Paul from Dirty Water Records looks at me with his piercing blue eyes and warns me that tonight is going to be loud. Nambucca is a half neon-lit bar/half venue a long stone’s throw from Arsenal’s football ground in North London. It is adorned with Jack Daniels and Budweiser logos and has a gallery of earlier star studded gig photos on the walls. Anybody who is anybody in the indie world looks like they’ve played here at some point and tonight it’s The Fleshtones.
The seats are pale green plastic and I could be in the American mid-west, surrounded by bowling shirts, Converse All-Stars, and fake snakeskin jackets. Think Nic Cage in Wild at Heart.
Dirty Water Records works with and promotes some great rock n roll artists that inhabit the margins. Their acts all look like people you’d expect to find in the cast of a Jim Jarmusch film. Tonight was no exception and saw a rare outing of The Fleshtones with three excellent support acts in attendance. Let the good times roll. Goo goo muck all the way.
Kurt Baker Combo
Kurt brought stacks of energy to the early slot. The band is made up of two Spaniards and two Americans, who happened to be passing through – not sure where from and where to. Blues rock, including a cover of “Love Potion Number 9”, wa just what the doctor ordered.
Kurt also gives good banter – indeed it was the first time I’d heard someone say, “Let’s do it up”, since my mate Graeme, who went to Uni in Boston. “Party On” summed up the set – jackhammer bass and whining gee-tar.
“Y’all like rock and roll music? I’m not talking steam punk. What the fuck’s that? Now here’s a song. It’s called 8AM Baby!!”
PJ the MC introduced The Embrooks as having been around for a long time. In fact, The Libertines once supported them! They is recently woke up from a ten-year hibernation, but they are back better than ever.
The three-piece reminded me a bit of Cream in their heyday (which had nothing to do with the loons of Alexander Coates-Leprechauns on lead guitar). It was a bit noisy, trashy, psychedelic and modish in places, but an enjoyable noise nevertheless.
Fantastic drumming from Lois Tozer and thumping bass/vocals from Mole. Tight, tight, tight. These guys have obviously known each other for a while and long may it continue.
Sir Bald Diddley and His Ripcurls
Hawaiian shirts, sax and keys = dirty surf music. I did think most songs sounded like they wanted to mutate into Johnny B Goode, and Sir Bald kept encouraging people to dance.
Music from the early-’60’s surf scene (without any sign of cheesy Beach Boys close harmonies) – a time when electric guitars had taken over the world. Well-executed rock ‘n roll/12-bar blues with four-note lead breaks.
Their first single, “Close Shave”, was a mash-up of surf and the Twist – I could see Batman dancing to it on his surfboard (original TV series). Highlight of the set was probably “She’s My Detonator”, which got four or five oldsters in the crowd doing the Twist.
“We’re going to have a break from the Twist and go into the gorilla” – which introduced “Macho Combo Burrito”, which was a rehashed “Tequila”. Fun, fun, fun.
Wow! They know how to put on a show! They also know how to keep their audience waiting and, as a result of needing to get the last train, I had to leave half way through the set.
But during the space of 4 or 5 songs, they had the crowd actually spinning as part of the “Wheel of Talent” and dragged an Italian guy up from the audience and had a conversation in Italian with him. During the song, “Let’s Go”, they left the venue completely and continued to play (thanks to radio mics) outside. I’m not sure what the residents of Holloway Road thought when three lithe, aged blokes, bedecked in rock ‘n roll stage costumes appeared in the street complete with guitars. They did, however, leave the drum kit on the stage.
Peter Zaremba remains a hypnotic frontman, who spent large parts of the night in the crowd and behind his antique Farfisa organ. I suspect that they got up to a lot more fun and japes in the cape after I left. Strangely enough, the dude who sat in the bar earlier in the snakeskin jacket and spangly shoes, who I thought was Nic Cave, turned out to be their guitarist, Keith Streng. I could never pass a rock identity parade.
Fleshtones I salute you. I bathe in the energy that you still possess. You’ve been going for 40 years, and I’m not quite sure what brand of madness you are peddling (I know you call it “Super Rock”), but I’ll have another dose of it soon.
The band is promoting their album, The Band Drinks For Free, and I suspect they played it long and hard into the night.
Marcus Jamieson-Pond is a regular gig goer in London. Images from other gigs can be found at www.jampondphotography.com/gigs
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