Live

The Jesus and Mary Chain, British Sea Power, Black Box Recorder

Miss Fliss 27/10/2008

A giant sized National Rail sign bedecked in twinkling silver glitter towers over the stage. Train Driver in Eyeliner is the name of the event and we're here to celebrate the life of Earl Brutus's Nick Sanderson who sadly passed away on June 9th this year of lung cancer, aged 47.

For those who aren't familiar with Earl Brutus, they were a 90s glam racket band, who liked a shouty chanting chorus, and Glitter Band stomp and pomp, with provocative titles such as The SAS and the Glam that Goes With it. They were on Steve Lamaacq's Deceptive Records for a bit and were played on Radio One's Evening Session a fair amount. There was also some NME coverage, readers of a certain age might remember.

A tribute fanzine sold on the night depicts singer Nick in ecstatic Iggy Pop aping glory, stripped to the waist, smeared in eyeliner, head thrown wildly back (whilst wearing a tight bra, oddly). The band liked smashing things at their gigs, often tallying a 3,000 figure of damage.

As well as being the singer for Earl Brutus, Nick's other musical feats included drumming for bands such as World of Twist and most notably for The Jesus and Mary Chain circa their 90s album Munki. He seemed like a bit of a psycho, says Jim Reid, But he was very gentle and one of the smartest people you could meet.

The pre-performance music played at The Forum this evening is all off Nick's iPod, it's very 60s/70s and predominantly glam.

I must say Black Box Recorder's set washed over me, albeit quite angelically and bitter-sweetly. They played the songs we all know, The Facts of Life and Child Psychology (the latter with its Life if unfair/ Kill yourself/ or get over it refrain) and a rather compact set, all without much ado or word said.

Touchingly, later on, an amp appears on stage with the neon lit name "Nicholas". And British Sea Power were clearly honoured to be playing the event, as they entered the stage boisterously, with demented vigour. Unfortunately, the audience was pointedly unmoved (I heard quite a few moaners confusingly declaring the band "boring"!), even most of those in the front 5 rows, and the set fell flat for the first two thirds. Things only really kicked in with newer anthems, Down on the Ground and Waving Flags, which whipped the crowd into mosh-happy abandon.

BSP's set climaxed with a faithful cover of the pissed up pub chant Never Ever by Earl Brutus, which seemed to last nearly ten minutes, with various chaotic goings on onstage. An ex-member of Earl Brutus got up onstage to shout along, and also seemed to be clapping his hands and using paper plates as a tambourine...

Jesus and Mary Chain were rather more laidback and staid. The word "grumpy" might be harsh, but Jim Reid got narked a fair few times in reaction to his band's blundered versions of two JAMC songs, and got a bit Mark E Smith about telling them to sort it out. Even so, it was glorious to finally see JAMC perform live, as it's something I'd wanted to do in my lifetime. When I found myself suddenly being hemmed in by middle-aged men in dull sports fleece jackets, I quickly moved closer to the mo-hawked punks who looked more into the music than drinking flat pints and talking about work (Why come to a gig only to ignore the bands playing and instead turn your back to the stage to talk and drink with your mates - especially when it's at the cost of 25 a ticket?!).

It was nice to see the band commit to playing more obvious pop songs such as Some Candy Talking and Taste of Cindy, as well as Psychocandy era Sidewalking. Nick's wife stepped up to give a heartfelt rendition of Sometimes Always too, which was a sweet touch. Perhaps tonight's punk contingent remember a more frantic and wild Mary Chain live experience, but tonight was all cool grooves and low key, in a way that wasn't dull as in boring, but dull as in spiritless. But maybe that's the Mary Chain we have in these later years, older and calmer, off the sauce and a little sour for it. I've seen Jim Reid live twice now, and never seen him smile once. Perhaps the band begrudge playing live at times, because the mood that came across wasn't especially enthused or committed. It was, however, a pretty polished and melodic set of songs.

I fear that largely, people were here to see the Jesus and Mary Chain, and not necessarily aware of Nick Sanderson (however, hopefully some people at least came away with curiosity and investigated the man and the music), but then Earl Brutus were never massively known - either way, proceeds from the gig went to his family, so the venture was a resounding success. And the gig provided a rare outing for Black Box Recorder, as well as the splendid combination of British Sea Power and Jesus and Mary Chain, so hats off to the instigators and organisers.

RIP Nick Sanderson.