Fonda 500 / Chris
T-T/ Pagan Wanderer Lu / The New Royal Family – The Good Ship,
Three cheers for Paul,
of Maps webbozine, who has put on a series of gigs in the name of raising
cash for Oxfam (called ‘Oxjam’ – ho!) So here we are being
cheered on our arrival by an ‘exuberant’ David Barnett (who’s
cheering the arrival of every familiar face) and marvelling at the weird layout
of this Good Ship place. The stage and ‘dance floor’ are in a
sunken pit (like the Blue Peter sunken garden, possibly), so that people on
the higher bar level can gaze down in a kind of wall of death / coliseum type
way. It’s a tad disconcerting, but not as disconcerting as when The
New Royal Family take to the stage.
nobility! The Boyfriends’ bassboy David Barnett is here to present his
side project and mentalness pressure valve The New Royal Family. It’s
a place where tunes about '‘the first time a girl touched my cock'’
and the sharing of biscuits (‘Anyone Fancy A Chocolate Digestive’)
can be aired with glee and vigour.
No method in their madness!
The band have had but two rehearsals, but no matter, we’re in capable
hands what with Alex Luxembourg coaxing howls of outrage from his keyboard,
Richard Boyfriend restricting his string twangling talents to the bass, the
heart-warmingly smiley Jen on drums and woo! for once a real live guitar heroine
in the shape of Bonnie Prince Charley in a tiara.
Mr Barnett makes a great Queen/frontman pirouetting and bouncing, rambling and
hollering. Offering the audience a packet of chocolate digestives (see aforementioned
song) and performing a gradual striptease as the set progresses; off come the
frockcoat, the shirt and tie to reveal an ‘Elizabeth Rules OK’ tee-shirt
(‘Elizabeth Rules UK’, surely?). Luckily the songs run out before
he gets ‘down below those dandy clothes’.
The music? Oh yeah, the
music is how I imagine The Horrors to sound – a counterpoint to Zombina
and the Skeletones of bubblegum punk and garagey organ riffs. (Let it be noted
that I haven’t actually heard The Horrors, I think they look perfect
as a pop-art statement, no need to listen to ‘em.)
There’s plinky-plonky piano careening ever faster towards a demented climax for the cock-touching song, and a general sense of barely controlled trash pop mayhem and all round fun. It therefore pains me to write that I am first offered BRIBES and then issued with sinister DEATH THREATS from Mr Barnett, who is eager for a good write up. Luckily I have already hidden in the lavs to write down my thoughts and am thus incorruptible.
Next up, it’s Pagan Wanderer Lu, a kind of lo-fi laptop Billy Bragg for the 2000s whose guitar keeps conking out and whose keyboard tippy-taps out freaky beats. He does a good song about hospitals not having enough beds and then a lo-lo-fi one with just a one-fingered keyboard accompaniment. A mashed Scotsman beside me (not Barnett) mutters menacingly in my ear, ‘Is he really good, or is he taking the piss?’ I don’t understand the question, let alone know the answer so I runs away.
there’s Chris T-T, a troubadour with integrity. Every so often I see Mr
T-T play and it’s always a pleasure to listen to his songs with or without
band. This time he’s playing solo, just him and a guitar, which is great
because you get to hear his lyrics; cutting, pointed, witty, thought-provoking.
It’s good to hear someone with a political conscience speaking up amongst
the mishmash of consumer culture, pleasure-seeking inanity we’re generally
blasted with. Songs such as ‘A Plague On Both Your Houses’ offer
some reassurance that there are still folks out there getting outraged by the
actual things that matter, ‘unfashionable' as it may be. Listening to
Mr T-T’s songs doesn’t involve receiving a dour hectoring, though,
these are tunes riddled with a wry humour and playful imagination and that makes
all the difference.
To end, he drops the guitar and
sings ‘M1 Song’ a capella, loud and proud. It sounds exasperated
and touching, a true folk song for our times. Finally, despite time-constraints,
audience pressure brings Chris T-T back to play ‘The Huntsman Comes
A-Marchin’, the rabble-rousing one that goes “Now the Countryside
Alliance / We'll call them 'the cunts' for short” and eruditely points
out what repulsive hypocrites they are. As ever, it goes down a storm.
|Finally, to top it all Fonda 500 amble on and make me dance the same way that Super Furries make me dance, i.e. like a fackin’ mental. At first things look bleak, the sound is a bit dodge and Simon Fonda seems kind of grumpy, though its hard to tell what’s going on under his woolly eared hat. But then it all comes good; folks start dancing merrily and suddenly we’re at an allnite disko party sound-tracked by beatboxin’ body poppin’ crank pop. Indiscriminately throwing shapes to new songs and old and ‘Computer Freaks Of The Galaxy’, blasted on spacedust and digital hymns to heaven knows what, we all have a high old time in the name of cheridee.|
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