Our baby boy Logan arrived a couple of weeks ago - a couple of weeks late! - so we're in the middle of self-imposed gig exile. However something like Buffalo Tom's first UK gig for donkey's years would be enough to make me come up for air! Rach, bless her, insisted I went, so I left wife and child at 5.30, parking up across town at 7.30 and tubing it over to this rabbit warren of a venue for just after 8. Australian Dan Kelly, a Shod-alike with an acoustic guitar, nice line in between-song repartee but sadly innocuous high-octave fayre, supported, and I wandered around the venue during the set, running into our London friends David and Lisa in the process.
Took a position right at the front, stage right (vocalist Bill Janovitz' side, insisted Lisa, correctly!), then had a lengthy wait before Buffalo Tom sauntered on at 9.30. Bill immediately got hit by a bag, containing a brand new shirt that he'd apparently challenged a UK fan to buy for him!
They've been away a long time, the Tom, doing solo stuff, and also adult stuff like getting jobs and having kids. Yet on this evidence, there are still very few bands to touch them for an emotive, thrilling, visceral live rock'n'roll experience. From the opening double salvo of "Staples" and "Soda Jerk", they were on it, throwing out blistering versions of their anthemic hooky college alt-rock back catalogue to a full and enthusiastic crowd (so much so that Bill's attitude wavered between unexpected appreciation, and concern about the enthusiasm of the moshpit, which I was on the edge of throughout). A smattering of newies from their first album for 9 years, "3 Easy Pieces", proved evolution has been thankfully slow, as they merged in perfectly alongside classics like "Summer", the brilliant, haunting early "Larry" and a ragged, frantic late "Velvet Roof".
"Go Sox!" someone shouted midway through, which prompted Bill to ask, "who won the All-Star Game?". Having watched it that morning - my last day on paternity leave! - I was on hand to shout back, "American League by 5-4. Josh Beckett got the win!". "Josh Beckett," laughed Bill in response at the mention of the Red Sox ace, "I love the baseball!", before launching into a strident, shoutalong "Taillights Fade".
The superfast "Tangerine" climaxed the set, before a slower, more considered 4 song encore rounded off by "Birdbrain", finished a lengthy but quick 1 hour 50 minute set! This however took us to 11.20, and with a long journey and new baby broken night ahead of me, plus back to work the next day, I eschewed the chance to quickly pop backstage with Lisa (an old friend of Bills) and hit the road, getting home just after 1. Back into gig exile, but t'was only right that I came up for air for Buffalo Tom!