Back in the 80s, the Long Ryders star shone brightly but all too briefly. They were lumped in with the ‘Paisley Underground’ tag (What the hell did that mean? Almost as puzzling as the word ‘Americana’) , along with the Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, Green on Red and even a young R.E.M. A similar event happened about 10 years earlier, when Television and Talking Heads (plus The Stranglers over here) were pigeon-holed with the Ramones as ‘punk’.
But the Long Ryders were a bit of country, a bit of rock’n’ roll, a bit of social comment…and a lot of fun. I never saw them at their height, but went to the Irish Centre in Leeds in 2004 on their first ‘reformed’ tour. Sid Griffin was decidedly unhappy at having to play a shortened set because Leeds’s The Prowlers playing for too long. (I couldn’t understand why they were added to the bill in the first place). The line-up then was their ‘classic’ one, as it is tonight.
But that was then and this is now. They strolled on at 9.10 pm and were straight into the crowd-pleasing ‘Run Dusty Run’. Three songs from Mr Griffin’s favourite Long Ryders LP, ‘Two-Fisted Tales’, followed. (‘Man of Misery*’, A stitch in time’ and ‘Gunslinger man’). The vocal duties were shared between the front three all night and the sound was excellent throughout. No new songs to plug, so it was very much a ‘Best of..’ show, although it was impossible to play everything. Sid told a tale about ‘Capturing the flag’ which isn’t in this tour. There was more from ‘Two- Fisted tales’, but not one of my favourites ‘For the rest of my days’.*
There was the odd iffy moment, which usually brought a knowing grin, and ‘Two kinds of love’ had a great McGuinn-esque guitar break from Sid’s Rickenbacker. (Also some slightly suspect vocals, but that makes them more ‘real’). The main set finished with ‘State of my union’, possibly the greatest Chuck Berry song not written by Chuck Berry.
A couple of encores, finishing with the timeless ‘Looking for Lewis and Clark’. An hour and a half of brilliance, although we could have done without a mosh-pit of middle-aged men who should know better.
Sid, Stephen, Tom and Greg looked happy to be there, without the pressure of the mid-eighties record-promoting tours. Greg on drums had a grin on his face all night, in the knowledge that he didn’t have to give up his day job?
Not many outfits had three designated vocalists back in eighties, but the formula worked in their case. No rush to the toilet, as when Mick says ‘Keef’s gonna sing one nah’ !!
Her Ladyship was well impressed. There were plenty of long-time fans there who knew all the words, and we got a second rendition of ‘I want you bad’ in a matter of weeks. Try and catch them, not long left. Tickets a snip at £17.50.
*Have seen them titled ‘Man of Mystery’ and ‘For the rest of my life’.
(Support was from Sid’s buddy from the Coal Porters’, Neil Robert Herd. Mainland Europe got a back-up from the unique Dan Stuart).
Sorry , no pictures with this one.I used my phone and they were too out of focus.