Thursday, 10 November 2011

Abnormal service is resumed

The last thing I needed after five consecutive nights out (three of which were to London) was to have a night out in London but that's where Tuesday sent me and what a fantastic night! Under the (frankly spurious) auspices of being on official Punky! Radio business I had been invited/invited myself along to The Dark Shadows only London gig on their latest world tour. I've booked the band myself before and also played them on said podcast on many occasions. They have even collectively stayed in my flat before so it was a no-brainer to nip to Tufnell Park to see them at a venue I'd admittedly never been to before called The Hideaway. Add to this the fact that their main support on the night was coming from Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons. I again have seen them on several occasions, played them to death on Punky! and got to know them relatively well - so well in fact that after one particularly drunken night in Bristol I got dubbed "The Fifth Johnson". Add to this the fact that the opening band were called The Voronas (A band I have also often played on the show and whose bass player, Glen spent a week with me in Spain at The Psychobilly meeting a couple of years ago) and it would have been awry of me not to go.

I got the 7pm train from Letchworth to Kings Cross and nipped onto the Northern Line up to TP, arriving at the venue around eight. Walking into the front bar I could have been forgiven for thinking I was in the wrong place, but for the smattering of likely gig goers that were hanging around the bar. There was no sign of a stage, no sign of any bands and no information to suggest there was a gig going on anywhere in the building. There was Simon Nott though. Simon is a friend of mine, a friend of The Dark Shadows, a music writer (And racing expert). He explained the room where the gig was hadn't opened yet. Phew. We were quickly joined by Ant Thomas (Drummer from Demented Are Go) who explained that a. he was currently for hire and b. no-one would hire him because his drumming was so distinctive and no-one else sounded like him, due to his distinctive rhythm and lack of the use of a hi-hat. He moved along as Rob Tyler (Drummer form "Restless") showed up. I was expecting to see Rob but it did mean I was briefly standing between two of the finest drummers I have ever seen play. Simon and I had got into a round and the Guinness was flowing. I nipped outside and saw a couple of The Johnsons. Then I saw Pussycat herself. Then Ned from The Dark Shadows came over to say "Hi". Then Carly from the same band came over for a hug and I remarked on her hair looking beautiful (it did). She very sweetly said that she liked my "little quiff" as well. I melted a little but regained my composure as Glen from The Voronas appeared. Feeling pretty showbiz, I made my way downstairs to the gig. I got charged £7 to get in. Suddenly not feeling quite so showbiz any more I was cheered up by another Guinness winging its way via Simon.

The Voronas were brilliant.

The Voronas - at this point I still had my camera on the right setting.

Carolina the lead singer is an eccentric, statuesque, stick-thin mentalist who likes standing on a packing case, goose stepping into the crowd, playing maracas and hooting out bizarre lyrics, accompanied by the band who trot out some really fantastic (and catchy) songs that had all of us clapping and cheering at the end of each number. In the break I caught up with them. Rob and I both thought their drummer looked a bit like Kim Wilde. On the way up the stairs I walked past Ant and said to him "She drums just like you". What he called me was unrepeatable. I arranged to interview them in the next break. Guinness kept happening. I had a brief chat with Cavey Nik in the outside-bit-that-looks-like-the-inside. He's the mastermind behind the "Dead & Buried" goth/metal nights that are on the verge of moving to the Hideaway after a short hiatus. What a lovely bloke. The Johnsons went on and were fantastic.

Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons. Lead singer Puss appears to have dropped a contact lens. By now I have managed to change the setting on my camera without trying.

A characteristic of the gig was that a lot of the people there had maybe seen one band but not the other two. In typical circumstances this would lead to a room never being full as fans showed their support to only their chosen band. Not on this occasion. It remained full all night. I interviewed The Voronas (As promised) and they were as entertaining to talk to as they had been to watch. The Guinness kept coming. The Dark Shadows eventually kicked off and I couldn't get anywhere near the front to watch them so stood at the back behind very tall people.

Brigitte Handley (Dark Shadows). I couldn't get the whole band in because of the way they were positioned. It's like she knew I was taking this one though and almost wated to be in it!
A tap on the shoulder  later I was gassing away with Karen from Rattlin' Bone. They are yet another band we've played on the show. Now the Gunness was being accompanied by shots. Before I knew it rounds of shots were being consumed. The Dark Shadows finished to huge cheers and applause. We did more shots. I missed the last tube.

I always miss the last tube.

I said my goodbyes and began walking back to Kings Cross, thinking I'd pick up a cab at some point. All I achieved initially was to pick up a kebab. I sensibly asked for it to be "wrapped" so it wouldn't go cold. I was halfway back (A good mile) before I eventually hailed a taxi and (bless him) he dropped me off round the corner from the station for a mere fiver. Since I'd hemorrhaged cash up to that point buying rounds for skint musicians it was a minor result. The last train to Letchworth is the 1.06am and takes about an hour. It did. I needed that long. The kebab was huge. I'd asked for a "small doner" but the guy in the shop must have taken pity on my wallet because he'd loaded up the pitta bread so much with that classic combination of two-day-old lettuce, tomato, chilli sauce, chillis, onion, red cabbage and that non-specific greying meat that could only ever have sat on a pole that the bread itself had disintegrated under the pressure. I had to eat it hunched over my insufficient train seat table like a starving cave dweller that had found half a dog. It at least ensured me a seat to myself.

A few more photos to finish:

Carly from The Dark Shadows (proving I took photos of all of them)

...And Ned - completing the line up. She drums a bit like Ant Thomas from Demented Are  Go, you know.

Rob Tyler - good drummer, excellent drinker

This looks for all the world like "Dirty Jake Johnson" (pictured centre) has lobbed his beer over "Filfy Antz" Johnson and doesn't appear to care in the slightest. They are such a naughty band.

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