Letter From London: March 2008

"A document of the random wanderings of a Londoner grinding out a February in the capital. "

Letter From London March 2008
The Dome is another back room of a pub. It' a bit bigger than other venues like this I've been to, and it's in an unfashionable part of London (Tufnel Park). It's also been going for years, as has this night : the Dirty Water Club. Every Friday night it's treated Londoners to two or three guitar bands in a relaxed environment with a friendly atmosphere. We arrive early, about 9:30, just before the first band take the stage. The Federals knock out an energetic set of garage rock. To begin with the singers voice is either too loud in the mix, or he's a bit excited and bellows the first half of the set. After a while things settle down and it's really entertaining.  I fully expect that these young lads will back from Yorkshire soon and be higher up the bill, playing to a larger crowd. The next band up are called Skintight Jaguars, their music is a bit too rock / metal for the Dirty Water club, and for my mood tonight. No such problem for the headliners, Thee Exciters. They fit right in, which is no surprise when you find out they've got a record out on Dirty Water Records. These lads belt out a belting,  crowd pleasing set. The singer, in particular, has all the swagger of a guy who knows where he's going. Maybe some of his moves are a little too close to Mick Jagger for my liking, but we can forgive him that as he's obviously having such a good time. The highlight of the set sees him join the crowd, then encourage them to join him getting lower and lower as the music gets quieter and quieter. They do get lower. And Lower. Eventually there's a good number of us actually lying on the floor. Of course, the music gets louder and louder, and the singer (and the crowd) slowly return to their feet. Just as things get jumping it's time to leave, and I wish I had an easier way home so I could stay until the end. Or that 3 hours on a night bus didn't seem such a chore. Or perhaps I should just get a taxi and charge it to the Incendiary slush fund. http://www.dirtywaterclub.com/http://www.myspace.com/theeexcitershttp://...

Thee Exciters
A week later we're off to Bethnal Green. Just as unfashionable as Tufnel Park, but a damn site easier for me to get to. Tonight's venue is the Working Mens Club, which has caught me eye for a couple of years, but I've never actually been there until tonight. We wander up a side street, and I know we're in the right place when I see a massive Bansky piece on the wall outside. Also the 'CIU' sign helps. I'm happy : this is a propper working mens club: a couple of burly blokes on the door, who are pleasant enough if you chat to them, a dolly bird in the cloak room, lino on the floor. We're directed upstairs where I'm over joyed to see lots of red velvet, rope lights and a good, old fashioned tranny collecting the glasses. This place is great. I'm here to see my mates play in their covers band, but what makes this worth mentioning is the singer is a comedy character called Mike Strutter. He's a fowl mouthed, american lawyer that has his own MTV show (apparently, I don't have that myself). As we wait for him the place get rammed, and the DJ plays a storming set that has the annoying 'in' crown getting down. I'm surprised to see Jarvis Cocker propping up the bar, and I'm told by those around me that there's plenty of media people here: magzine and record label workers by all accounts. Mike eventually takes the stage. He's entertaining enough with his between song banter, but as a singer he doesn't quite cut it. After the set the promoter has given us a couple of variety acts. First up is Talula the Hula. She does a five minute set, spinning hula hoops from her arms, neck, and feet as she puts herself in various poses. She only falls over once, and is well received by the crowd. She's followed by a dance who is vaguely erotic, but has an ace off up her sleeve: a live snake. She certainly has the crowd in the palm of her hands, and the funniest thing I see all night is noticing Talula looking on from the side of the stage. She's not happy. http://workersplaytime.net/

Mike StrutterThe next Friday I'm in the West End of London, at the opening night of an exhibition. This may sound very grand, well... it did to me, but in fact it's a tiny room below a bookmakers. My plans to better myself by rubbing up against the well-to-do will have to wait. There's 5 artists exhibiting here, some of the stuff is fantastic and some doesn't quite work for me. There's a few large photographic prints, some graphic novel style portraits on cardboard boxes posted from Japan, some abstract stuff obviously inspired by 'street art', some very cartoony stuff and (god, I'm struggling now) that stuff that's all paint drops and runs. Does that have a style? I do like it, and the artist is pretty frank in admitting that anyone could do it, it's just a matter of knowing "when to catch the paint". All in all there's some very nice stuff, and if I'd had a few hundred quid to spare I could have easily bought a couple of pieces. I'll keep an eye out for all the artist future work I reckon. http://www.roughe.com/http://www.myspace.com/remskihttp://www.myspace.co... http://www.nancyvictor.com/

Words: Chris Gibson