I got my first gig of the year under my belt last night. I enjoyed it greatly, but I think it is safe to say that I'm unlikely to see anything quite like it again this year.
The venue was St. Pancras Old Church, and the headliner was Johnny Dowd. Support came from the Dutch duo of Melle de Boer and Suzanne Ypma (formerly of Smutfish and Woof Woof Ridicule respectively - no, that's really true).
They were promoting Melle's new album "Temporary Bandage", from which the first track below comes. They reminded me quite a bit of our old pal from over the German border, Dad Horse Experience. Like Dad, there were a couple of songs about matricide, alongside more surreal ones about - for example - an abandoned smile that wrote a letter to its mother who drove over in a Lincoln Continental to rescue it.
Then we had Johnny himself, ably accompanied by Mike Edmondson on guitar. The first half of the set was what we had come for - mostly discordant blues riffs with Johnny hollering things like "Hotpants! I wanna get spanked!" over the top.
That part of the evening came to a close with an Oi! version of Judy Garland's "Smile", which one might charitably call a brave experiment that doesn't merit repeating. Johnny then brought Melle and Suzanne back on stage to join him and, for the rest of the evening, we were treated to a set of American folk and country standards. Think Bruce Springsteen's "Seeger Sessions" but with Bruce replaced by the crazy old man who stands at bus stops shouting at cars. "Tom Dooley" will never quite be the same again.
You had to be there really. And I'm very glad I was.
"Demons" - Melle De Boer
"Betty" - Johnny Dowd
"A World Without Me" - Johnny Dowd