Call me Russ L

No Sleep Till Hammer-Smith

Posted in Music by Russ L on 15 May, 2010

Ritchie: What is a top-class swanky tipple?
Waiter: Depends where you come from, Sir.
Ritchie: Well I come from Hammer-Smith.
Waiter: Half of Mild.
Ritchie: Ooh yes… yes, that’d be lovely. And bung an umbrella in it.
~ Bottom, “Finger”

I enjoy my occasional (still only in single figures) trips to London, for London is an enjoyable place. It is true that people there say “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” a lot less frequently than they do in the real world, and you do have to contend with the London Second (i.e. the length of time that corresponds to you blinking and someone trying to push ahead of you in a queue), and of course everything you might ever try to buy always costs at least five thousand pounds, but it’s still great fun in spite of all this. There’s loads to do, and… well, it does somehow feel different to everywhere else. I think it’s probably just because the place has been so mythologized in music and books and such, but it really feels like an outing. I like their standing-on-the-right-on-an-escalator thing and think it’s very sensible, and also I greatly admire their public transport system and wish ours around here worked even close to as well. When I found out that Iggy & The Stooges were supposed to be playing “Raw Power” all the way through in the legendary Hammer-smith of “Bottom” fame, I needed to be persuaded no further: I was going, and the only problem would be trying to avoid saying “Half of Mild” as a response to anything/everything anyone asked me. Oh, and to avoid letting Iggy con me into buying any car insurance. I was very resolute on that particular point. I don’t even own a car.

Still, though: a nice little outing and a live version of one of the best albums of all time. I’d call that pretty rad. If I were a complete tosser who used the term ‘rad’.

Hammersmith was alright. The railway arches as you look North from King Street were lovely. I normally go to Camden when in London, (I really like Camden. Yes, I know that makes me uncool and a tourist and so on) but I only found out relatively late on that this was the weekend of The Camden Crawl (shame I didn’t know earlier, I might have been able to make something of that) and so got to figurin’ that it might be too busy. I instead headed over to Kensington the following day and had a look at the Natural History Museum. That was great, although it’s too big to do the whole thing in one go. The massive blue whale looked shifty, too. I also had chance to have a little wander around Covent Garden/The Strand/Leicester Square, too, where I’d never been before. Enjoyable times. I like a bit of a wander.

So then, the gig. Time to see just which of us is really the streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm, mate. Turns out it’s me (or, perhaps, “not me”) since I enjoyed the I&TS set a hell of a lot but didn’t quite see it in the “best gig evaaaar” light that lots of other people seem to (see links at the end of this post).

Rewind a bit – The Apollo (formerly the Hammersmith Odeon) is huge. I was expecting something Civic/Academy-ish, but it’s a bit bigger than that – Hippodrome sized, maybe? Not toooo bad for massive venue, anyway.

Our first set of legends for the evening, then: Suicide, of “enormously influential (but rarely acknowledged on a mainstream level) electro-punk two-piece” fame. I really do love the album “Suicide” a lot, but I didn’t feel that this worked live. Their Erasure-after-eight-tins-of-Kestrel-Super sound seems more built for them to be in confrontation with the audience rather than in a celebratory/reverent environment like this, and as such at times their synthin’-and-a-hollarin’ approached Hoover-style bad performance art. On the positive side: they were very loud (even positioned –as I was – towards the back of the balcony), and they got some savage sounds from basic keyboards. Not a success on the whole, though. Sadly.

I got quite excited during the changeover – I could barely wait for Iggy & The Stooges to take the stage and burst into the opening riff of “Search And Destroy”. They only went and started with “Raw Power”, didn’t they? (That sounded quite Londonese, didn’t it? Do wot John, as it ‘appens). Oh. It’s not that I dislike that song (nosirree, I love it), but it’s not the opener that “Search And Destroy” is and they were meant to be doing the album all the way through. All of the songs but not in the right order – is that still doing the album? I’m not convinced, although no-one else seemed to mind.

That aside, it was an absolutely bosting performance. Iggy was… Iggy. Pull your trousers up young (old) man. The And The Stooges (Williamson on guitar, Asheton 1 dead, Asheton 2 on drums, a Minuteman on bass, that other fella variously on sax/keys/second guitar) had a much heavier/more muscular sound than I expected, but it really worked. “Search And Destroy” (when we got to it. I’m not letting that go) blew the figurative roof off the figurative place, and “Gimme Danger” was eerie even with that nutter charging around everywhere. We got none-“Raw Power” stuff, too – “I Wanna Be Your Dog” was hypnotic in some primal atavistic way, and “I Got A Right” (which I’d never heard before) was a huge towering tower of towering pissedoffification.

Great gig. Not the best ever, as I’ve said, but great.

(More, as ever: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Some of those might be about the gig the following night, though, since they did two).

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