The Fallen Leaves / The Rems – the Milton Barn, Portsmouth
This wasn’t a gig. It was more attempted time travel… says Ged Babey as he falls thru time and space.
Genial promoter Chris Abbott is Dr Who and the Barn is his Tardis. But it’s actually smaller on the inside. The place is bloody packed. Two reasons; Those suave Gentlemen Punk Rockers the Fallen Leaves are in town. And secondly, three of late 8o’s local heroes the Mild Mannered Janitors are back together -on stage, making music again as The Rems. Can they succeed in rolling back the years…?
(There was a later Britpop band also called the Mild Mannered Janitors – impostors who the originals couldn’t be arsed to sue as they’d moved on…)
Steve Lympany -singer and guitarist hadn’t played live for twenty years or more, former guitarist Pete Hutchinson is now behind the drumkit and Steve Duffield is still on bass. In ’89 they were proud wearers of long, dark shaggy bowl-haircuts and looked as fab and cool as they sounded. In 2018, time hasn’t been kind follically-speaking and the Steves both wear caps. Duffield sports a long white beard whilst Hutch has a grey quiff.
From the moment the Rems start playing though, what they look like doesn’t matter at all. They have a perfect power trio sound. Raw but melodic. A sheer majestic wall of guitar pouring out of the Marshall amps. All the songs are brand new – no old Janitors favourites – this is about here and now. The songs seems to be mid-life angst numbers and of the two which people know (from Youtube) the mighty 45’s and Photographs is an instant classic in a cranked-up Teenage Fanclub style.
Paul Windsors photo (above) of Lympany grinning that unmistakably cheeky grin whilst singing captures the essence of the man and shows he’s back where he belongs onstage and having fun.
The Rems started off playing too fast, slowed it down mid-set, but finished with some terrific songs called Dream Obscene and Don’t Even Think About It. Returning for an encore – a Hendrix cover dedicated to Tony Rollinson – local legend. What the Rems do is nothing new perhaps but it sounds fresh, soulful and righteous. Hopefully they have an album planned and its not just a reunion for old-times sake.
The Fallen Leaves are no strangers to Pompey. “We’ve played a lot of cities, London, Portsmouth, Berlin… but there’s one place which is our favourite” said ever-dapper Rob Green to the assembled throng who started to cheer. “Yeah, Berlin”. Great timing, absolute charm, everyone laughs.
It’s almost a Greatest Hits/ Near Misses set the Leaves play -there is the ‘Punk Rock For Gentlemen’ compilation album for sale after all – but there is always a new song or two from the gentlemen rock’n’rollers.
The centre-piece, by tradition now, a moody, walking pace ‘I Made A Mistake’ and a chance for a cup of tea from a handy thermos.
The Fallen Leaves take us back to a parallel 1978, 1966, 1989 … whichever year you want: the time of your lives, or the year music was at its most essential and vital …. not in a cheesy nostalgic, a-tribute-to way. It’s in a manner that is generated by how you feel inside, after hearing that sharp, stinging guitar-sound, that rolling busy bass and that upbeat rat-a-tat-tat drumming. Distinctly English Beat music. They make you feel young again – or at least the aches in your bones subside whilst you listen and watch them….
The Fallen Leaves are grey of hair but full of natural flair. Older Gentlemen of Punk Rock – but with a leisurely, distinguished vitality. They carry themselves with a dignified demeanour but are always friendly and will engage in conversation with anyone who approaches them. They have charmed what is left of the regular gig-going punk generation with their manners and etiquette both on and offstage.
At the Barn, the years fell away and the time-lords who call themselves the Fallen Leaves played faster and louder and tighter than I have ever seen them. The self-proclaimed glorious amateurs they once were are now ace, professional garage-rock time-travellers, taking us with them on a glorious trip.
(Whereas the last hour at work on a Friday lasts an eternity) The Fallen Leaves set seemed over in a flash, like all good-times it literally speeds-time-up, and this was the best of times, passing in a glorious instant.
Other Gigs ‘Live at the Barn’ coming up….
17 November 2018: Johnny Throttle +The Blue Carpet Band +The Dinz! (confusingly not at the Barn but the Old Coastguards) Tickets
15 December 2018: Oh Gunquit + Das Clamps + DJ Elroy at the Barn. Tickets
RIP Carl Edwards from Portsmouth band Psylons (1984 -95)
Steve Lympany from the Rems posted this on Facebook the day after the gig.
The first local band I ever saw was the Psylons at the Barn all those years ago. The very recent news of Carl Edwards passing away was very sad and I’m sure many of us had this on our minds last night. My thoughts go out to his family. (SL)