Here’s a warning for those of you who may be given to taking postmodern irony too far: after years of listening to me jokingly praising the virtues of Boney M and other such seventies musical horrors, at 5pm last night Mrs Graham presented me with an envelope containing two tickets to see Chas and Dave at the Albany a couple of hours later. “Happy anniversary” she said, poker-faced.
Now quite honestly, the worst thing I have ever done to this woman (for whom, let it be remembered, I gave up a long-running sex and drugs and rock and roll lifestyle and the laudable ambition to be dead before I was 25 , even if I had somehow managed to reach 36 when I married her) is to adopt a Fawltyesque voice in order to say “She’s from Chicago” to shop assistants and suchlike. Quite respectful I am towards her (usually.)
Confronted by this fait accompli the most worrying thing was what kind of people would the rest of the audience consist of? Would they be grannies and grandads eating jellied eels? Community care patients using up their unspent benefits before they reached the DSS cutoff point for savings, or who else exactly?
Nothing in my previous experience (which extends back to a dodgy flirtation with heavy metal in the mid-seventies – I’ll no longer deny it, I’m “out” and proud…) Punk Rock, Ska, and raves (by the way, am I imagining it or was there a fashion for people to blow on the back of your neck at such events once? What was that all about then?) Nothing in all those years of attending musical soirees had prepared me for this.
Having decided on the distressed denim look popularised by the first East German over the wall circa 1989, and with the evil Courtney Love wannabe trailing on behind me brandishing an umbrella (much in the manner of Georgi Markov’s assassin,) I made my way into the venue.
The Deptford Albany (for those who have never had the pleasure), is a building which one day will be listed as the only surviving example of an entertainment venue designed by 1970s middle-aged Labour councillors indulging their wildest fantasies of what the “yoof” would really, really want. So, taking a leaf out of the book of the Muppets “Waldorf and Staedtler” (Or some Harry’s Place commentators) I made my way up stairs to the circle and prepared to look down sneeringly at the massed ranks of the underclass below.
And the place was full of stunningly beautiful young women….. Some even dressed in cloth caps and false beards. Despite a sprinkling of grey-hairs, the majority of the crowd were under 25 and spent the evening dancing energetically to “Gertcha” “Rabbit” and “The Sideboard Song.”
Good bloody God! Could it be that during all those hours spent with crowds of earnest males at Gang of Four gigs feeling that life was elsewhere, it was actually happening in places where two old geezers and an even older drummer were singing about going down to Margate? Most of these people did not seem to be behaving even slightly ironically either…
Even worse was to come. After the (I kid you not) stage invasion at the end of the gig, Mrs G appeared clutching a ticket stub signed by “Dave” and pronounced herself very happy to have finally heard “real” London soul music performed by those who “write about events in their daily lives.”
This phenomenon needs stopping before it goes any further. All suggestions for any other acts from the past which could be revived to counter the evil communalism of these “rockneys” will be gratefully received. Gary Glitter is (kind-of) dead, his space in the entertainment industry will be filled by somebody; and if it’s not to be either Chas or the Wurzels then something must be done quickly.