Tom Tom Club
100 Club, London
24th June 2013
Tom Tom Club may have always stood in the shadows of the band that begat them, Talking Heads, but if the show our man was at is anything to go by they should be revered in their own right as a classic new wave synth pop band. All photos by Colin Marrs.
For me it’s the perfect summer record, Tom Tom Club’s “Genius Of Love”. Seems inconceivable that it only just scraped into the top 75 over here in 1981 (it was a much bigger hit in the US I believe). It’s been sampled into a ton of records over the years but the original remains a classic. It’s over thirty years since I first heard it on the radio, in a cricket pavilion of all places, and it’s still retained its freshness. Hearing it again for the first time in ages a few months back made me want to get a ticket for this show, an intimate gig at the legendary 100 Club. In fact it was so “intimate” I was practically on stage with them!
Within moments of the Club getting on stage it’s easy to see the contrast between the previous band they formed the rhythm section for and this band. Everyone on stage looks thrilled to be there and happy, very much an alternative to the ultra-serious way people regarded the Talking Heads. Now augmented by Bruce and Pablo Martin on guitar and percussion respectively and Victoria Clamp on vocals and occasional guitar, Tom Tom Club are the CBGBs / Mudd Club New York Punk Funk Crew that is still very much alive and well in 2013.
When you think about it live music reviews are difficult if not impossible to pull off – you can either go two ways – either try and get across the feeling of being at the gig, or alternatively try and make yourself look funny and cleverer than everyone else there including, and often especially, the band. I don’t want to go down route number two but the problem with route one is that it’s so difficult to get over in words something so life-affirming, ecstatic and physically moving (by which I mean, you just had to dance) as Tom Tom Club’s set that night because words are not really enough.
From the very beginning of “Who Feelin’ It” to the last encore of Talking Heads early classic “Psycho Killer” it is maximum fun. A permanently smiling Chris Frantz seems to having a whale of a time behind the kit and though its rude to mention a lady’s age Tina Weymouth must be in A1 physical nick because the energy she put in on stage in what was a sweltering 100 Club was incredible. The other band members pitch in admirably: Bruce Martin’s percussion and keyboards hit the mark perfectly as does Pablo Martin’s guitar and Victoria Clamp is a sexy stage presence and top singer too.
The song “Man With The 4 Way Hips” says it all really in the title – that’s what you need to keep up with the beat during the hour and a half set. But you couldn’t stop because it was just so danceable, even if you are the least graceful dancer in the world (that would be me).
Towards the end on the main set the roof nearly comes off the place (which considering it’s a basement is saying something) where the open keys of “Genius Of Love” and the evocative look back to their CBGBs contemporaries “Downtown Rockers” is really quite touching, but its a celebration not an elegy. It’s a statement of what they’ve done and what’s made them what they are rather than what they’ve been. Then it’s into 2 Talking Heads favourites “Take Me To The River” and a brilliant end in a perfectly taut “Psycho Killer” – what a great band and what a great night.
All words by guest contributor Ian Canty (of Part Time Punk fanzine fame). Photos by Colin Marrs who can be found on twitter as @yellercol.