of a heavy weight championship.
Straight on were Strength in Blunders reminding me of the sharper edge of punk; kids who know how to play their instruments, conscious of composition, unambiguous. Short, sharp rhythms, suicidal, drug abuse based lyrics, ferocious rapid fire delivery and a sharp injection of expectation…this band will soon be headliners! For this first outing Jaseph York has spent the last three months writing songs and I’m assured they’ve been practicing with the tenacity of David Cameron trying to deconstruct the welfare state. If this was art it would be Picasso sat on the washing machine on Spin cycle; jagged but with form.
Jaseph’s vocals are reminiscent of Stiff Little Finger’s Jake Burns, (though he’s not Irish), and with Mark Richmond’s guitar technically doing the right stuff and Sam Fuller expending the energy of Lazy Town’s Sporticus by going straight from drumming for ‘Blunders’ to drumming for the ‘Heart’s’ I declare this to be a dapper little 3 piece that I’m looking forward to seeing again. Fab first time gig guys.
I’ve seen The Charred Hearts too many times to mention since their 1981 inception and they never disappoint. Throwaway Society, Nowhere Town, Crash (the song that always runs around in my head the next day), were all turned out as perfectly as a pink blancmange bunny in the Furnace’s dungeon-esque darkness with edgy guitar from Lee Fellowes and Sam Fuller continuing to give us all his last Rolo, by which I mean his drumming was satisfying to the last.
Relaxed banter belies the fact that these slightly over toasted punk hearts perform with the same enthusiasm now as they did 30 years ago. They have a demanding gig list and a following that are prepared to travel across the channel to see them.
Half way through, Patrick (ex-band member) joined the chord crunching mayhem. It got a bit Friends Reunited meets Band Camp with balls when they assaulted Ronald Reagan…no not the real one, that would involve the criminal exhumation of a dead ex-President of the USA. Not something in The Charred Hearts Curriculum Vitae.
We all know life is a four letter word but for Peter and the Test Tube Babies Tommy Tiernan’s quote ‘Fuck is my chisel’ is probably more apt. The lyrical content hasn’t changed, Run like hell, Transvestite, Shit Stirrer were all there; puerile and pretentious but strangely comforting like watching an old episode of The Sweeney.
Peter Bywaters grinning from ear to ear strutted, sang and air-played guitar his way through every number and they all enjoyed themselves splicing pop punk melodies with shouty choruses Del, H and Dave the drum man produced a rounded, vibrant, musically deft performance but I was somehow expecting something more unravelled around the edges, rawer on the ear.
There wasn’t a huge crowd response and it was Peter coming back on stage shouting into the microphone - ’you’re going to have more whether you like it or not!’ that activated the audience.
A version of Mama Mia kicked off at a speed that would have pipped Usain Bolt at the post, followed by Elvis is Dead in similar vein. People were suddenly motivated to move onto the dance floor, fists punching the air, singing the chorus, but it was all a bit too late.
With vodka and coke at £2 a pop, a lot of familiar faces and some really good music from 3 bands it was worth the £10 ticket. Why more people weren’t there I don’t know. I retreated to The Beehive for a cup of tea…yes, gone Midnight in Swindon and you can still get a cuppa, checked Face book vids already uploading and decided that despite my cold, it hadn’t been a bad night after all.