Sunday 6 April 2014

The Fuzztones + Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons + The Go Go Cult at The Tufnell Park Dome March 22nd

The Fuzztones by Paul Slattery
It’s hard to believe that I first saw The Fuzztones back in 1985, the band had just released the faultless “Lysergic Emanations" and from the classic horror-comic cover to the unbelievably strong collection of songs within, it still ranks up there as one of my all-time favourite albums. The band were at the forefront of the mid-80’s American Garage Rock Revival, and with their paisley and leather, authentic Vox instruments, bowl haircuts and bone necklaces the timing was right for the Fuzztones to hit the U.K. Over here we had The Damned’s alter-ego Naz Nomad & The Nightmares, and their superb album of classic Nuggets cover versions along with The Cramps inspired Psychobilly scene. There was the Klub Foot at the Clarendon in Hammersmith putting on acts such as The Playn Jayn and not forgetting The Medway bands such as The Prisoners and The Milkshakes, all finding inspiration in those nuggets of American Sixties Psychedelia and Garage Rock. Now all these elements are certainly in vogue again and The Fuzztones are back for a rare return to the U.K.

The Go Go Cult by Paul Slattery
Opening the show tonight at The Dome in Tufnell Park, were The Go Go Cult who took the stage resplendent in matching stripey shirts and black masks, looking like villains from The Green Hornet or Batman. Powered along by a really great drummer they also had an impressively ear-shredding raw guitar sound and laid down a swampy, hypnotic beat that reminded me a bit of The Meteors or Clinic, who coincidentally also wear masks. So, a good start and the band were well received although it was a bit disappointing to see them come back on stage after their set and dismantle their own equipment. Seeing them unplug guitars without the masks somewhat ruined the air of mystery and I would recommend they employ a couple of similarly clad henchmen/roadies to handle their gear while the band make a secretive and mysterious exit!

Puss Johnson of Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons by Paul Slattery
Next up were Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons who cranked it up even louder and drew a few more interested people to the front of the stage. This turned out to be a rather dangerous place to be as Puss kept leaping off into the crowd every now and then to prowl and preen around us. She is a live wire alright, a real ball of energy on huge platform boots, Catwoman hair and yes, she does have a swinging tail too. Despite having a bad cold, Puss put on a great show and she and guitarist Jake have a nice chemistry between them. As a three piece, with no bass and Puss’s confrontational blur of a stage presence, there are bound to be comparisons with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs but the band are difficult to categorize and that's certainly to their benefit. They end a thoroughly enjoyable set with the great single “Trouble With The Devil” and got a really good reaction from the audience.

The Fuzztones by Paul Slattery
So here I was, eagerly awaiting my first glimpse of The Fuzztones in almost 30 years…but that eager wait was to drag on for what seemed like another 30 years, well OK it was about 45 minutes actually, but it didn't half drag and the crowd were starting to get irritated. It didn’t help as there was no DJ so we had to endure a tape of some awful tuneless stuff over the P.A. which was made even more frustrating by the fact that Dirty Water Records had a stall there and they had lots of great vinyl on sale (I picked up some 7" singles from King Salami & The Cumberland 3 and the Lyres, lovely…!) and it was a shame they couldn’t have commandeered the sound system to keep the crowd warmed up. By the time The Fuzztones came on there was a distinct thaw in the atmosphere, and there were some shouts of "Why are we waiting?!" which was a real shame as the momentum of the two excellent support acts was somewhat lost.

Rudi Protrudi of The Fuzztones by Paul Slattery
But then finally The Fuzztones appeared and blasted into Davie Allan's manic surf instrumental "Blue's Theme" closely followed by "Caught You Red Handed" and "I Never Knew". Only lead vocalist guitarist Rudi Protudi remains from the original line-up, however the current band does feature the super-cool Lana Loveland on organ, who I had seen a few years ago playing brilliantly in The Sean Bonniwell Music Machine. Rudi then speaks "I'd like to say how nice it was to be back in London, well I'd like to say that but..." He then goes on a scatter-shot rant about fox hunting, Obama, the "crisis" and living in Germany before introducing a great version of The Shadows of Knight' "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" and finally the atmosphere has warmed up considerably. A slinky "Romilar D" and storming "Brand New Man" pick up the pace even more but then things grind to a halt again. "Has anyone got a guitar I can borrow?" asks Rudi "I've been banging my guitar around so much that I've snapped a string". Someone shouts back, "just put a new string on then!" Rudi replies "I haven't got any spare strings either, I blame the Government! It's the crisis...I couldn't bring our other guitarist over, or a roadie or even a spare guitar..." Then someone shouts out for the classic "Gotta Get Some", and Rudi quips, "Hey we all gotta some but we can't even get that anymore, there's a crisis going on!"

Lana Loveland by Paul Slattery
Luckily Jake from Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons hands Rudi his guitar to use and they start up a cover of Bevis Frond's "Eyes In The Back of My Head", this shudders to a halt suddenly, "I can't hear the guitar now" says Rudi and they try again with what is a pretty damn good version. "This is going to be our last show in London, we had so much hassle getting here so enjoy it!" I do, there's a great double hit of "Bad News Travels Fast" and "Highway '69" before Rudi asks us all to "Get Naked!", nobody does although some chap at the front takes his shirt off. "I'm old enough to remember the Sixties and we didn't need to be asked to take our clothes off!", luckily the subject is changed by the slow burning classic "Ward '81" which is one of my highlights of the night. Rudi chats again, "In 1984 we did our very first and only tour and recorded a live album "Leave Your Mind At Home" so we would like to do a few songs from that album" and then they played great versions of Gonn's "Blackout of Gretely", The Sparkles' "Aint No Friend of Mine" and We The People's "Burn Me Up and Down". Unfortunately the late start and delays caught up with me and as the band blasted out The Sonics' "The Witch" I had to dash to catch my last train home feeling disappointed to say the least. Let's hope Rudi changes his mind and brings The Fuzztones back to the U.K. again!

Here are some more photos of the gig by Paul Slattery, all photos Copyright 2014.

For more photographs please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hit "Like" for access to the exclusive photo album. With thanks to Paul Slattery.


  1. Been there with you over the years, probably stood in all the same venues.

    First saw the 'Tones in '85 at Dingwalls with Friends Of Gavin (and possibly The Cannibals?). This Dome gig Rudy was bitter and twisted which was a shame, they were rambling, confused and disorganised but in the end they smashed it and pulled it off. Missed the last tube, got home at 03:00, worth every minute

  2. Thanks for the comment, maybe I should have hung around for the end after all...!

  3. Friends of Gavin has reformed and dis two sell out shows in London in March and June...EP out May/June 2019

  4. Friends of Gavin reformed late 2017 and did two sell out shows in London in Extended EP is due out late Summer 2019