Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Fur Dixon & WTFukushima! The Moth Club July 12th 2018

Fur Dixon & WTFukushima! at The Moth Club - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
I first became aware of Fur Dixon back in 1986 during The Cramps “A Date With Elvis” tour along with their now legendary appearance on The Tube TV Show where she impressed a lot of us Cramps fans with her Bunny tail hot pants, fur-lined bra and gum chewing rock’n’roll attitude. It looked like The Cramps had found a really strong line-up again; she seemed the perfect fit, a striking visual character to match the super-flamboyant Lux, the stunning Poison Ivy and the impeccably cool Nick Knox. Fur was the first bass player to perform live with the band but unfortunately, this promising line-up was short-lived and it was a real shame when she left the band shortly after the tour. “A Date With Elvis” was for me one of the best periods of The Cramps and personally, I have always found the LP one of their strongest and most consistent post-Bryan Gregory releases. Although Fur never actually played bass on the record itself - she only contributed backing vocals - she will always be associated with the album and that era. 

Fur Dixon & Dave Provost of WTFukushima! at The Moth Club - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
So, 30 odd years later and suddenly out of the blue, thanks to Brighton based promoters Stay Sick, Fur is back in the U.K. touring with a new band called WTFukushima! to promote their brand new album “Return 2 Sender”. It was unexpected news so I was on the case straight away to secure tickets to her London show at The Moth Club in Hackney. However, before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a quick look at Fur’s story so far…Originally from New York; Fur’s first musical experiences came from singing with her mother’s Church choir where she excelled, winning regional youth competitions. She then moved to California in the early 80’s, said good bye to religion and found Punk Rock via local DJ Rodney Bingenheimer and gigs by acts such as The Plasmatics and Ramones. Fur soon got into Rockabilly and Country music and joined bands The Whirlybirds and The Hollywood Hillbillys before The Cramps came calling. After leaving The Cramps, she returned to her love of Country and Folk releasing albums with Steve Werner before forming WTFukushima! in 2016. Fur has certainly assembled an impressive line-up that announces this as more of a band than a solo project and the main players from the album join her tonight. First of all, there’s the amiable Bernard Yin who joined up with the band after touring Europe with Garage Soul outfit The BellRays and he has switched from bass to lead guitar for WTF! He's a really impressive guitarist too.

Bernard Yin of WTFukushima! at The Moth Club - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
Dave Provost from The Dream Syndicate is on bass and Dusty Watson from the current line-up of The Sonics is on drums. That is some pedigree and they certainly didn’t disappoint. The three of them kick off with a Surf instrumental before Fur takes the stage and they crank up and into the next song. She looks great with a shock of blue/purple/mauve hair and still retains that charismatic Rock ‘n’ Roll look and attitude. If you come away from a gig and there is not one single song or melody stuck in your head then there is something wrong with that band. Thankfully, there’s no such problem with WTF! and despite the fact that I hadn’t heard the new LP before the show, it’s Fur’s own songs that provide the highlights of the night for me. The quality of the song-writing is apparent on stand-out tracks such as "Out of Darkness Slowly" and the Glam strut of "Sugar Sweet". 

Dusty Watson of WTFukushima! at The Moth Club - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
Fur Dixon of WTFukushima! at The Moth Club - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
The superb "Get That Saddle Off My Back" is preceded by a bit of a rant about the end of her time in The Cramps and I'm sure there will be more tales to follow in her forthcoming book. The band certainly draw on many and varied aspects of American music and there is a Bluesy swagger running through the core of their music. However, despite all this talk of Americana, Fur is not afraid to go off at an unexpected tangent; this is particularly evident with one of the two cover versions that feature on the album. “Baby’s On Fire” a collaboration by those most British of Artists, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp from Eno’s “Here Comes The Warm Jets” is a surprise and tonight live, it’s a raucous squealing wall of feedback from Bernard and driven along by Dusty’s immense tribal drumbeat. The other cover, also played tonight, is a slow burning and brooding take on Buffy Sainte Marie’s “Cod’ine” which really highlights Fur’s exceptional voice and you can see that all that practicing with the church choir has certainly paid dividends. 

WTFukushima! at The Moth Club - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
Fur acknowledges my 13th Floor Elevators T-Shirt and then launches into a super-charged version of “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and standing at the front a few feet in front of Dusty’s drums is an experience, he is a real powerhouse, that’s for sure. Despite their different musical backgrounds, there’s a real chemistry between the band members and they seem to be having as much fun as we are. There’s a lot of smiling going on – both on the stage and off it. They end a perfectly constructed set with “New Kind of Kick” then and encore with a nice and sleazy “Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?” and "Love Me" which all go down a storm with a thoroughly satisfied crowd. 

Fur Dixon of WTFukushima! at The Moth Club - Photo Copyright Retro Man Blog
The album "Return 2 Sender" is out now and available from the WTFukushima! Bandcamp site here. As mentioned in the feature, Fur is also working on a book so we will bring you more news on the title and release date as soon as we have it. For more photos from the show at The Moth Club please check out the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here. Some original videos from the gig can be found at our YouTube channel here. For more info on Stay Sick promotions check out their web-site here. An excellent interview with Fur by Neil from the Ginger Quiff Blog appears at the Louder Than War web-site here. For all Fur Dixon and WTFukushima! related news and information please check out the official web-site here.

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