Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Good, The Bad And The Queen @ The Roundhouse, 26/10/06

The Good, The Bad And The Queen + Jamie T
The Roundhouse
26th October 2007

The most anticipated night of the BBC Electric Proms is also The Good, The Bad And The Queen’s first ever London gig. The band, named after all those who dwell in the capital’s shadow, is a supergroup proper, comprising Damon Albarn of Blur, Paul Simonon of The Clash, Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen of Fela Kuti and Simon Tong from The Verve.

It’s also one of the first gigs at the reopened Roundhouse in Camden, originally famous for hosting Jimi Hendrix, the Ramones, Patti Smith, and rather a lot of ‘quirky’ experimental theatre. Hard to imagine ‘Gloria’ clattering off the walls now though as the ambience is less intimate rock’n’roll club than Victorian engine shed, which unsurprisingly was the building’s original purpose.

A lad in a baseball cap wanders on stage and it’s the support. Jamie T, for those who only know that song about Sheila, is an unlucky Lahndahn rude boy who’s still a bit cross about getting a bass guitar last birthday instead of a Nova. The bonuses for young Jamie, though, are threefold – without a sound system he’s escaped an ASBO, written an album’s worth of catchy Streets-a-like urchin-pop and will no doubt sell enough copies to get himself that car. The girls love him, too.

On to the main draw then, and Zane Lowe appears to introduce them. Paul Simonon takes the stage and to my girlish glee is almost as cool as he was in 1977; almost, because the same part of me that cringes at my dad’s dancing gets me blushing as he jerks his bass about and creeps across the stage. Given Paul’s love of reggae, Damon’s recent trips to Mali and the presence of Tony Allen, I’d half expected two hours of extended dub jams and African percussion solos. Happily, the songs are somewhere between Think Tank and Sandinista!, with piano-led melodies and Damon’s wistful vocals melting sweetly into syncopated beats and computer blips and beeps.

A few songs in though, and Damon isn’t happy. ‘Shit! This is shit! We can do this so much better!’ he snaps, so his band start the song again. Once would be unlucky, but they have to try a few songs twice and I can’t help thinking they should have spent more time practising and less time making the lovely bunting that hangs across the backdrop, a painting of Simonon’s.

They wrap things up without an encore, sadly ignoring my silent wish for an impromptu ‘Police and Thieves’, but I’m confident that the album, not out until March, might just be worth the wait.

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