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Blog: Shoreditch!

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Last night I headed out to the London district of SHOREDITCH, which is reknowned within the M25 as being full of utter utter... well, politeness precludes me from using the usual word applied here. Let us just say it is known for having inhabitants who are even more clueless, fashion-obsessed, and foolishly dressed than normal.

Now, working near Fashionable Soho, i found this hard to believe - surely there can't be MORE people wearing horrible massive glasses like the fourth boy band member in that SpecSavers advert? Surely there can't be even GREATER hordes of underfed nitwits in too short trousers and haircuts that LOOK like they were done by a vengeful ex-partner but actually cost over 100 quid? Surely not?

Surely YES! BLOW ME DOWN GUV'NOR! There they were in their THOUSANDS, spilling out of "bars", lurking around outside "boutiques", loudly saying "Bisexual" whilst waving a "joint" around ostentatiously in the street. I was AGOG! ALSO amazing was how the DESIGNERS of the area had also seen fit to combine one of the most ANNOYING aspects of That London with a compendium of the city's most NASTY and GROTTY elements. Mere inches from the "fashionable" "bars" there were TERRIFYINGLY UNPLEASANT "boozers" filled up with people who, in the hot weather, were sitting clutching pints and grim-facedly GLARING out into the street from a forest of tatoos. The pub-style pubs that WEREN'T like this were "Gentlemen's Clubs" i.e. STRIP JOINTS! I had never seen the LIKE outside of King's Cross and Glasgow, but there were SEVERAL of these, also rather a lot of SAUNA'S. Also the whole place STANK, I mean, Leytonstone where I live, has areas that are a bit whiffy (especially round the side of KEBABISH on the High Street - BLIMEY), but NOTHING like this. There was filth, litter, disrepair, and REAMS of Graffiti. And, whilst I'm at it, allow me to enter the DEBATE on this one - anyone who thinks Graffiti in general is an art-form that should be ENCOURAGED very very obviously does NOT live in an area where there IS any of it. Graffiti at the moment is NOT a joyous outporing of expression happily painted by ARTISANS who spend the rest of their time FIGHTING CRIME ON SKATEBOARDS. It is all TAGGING i.e. clueless BERKS writing their NAMES over everything, and it is RUBBISH. RUBBISH, i tell you!

Anyway, as might be DISCERNED from the above, I got to the venue NOT in the best of moods, and this was not helped by the fact that my devout adherence to the NO BEER DIET this month meant i couldn't have the delicious cold pint of lager that I so desired. Nor was it helped by the bar staff self-consciously "grooving" to The Sounds rather than getting my DRINK, nor by the upstairs bar having loads MORE of the Local Twits in it, or indeed by the first band, who were a pretty rubbish "punk" band, who seemed particularly pleased with themselves for being so crappy.


As the band continued, a realisation slowly dawned upon me - why, these young tykes reminded me of someone! They reminded me of The K-Stars, a band I was in in Leicester for a year or two with Matt (later of The Hotwires and The Quickies), Will (now Supreme Vagabond Craftsman and Invisible Spies LEADER) and Zachary (LEGEND of Leicester!). Zachary refused to tune his guitar and would play with BLOOD streaming down his hands, Will had his own record label and distribution company, and Matt was filled with RIGHTEOUS IRE and a million IDEAS and POLEMICS, and LO! we sounded BLOODY AWFUL! That was the band that TAUGHT me that hey! sometimes you need to listen NOT to what a band is playing, but what they THINK they're playing, and then you TOO enter their world of MAYHEM and GLEE, and have MUCH more fun. OK, I didn't get a sense of that from these lot, but the more they played the more i WARMED to them and stopped being such a gnarly old git. "Aaah!" thought I, "I haven't seen Matt for about seven years, I wonder where he is now?"

Where he was was RIGHT NEXT TO ME!! ARGH! SUDDENLY he leapt from my MIND into my EYES! I was A BIT SURPRISED! But PLEASED! We then had one of those weird "So, what have you been up to in the past seven years?" conversations which always seems to end up with me EITHER going "er... nothing?" or BLURTING out "I was on Steve Lamacq! I did a gig with an encore! I have a girlfriend! Honest!" This time it was very MUCH the latter.

And so quickly back to the GIG, and it was Winston Echo, who i had come to see. I FELT HIS PAIN at the start as, being a solo ARTISTE (and the venue being a bit ramshackle) he hadn't had a soundcheck, so for the first two songs you couldn't hear him over his guitar, which also went out of TUNE... this is the NIGHTMARE for solo gigs, there's no way to cover it up, and it's just you ALONE in front of the BAYING HORDES. However, after that he got the sound level RIGHT, and it was all LOVELY, especially when he engaged a DRUMMER, and got the whole crowd clapping along. Also, of course, The Pirate Song, it was GRATE! I heartily recommend his CD "When Will We Commute Like The Jetsons Did" (from Undereducated Music), a copy of which i GOT last night on 3" CD!

After that it was Wet Dog - I've actually played a couple of gigs with them, but each time I've had to go and catch a train and miss them. I was EXPECTING something a bit like The Retro Spankees, but more shambolic and playful. What i WASN'T expecting was how BLOODY GRATE they were - I was STUNNED! It was sort of like Prolapse, really, HEAVILY rhythmic (i must RESTRAIN myself before i say "Relentlessly Pounding" like a music journo), TUNEFUL and full of IDEAS and BITS that pulled you along through the song - the best thing I can say really is that it all seemed to be FAR too short and left me wanting MUCH more. I was really surprised! It was dead DEAD good!

After that i RETIRED to the downstairs bit for more of a chat with Matt and his friend Abi who ALSO i hadn't seen for YEARS. It was LOVELY, and it was a much MUCH happier Hibbett who stumbled onto a BUS for Liverpool Street afterwards than it was who'd STOMPED up the road not three hours earlier. Such is THE POWER OF ROCK!

posted 5/8/2004 by MJ Hibbett

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