02 Institute3, Brum
Well this was a treat, a full 28 years from the last time around. And just down the road from where I saw ’em last time, the long gone Mr Bill’s Bier Keller. So how had the decades fared them?
I’m no fan of the Institute, but this was in the 3rd room, even smaller than the Institute2, a bijou basement box with a capacity of maybe a couple of hundred. No queues, a walk straight in to a sauna of steaming mannus middleageicus. First on, and worth a shout, were the Stone Mountain Sinners, a rabble of rootsy rockers with more than a hint of cowpunk, minding me a little of the Tansads in their pre-Merry Hell prime, courtesy the male/female counterpoint vocals.
A gap nearly sufficient for the solitary barman to serve the thirsty hordes and on marched the Men. 6 of them with the front line of Cush, Swill and Paul unsullied, on guitar/vocals, guitar/vocals and mandolin, augmented by lead electric, bass and drums. No fiddles or whistles this night, this was a pedal to the floor, full-on plugged in music. The bass and the brand new drummer made a terrific racket, re-energising the largely back catalogue choices. To be fair, most of their material is back catalogue, the band only periodically recharging their touring and writing batteries, but, there being a new a record to promote, we got a fair bit of that as well, swaggeringly sticking to the tested template of rousing choruses built around historical yarns, usually involving either the sea or smuggling, often both. Eschewing an interval, there were two brief breaks for the rhythm section to have a leak, Swill and Paul playing a couple of songs alone, Island in the Rain being one, ahead of Cush playing a local tribute with a delightful solo electric skank through UB 40’s Tyler. Then straight back to more soaring anthems. Highlights were Colours, Bounty Hunter and Smugglers, from my favourite record, Waiting For Bonaparte, but Cable Street and Rosettes also has the well-lubricated faithful in full throat. All clearly having fun, as the evening lengthened, so too did the guitar play of bowler-hatted Tom Spencer become more prominent, ever tastier interludes creeping into the melee. 90 minutes in all, I guess, including a 2 song encore which, unusually did not include Green Field of France, but possibly too gentle a song for a night like this.
Don’t be strangers, Guys, I’m expecting a 40 year tour for 2024. How had the decades fared them? Mighty well, mighty well.
AW generica really, more and mainly stubbled hair on faces than pates, faded Ts representing previous skirmishes and lots of specs. 45 – 60+, 85% blokes. I should stop knocking ’em really, they are my people, several recognised by curt nods, fellow travellers in this nonsense
It made me think..
This is what friday nights in mid-winter are for, fighting against the temptation of staying in with a take-out, braving the elements with a couple of bevvies and celebrating being alive.