Monday, 12 October 2015

Memories of 2015 gigs 9

#9: The Darling Buds
Le Pub, Newport - 4th October, 2015 ('We Shall Overcome' anti-austerity benefit)
Support: Helen Love, Thee Faction, Burning Ferns

The Tory scum government we've been lumbered with seems intent on running those of us who are not blessed with ridiculous wealth and power into the ground. They do not give a shit. Seriously. That is their mandate and by god they're doing everything they can to see it through. Unsurprisingly, whenever the Tory scum is in power, a wave of rebellion seems to follow. People are actually getting off their arses and trying to make a difference. Instead of blaming the Left and immigrants, we are actually intelligent enough to see what's happening.

We Shall Overcome is a movement aimed at raising awareness of poverty, homelessness and the other symptoms of the cruel austerity measures Cameron and his public school knobhead mates have forced upon us. The first weekend of October saw a host of events across the UK which not only attempted to make people aware of what's happening, but also try to help, in some small way, those in need. Newport's Le Pub hosted four days of music and literary shows. Tickets were cheap, but donations of cash, food and other essentials were encouraged. MrsRobster and I made it to the final night which had a bill I just couldn't resist: the Darling Buds AND Helen Love? Together? No-brainer.

The show opened with an unbilled act who failed to set the place alight. However, Newport's Burning Ferns followed and that's when things picked up. Shimmering power-pop in the traditions of Big Star and Teenage Fanclub. Now as you might have guessed, I was born and raised a Socialist; red blood flows through my veins. On the strength of this alone, Thee Faction from Reigate in Surrey would have got a thumbs up from me. However, the fact that they were quite frankly brilliant simply added to the occasion. Imagine, if you will, a nine-piece rhythm & blues outfit with an exuberant frontman, blasting out top-notch Socialist anthems with passion and humour; imagine they sound like a cross between early Dexy's, Dr. Feelgood and Chumbawamba; imagine their tunes being punchy, catchy and full of energy. That's Thee Faction. I love the fact their brass section call themselves Brass Kapital, too! MrsRobster has already scoured YouTube to find out more. They consider Le Pub "a home from home" so we'll be looking out for their next visit.

Helen Love was playing her only gig of 2015. I'd never seen her before but expected something fun and high-spirited. It didn't really happen. For starters, Helen doesn't look like a pop star. She looked like a housewife who'd got lost whilst doing the school run. She stood in the same spot for most of the show, swigging from a bottle of water, never once interacting with the audience, not even to say hello or goodnight. Her set was rammed with old faves though - Yeah Yeah We're Helen Love, Joey Ramoney, Girl About Town... all present and correct. A few excitable middle-aged fans at the front jumped about a bit, but for me it soon became a little boring. A rousing rendition of Does Your Heart Go Boom at the finale almost put Helen in danger of actually moving and showing a bit of vigour, but aside from that it was a tad frustrating. MrsRobster wasn't impressed either: "How many times can you bloody mention the Ramones?" was her parting shot.

The Darling Buds bear little resemblance to the band who lit up the indie scene in the late 80s/early 90s, with only singer Andrea Lewis remaining from the original line-up, though various other former members do make up the numbers. My spirits were lifted when Shame On You was blurted out right from the off. From that point on we got a spot-on run through of the band's back catalogue, from the early pop of If I Said and Hit The Ground, through the psychedelia-tinged second album and the sparkling, but sadly overlooked, final attempt at stardom that was 'Erotica'. The highlight was the back-to-back triple whammy of Sure Thing, Tiny Machine and Let's Go Round There, though there were also a couple of surprises in the form of Honeysuckle and Big Head.

The cause was a worthy one and the music was generally top-notch. All that for a fiver and a few tins of food? Thatcher will be spinning in her grave. Good!



  1. Seems like you have been to a great concert for the benefit of a good thing going. We haven't a Cameron over in Germany but what makes me sad is that more and more people here decline the heavy wave of refugees coming to our place.

  2. Sounds like a fine night and a very worthwhile cause. I always had a lot of time for the psychier end of Darling Buds and Thee Faction definitely sound like ones to watch.

  3. What a night! I loved the Darling Buds... and Andrea! She was at the NYC Popfest back in the spring. Was tempted to go since she was on American soil, but it was still nearly 3,000 miles away and was afraid to broach the subject with the Mrs. Thee Faction sounds damn good too.

  4. A real shame to read about Helen Love being so boring, I never expected that! Then again I never saw them live, so there you are .... as for Thee Faction, I have two CD's by them, highly recommendable, and, if memory serves, available for small money from their homepage. If you're interested, I can have a look and find out which ones I have exactly ....

  5. Interested? You betcha Dirk...

  6. I'll listen to both of them again in the car on me way to work within next week, Robster, as I haven't done so for some quite now. Will give a full review to you after this has been achieved ...

  7. Good, went thru both of them again now in their entirety. I have 'Singing Down The Government' (from 2012) and 'Up The Workers' (from 2011) and it's the latter I would recommend you to get hold of, for sure! It's way better than the other one, which, obviously, doesn't mean that there aren't other albums which are even better. But this I can't tell, because I just own those two. Alas it's not up for sale any longer, but they offer a digital download for five quid @ Or perhaps you'll find it second hand somewhere if you're lucky. It's not on discogs though alas. Either way, good luck with your search, Robster!