Flamin’ Groovies. Brudenell Social Club. 20.04.2016

Two support acts before San Francisco’s finest (certainly one of the finest) are due on. I was a bit nervous about doing the review though. Always difficult when it is such a legendary name.

The Breakdowns. 4-piece from Nottingham, boldly advertised as ‘Garage Rock ‘n’ Roll Power Pop’. I think a reference to The Ramones wouldn’t be out of order either. The lead guitarist had a definite Johnny R stance, although doing a lead break broke the mould!  ‘ Rave on’ got a typical Ramones beefing up of a pop/rock ‘n’ roll standard. The singer / guitarist donned some sunglasses for’ Saturday Girl’, and ‘Don’t go’ was the obligatory slow number. Again, the sort of strategy adopted by da bruddas from Noo York.  A nod in the direction of Chuck Berry brought their short set to a close, and we enjoyed it very much. An extra point to the bassist for wearing a T-shirt from one of my all-time faves…Big Star

Nervous Twitch. Male drummer, male lead guitarist, female lead vocalist/bassist, female guitarist/back-up vocalist.  From the start, it was difficult to remove the image of the B52s in the Flintstones movie. No bad thing, of course, but there will never be another Kate Pearson.  An instrumental, a sort of ‘Son of’  ‘Wipe Out’ was good. It wouldn’t be fair of me to try and give an objective opinion, as we know one of the group. However, if I could say one thing?  It sounded better when the lead vocalist gave her bass to the female guitarist, and played keyboard while singing.

Flamin’ Groovies. Formed in 1965 by guitarist Cyril Jordan and vocalist Roy Loney, they have been touring, recording, breaking up, getting back together for the last fifty years. Many have come and gone , but Mr Jordan has been a constant.  Tonight’s  line up featured Jordan, George Alexander on bass (from the 60s), Chris Wilson (who joined when Loney left in 1971) on vocals and guitar and Victor Penalosa on drums. So a line-up with some authenticity.  They kicked off with ‘Yeah my baby’ a 2-chord wonder (!) and quickly followed up with the criminally-underrated Gene Clark’s Byrds song ‘Feel a whole lot better’. The rest of the set was a cracking ‘Best of..’ selection. No ‘Here is our new record in its entirety’ and , as always, plenty of cover versions. Chris Wilson has been quoted as preferring to play more of their own stuff, but Cyril is the one who likes to play some covers. Hey, The Grateful Dead had hours of their own material but played lots of covers on stage. It worked fine for them.  So we got ‘You tore me down’, the Beatles-esque ‘Please Please Girl’, ‘I can’t hide’, along with ‘Tallahassee Lassie’, ‘St Louis Blues’, ‘Don’t you lie to me’, ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and NRBQ’s ‘I want you bad’. And of course, no Groovies gig would be allowed without ‘Slow Death’, ‘Shake some Action’ and the final number ‘Teenage Head’. George got to show of his very good set of pipes too.

A great night, from a front line who will never again see their sixtieth birthdays. They all seemed to really enjoy it, Wilson in particular. Compare it with Bob Dylan’s appearances for at least the last thirty years, which involve coming on , grunting and going off.  Interesting to see someone with a T-shirt reproducing the seminal gig poster from the Roundhouse 4 July 1976. An important landmark in the history of ‘punk’, with The Ramones and The Stranglers supporting the Flamin’ Groovies. So £16 for tonight’s gig was criminally good value. I reckon it would be twice as much to see  The Stranglers, and probably about three times as much if The Ramones were still with us.

Sound was good, room for a few more. Drinks very good value. As usual, apologies for any errors.


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