Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Fuzzy faces, fuzzier heads and The Fuzztones

In (I think) 1987 I went to see The Fuzztones at Bowes Lyon House in Stevenage. It was a good gig made memorable by the scenes of bare chested Psychobillies in the wrecking pit at the front lacerating themselves on the studded belted Goths that were hanging around the edge of it. I was only seventeen but did manage to get served in the bar and several pints of snakebite and black (my gig drink of choice) left me remembering little else, save them doing "Psychotic Reaction", which was brilliant, lead singer Rudi Protrudi asking for his "Air guitar... I must have my air guitar" in similar fashion to Chuck Berry saying "We must do our Alma Mata" at the start of "My Ding-A-Ling" and some amazing sideburns.

Fuzztones early publicity shoot. Please note bone necklaces...
...Cut to 23 years or so later and I noticed they were touring to mark their thirtieth anniversary and PRAISE THE LORD they were playing The 100 Club in London as part of the tour and it was on a Sunday which meant I could go! I contacted a few different people who I knew for one reason or another had been (or were) fans but only procured the buddy services of Mr. Felix (Who had been at the gig at Bowes but we didn't know each other then) and the trusty (and new convert to Garage Punk) Steve. It did occur to me that I had not seen The Fuzztones for longer than some of my more recent acquaintances had been alive but hey - stuff like that is not to be dwelt upon.

No Sunday Garage Punk frenzy is complete without three days of comedy in increasingly random circumstances in Bedfordshire however: I'll try and be concise...

Thursday: Ashcroft Arms, Luton. Steve's pub. Acts present: Rick Hulse, Paul B. Edwards, J.T. Taylor, Rayguns Look Real Enough. Audience number: 43 (ish). Everyone did well. Rick, Steve, myself and several members of the audience drank from 6pm (ish) to 5am (ish), including the latest random element to come in to the bar - Lisa's lodger Penny, who fared slightly better at "Spoof" than Tasha from the previous week. Ray Gun was resplendent in a tiger-striped wrestler-style one piece catsuit that left little to the imagination. 

Ray Gun, resplendent, as always and serenading a reluctant Holly...
Friday: ivy Leaf Club, Langford. Acts present: Rick Hulse, Paul B. Edwards, Craig Murray. Audience number 70 (ish). Rick had a tough gig. I did OK, Craig was marvellous. When we got home to Herts we went immediately to the pub where we drank heavily until it shut around 2am. We walked out into a blizzard so bad we had to get a cab the 400 yards back to Chateau Moi. When we got in, Rick introduced me to white port. It is my new friend.

Saturday: The Pad, Bedford. Acts present: Rick Hulse, Paul B. Edwards, J. T. Taylor, Craig Murray, DJ Roch. Audience number 20 (ish). At twenty past eight I was going to pull the show as we had only sold one ticket. Then nineteen people showed up at once and made the gig busy enough to do. We didn't regret it. Everyone had a great time and Roch dropped us off back down the pub after the show. Rick and I drank varying combinations of wine, Black Sambuca, Jaegermeister, lager and ale. When we came back I put The Ashes on. It really is too funny what's happening Down Under at present but I'm not one to gloat - I mean - if the shoe was on the other foot I doubt very much my Australian counterpart would get involved in even the gentlest of ribbing, now would he?

