Nantwich Civic Hall
A full playthrough of “Power In the Darkness” 40 years on from “2-4-6-8 Motorway” at 1.30pm in the afternoon in Nantwich Civic Hall, rock n’ roll capital of Cheshire? Yes please. In th efirst bloom of PC amidst punk orthodoxy, the Tom Robinson Band were a basically unreconstructed rock band with plenty of riffage and strong Hammond Organ singing songs with political lyrics that helped stop the rise of Thatcherism (see what i did there?). Now 67, Tom Robinson plus excellent side men played a pretty straight run-through of everything they recorded before 1978 (I missed “I’m All Right, Jack”) plus the album, Tom going at it like a dog with a bag of hot chips, and clearly enjoying himself, if sometimes puffed-out by the frenetic pace. A few songs had slightly updated lyrics which avoided the obvious (Trump, Brexit, UKIP, Corbyn) for slightly broader humanist sensibilities, which i think was a good decision given how cliched it would have been to name the usual suspects. One thing; to me, “Martin”, a music hall paen to idiot delinquents, could be dropped: hitting someone in the face with a cloakroom stool, nicking cars, joyriding, dangerous driving, beating up Policemen … not big, and not clever. Radical statements condoning idiot criminality was very 1970s, but not in a good way.
What do you think? More women than you might expect, a lot of middle-aged couples with dicky knees drinking moderately in a cabaret-seating type venue (tables for pints and the lady’s port-and-lemon). Everyone was a fan, everyone probably voted for Blair and had misgivings about Corbyn but couldn’t go over to the blue side. A handful of white-haired punks looking more dapper than you might think. EVERYONE delighted to go to a gig at a sensible time and in comfortable conditions.
It made me think..
TRB were not a bad band at the start, and had some zippy songs. The second album, not so much, but isn’t that often the case? The gig was perfectly pitched, and I hope is the start of a trend for matinees for the old folks. Tom Robinson is a good egg, and was not as preachy as I feared. I was at the Rock against Racism concert in 1978, and two TRB shows with “Stiff Little Fingers” supporting (also that year), and it was as good as those. A pleasant evening for those who catch the upcoming shows.