We were extremely glad that we made the effort to get down to the venue early, because despite the fairly limited numbers of punters present and the working man’s club décor, the event had a fantastically friendly atmosphere. In addition to having rounded up all the usual local suspects, the gig had drawn people from a surprising distance, and there was a lot of catching up on ‘Goth-sip’ to be done! Plus; the early arrival meant that we could take full advantage of the Jack and coke at £1.15 a pop.
Luxury Stranger acted as support for the gig and did a fine job of it. Deep and moody without descending into misery, the band could be (badly) described as post-punk-Goth with clear influences that span the entire breadth of most 80s post-punk CD collections. Anyone that has not heard their music before will be making a point of doing so in the near future. Even the three resident sixty year olds supping Stout at the back seemed to enjoy it.
In contrast, the first ten minutes of The March Violets did not impress, far from it, to be blunt. We are not sure if it was down to tight vocal chords, poor sound set-up or simple lack of practice and accumulated cobwebs in the windpipe, but the vocals were off-key – verging on painful – and for a while the band’s own support looked to have upstaged them. Still, things warmed up after a while, lyrics became more recognisable as such, and feet started to tap. The initial panic that left some wondering if this wasn’t some kind of tribute band subsided and we really started to enjoy the gig.
The March Violets are… well; of sufficient stature to not have to compare them to other bands. A seminal act of the genre, it was great to finally get to experience them, and long before the inevitable ‘Snake Dance’ encore, we had wide smiles on our faces.
The point of pre-tour warm up gigs is -of course- as a warm up for the tour and a chance to iron out problems before playing in front of larger audiences, and from this the band have a few things to take away from the night. Certainly some more polish needs to be added to the vocal performance (or some more fiddling done with the sound desk), but other than those difficulties; the gig was an excellent one.
But then; how could it not be? Some old friends, a classic band, exposure to some new music, and three sheets to the wind for less than a tenner! A top night!
Photography by Al Pulford/www.rockphotography.co.uk
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