We had a top time at The Borderline last night.
This is a legendary venue - I saw R.E.M. perform on this very stage (under the alias of Bingo Hand Job) - and having now played there myself I can see why it is so highly regarded. Everything about the place is quietly efficient. All the staff are switched on, and the equipment too. The in-house mixing desk guy (Mike) is brilliant - four bands soundchecked with a minimum of fuss and ready for the doors to open at 7pm. Everything ticks over with a calm sense of purpose.
We were the first group on - at 7.45 prompt - and although it was kind of sparse out front to begin with, it felt like a serious gig, partly because the sound on stage was brilliant, and partly because the lights were so bright you couldn't see who was (or wasn't) out there. Actually it filled up pretty fast and even if it hadn't, George, Drew and I were grooving so much on just being up there that I don't think we'd have noticed.
We played a short set, but not, it turned out, short enough. It went by in a flash, and when we came off, I figured we must have hit our half-hour target about bang on. But I was dismayed to discover we had overrun by ten minutes, severely cutting into the changeover time for the next band, our MySpace friends Jebo
. This was totally unplanned, and all the more unfortunate, since Jebo had been kind enough to let us use their backline (to save yet another changeover of equipment), and had been unfailingly helpful and friendly when we were setting up. I wasn't wearing a watch, which I should have been, and lost track. My apologies, then, to Jebo, who had to get themselves organised double quick to make their start time of 8.30.
Afterwards, we did a photo session in the backstage area with Marilyn for some CD artwork which is gradually coming together. Look out for some new shots on the website
before too long.
And next week we have got three
gigs. It's starting to feel like a real band.
Next stop Nottingham!
The Borderline, Feb 24: The Happiness/Jack Viper/Jebo/David Sinclair
Set list: Jammed/Time is the Simplest Thing/Dusted & Rusted/Pennies on a Plate/Not Another Wasted Day/Bouquet of Weeds/Going to do Something/Life's Too Serious/The Song Marches on
has reviewed my group's show at The Rifleman
. Here's what he had to say:"He’s doing his first gig tonight – can you take the children?"
Not a particularly rock and roll invitation from the missus to the opening night of David Sinclair's min-tour with his new band to promote his first album. But he is a friend and neighbour and he has driven my daughter to the bus stop every school day for years. So this is how it was going to be.
David has been loyal to his first love – rock ‘n’ roll – for longer than he would probably care to remember. As an author, he fascinated with his account of the trials and tribulations of the Spice Girls. As a rock critic, he has kept the feet-up pop-picking Times-reading classes abreast of all the latest developments in rock for more than a decade.
David Sinclair’s love of rock goes further than this. His agreeable terraced house in fashionable Hammersmith’s has a backroom den of rhythm and blues iniquity, with a vast drum kit, de-tuned piano and as many guitars and amplifiers as are needed to refine a rare talent: that of the rock and roll polymath.
The Rifleman at Hounslow is few people’s idea of a great place for a night out – certainly there weren’t many drinkers in the front bar. But those who were there were clearly deaf to the events unfolding in the outsized shoebox at the back of the pub, lovingly described, by the landlord whose directions we sought for access to the gig, as "Outside".
It might just as well have been. It is one of the great truths of Rock and Roll that the more dispiriting and unappealing the venue (dirty, dark, damp), the more the real thing, if you are lucky enough to find it, will elevate the spirits and souls of those present. This was always going to be a challenging gig, but David’s discernible vocals, easy charm and magnetism ("This is everything I hoped for"), cadenced by the coruscating treble mix of his trusty Telecaster, kept us absorbed and distracted from the freezing temperature. Drew Farmer’s totally steady drums propelled the show. There was little to distract the band from its proper task of getting down and dirty for our pleasure.
All the band’s new material from Hey, their first album, was covered along with a brace of unrecorded numbers. The outstanding moments are found in the signature dish, Dusted and Rusted, which has the feel of a song that could have been written and recorded any time in the last thirty years and will never date.
The witty lyrics Fajita Hell ("Went out looking for a Taco Belle/Ended up with Fajita Hell"), the intelligent up-tempo topicality of Down With Whatever, the simple swinging drum breaks of the George Harrisonesque Bouquet of Weeds and the cool major chord riff of Life’s Too Serious (a Stones lick in another life?) all prove the versatility and originality of the DS band within the often confined limits of three piece rock.
Pennies on a Plate, another swinging number with a light six/eight feel, bluesily recounts the downs and further downs of marrying the imperative of earning a crust, dealing with the demands of family life and fending off the constant demands made on us all as we go about our business in the city that is London.
With the DS Band, their deft lightness of touch belies the harshness of our gritty shared urban reality. Their gig sends us out into the grubby winter world refreshed and alert to the need to do what we want with our lives - as David Sinclair and his band are doing.
That’s a kind of liberation. As the man himself says - Hey! Check out the band when they pass through your town.
Rocking at The Rifleman
So we kicked off the first bunch of live shows on Friday, with a performance at The Rifleman. Hell of a place. A spectacularly rundown backroom in a corner pub in Hounslow, the gig offers the visiting band a stage and PA - of sorts. The house microphones and stands have all been ripped off, so bring your own. Ditto the foldback monitors. Stage lights don't work. No heating. Fire exit locked. But a very nice welcome from the management, who then left us to get on with it.
Our sound engineer, Torin Brown
, who leads a double life as a folk troubadour, played a great opening set. His kind-of-Bob-Dylan-meets-Mike-Scott songs got a warm welcome - about the only thing that was warm in that place. Nice voice and some superb harmonica playing. I especially liked Waterline
, an eloquent study in quiet desperation.
We kicked off with a new song, Not Another Wasted Day
, and then hammered through everything we know - basically the whole of the album plus one other unrecorded song, Eight Rounds Later
. Some rough edges, but we had a brilliant
time, and the modest crowd who had braved the bitter cold to be there, gave us a fantastic reception. Thanks especially to all the people who came down from the George Andrew Fan Club (Sky TV division). Kay Burley rules!
You can track the rest of the upcoming dates over at the MySpace
site. But if that is a click too far, here they are again:
February 24 THE BORDERLINE, WC2 (+ The Happiness)
February 28 ROCK CITY, Nottingham (+ The Wrens)
March 1 ACADEMY, Birmingham (+ The Wrens)
March 3 100 CLUB, W1 (+ The Storys)
March 9 12-BAR CLUB, WC2 (+ Keith Thomson)
See you there!
The Rifleman, Feb 17: David Sinclair/Torin Brown
Set list: Not Another Wasted Day/Time is the Simplest Thing/Jammed/Pennies on a Plate/Fajita Hell/Bouquet of Weeds/Going to do Something/Eight Rounds Later/Down With Whatever/Life's Too Serious/Dusted & Rusted/The Song Marches on