Sunday, December 13, 2009
Made in the Eighties.
Bob Geldof commented that getting The Who to play Live Aid was like getting a man and his three exes back together. It wasn't quite so fractious when the four of us who made up the As Is (mk.III) line up reconvened after a gap of about nineteen years to play at one time Behemoth of the Bass Ross Geraghty's birthday party in darkest North London this weekend and anyway, there was only one of my exes there. Having rooted around in the attic for a set of matching drum sticks, drummer Malcolm, the rocking barrister from Followill, Followill, Followill and Followill (I believe he is formally attached to Molly's Chambers) was limbering up gently at a table in the corner when James and I arrived fresh from the same route that he used to take into London in the olden days of the Punk Wars, when horses and carts laden with turnips for market would also convey fun loving Adicts fans to dark, black-painted rooms, where they would drink snakebite and exchange copydex recipes.
Rossco and the house band warmed up the PA with a brisk run through some pub rock standards (after the third I thought, "Well there go all the things I can play along on") garnering a series of huge rounds of applause in the process and then after a few ginger tweaks and tune ups we gathered together on stage and prepared to trundle through half a dozen songs we hadn't played in nearly two decades. To be honest, I don't think we'd actually all been in the same room with each other in that time. Bearing in mind that this was supposed to be a party and that there were only two other people in the room who had heard any of the songs we were about to play before, I don't think we were entirely sure how this was all going to come off. The band was so unfamiliar even to Ross's mates that one of them asked who our bass player was. There were four clicks on the sticks and then we were off, and to be honest, it wasn't so much that the years slipped away, it was more that it seemed that the years hadn't actually been there in the first place. It was terribly nice that so many people came up and asked if that was all our own stuff and how long had we been rehearsing for it afterward, but the main pleasure was simply being back in harness with the coolest rhythm section in town (one of whom surely has a portrait in the attic which has take on the job of ageing on his behalf), whacking up the distortion and wailing the fuck out.
On the way home we picked up a kebab, just like the old days (and I understand it may even have been from the same shop as back in the day), and once I got home I realised that the eighties scarf I'd dug out to wear especially had been lost in transit betwixt stage and hearth. If I were a more spiritual man I'd say that it was a fitting metaphor for closure. As it is, I probably just dropped it in the pub. Probably the sort of careless act I would have done back then, except I probably wouldn't have bothered remembering to reclaim my spare plectrum and we really would have gone through with nicking the mics. But what sort of example would that be to the kids?