I'd never been to a gig in Wolverhampton before, but as someone brought up on glam rock, it seemed fitting that my first there was taking place in The Slade Rooms. And recalling just how ridiculous Holder, Hill, etc could look, it was also perhaps apt to enter and find two men, who were presumably Guilty Pleasures Of The Snow Angel, wearing ill-fitting T-shirts and silver masks, doing robotics and quoting "n-n-n-nineteen" before finishing with a techno number that featured some thrashing guitar and a chant of "Doncaster, Doncaster, Doncaster, Doncaster on acid". As my 11 yr old said, "I wouldn't listen to one of their CDs but they were quite enjoyable to watch". He had a point.
I was looking forward to seeing Hotpants Romance, three young females with guitar bass and drums, and shouty out-of-tune voices.
Hotpants Romance, under romantic blue lighting.
And I wasn't disappointed. Admittedly, they're pretty damn amateurish and you can bet your bottom dollar that your average muso would break out in a cold sweat if they heard them. I heard someone at the bar saying something about "the worst band ever" and I couldn't help thinking he was likely to be moaning about the band he'd just seen. And yet...I really enjoyed them and their Spirit Of '77 abandon. One number sounded like The Slits attempting The Ronettes, but overall if you imagined the first Ramones LP with three Lydia Lunchs on vocals, you wouldn't be far off. They might not have played the glorious shambolic Shake, the one Hotpants Romance track I knew before the gig, but they did put a big smile on my face.
The surprisingly ramshacklely fun Hotpants Romance.
The Nightingales were operating tonight as a four piece (a well dressed one, too!) which highlighted what a useful guitarist Alan Apperley is.
Nightingales counteracted the hotpants by wearing suits.
They opened with a few quickfire numbers that led pretty much straight into each other, with the almost Keith Moon-like drummer Daren Garret entertaining us from the start. I'd not seen The Nightingales for a few years, but although Robert Lloyd looked like he'd clearly indulged in a few too many sherbets, it was a performance that grew as it went on.
Nightingales with added woodwind bonus action.
They managed to take in old numbers like Blood For Dirt and Part Of The Anchor as well as more recent ones like their cover of Kevin Coyne's Good Boy and Kirklees Men, which Lloyd described as The Nightingales best song. It isn't – one can only conclude he'd forgotten he'd ever released Urban Ospreys - but it seemed rude to argue.
Never argue with a man in a suit at a rock club.
It wasn't all plain sailing though. Lloyd managed just a couple of lines of the latest incarnation of Well Done Underdog when he started laughing before eventually telling us that the next line was great, but that he couldn't remember what it was. And Blood For Dirt had to be stopped a short time in too, with Lloyd telling us it was out of tune. "Not that you lot would notice," he said to the crowd. "I would", said someone in the audience. "You didn't when you were in the band" said Lloyd drily.
The encore was excellent, opening with a superb rendition of The Cramps classic The Way I Walk and ending with a revisit to Prefects land with a fabulous version of Going Through The Motions which was as good as anything I've heard in ages.
Hotpants and Nightingales at the same time!
It could have gone on all night as far I was concerned, but Garrett had given us his last thwack and left the stage before Lloyd had muttered the final words. The rest of the band followed leaving Lloyd, who looked like he wanted to say something but couldn't be arsed competing with Led Zep or whatever it was coming out of the PA, standing alone on stage, in suit and glasses, smiling at the audience filtering out, looking not unlike some rather inebriated stand-up from a bygone age.
A fitting end to an enjoyable night that veered from the almost farcical to the brilliant, but which was never less than entertaining.
You wouldn't have then any other way really, would you?