Two consecutive gig nights out in Swindon – who’d have thunk it? Tonight it’s a return to my “spiritual home”, Level 3, now rebadged as Basement 73, to catch old 70’s rockers Eddie And The Hot Rods, one of the first “new wave” bands I’d encountered in my pre-teen formative years, thanks to the sight of shirtless vocalist Barrie Masters leaping all over my TV, rabble rousing and singing “Do Anything You Wanna Do”. They’d also played at this venue (then The Furnace) about 9 years ago, my remark at the time being, “The Rods are alright!” So, why the hell not?
A family day out saw us getting home late so I arrived at the venue at 9, having missed opening act The Hamsters From Hell. I dunno, I’ve been going to gigs for over 30 odd years now, and I’ve still yet to see the force of nature that is Ian Doeser play “live”, what’s up with me? However, I got in out of the cold in time to grab a balcony view for main support Charred Hearts. I subsequently gathered that Charred Hearts frontman Dermot Fuller had sorted this gig out as well, as he’d likewise done for last year’s XSLF gig (No. 889), so he was perfectly entitled to put himself and his 80’s local punk outfit on the support bill to pound us into submission. A noisy and strident set of edgy, occasionally shambolic yet sincere street punk, delivered with intensity, clear-eyed conviction and a fair bit of wit; “this one was written in 1981; obviously by my dad…” was one such Fuller intro. A cover of The Damned classic “New Rose (“who knows what’s going to happen?”) was a highlight, as was closer “Fucked In The Head”, which saw Fuller, not for the first time, abandon the stage and wander through the crowd, passing the mic around for punters to bellow the song’s hook. Good stuff – again.
Bumped into some old friends before taking a position, stage right by the stairs, as Fuller introduced Eddie And The Hot Rods onstage. It’d been 9 years since I last saw them and honestly they were creaking a little then, so I wasn’t expecting too much tonight. However from the outset they were tighter, more powerful and harder rocking than I’d remembered, with the skinny Masters, years on the road of rock’n’roll etched clearly on his features, nevertheless prowling the stage and rabble rousing from the off. “I Might Be Lying” was a swaggering bluesy rock wig-out almost approaching Gentlemen territory, before an excellent early “Quit This Town”, a Jam mod-ish number featuring some fine call and response choral harmonies, proving an early highlight.
The Rods, back in those formative mid 70’s punk years, bridged the gap between street punk and it’s more radio-palatable offshoot “New Wave”, and the Canvey Island bluesy bar-room pub rock of the likes of Dr. Feelgood. All elements of this sonic template were evident tonight, with Masters an affable Cockney wideboy stage presence. “Why Should I Care Anymore” was an impressive soaring anthem with a tumbling drum climax, but this was all setting the scene for the inevitable…
“If it don’t move, paint it; if it moves, fuck it; if you don’t want to do either, well then… do anything you wanna do!” remarked Masters by way of intro to this classic punk anthem. “Do Anything You Wanna Do” was excellently delivered, with Charred Hearts’ vocalist Fuller forming a vocal duet with Masters (“sorry, I couldn’t help myself”) for this self-empowering manifesto. A hard rocking version of the old pub rock staple “Gloria” concluded a surprisingly fine set, after which I grabbed the setlist, bumped into old buddy Doug McGuire outside afterwards for a chat about comics, then wearily headed home. Not used to gig double-headers these days, local or not… However this was entirely worthwhile; I’d not expected much of this one, believing The Rods to be 9 years older and thus 9 years worse than last time out. I was wrong, they were 9 years better!