Camden Underworld, London
10th August 2013
Louder Than War’s Martin Haslam went to check out veteran rocker & hero of the punk rock era Walter Lure (yep, him from The Heartbreakers) the other day live to see if he still had it. He wasn’t disappointed.
It’s been a while since I last visited Camden Underworld, 1989 in fact. I seem to remember being ejected at about 1 a.m. back then but tonight’s gig has a 10.15p.m curfew. In the past I’d have been outraged. Today, that’s a bonus! It’s safe to say I will not be clubbing later.
Of course, the downside to this is that the support bands go on at a time when self-respecting bands are waking up. Never one to miss out on a potential favourite new band, I always watch every band on the bill, at the front. They’ve made the effort, you should too.
I am stunned to find that The Terraces have come all the way from Australia for a handful of gigs. First on at 6.30p.m, they play with a passion and dedication that would befit a headline tour. I’d heard positive things about them but not got round to listening to their stuff – a big mistake. Think Goldblade sing-alongs of the ‘Psycho’ / ‘Mutiny’ era combined with a wealth of melody lines and chants (including a snatch of the Likely Lads theme). Frontman Gary Buckley, ex-One Way System man, and his not-so-merry-men deserve a bigger audience. Even if he does look like Sean Lock’s angrier brother. Catch them if you can.
Electric River, while less to my tastes, have no shortage of tunes if you like your rock more ‘post’; think Kings Of Leon if they were actually as good as they think they are. These chaps are amazing players and even the five-string-bass didn’t put me off. A tight, punchy set and a song dedicated to Wilko, so they must be decent sorts.
The Parkinsons seem like they’ve been around forever. I doubt Afonso Pinto’s stage presence will ever change, but he and the band clearly delight some of the growing audience. They do what they want with a reckless glee, even when Victor Torpedo’s guitar lead keeps packing up, which has to be admired.
So, the place is now packed with anticipation and sweaty punters. How will it go? I haven’t seen Walter onstage since the 80’s, sometimes, Johnny was even conscious. Walter Lure seemed like the backbone of the Heartbreakers. I don’t want my teenage dreams crushed!
They launch into ‘One Track Mind’ and my worries are put to rest. It’s easy to forget how many great songs Walter has penned, but tonight is a master class in rock ‘n’ roll that knows how to tread the right side of shambolic.
They play the Waldos’ ‘Sorry’, followed by Heartbreakers gem ‘Little London Boy’ and ‘Cry Baby’, both sung by guitarist Jez Miller. A smart move, giving him Johnny’s vocal lines; it adds variety and shares the spotlight with the band. The rhythm section know Walter well, having played with him before on previous U.K tours. Both drummer Ozzie and bassist ‘Rockin’ Ray Birch were in Birmingham rockers Gunfire Dance and provide solid support tonight. Ozzie, you still look great all these years later, you swine!
The place is in a party mood and we get what we want to hear; ‘All By Myself’, ‘Busted’, ‘Baby Talk’, ‘Born Too Loose’. Steve Dior, ex-London Cowboys, guests on guitar for ‘Too Much Junkie Business’ and Jez jokes with Walter; ‘are there any old bandmates that you haven’t killed?’
There is a serious side to Walter Lure, but not tonight. See my upcoming interview with the good man for that. The main set ends with ‘Chinese Rock’, then the inevitable encore sends us home smiling after ‘Let Go’, ‘Seven Day Weekend’ and a stage invasion during ‘Do You Love Me?’ Walter and the band do these classics justice; never overplayed but never sloppy. Finally, we got to hear the songs the way they deserve to be heard. Thanks guys, I had a blast.
All words by Martin Haslam. More work by Martin on Louder Than War can be found here.