Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Fallen Leaves at The 12 Bar Club January 09th

The Fallen Leaves at the 12 Bar Club - Photo by Paul Slattery
It was my first time at The 12 Bar Club, a place that I'd been meaning to go to for ages and tonight was The Fallen Leaves regular Parliament Club night of "Minimum R&B". The band have held Club nights in a variety of venues for some years now, and as well as giving a chance for smaller bands to play, they have also hosted such luminaries as The Len Price 3, Billy Childish, The Masonics, Downliners Sect, Scarlet's Well, TV Smith and The Priscillas. The venue is located on Denmark Street, London's own historic Tin Pan Alley, a very short street which is packed full of music stores, studios and history. Here of course, is where the Sex Pistols had their rehearsal room and squat, where the Stones recorded their first album and Hendrix and Page did sessions. You can still feel the atmosphere of generations of musicians, hustlers, agents, publishers and songwriters hanging over Denmark Street.  It's an evocative place, and suddenly I felt a pang of sadness as all around this time-capsule of a street, there are major building developments going on. The Tottenham Court Road Cross-Rail work has sadly already put paid to the legendary venue the Astoria over the road, which was a sad loss to the London music scene.

The Fallen Leaves at the 12 Bar Club - Photo by Paul Slattery
Then there's the St. Martins College of Art, the setting for Pulp's "Common People" and which once proudly displayed a blue plaque proclaiming it the location of a legendary Sex Pistols' gig. The college is moving to Kings Cross and the building itself is now surrounded by scaffolding and shrouded in tarpaulin. I fear for Denmark Street, you can almost sense the large oppressive shadow of a heartless and greedy, lip-smacking, hand rubbing property developer looming over the place with a wrecking ball in one hand and a huge wad of cash in the other. The 12 Bar itself is a nicely scuzzy place, a sort of CBGB's-lite, with front and back bars and a very small main room where the bands play. It all looks a bit haphazard, the sort of place that would give a Health 'n' Safety inspector a heart attack, but the sound is surprisingly good once the bands get going. It's all a bit cramped on the small stage, the drummer is squeezed into the back corner, but it does mean you have that rare opportunity of getting all four band members in a photo from very close quarters.

The Fallen Leaves at the 12 Bar Club - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Fallen Leaves were a revelation when I saw them play for the very first time at our Retro Man Blog Night at the Half Moon back in December and I was really keen to see them play again. Tonight, they didn't disappoint and ran through a short sharp set of excellent songs from their two earlier albums along with tracks from their stunning brand new release "If Only We'd Known", which is out now on Parliament Records. "Against The Grain" is probably my highlight of the night with it's super catchy backing vocals, but all the songs have hooks and choruses that stay in your head for days to follow. In a way the band are quintessentially British although there are echoes of raw American garage rock, they are more rooted in the UK's Freakbeat and R 'n' B sounds of The Pretty Things, Downliners Sect and early Who.

Rob Symmons of The Fallen Leaves - Photo by Paul Slattery
But the Britishness is not just apparent in their sound, take this for example: "I like a bit of tweed" says singer Rob Green as he checks a smart gold pocket watch hanging from a chain on his waistcoat. Or this..."We play Punk Rock for gentlemen" while adjusting his cravat, and then there's..."Sponsored by PG Tips" as he languidly pours himself a cup of tea from a flask as the band let loose around him. The bass player might wear shades but he also sports a velvet crimson smoking jacket. It's almost like seeing a band appear in scene in an Ealing Comedy, I was half expecting Terry Thomas to suddenly appear wielding a Fender Stratocaster and chase Ian Carmichael across the stage. And as the great Terry Thomas might proclaim with his cheeky gap-toothed grin, "I say  chaps, what an absolutely splendid band the Fallen Leaves are, don't you know!" We hope to do a special edition Retrosonic Podcast with The Fallen Leaves very soon, where we will show-case their brilliant new album and also chat to the band about their story and music. You can read about the Half Moon gig and see photos and videos HERE. To buy the new album or keep up to date with tour dates and news, visit The Fallen Leaves' official web-site

We played a track by the band on the previous Episode of Retrosonic Podcast, listen to it here...

 With thanks to Rob Green, Rob Symmons and Paul Slattery.

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