Alan Dearling takes us on a slightly damp tour of some London music and arts events as post-Covid activities re-activate.
After my first weeks of post-English Covid ‘Freedom Day’ in Yorkshire, I found myself heading down to London, via Scotland, to take photos and review a big indoor gig with Eat Static, Zion Train, Chris Tofu and others at Brixton Electric. Alas, it was not to be. It was cancelled late on, presumably over Covid entry restrictions. So, personally, I had to bite the bullet, and I still went by train and buses from the Scottish borderlands to North London to stay with good friends in Crouch End. It felt a long time since my last visitation. Indeed, it had been a long gap since the London Re-Mixed indoor festival at the very beginning of 2020.
Wandering around a soggy London, on-off rain and sunny bits, it was interesting to see London emerging into the new world of ‘living with Covid’. Pubs with virtually no masks, but still face-coverings mandatory on public transport. Signs of poverty and homelessness on the streets. People bustling about their business, but a slightly edgy wariness.
My first indoor London event was an album launch for the Snakeoil Rattlers at the iconic, Hope and Anchor pub in London’s Islington Upper Street. A legendary downstairs’ stage, the site of many famous sets from pub bands, punk gigs, blues, country and more.
The sound quality for a short solo intro by the Snakeoil Rattlers’ front man, Barry Warren, was great. Clear and sweet. Not so, for the ramshackle, but loveable rock ‘n’ rollers in support, The Shangrilads. It was even louder and muddier for the Snakeoil Rattlers. They were previewing ‘Backwater’ their new album. We got to hear some fine lap-steel guitar, but the words were lost in a sonic murk. The Snakeoil Rattlers are purveyors of swampy, bluesy-rock Americana. Songs full of ‘stories’ of life on the road, in bars, brawls and drug and alcohol fuelled ‘experiences’. The sound quality was disappointing for both bands as they seem to be a really nice bunch of lads. Here’s the link to the Rattlers’ website and to the Bandcamp page: http://www.snakeoilrattlers.co.uk/
‘Sirens of the Highway’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV0ybbFe3EM
A pic of the Snakeoil Rattlers, and one of Barry Warren.
And a pic of the Shangrilads.
ZooNation at the Southbank
Oooodles more precipitation down at Southbank. Outside events – arts, music and dance were forced indoors. It ain’t the same vibe, but ZooNation Dance Company did their level-best to energise a youthful workshop group onto an improvised dance-floor. ZooNation are a well-known dance collective, part of the Katie Prince Company, which uses story-telling, music and dance to enable young people to become more creative.
ZooNation in action>>>>>>>>
Alexandra Palace: The People’s Palace
Sunday afternoon – street food and craft drink stalls, plus live music all centred around the terrace at the ‘Palace’. A good size, revolving crowd of punters and performers braving some pretty abrupt and sudden rain-bursts. Smiling people, dancing people, people on their own personal missions to shake-off the shackles of Covid.
Heavy Beat Brass Band
From Birmingham, this is a marching band and a human entertainment machine. They offered musical slices of authentic vibes of New Orleans to the crowds in North London. Lively, youthful and fun!
Start Off Right (Soul Rebels Cover): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPG2o0LPs4I
Web site: https://www.heavybeatbrass.com/
Norton Money Band
Country-tinged music, but at times accompanied by a pulsating, driving beat. During their second set, they upped the tempo, capturing much more attention and even got a fair few among the crowd up and dancing. They were showcasing many tracks from their recorded output.
‘Hold on again’ from 12 Bar Club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKfqsQfXXXI
Web site: https://www.nortonmoney.com/
The Third Elvis and friends
For many, the ‘heroes’ of the afternoon, the ‘star attraction’ with that extra ‘z’ or ‘x’ factor, were: The Third and last remaining London Elvis, and his two dancing friends. Memorable! As my mate Tony remarked, “I want to find their Care Home, and go and join them!”