Photo's by Coops - compare with Captain in '83
Here's something for your next pub quiz: did you know the wacky world of Rock n Roll even has it's own industry-specific illness? Tour Flu - when a virus takes hold in the cramped confines of the tour bus causing a collective infection amongst band mates. It was this rotten ol' lurgy that led to the Glitter Band's last minute cancellation of their Southend show on Monday. And we'd glammed up n'everything. Me - leopard skin and velvet (not quite as jarring as it sounds). Mrs M - looking pretty in pink.
Followed by a wave of boosts and beams when it was announced, trooper that he is, Captain Sensible would be pitching in with an ad hoc extended set for the evening .. I was lucky enough to catch up with Captain briefly before and after the show, a thoroughly lovely gent, but the poor ol' sausage (veggie sausage - natch!) was suffering some serious throat agg' himself and sounding for all the world like Weezy from Toy Story. So, none of us assembled Southenders were quite prepared for the rock 'n' rollercoaster ride that happened over the next seventy or so minutes
Opening with Captain's solo material, an ear-catching songbook of jangle, clang and Anglo-melodies, almost Kevin Ayers-ish topped off with poppier sensibilities. But, before you could say Captain (he said Wot!) we were racing and ripping through The Damned era hits - Love Song, Neat, Neat, Neat and Cap's Crass team up - (What d'Ya Give) The Man Who's Gotten Everything.
But then boys and girls, then, that infamous tribal, Glitter beat began working it's sordid, foot-stomping, hip-twitching magic and you're caught cobra-like, lost in the crazy rhythm - punching a fist in the air and shouting YEAH when Captain asks Do You Wanna Touch? (X 3)
And still the evening's doings weren't completely done. Through a few canny phone calls, bass player - ex Damned member and Hot Rodder Paul Gray - had located and roped in a solid gold local ledge, Barrie Masters, frontman of Eddie and The Hot Rods - looking for all the world like David Johansen meets Patrick Troughton - leaping on stage left and leading the Captain's gang into a hand-clapping run through of Do Anything You Wanna Do and Gloria.
When the band finally bailed after a second encore, they hung about the venue as if both punters and performers were sharing the same stunned, head-spinning experience at what magic had just crackled around the room. All created entirely on the fly by way of an improv' set list and a handful of rehearsed-that-afternoon tunes. An explosive, unfolding, one-off performance of musical winging and adrenaline riffing. An evening that could so easily have backfired became a high-firing night for all.
Highlights: Captain serenading Mrs M and I during Happy Talk's 'talk about the boy/girl' section. Hearing Cap's jangle and top-line soloing interlocking with Paul Gray's furious fingers and bass dynamics (I've literally never seen anyone drive a bass like this before..) The Captain's between song panto-banter. And post-show, chatting with Cap, the band and Hot Rods ledge Barrie Masters.
I've been to God knows how many gigs and seen The Damned multiple times over the years - but I've never seen anything that comes close to the sparky musicianship, fluid band mechanics and camaraderie of this event. And the 14th, which could have been a day of glumness (mum's first birthday since losing her) was lifted by the lingering afterglow of this glittering gig.
God bless Captain's solo outings and all who sail with him...
There's only two days left to catch Captain and gang in action....
Captain Sensible - (What D'Ya Give) The Man Who's Gotten Everything?