I don't notice, as I stagger through another freezing February night, passing Festive Road en route to Vice but I guess I must have as, upon entering the club, I'm Mr Benn passing through a magical door to another age. Dirty Passion are flicking their hair on the stage and the self proclaimed Swedish classic rockers are doing exactly what it says on the well-worn tin. Peddling the melodic hard rock of a quarter of a century ago that grew old very quickly you have to commend the fact that they have got one detail exactly right.
I must offer uber-apologies to Suicide Tuesday, openers of this four band bill who, due to the modern curse of ridiculous club curfews, go onstage at about lunchtime meaning that I don't get to see them.
There is a heavy Über Röck presence in the venue tonight and as I walked in with fellow scribe Rob Watkins we grabbed a quick word with Chip Z Nuff. Some half hour later Rob is still week-kneed at meeting his hero once again, wiping his teary eyes in the vintage 'Strength' tour shirt that he has cracked out of its vacuum storage pack just for tonight. How could I live with myself if I didn't give this Enuff Z Nerd the chance to tell you good people just how EZN went down? I'm gonna hand the crayon over to Rob Watkins - shock me!
...........Get high, get high, get high on a new thing. As a double decade and then some fan of Chicago's finest purveyors of Beatles-esque rock, this does seem like a new thing to me. The modern dazed Lennon and McCartney, Chip and Donnie, are finally back in the UK.
Showtime, and it's my turn to be a little screaming schoolgirl tonight as I make my way through the vast array of Über Röck staff assembled, double checking everyone is fully dressed this time around, before I take up my position centre stage and yeeeesssssss that really is the legendary Donnie Vie strutting his stuff mere yards from me looking mighty cool in his sunglasses and leather jacket rock star combo. Okay, 'Rock N World' may not be my ideal set opener but, as the song progresses, it's winning me 'round. Then it's into 'Baby Loves You' and my heartbeat and camera have their work cut out here. 'We're All Alright' and 'For Now' are rattled out and suddenly I realise that drum responsibilities have been taken on by Euro tour mates Faster Pussycat's sticksman Chad Stewart. Randi Scott apparently not able to make the European tour for personal reasons.
Yet to be released on these fine shores, the album 'Dissonance' also rears its head with the title track and the equally excellent 'High' before Chip Z Nuff and Donnie Vie are left alone by their band mates for a sort of acoustic rendition of 'Right By Your Side.' Enuff Z Nuff then give us their obligatory Beatles cover with 'Come Together' featuring some mighty fine guitar playing throughout courtesy of Tory Stoffregan, also singer/guitarist of power pop combo and Über Röck faves The Black Mollys.
As the set draws to a close I take my eyes, very very briefly, off the spectacle in front of me to behold the crowd (except for one Scouse Twisted Sister fan) singing along to 'New Thing' and the almost edible 'Fly High Michelle.' Through my biased psychedelic eyes, it certainly doesn't get much better than this.......
Trying to write an unbiased review when you have grown up abso-fucking-lutely loving a band is tough and, man, did I love Faster Pussycat. The sad thing is though, every time that I have seen the band since the 80's they have gotten markedly worse. The last time, they were so bad that I almost had one of those "never again" moments. But I find myself waiting for them to hit the stage with the attitude that tonight couldn't possibly get any worse...could it?
The first thing that sticks in my throat like a stick of dog shit is how Taime Downe has switched cult movie auteur allegiance from Russ Meyer to John Waters, plodding onstage like Divine's long lost...err....brother. The only thing that surprises me about the infamously unloved "modern" take on opener 'Bathroom Wall' is that people still get surprised by it. It continues to raise more eyebrows than horns from people who are rediscovering their teenage musical obsessions at different junctures of their lives; it is heavy, chugging and cool.....but it ain't 'Bathroom Wall.'
There is, however, a more mysterious beast prowling the stage. The more eagle-eyed paying punter might have had a big fuck-off comic-book question mark appear above their heads with the apparent appearance of some dubious...ummm.....'audio enhancement' during the opening song but when Taime's trademark sleazy squeal rolls out of the speakers at the start of 'Jack The Bastard' when he is a full four feet away from a microphone that mark is turned from questionable to exclamation. Lowdown, sleazy rock 'n' roll tarted up with backing tapes? Johnny Thunders would be turning in his grave, not having a C90 playing next to his headstone.....
This revelation knocks me out of my reviewing stride. I really want to like this rock show and, to be fair, it is hard not to; the set list is pretty friggin' cool, although lacking some more choice cuts from the great second album. We do get a run-through of the great 'Slip Of The Tongue' and there's 'House Of Pain' which contains the lyric "A boy needs a daddy like a dance to mime" which now has an added poignancy for all the wrong reasons. It is good to hear songs like 'Nonstop To Nowhere' and some cuts from 'The Power And The Glory Hole', including the now customary cover of the Betty Blowtorch tune 'Shut Up And Fuck' that Pussycat have made their own and is, again, rightly dedicated to the memory of the late Bianca Butthole.
Devotees of the debauched debut album get 'Babylon', 'Cathouse' and 'Don't Change That Song' for their hard-earned and, yeah, it is cool to hear these top tunes. But it is the spectre of trash rock trickery that looms over the whole event and splits the audience into two camps; hawk-eyed and eared cock rock conspiracy theorists who heard extra lead and backing vocals and tracked guitar coming from a grassy knoll, or Downe Dub Deniers. Me? Well, I feel like my girlfriend is performing sexual gymnastics for me minutes after telling me that she is fucking someone else. To say the dampeners were put on the performance is the understatement of the year.
I so wanted to like this show, so wanted it to erase the memory of the last diabolical time that I saw Faster Pussycat. In a way it does - the band are so much more into it than previously with the perma-cool Danny Nordahl rarely disappointing and guitarist Michael Thomas putting on the kinda show that has seen him have several cool band names on his resume but maybe not the breaks he has deserved - but playing this kinda loose rock 'n' roll, when the only thing now loose is the attention to being at the mic on cue, with the use of backing tracks is heartbreaking. If the 'M' in L.A.M.F. now stands for 'mime' then this shit is as 4 REAL as Formica.......