Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Vic Godard & Subway Sect - Live at Monto Water Rats Kings Cross, London March 29th

Mark Braby & Vic Godard, Subway Sect, March 29th - Photo by Steve Worrall
I must admit that I hadn't followed Vic Godard's solo career very closely until I heard the excellent album "We Come As Aliens", which was released in 2010 back again under the guise of Vic Godard & Subway Sect. It's just that every now and then, an artist that I may have neglected - whether it's because they go off in a direction that doesn't appeal to me anymore, or I just lose touch with them for whatever reason - will produce something that connects with me and gets me enthused all over again. It's great when this happens as you can then go on a little voyage of discovery into the back catalogue, and sometimes it's almost like coming across a brand new band for the very first time. So, tonight it was especially pleasing when, following a brief poem and introduction from Jock Scot, the band hit the stage and strike up "Best Album", the first track off "...Aliens". "The Water Was Bad" from his Edwyn Collins produced solo album "The End of the Surrey People" is followed by the sublime "Stop That Girl" from "T.R.O.U.B.L.E." which is a beautiful song, and tonight it is one of my highlights. We get the double hit of two more great tracks from "We Come As Aliens" in "Rhododendron Town" and the superb "Back In The Community".

Mark Braby, Vic Godard, Paul Myers & Paul Cook - Photo by Steve Worrall
Vic has gathered a fantastic band around him, and despite the somewhat fluid formations over the years, I really hope there is more to come from this line-up. Apparently, it's the first time Subway Sect have performed as a six piece, with Yusuf B'layachi joining on acoustic guitar alongside regulars Mark Braby on Guitars and Kevin Younger on Keyboards and Guitar. Original Subway Sect bassist Paul Myers, once of The Fallen Leaves, is excellent as he locks into a tight groove with his ex-Professionals rhythm section colleague Paul Cook. They just seem to have that chemistry that binds it all together. Talking of chemistry, I really enjoyed the banter between Vic and Paul Myers, topics of conversation ranged from stealing chord changes from Buzzcocks to the terrible weather and even discussing the latest horse-racing tips.
Paul Cook & Paul Myers - Photo by Steve Worrall
I always thought Paul Cook was an underrated drummer, OK he might not be the flashiest showman behind a drum-kit, more a Charlie Watts than a Keith Moon I guess, but he has a solid yet soulful feel, that gets the toes tapping right from the start. Both sides of the soon to be released Record Store Day exclusive 7" single are played tonight, with saxophonist David Wright swelling the line-up to a seven-piece for "Caught In Midstream" and "You Bring Out The Demon In Me". Both tracks are superb Northern Soul styled numbers that keep the crowd dancing and the addition of sax really adds a depth to the proceedings.

Vic Godard - Photo by Steve Worrall
Then follows two raucous Subway Sect classics, "Ambition" and "Parallel Lines", which take the roof off the Water Rats. Although Subway Sect were respected and admired by their contemporaries, they never really seemed to gain the wider acceptance or acknowledgement from many Punk fans. This may be due to the fact that Bernie Rhodes cut short the progression of what could have been one of the most interesting and original Punk outfits, by sacking the band around Vic Godard before they could release an album. Hearing these songs tonight, they sound inventive and fresh and should rightly be lauded alongside all those more familiar Punk classics.
Mark Braby - Photo by Steve Worrall
Another track from "...Aliens" the languid "Music of a Werewolf" brings things down to a more sedate level with it's Bosanova vibe before the stomping Flamenco of "The Devil's In League With You". Then it's the upbeat and soulful "Won't Turn Back" before Vic announces that "we've had enough sophistication for the evening" and the band slam into "Nobody's Scared" and "Chain Smoking" from the old Subway Sect days. The band are called back for encores and we get "If We'd've" with it's pub closing time singalong chorus and "Empty Shell" and then it is all over with applause and smiles lighting up the Water Rats. Tonight, the set was perfectly balanced, with all aspects of Vic's eclectic career covered, from Blue-eyed Soul to Jazz, Swing, French Chanson or all-out guitars blazing Punk Rock, it was all crammed in there in what was a truly memorable gig.

Paul Myers & Kevin Younger - Photo by Steve Worrall
Subway Sect - Photo by Steve Worrall
Vic Godard & Subway Sect fans may also be interested in our special Retrosonic Podcasts with The Fallen Leaves, who feature original Subway Sect guitarist Rob Symmons and occasional Sect backing singer Rob Green, and did have both Paul Cook and Paul Myers in their early line-up. The two Robs talk about The Fallen Leaves story including the early Subway Sect days as well as playing some of their own influences and favourite songs. Both Episodes are also generously sound-tracked with lots of Fallen Leaves songs from all of their three albums and debut E.P. "Trouble". "Side A: Punk Rock for Gentlemen" and "Side B: Simple Songs for Complex People" are available to listen to or download for free at the Retrosonic Soundcloud site.

Vic Godard & Yusuf B'layachi- Photo by Steve Worrall
For access to more photographs of the gig you can "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and for videos of two songs please check out the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel. We also play a favourite Vic track in Episode 6 of Retrosonic Podcast.

Check out the excellent Vic Godard & Subway Sect official web-site for tour dates, merchandise, news, and a comprehensive archive featuring previous reviews and interviews. 

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