A stroll through London on a balmy June evening to see the legendary Brian James? It would be churlish not to. The train delay to get there was less enthralling, but I arrived in time to see the support set by Table Scraps. While not necessarily my cup of tea, the three piece are certainly accomplished at their brand of grungey rock. They’ve just finished a tour with Monster Magnet, and I can see how that would fit, so they may well be for you.
But, no doubt, the sizeable crowd are here for an actual living legend. While The Damned are now a slick, touring band, nothing wrong with that, the sharp edge of 1976 is alive in Brian James. With his debut solo album rereleased on vinyl via Easy Action, it’s a timely reminder of his post-Damned gems.
The Regulator from the recent Guitar That Dripped Blood album start us off, and the sound seems to improve during Born To Kill. Which is just as well, with Scott Mulvey from Dirty Strangers on keys tonight. This does round out the songs, without removing the rough edges. Walkin’ Round Naked is followed by The Twist, featuring fellow Dirty Stranger Al Clayton on vocals. He does a good balancing act tonight by adding some vocal muscle but not being an overpowering presence. The songs are the thing. As Slow It Down shows, another great riff. Speaking of which, Al is back for a suitably rough and ready I Feel Alright, with Quireboy Guy Griffin joining on guitar. They rattle through Route 66, The Last Time and, of course, Neat, Neat, Neat, by which time it is getting more lively at the front.
Long time collaborators are Austen ‘Pig’ Gayton on bass, and the amazing Malcolm Mortimer on drums. It’s easy to see why they keep playing together; even when the kit continues to fall to bits, nothing fazes him. Superb stuff. Encore time, and we are treated to the lone Lords tune tonight, Method To My Madness, sounding great with twin guitars, and New Rose. Suffice to say, something for everyone.
So, if Brian James plays anywhere near you, don’t miss out on the action. The fingers are still flying around his trusty Telecaster. Martin Chamarette