With the news that Texas Terri was to front the one-off show at the legendary 100 Club from Scabies & James was just too much of a temptation for me and, with ticket in hand, I headed off to the smoke and the delightful aroma of the 100 Club.
First up tonight was The Gasoline Queens with their brand of good time rock 'n' roll. They've been around for what seems like forever and have played with many a great artist, including touring with Tyla. It's easy to see how that came about as a big piece of their sound tips the hat to the Dogs D'Amour and the inclusion of a rowdy cover of 'Last Bandit' popping up early in the set seemed to be winning the audience over. It wasn't until the set was nearing its finale that they really began to stand tall and command the stage with an excellent song, 'Baby Moonrider', which was easily the standout track in the set, before closing with a splendid version of 'Chinese Rocks'. A decent choice of opening bands to get this party started.
Next up were south coast punk rockers Shotglass Killers with their brand of no nonsense punk rock. It was great to hear tracks from the excellent 'Ghost Of An Empty Bottle' played live where the band knocked out an excellent thirty minutes of music. With a sound that borrows from the New York punk of the Ramones and their ilk as much as they did from the likes of the early Damned; it's Kags on vocals that adds something a little different and a delivery that is quintessentially English. There is no time for gimmicks just great songs one after the other and the audience seems to be lapping it up - how could you not love songs like 'He's Got Style' and 'Monkey Island Swing'? Short, sharp and on the money. Another great set from a very good band.
Onto the reason why we're all here tonight - Scabies & James playing a selection of tracks from the first two Damned albums in one of London's last iconic venues - sweet! - but tonight there is the added spice of Texas Terri getting her hands on the mic, and it didn't take long for the audience to be totally up for it and impressed by tonight's line up.
This is real punk rock 'n' roll, my friends - no bullshit - no hype - just great music played by people who have it coursing through their veins and with Texas Terri leading the way the blackest of the black heart is pumping pure passion, and that very passion is flowing from the stage to the audience and back again. 'Neat Neat Neat' is tonight's opener and for the next hour the furnace that is the 100 Club gets stoked with every chord and beat. Now, I was lucky enough to review the Pontypool show when Scabies & James started this journey but this line up and performance is on another level. To hear Brian James's raw telecaster rip up these tunes at facemelting volume is an absolute joy and by the time the band hits the brutal burst of 'Stab Your Back', quickly followed by the inspired calm of 'Feel the Pain', I noted that it doesn't get much better than this. Far from being a nostalgia trip or getting into the debate of if only the original band blah blah blah, this is what it is and it's half of that line up playing songs they wrote and celebrating what they mean to people all these years later and that's good enough for me.
Having only had one, yes one, rehearsal prior to this show you'd think that this band had been on the road for the past year playing this set solidly night after night - yeah, there was the odd fuck up but you know what, this is rock 'n' roll and that's the way it is. It's an emotional and passionate thing and tonight it has the lot in spades. Terri owns these songs tonight and is doing a class performance singing some of my most favourite songs ever, but if I thought this night couldn't get any better it wasn't until the encore that they hit that high not a lot of bands reach. From the much underrated 'Music for Pleasure' album we got a stunning version of 'Alone' that was easily the peak of the set for me and a song I love: tonight it sounded as fresh as the day it was written and perfectly executed - a real magic moment. The pace was picked up again for the last pair of songs of the night and as 'Sick Of Being Sick' finished Terri was handed a bunch of roses which signalled the end of the night and the song it all began with way back in '76, "I can't stop to mess around, I gotta brand new rose in town..."
Tonight was a triumph and a stunning performance from the headliners and an absolute pleasure to attend - I only hope this is the start of something from this line up and whether there are to be more shows or, who knows, some new music either way I'll be happy to say I was there on a night when we celebrated one of the best bands in the world and two albums that have been constants for over thirty years of my life. Take a bow Scabies and James you deserve it. Simply fucking brilliant!
[Photos by Phil King]
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