...And so it was Sunday. Rick left early and (happily for me) forgot to take his white port home with him. I cooked Lancashire Hotpot (I was already missing the big oaf) and generally pondered stuff for a few hours.I arranged to meet Felix on the 5pm train from Hitchin. He had to run to catch it. I had had to run to catch it from the station before at 4.54pm. We got our breath back around about Knebworth. We are not getting any younger. At Kings Cross my day travelcard wouldn't work at the barrier. I offered it to an inspector who said "November 10th" very slowly as his brain began to whirr. It was December 5th and I had tried to use a previous ticket that I had not only somehow not discarded but also managed to put in exactly the same place I had the correct one. I got the valid ticket out, successfully traversed the machinery and left the inspector to his own (whirring) devices. We got the Northern Line to Holborn and then the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road before walking to Cambridge Circus and one of my favourite London pubs, "The Spice Of Life". I offered to buy our barmaid a drink. She accepted on the basis that "It had been a long day". I asked her how long she had been working. She said "Two hours". The youth of today clearly don't know what hard work is. I lobbed back a pint of McMullen AK (which should probably be pronounce "Ay Kay" but I pronounce with a loud "Ack!") and waited for Steve, who showed up just before half past six. We enjoyed More "Ack!" - and little Jaeger shots as liveners. Then we walked (in a roundabout way) to The French House for red wine and halves of Guinness (they don't do pints - they are very civilised). As we left the barmaid was incredibly over-friendly in her farewell as if saying goodbye to old friends.

Where everybody knows your nom.
From there we went to another pub that I don't remember the name of. We were lulled in by the smell of mulled wine. Steve asked the barman if we could order three mulled wines. He said "yes you can - well you could except that we've just run out". The bar staff of Soho are quirky. We had interestingly titled beer that was delicious. 

Oh by the way - I was wearing a black suit, faux leopard skin brothel creepers, a black shirt, black jeans and a rather fetching costume necklace made of large black beads and plastic dinosaur bones. I am forty.

A brisk stroll up to Oxford Street (Steve was directing - if it had been me we would certainly have gone in the wrong direction because I tried to do exactly that before Steve turned me round) and we were in. The 100 Club is threatened with closure and it will be a complete bitch if it does lock its doors for a final time because it's a really great place to see bands and has a huge and unique history spanning jazz, punk, rock, ska, 60s garage, you name it, really and an A to Z of alternative music royalty. The first band were crap. We were drinking Guinness. I bumped into my beautiful friend Janine who informed me that she reads this very blog. Hence her being my beautiful friend Janine. I also bumped into the tall bloke who had been dressed as an Austrian scoutmaster last New Year's Eve at The Boston Arms who is friendly with my mate Johnny Codger but whose name escapes me. I also bumped into the Norwegian bass player from the Priscillas who pinched my bottom once (Also at The Boston Arms, actually) but she didn't want to talk to me. I must not have been looking pert enough.

Then out came The Fuzztones and they didn't muck about. They roared straight in to "1-2-5", then "Bad News Travels Fast", then "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" which was a bit of a bugger as they are my three favourite Fuzztones numbers. As time went on Steve and I agreed that their keyboard player was the sexiest woman we had ever seen. She is called Lana Loveland. Of course she is. As the gig wore on and the capacity crowd got ever-more frenzied the obvious thing for me to do was to go to the front. Curiously, the slightly less obvious thing for Felix to do was to leave early. 

Rudi Protrudi, Lana Loveland, Fez Wrecker et al rock out in extreme fashion, largely bedecked in paisley.
This left me in a marginal quandary that was easily worked out: I would travel home with Steve. After all - who wouldn't want to spend the night in a pub after the preceding three days I'd had. The band encored spectacularly well and inevitably finished with their classic cover "Cinderella". The audience went crazy and I became the monitor monitor, gallantly holding the thing on the stage as various punters threatened to send it flying in to the crowd. Nobody thanked me, but Steve noticed me doing it and he at least knew that without me the whole thing would have been blown apart and that ultimately I was responsible for everyone's well being.

When we got back to the tube station it had shut - they all had - early, so we had to get a cab back to Kings Cross/St. Pancras where we ordered egg sandwiches and then waited for the train back to Luton. It made a laborious hour-long job of a thirty mile journey that should have left us shattered but we still managed a couple of hours drinking and chatting with the (increasingly saintly) Lisa who had been looking after the pub in his absence. I fell asleep in his lounge listening to England continue to dominate the Aussies in the Ashes. I stank of beer, fags and ROCK AND ROLL and had a large black and white cat on my legs. 

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