DATE: Saturday 19th June 2010
VENUE: 229, 229 Great Portland Street, London
COST: £22.50 + the usual exorbitant booking fees!
RATING: The Good Guys wore black tonight!
The 229 venue is tucked away just behind Great Portland Tube Station and after finding somewhere to park without the threat of being towed or clamped or ticketed, we got into the venue not long after 8pm. The venue’s website says the doors open at 7pm, and the bands start at 8pm so we figured we would be arriving just as the first band was on stage – Thee Vicars. This was a band that interested The Beeb so imagine how disappointed he was to discover that the band just starting up was King Salami and The Cumberland 3 (the 2nd band on the bill) and the whole thing had actually kicked off at 7.30 so we had missed them.
King Salami and the Cumberland 3 are a pretty good live act, who played a real stonking rhythm & blues and sounded like they would have been right at home, recording in the Sun Studios in the 50’s. You’ll be hard pushed to find a stranger looking line-up. The lead singer, was a black French man who had a great stage personality and you could tell these guys were either a seasoned live act, (or had been practising hard), as they played a pretty fluid set. The guitarist was a tall, skinny Rodney Trotter look –a-like, dressed all in white to match his white guitar. The bass player was a Japanese bloke who jumped around quite a bit, and the drummer looked like he had a great sense of humour, looking like an Egyptian behind the drum kit, with a pair of one lensed sunglasses and a fez! They finished off with what they described as a genuine Bo Diddley effort conceived in Stoke Newington! On the whole we rather enjoyed their set. Check them out on Myspace, and you’ll see they have a fair number of gigs lined up.
For The Standells, the stage was shielded by a large screen, with the scene from the film “Riot on Sunset Strip” leading up to the band’s appearance in the movie being projected onto it. As the band’s playing started on screen, the stage screen began to rise, to reveal the Standells on stage, the video sound was cut and the Standells took over playing “Riot On Sunset Strip” live right on cue!
Early on there was a technical problem as the bass lost power but that was quickly resolved and the band played what can only be described as a blinder of a set which included “Dirty Water”, “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” , “Mr Nobody” and a great cover of “Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go.” The bass player’s microphone was either turned off or was turned down really low, which meant that the harmonica piece on “Dirty Water” wasn’t heard, and on occasions when the vocals switched between Larry Tamblyn on keyboard and Paul Downing on guitar, the mics weren’t at the right level for a lead vocal. But having said that, it was still a fantastic hour of music.
The crowd whistled and roared after Scorch (Greg Burnham) on drums did a bit of a solo on one song, and all around us, people were dancing and really enjoying the whole show.
As they finished their set, they left the stage to calls for more, and then Gary Leeds (the Standells original drummer, and later of Walker Brothers fame) came on stage to bring the guys back for an encore. They did 2 more songs and despite more calls for another, when the roadies started to take down mics and dismantle the drum kit, we knew the show had indeed finished and we reluctantly headed for home.
The only original member of the band on stage tonight was Larry Tamblyn, (although John was in the “Riot” movie) but they did play a great set, the audience completely loved it and we were just as thrilled to see their first ever UK show. The timelessness of this music was shown by the age range of the audience. From young students to the band’s peers, and everyone getting off on it.
The guys are recording some interviews and then playing live for some BBC radio shows - they will be on Mark Riley’s BBC6 radio show on 21st June from 7pm (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00c72y1).
The 229 venue is a bit of a London nugget. It’s a great venue, stairs leading underground to a series of rooms – one for lounging in, one for dancing to the DJ’s (after the live acts have finished) and then the huge stage area, with a high stage (so you don’t have to stand on tippy-toes and still only see the heads of the band!) which gives the audience a great view.
And as for the loos? Quite presentable, clean and (when Minty went anyway) no long queues!