London and Karova at Staines Hobgoblin

Thurs 26th October 2008

LONDON gigs flier- Hob Neil_Mach Sept 2008

It is a truth, self evident, that Men love music. But straight men don’t like to dance. For men, music is for listening whereas, for ladies, music is to dance to and romance to. Even those big macho hip hop and RnB geezers don’t really like all the dancing that is involved in their genre of music. They would rather just watch their honeys and sway a bit to the beat. And real men don’t fancy their music idols like the girlies do.  Yes, they may adulate and adore their idols as if they were venerating high priets of music -placing them upon high altars in high towers. (Anyone can witness that phenomena by visiting an Iron Maiden gig) but they don’t actually fancy the musicians…have you ever heard a bloke say “I really fancy that Bruce Dickinson- woo he makes me hot!” But girlies do.  They fancy the pants off of their musical heroes and then they like to dance. They dance in the aisles.  They dance on their seats.  They dance in the queue. And in the lav. And in the bar. They dance when they get home too. Because they feel the music. In a way that men don’t.

And what is lacking at the moment, for us manly men, is some geezer music. Just think about it for a moment. When was the last time you heard or downloaded a track that was meant for real men? For geezers. You know, the men who sweat. And toil. And grunt. And miss the basin. “Music …my arse” as Jim Royle would say. Music in 2008 is for cissies and girlies. It is wuss music for the masses. Where are songs like “How Soon Is Now?” (The Smiths ) or “Parklife” (Blur) with its beermug cover and masculine imagery? What we need is a bit of ‘thinking stuff’ not all this ‘dancing stuff’. I believe that punk and, later, Britpop, was created for this purpose. To fill a man’s sandwich. To fill the vacuum.

Punk, if you recall, can be played by anyman. It can be picked up in a bar or in a garage. It isn’t particularly tricky to learn, but  like a good sport, it is difficult to master. It involves lots of sneering and shouting. A bit of attitude. A bit of posturing. A man can release his inner anger and resentment to a good punk song. And feel refreshed afterwards. But although there is a ‘dancing game’ there is no actual dancing involved. The dancing game involves any of the following items: 1) you can pogo or sway or strut as long as you are looking like it doesn’t mean anything. 2) You must hold your beer in your hand to prove that this dancing thing ‘doesn’t mean anything’ and that your procreative energy will not be expended or wasted on such trifles. Neither sweat nor beer will be spilt. 3) If you walk to the bog -you may- as you stroll through- pretend to dance to the music in an amusing and flamboyant style, whilst smiling inanely to the ‘audience’ as you go past. 4) You may, if you prefer, march up and down shouting “Oi” . All these things are OK for a man to do because they are not dancing.

You cannot ‘dance-dance’ to punk.  You know- ‘dance’ dance. With the emphasis on the first dance.  (I am saying this in the same way that ladies say love-love as in ‘you don’t actually ‘love’ love me do you?’) Later, Britpop came along and brought anthems and congregational singing with them to the new men’s world. This was music you could huddle to. There was comradeship in those big working class, street-level choruses and football-match-slogans. Once again, you could sway or nod to the music but dancing was almost always impracticable. There were a few ladies at the shows. But mostly men. This music spoke to men. It was their own. And there was no dancing.

So we get to ‘London’ supported by ‘Karova’ at The Hobgoblin, Staines. These two bands are purveyors of fine geezer music. You cannot dance to their sounds. But you can enjoy it like a man  without it becoming too political or too  “Oi! Oi! Oi!”.

London are an authentic 1976 era punk band supporting The Stranglers back in 1977. John Moss became the bands drummer (formerly The Clash and later Culture Club) and the bands frontman and composer was and still is Riff Regan [Miles Tredinnick]. Steve Voice was the bass & vocals and Dave Wight was the guitar. Riff penned some reliable and resilient staples back in the seventies like Everyone’s A Winner, Summer Of Love, Friday on My Mind. He also wrote the likeable Siouxie Sioux (no relation to Susan Janet Ballion- honestly!) The year 2008 line-up is Riff Regan (vocals), Steve Voice (bass/vocals), Hugh O’Donnell (guitar/vocals) and Colin Watterston (drums). This is music to strut to. Riff struts about like a giant cock on heat but the other musicians remain unanimated. A couple of girls make a half-hearted attempt to dance at the Hob. But how can you dance to this? And that is no bad thing. This is drinking music and more. The drinkers stand and watch the band with their mugs grasped in sweaty hands and their other mugs agape in wonder. The band are singing about things that these drinking men understand. It gets under their skin. The rhythms are tribal. The beats pulse. The cockstruts invigorate. Man stuff.

Karova see themselves as somewhere between ‘Black Grape’ and early ‘Oasis’ and I know what they mean. They cheesefully exude britpopishness with vim and elan and they are also (like London) not to be danced to. There is a bit of 1970’s ‘Who’ in there and fat slices of ‘Stone Roses’ crunched up with ‘Happy Mondays’, a bit like a musical version of a cheese and onion crisp sandwich topped with gherkin. The music is finished off with thin slices of  ‘Small Faces’ style sounds to add piquancy. This music has charm, it has a boyish grin, it is laddish. If Karova was a dog it would be loveable scamp- a wet terrier. Sharp riffs and lots of singsong choruses -a wink and a smile for the lay-dees. Karova are cheeky and leering. But they are men’s men and mean business. Paul the Tool pouts and sneers. He heads straight to the bar afterwards for more beer and jokes with his mates. This is the real stuff. Then he stands still for London. Dead still. Because men don’t dance.

I wish there was more geezer music in the world right now. Stuff like ‘London’ and Karova.  ‘Cos like Morrissey (The Smiths) said, “I am human and I need to be loved / Just like everybody else does”.

© Neil_Mach
Oct 2008

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