The Godfathers, The City Rises and Dirty Hands – The Warehouse – 29/04/10
Yet another gig where New York Johnny and Still Burning managed to stay out late on a school night, this time it was the long-awaited return of The Godfathers for their 25th Anniversary Tour. Following our recent interview with vocalist Peter Coyne, the question was, could the hit men deliver? The answer was a resounding yes, and delivered with a passion that you’d find hard to beat these days.
NYJ - I met with Billy and Still Burning in the Bassment before this gig and, by the time we’d had a drink, a wee blether and then made our way into the venue, the first band of the night were onstage. A quick shufty at the stage timetable posted on the pillars of the near empty Warehouse confirmed that this lot were named Dirty Hands.
They looked like a school band, from their shiny white trainers and sixth-form hair cuts right through to the fact they had a little cluster of about twenty of their mates crowded round the front of the stage automatically offering fervent applause after every song. Even the fact that they had three guitarists in the band as well as the rhythm section added weight to my suspicions. The thing is, as far as I could tell, for the main part all three were playing the same thing as they trotted out a set of uninspired generic indie-rockers. Not terrible, just dull, with lacklustre vocals from one of the three guitarists. There was no zip to their set at all until the last number, which may even have been a cover, it was so far removed from the rest of their set in terms of style and delivery. I couldn’t say for sure though as the curse of the dodgy Warehouse sound conspired to render anything the frontman said into an unintelligible burble. Or maybe he just sounds like that naturally hehe. Anyway, not a great start to the evening and I hoped that things would improve.
Listed incorrectly on the venue timetable (always a worrying sign) as The City RiseRs, The City Rises trotted out their Korg driven Spacemen 3 type drones to an empty dancefloor. By this time, the Dirty Hands fans had relocated up the back to try their luck at getting served at the bar. Fortunately, the soundman had somehow weaved his magic and the band could at least be heard properly. For my first viewing of them, I really rather enjoyed them. Sure, they wear their influences on their sleeves but the songs are well structured, well played and the vocals are decent. Seemed like an odd choice of support for tonight’s headliner though and I wonder if they’d just responded to an emergency call. One for me to definitely check out again though at one of their own gigs.
And so to the headliners. Taking to the stage with around seventy rattling around The Warehouse, The Godfathers showed the true mettle that has taken them to this, their 25th Anniversary tour, and gave a masterclass in how good, honest rock & roll should be played. I took up a spot on the barrier to show a bit of support while, at the same time, hoping to ignore the fact there were so few standing watching behind me. Dressed in their trademark business suits and looking like members of the Krays firm, they ripped through the opening I Want Everything with all the venom they displayed at their peak. Peter Coyne commands the stage, buzzing around like an angry wasp, barking out the song introductions and the odd anecdote from their long history as the band lay waste to assorted highlights from their back catalogue. She Gives Me Love, Walking Talking Johnny Cash Blues, Public Enemy No 1 are all thrashed out in style to the few appreciative souls down the front. The teens up the back by this time have descended into football chants and jeering between songs. The band of course blaze ahead undeterred. They’re down to a four piece these days but guitarist Del Bartle copes on his own admirably with only a couple of places where I felt the second guitar was missed. The “hits” keep coming with the likes of If I Only Had Time and Love Is Dead reminding you of just how many great songs these guys have written over the years.
My personal favourite, This Damn Nation, with its incendiary lead lines is executed to perfection as the singer forms a pistol shape with his hand and blows away the youngsters at the back. A couple of new songs are aired which we’re told will be out on some format by October. One is a Ramonesy type rocker, the other something altogether darker. Both are decent. They also pull off a stunning take on How Does It Feel To Feel, originally done in the 1960s by The Creation. All too soon though, the set draws to a close with a hard-hitting double-header of Cos I Said So and their anthem Birth School Work Death which has those down the front chanting along in unison. They leave the stage and I pretty much figure that that’s gonna be our lot tonight and turn to leave when Still Burning asks why I’m not shouting for more. I raise my eyebrows in response but lend my voice to the couple of dozen others hoping for an encore and I’m shocked as the band make their way back on. I should have known though, there’s only ever one song to close a Godfathers’ show, the John Lennon classic that they have made their own. Of course, it’s Cold Turkey. With a couple of dozen voices helping them out on the chorus, the band lead us out with their twenty-first song of the night as though they had been playing to a packed house. When they’re done, instead of heading off to the dressing room, they step off the front of the stage and shake hands with every one of the crowd at the front. They stand there and chat with people, sign things and pose for photos with people right up till the security team huckle everyone out of the building. I hope the youngsters were paying attention. They could learn a lot from The Godfathers – a real class act. New York Johnny
SB - Another early night it seems as you find the first band on just after 8pm, and yet again its a hurry to get all three bands over by 10.30pm for the venue to close then open up again. Still, it saves you hanging around whilst things get going I suppose.
