Various - Tsunami Relief Week Tour Pt 1

Peter Radford 15/02/2005


We were all caught off guard. Not for the first time in recent years we were thankful that we lived where we lived. The onslaught of pictures and words; personal emotions and a remote connection; we became part of a species, maybe for the first time, rather than a nation. This meant that we had to do something. Many, like myself, stuffed what we would have spent in the January sales into an Oxfam tin. We'd done our bit, we could feel slightly warm inside and sit back and debate more pressing matters.

Tsunami relief week could not have come at more appropriate time. The World had fallen off our agenda again. The headlines that have bookended the week have been from an empirical age. The world implode as Charles places a ring on Camilla's finger, whilst the other queen in waiting gives birth to young Cruz, third in line to a degrading childhood. For a close to a thousand gig-goers, these items fell off the radar.

Tsunami Relief week was the brainchild of Paul Madden (Joyzine), Caffy St Luce (Rocklands) and Jim Rhesus (erm Rhesus). Troubled by the events of Christmas time and unable to get immediate gratification by handing over a wedge of cash of any size to their local charity shop, they decided to raise money in the only way they should. By being
persistent little beggars. Calls for assistance went out. Responses were eeked out of musicians and venues, sometimes by employing an email equivalent of nipple twisting. The faffers eventually committed to join the ranks of those that had already jumped at the chance of doing their bit.

I would be there to document the entire week. Before I allow you access to my diaries. There are two things that you have to understand.
1. I was skint well I had enough to travel to the gigs and get in, but that was about it.
2. I would abstain from drinking for the entire week. Possibly my main motivation was due to the above. I would like you to think that I made the sacrifice on your part.

Monday 14 February.

Valentines Day. Always a day of peaks and troughs. For example, getting home to find that I could open my door. Not to matter, I was going to Camden tonight to see a great line up.

The reality was I did not make it to Camden for any of the bands (Stuffy and the Fuses, Luxembourg, Piranha Deathray, The Favours). Not only would my diary entry purely depict a man dealing with his internal anger at the failing of his first goal, the reasoning behind me not making it to the gig are inherently dull. I had to work late.

I reached the nadir of the day (correction: week), when I realised that sitting in the dark whilst watching a rented copy of Terminator 3 was actually a show of support for Arnie's re-election. I drank. One glass of Rose Cava (how apt). That doesn't count. False start.

Tuesday 15 February- 100 Club, Oxford Street
Sam & Me
DJs Jon Kennedy (XFM) + The Rock & Roll Idiots

OK. New beginnings.

Tonight I was blessed. I was going to have one of my favourite types of night. One where I wouldn't stop. First the NME Awards Week Show for which I have had tickets for what seemed like an age.

Willy Mason is folk to the core. He is playing small venues over the country, including a month long residency in London. I know that those that had already seen him, had been pretty enchanted. Any singer-songwriter worth his salt should be able to do this in a pub setting, how would it transpose to a venue the size of the Astoria. Very well in fact. Unusually, he is less rough around the edges as Where The Humans Eat, his current album, would suggest. Currently not as inventive as his boss, Conor Oberst (who he will inevitably always be compared to), the rustic charm coupled with the 'talking to the
kids' lyrics doesn't need bells and baubles.

Another band that have benefited from a London residency are The Bravery. I am sorry to report that they have two songs and you have heard them both. OK, I went with massive expectations and they did not live up to this. I disengaged quite quickly, which again is a shame as the front man did his best Simon Le Bon to get us all back.

One thing for it. I had to leave and get to see Rhesus at the 100 Club just round the corner. For those that don't know, the 100 Club is a legendary Jazz venue. It has also hosted seminal gigs by bands such as Sex Pistols, The Stones, The Who and The Clash. It is not so surprising that Rhesus have been keen for a long time to add themselves to the roll call. It is short, broad and kitted out with the finest orange Bakelite chairs. The stage runs approximately half the width of the venue. As a member of the audience, you have to select which member of the band you are going to watch as they line up alongside each other, yet spanning 10 yards.

It was strange to look a drummer in the eye for 40 minutes. Drummers are always wrapped up in intensity and this was no exception as Rhesus gave their most shamanic performance for sometime. There was little to choose between the three Rhesus gigs of the week, though for sheer
enjoyment of both band and audience, this was a new height. Rhesus don't wear heartbreak on their sleeves as it has seemed fashionable for all genres of band to do since the invention of blues and the proliferation of country. Listen to songs such as 'Too Weak' though, Rhesus have the potential to connect with their fans in a similar way to(dare I say it the Manics have in the past). They grab an audience by their conscience and hit them with a breeze block to the gut. Poetic,
yet as pretentious as the news on Channel 5.

Art Brut were not there purely to make up the numbers. This must have been a dream audience for them. Whereas I had watched the 19 year old figure of Willy Mason trying to inspire a room full a somewhat older audience, The 100 Club's biggest kid, Eddie Argos, was going to be performing to a class-full of teenagers. Under the searing lights of
the venue, this guy has become a glowing beacon of hope for those that want to get laid, form a band and just do the what the fuck they want. Isn't that the job of every potential rock star? It's just that Eddie does this especially well.