Tuesday, 27 July 2010

411 THE GIGOLO AUNTS, Boom Boom Mancini, London Highbury Garage, Friday 30 July 1999

A legendary gig! It's been a bloody long 5 years, 3 months and 8 days since gig 265, the last time I saw my favourite band currently making music "live" (not that I'd been counting or anything), but a phone call to Phil Hurley (late of the Aunts, oddly enough) confirmed that The Gigolo Aunts had finally gotten a UK deal sorted following a messy extraction from their former label Fire Records, and were coming over to the UK for a show! So, not to miss this one, Rachel, Clive and myself took the whole day off and drove up in the morning, getting there at 1 pm!!

Parked up by the venue and went off for some shopping, getting back at 4, by which time The Gigolo Aunts had turned up, but not their gear (a fretting Steve Hurley said the management company had booked it for the wrong day!). So we all went over the pub, as you do. Chilled in the beer garden and caught up with Steve and vocalist Dave Gibbs for an hour or so, also meeting new Aunts (well, new since I last saw them, that is) Fred Eltringham, the tall affable drummer, and lovely new guitarist Jon Skibic (who I was particularly concerned about meeting - you know, "he's nice but he's not Phil...") who nevertheless both turned out to be splendid chaps, and worthy Aunts!

Back to the venue; the gear turned up, and so did our friends, tonight's support Boom Boom Mancini - who were somewhat incredulous when I opened the venue back door to them! - so we made ourselves scarce and returned for doors at 8 pm. The Boom boys and girl came on at 9 to a seemingly disappointingly small turnout, so we distracted ourselves from our duck impressions (!) and formed a 3 person moshpit. Their set took some time to settle in, but by 3rd number "Grape Juice" they were as spiky, poppily edgy and bouncy as ever, and a breathless "Supermodel" was a fine set highlight. Great stuff, but appetisers...

Complimented the Boomers and wished the Aunts good luck, before taking stage front centre spots with Rachel and Clive for the phenomenally long-awaited return of The Gigolo Aunts to the UK live stage, just after 10. They came on to a rapturous welcome from the by-now comfortably busy Garage, and the 5 years fell away from the first note. The utterly wonderful and deliciously understated new CD "Minor Chords And Major Themes" may lack the crunchy guitar bombast of their previous "Flippin' Out" material, but a more emotive, heartfelt, brain-tugging and overall wonderful set of songs you'd be hard pressed to find. Really, this album is one of the all-time greats, and tonight, I'm glad to report, the Aunts did it more than full justice. Openers "Half A Chance" and the stunning "Everything Is Wrong" (featuring a stellar middle-eight riff from Jon) proved that the Aunts are still prime purveyors of sonic splendour, the only mystery being why more people weren't dancing along with we 3! Wonderful songs played with love, lots of humour (Dave's boyish enthusiasm and introductions to each song as, "this is in the key of...") and evident enjoyment by these guys, what more do you want? And the harmonies? Well... honey throated angelic harmonies to die for, no less. The set flew by on gossamer butterfly wings.

Adam Duritz of Counting Crows (whom I'd thanked beforehand for taking a large interest in the Aunts, helping keep them as a going concern) joined the boys for some chaotic encore tomfoolery, including a rambunctious reading of The Byrds' classic "So You Wanna Be A Rock'N'Roll Star". But this lot already are that, and tonight nailed it, for sure. More congrats, compliments and arrangements to see them in Vermont during my forthcoming US trip followed, before we reluctantly drew this stellar and legendary night to a close. I, breathless, hoarse and incredulous, have managed to get to see The Gigolo Aunts again!

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