Jonny Cola And The A Grades Farewell Gig
Buffalo Bar, London
30th August 2014
Martin Haslam has been going on and on and on (oh, and on) about Jonny and the A Grades on these pages hoping against hope that the rest of the world would notice before they called it day. Sadly that never happened, so below you’ll find Martin’s review of their ever last show.
You can’t say I didn’t warn you. Having reviewed their fantastic debut album ‘Spitfire’ last year and their gigs AND having interviewed them, I pleaded with you lot. “Don’t let them split in obscurity and poverty, like every other band that I love”. Since I’ve been reviewing for Louder Than War, there’ve been a few bands that have excited me, but none to compare with Jonny Cola And The A Grades. Great songs, charismatic performances and star quality. A real band.
Sadly, my curse continues and they have decided to call it a day. I can only hope it’s not forever. So, I really HAD to drag my middle-aged arse off the sofa and down to the Buffalo Bar, Highbury and Islington, for one last celebratory show.
Arriving early, as I didn’t want to risk it selling out, I find there are precisely two other people here. No matter; within an hour it’s packed. The select audience are all of one mind; to make it a good send-off and show our thanks to another lost “classic band”.
Mauro and Simon spin the discs of expected quality, then support is provided by The Dogbones. I’ve already seen them recently in Bedford and, while they clearly have their devoted followers(and The A Grades like them), it all feels a bit tired and forced now. Crispin knows what he wants but it’s a shame that he never allows the band to stray from the Daisy Chainsaw/Queenadreena blueprint of psychotic, scantily-clad female singer. The lady can sing, when she wants to, but it’s stuck in a cul-de-sac, musically. The highlight of the set should not be when Crispin combs his hair while singing.
So, the hour has arrived. Jonny is resplendent in home-made ‘J C’ sequinned top and the band launch into ‘The Party’s Over’. Luckily, it’s not a morbid song, or I might have cried. They play newbies ‘Rubber Band’ and ‘Oh Gabrielle’, which in a just and decent world would be hits, as well as earlier track ‘Marlborough Road’ and the bulk of ‘Spitfire’. Songs which are now a part of my life, songs that I know I’ll be playing in a decade from now; ‘In The Woods’, ‘Blow Up’, ‘Tropical Beach’ and ‘Straight To Video’.
The party finally is really over with ‘Ripples’. The devoted here tonight know the words to every song. I can’t help feeling that the world would be a slightly better place if you all knew them.
I wish them all the best in their various musical ventures; Mauro Venegas in The Godfathers and The Miscalculations(busy man) and Simon Drowner in Desperate Journalist. Jez Leather and Marco Testa-Ryan I hope to see again somewhere. As for Jonny Cola himself, I don’t know what he’s planning but he’s got ‘Star’ written through him like the proverbial stick of rock. Thank you chaps, it’s been a real pleasure.
All words by Martin Haslam. More from Martin can be read by checking out his Author’s Archive.