The Wolfhounds + The Bent Moustache + The Lampost Gullivers
Buffalo Bar, London
25 October 2012
This gig may, or may not, have been part of the Peel night events across the country on the anniversary of the much-missed DJ’s death. But it was definitely a line-up of Peel-Favourite bands from the late ’80s / early ’90s and gave reviewer Keith Goldhanger a welcome fit of the nostalgias.Â
It’s not all nostalgia this evening y’know…I learnt tonight that the lead singer of TOY, Tom Dougal, who has a sister called Rose Elenor Dougal (who I think has written better songs than the SMITHS ever wrote) had a grandfather who was the newsreader Robert Dougal. I like shit like that. And I like it when for no reason at all, someone mentions it because they think I might be interested.
Almost everything else that is spoken about this evening is about the past. Its theÂ eighthÂ anniversary of John Peel’s death. I think this gig has been arranged with this in mind. I might be wrong, I didn’t actually ask. I think the same people would have been here anyway this evening whether it was the anniversary or not . It doesn’t matter, it’s a nice idea to put these bands all on one bill whatever the prior intention was.
For those of you under five years of age or living outside the solar system, Mr John R P Ravenscoft (AKA PEEL) 1939 – 2004, was the man responsible for people like ME realising at a tender age of about 15 that you didn’t need a musical scholarship and years of hard graft to become a pop star. I use this term whilst inserting my tongue in my fillings but for some people this literally happened.
I would argue that most things we see nowadays on stage are a lot more musically competent – most of today’s young artists have been playing since they were eight years old. That’s not to say that it’s better, or worse. Just different. Therefore, for those forty somethings that never stopped playing It must be about now that everyone has caught up and on a level parÂ (if you’re already confused by this then maybe you’re reading this at the wrong speed and perhaps you should start again).
At 16 we (my generation ba…aaaaby) heard things that were called things like “Swell Maps” and then went into music shops. We got ridiculed and patronised, had our paper round money taken from us. But we returned a few months later to buy more stuff, usually spare strings or plectrums (they never encouraged us bass players to buy plectrums y’know) tagging the words “well, its for a BBC session we’re recording next Thursday and FUCK YOU !….STICK THAT WHERE YOUR PONYTAIL ISN’T QUITE LONG ENOUGH TO REACH YET !!!” (and probably “fuck the system” I suppose) sort of (OK it was years not months).
There’s probably 30 or 40 people here this evening in this tiny bar under the pavement in Highbury Corner, who in total have contributed a dozen or so sessions available in the archive of Peel sessions. There are no big posters of the man on show or anything daft like that but someone has had the wise idea to play an old Peel tape in between bands.
The best ideas are always the simplest ones.
We’re all here, NOT because of Peel’s death though.
We’re here because during the ’80s and ’90s some of us all met each other at some stage and have managed to keep in touch. There’s a lot of people here I don’t know and have never known but other people do. And don’t. If you catch my drift. I can see people here and think to myself, hhhhhh…he’s the guy from such and such, they were a cool band. And the next night you’re on YouTube for half an hour watching their vids from years gone by. I think that this is my sort of nostalgia y’know.
I’m here to see THE LAMPOST GULLIVERS whose bass player used to be in Silverfish who I met because his band in the late ’80s / early ’90s were ACE and thanks to John Peel sending MY beat combo to Maida Vale to record meant that we got to meet bands like Silverfish down the pub, who ended up on the same label as us, did a lot better than us, sold more records than us, and flew around the world.
More importantly we’re all still friends twenty years later and still out and about at regular intervals throughout the years, keeping tabs on each others activities and chatting about our dodgy knees, diminishing eyesight and the weather.
Then there’s Ajay, I met in 1990 at the Square in Harlow where (“Peel favourites”) DANDELION ADVENTURE and (“Peel favourites”) BASTARD KESTREL all shared a stage with the (“Peel favourites”) BOO RADLEYS. A gig promoted by Anthony…wassissname, who’s also here this evening. He’s done a few things in his time too and still has his own catchphrase ….( EAT MY GOOOOOOOAAALLL!!!!!! – y’dknow ‘im).Â Ajay is here this evening with his current band who are based in the Netherlands nowadays, The Bent Moustache.
And then Dave.Â Everyone knows a “Dave”. I know loads.
This Dave used to be in (“Peel favourites”) the WOLFHOUNDS and nowadays he’s in a band called the WOLFHOUNDS.
(Oh… and a bloke who ripped me off over three hundred quid once. I’ll not mention him again. I could, and I should, and I began to…. But I won’t).
Musically THE LAMPOST GULLIVERS are relying on a slight (“Peel Favourites”) Killdozer angle….slow songs, bits that stop quickly, jangly bits and a vocalist that scares the living shit out of anyone he manages to make eye contact with. He’s a scary man. I’ve not been introduced yet. But this is rather entertaining stuff and a reasonable beginning to the evening.
Well, I say beginning, there were some blokes on first that I’ll have to Google before the end of the week who i sort of recognised but wasn’t sure*. The Bent Moustache, once they got going were really cool. I thought of the EX ( it must be something in the Dutch water). My Bloody Valentine and Stereolab. Oh, and the Fall (must be the Manchester accent). I have to find the song that stopped in the middle for a droney synthie bit and the last couple of songs. Go on Ajay, no rush though.
I had to leave halfway through the Wolfhounds because I’m too old to be staying out this late at night but what I witnessed – old songs new songs and an overall very competent performance – made me realise (yeah, one of those people who wrote that were also here) that this is MY nostalgia that I’ve been trying to avoid over the past few years. Going to see old punk rock bands that were MASSIVE back in the day and paying over twenty quid may seem like a good idea after a couple of pints but this kind of evening – THIS is what floats my boat.
Obscure bands playing music for the hell of it. Trying out new tunes. Good new tunes. Next to the old ones . Good old ones that I wouldn’t have remembered otherwise. None of the hits because there were never any “hits” and no hidden agenda of giving this “a last shot of it”. This is what the Wolfhounds DO. What they’ve always DONE and probably doing it even better than they used to.
So, if anyone was ever wondering whatever happened to all those people twenty years ago who made music that got played on Radio One late at night (or early evening as it was for a while), this is it. It’s still going on. Without Peel. And it’s still cool.
One or two days later we hear of the death of a former member of We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It (“huh! Where do they get their names from……………………………?”) – a band that no one else would have ever touched or listened to or loved if it hadn’t been for Peel.
Very few of these bands ever had “hits” but a lot of bands wrote a lot of songs that still sound good 20 years later.Â Some of them still appear to be doing it.
And surely isn’t that what it’s all been about?Â I think the great man would have approved.
* that first band were called MAN DIAMOND who I’m told “played instrumental versions of old American TV theme tunes” (probably all “hits”).
All words by Keith Goldhanger. You can read more from Keith on LTW here.