Youngsters Dirty Hands are first up. Sometimes its good to see young bands get slots at venues like the Warehouse although I’m not sure either of the supports actually `fitted` with the main band of the evening. Nevertheless though, its two bands I’ve never seen nor heard before and that’s something I always like personally, seeing bands for the first time. What we get on the night though, is a very standard performance with no real stand out tracks for me but this experience will do them good. They may be excellent musicians I’ve no idea but standing at the bar area listening to them but I didn’t hear anything that said `here, come and take a closer look`. Hopefully they can improve in time and use this valuable playing slot to their benefit.
Sometimes I look at bands and say to myself, would I put this lot on a bill or would I not. If I had been in promoter mode that night I’d have been totally pissed off by the attitude of their followers who no doubt mostly blagged freebies to get in. There was no fighting, no spitting, no throwing beer, so what was the problem? Well, in my opinion, when I reckon there was less than sixty people in the venue and they’ve supported their mates band, fair play to that, no worries there, but for me the issue was that they showed no respect to the two other bands of the evening, just capering about and not paying any attention to the music being played. It wasn’t just tonight though. I remember seeing a support band from Inverurie at The Tunnels, their music was actually very good but the singer spent half the time of their 35 minute slot exchanging banter with his pals in the crowd rather than using the set to impress the people that hadn’t heard them before. And when they’d finished their set their entire entourage fucked off too. What happened to appreciating other bands efforts? Surely the more people there makes for a better atmosphere to play in?
Ach, I suppose it was just kids enjoying themselves at a gig, better that than annoying folks on the streets eh? The funny thing is with a wee bit better gig-goers etiquette the Dirty Hands Fan Club could have helped to generate a better atmosphere for the other two bands. If these lads can contine gigging, practicing, hopefully defining their own sound then I expect them to be very, very different in a years time.
The City Rises puzzled me a bit. I actually quite liked them, reminded me a lot of the basic sound of The Pet Shop Boys and other such electronic-ey goodness whilst Billy thought there was a bit of Glasvegas in there so it was a pleasant change to all the bands I’d heard lately. They had a strange stage presence though. When I look at a band on stage I like to see stuff happening. Most bands will have a front man who will catch the eye but the vocalist was static behind his keyboard without any sort of watchability for me. The bassist and other keyboard player were in a darkened side of the stage with the female drummer virtually hidden by the vocalist and it just gave nothing to watch whilst they were playing. There was some lighting effects right enough but I’m not sure they had a big enough sound to carry it off… yet. I say yet, because I hope to see this band again, and maybe somewhere like The Tunnels would suit their sound down to the ground. I’d book this band, absolutely, but I’d choose the venue and the other acts very carefully.
The Godfathers then. They come all this way to play to sixty folk. It’d put a lot of bands off wouldn’t it? Not these guys. No sir, as Mr P Coyne proudly announced around four songs in that `We’re The Godfathers` and he was just so fucking right. NYJ has said that he’d like a second guitarist and his opinion I probably hold higher than my own but I really didn’t know any different. The whole band just seemed so professional, like a hitman just carrying out another job to a perfect T. Having listened to Hit By Hit a few times since the gig I can honestly say that these lads (in my humble of course) are playing like they’re still in their twenties. I like power in my songs, I like strong bass playing, I like guitar parts and I like vocals with attitude and choruses that you can’t help but mime to, and I haven’t even mentioned the rather excellent drummer with a crap taste in Scottish accents. Having just re-read my words I realise that this paragraph is all rather complimentary, and that, my friends, is because they deserved it. I really hope that one day they give Aberdeen another chance because they just didn’t deserve the pathetic numbers on the night. Still Burning
Pictures are by Murdo Morrison, cheers for that fella!
The Godfathers MySpace
The City Rises MySpace
Dirty Hands Facebook