A Stranger in Moscow 1st May 2009 – Sticky Fungus, Staines
Those Who Are About To Rock we Salute You
The sense of relief is palpable. The tension on the faces of those few individuals who had worked so hard to make this dream come true, gradually dissolved to be replaced by joy. The eighty or so audience by the stage looked on in astonished wonder in a dazed mix of disbelief and excitement. There was a shared, almost sacred, feeling of harmonious kinship radiated around the club. It was manifested in smiles, kisses, hugs and handshakes. The incredible joy. Sticky’s has been opened. Staines has
arrived. Staines is a ‘music town’. It has taken a long time. But we have finally got there.
It is an irony, lost on some, that the insipid Ali G creator Sacha Baron Cohen chose the sleepy riverside bungalow town of Staines to place his now world-famous ghetto-gangsta character in. Ali G is a member of the ‘West Staines Massiv’ living in ‘Staines Ghetto’ and listening to hip hop, reggae and jungle. Although Ali claims to be the ‘voice of da yoof’ and constantly reminded the new generation to ‘Keep it real’ the truth is that Staines was, and probably still is to many, an unloved cultural desert just off the M25, and just below the Heathrow flight-path, and about as cool as your dad wearing socks and
sandals at a church disco.
But let us not forget that this place has a real connection with live music and those ‘in the know’ will remind you that Led Zep once played Staines! Yes, on March 25, 1969 Led Zeppelin played ‘Dazed & Confused’ at Staines in a remarkable two day jamming session that turned into the now almost mythical ‘Supershow’ ( set in the disused lino factory – now Two Rivers.) This grand jazz and blues collaboration brought together, in Staines, great names like Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Buddy Miles, Stephen Stills, Buddy Guy, Coliseum and Roland Kirk.
And Hard Fi was born in Staines (from Contempo in 1997) and it is a fact that their debut album’s launch party – scheduled to be 7 July 2005 at “Cheekees” night club in Staines- (this very building) was famously cancelled following the London bombings. It is also a fact that the band returned home to The Hobgoblin March 2008 to a crowd lined street… just to play a few covers in one of Staines’ favourite music boozers and say thanks to the fans.
But now we have really arrived. Sticky Fungus puts Staines firmly on the music map. For those of you who don’t know the building, it is the old telephone exchange (The Exchange) later Cheekees and most recently lap dancing club Diamonds and Denim. It is about as large as the London Astoria, with a huge capacity over two floors. The concrete structure of the building means the sounds are not quite perfect but the management has invested in some sensational sound and light systems that help to overcome this logistical problem. The management promise to provide live music seven days a week.
So after some successful run-throughs and a nice start by ‘Alphabet Backwards’ earlier in the evening, we get down to some serious rockin’ with the Guildford band ‘A Stranger in Moscow’. I first saw this band at The Boiler Room and immensely enjoyed their thickly buttered slices of crisp new indie/lounge sounds.
There is a sharpness and vivacity about the ASIM hi hat driven tinselly sounding music. The slightly fuzzy acoustics at Sticky Fungus actually seemed to help the buzzy electronica thing going on in there too. There are plenty of jaw-dropping riffs and huge powerful anthemic slabs of brilliance held in vast stockpiles to unleash at a moments notice on the unexpecting crowd. There are plenty of catchy hooks and long-bop rhythms but these are placed against a backdrop of deftly arranged lightly handled arrangements of liquidity and movement.
A Stranger in Moscow seem to include a wider variety of colours and expression in their work than many of their contemporaries. Their music is fast and bright, but also makes use of clean and efficient voice and soaring melodic structures. The results are joyous and heartening, and very encouraging on this night of new beginnings. This is perfect stuff for the Sticky opening. There is something almost Goldfrappy about this new indie band and even a Doors vibe going on there sometimes too.
Yes, Andy Hall Hall on guitar and vocals, Luke Simmons on guitar and keys, Mills Richey on bass and Tom ‘Briggie’ Briggs on drums provide the necessary feel good poptastic squeal-songs that cause the assembly of pretty young things in the front row to coo and thrill with joy. But this young band also proves that they can be a power-house of richly constructed and majestic sounds – also ‘hitting the spot’ for those oldies in the crowd.
I spoke with frontman Andy immediately after the concert. He was delighted that the band was chosen to launch the Sticky Fungus venue and was very satisfied with the result. “It is very exciting, we were all fully charged and sparkling.”
“Sticky’s is a beautiful place with an amazing atmosphere and wonderful crowd.”
The band goes into the studio again next week to work on some numbers and their next big trip is on May 11 at the ‘Edge of the Wedge’, Portsmouth. The band will also be listed in Beach Break Festival, Polzeath, Cornwall in June.
© Neil_Mach May 2009
Misconstructed Beats is available here:
Led Zep’s Dazed & Confused at Staines is available here: