Tuesday, 20 July 2010
427 BUFFALO TOM, Urusei Yatsura, London LA2, Friday 5 November 1999
A bit of an unexpected one, this; after meeting the Tom at Q Division in Boston in August, I'd expected them to take the rest of 1999 off. However a surprise top 10 hit with their equally surprising "mellow" version of The Jam's "Going Underground" prompted a quick jaunt to London! So the crowd of us got to the Astoria at 8.15 only to be directed down the road to the LA2. Seems they didn't shift as many tickets as expected, prompting a switch to the more, er, "compact" sister venue. Again I ask, just what is wrong with you people???
Urusei Yatsura were onstage so we lost Clive, as he's a big fan of their cartoon feedback tomfoolery. It sounded good from where I was standing, but once again they left me largely unmoved.
Snatched a couple of words with affable new (well, relatively new) keyboardist Phil, an old mate of Gravel Pit bassist and Boston friend Ed Valauskas, as he set up. The Tom themselves slowly ambled on at 9, nonchalantly and understatedly plugged in, then kicked off with the moody but nevertheless awe-inspiring "I'm Allowed". Thence followed a set beset with hiccups; unco-ordinated sound, slightly out of sync playing and "the shoe incident" (Bill's recently purchased shoe fell apart, so, undaunted, he played in just his socks!). Despite all this, and being somewhat out of practice "live" (understandable, given the one-off nature of this show), The Tom were again utterly brilliant! The usual drama and passion from one of the finest purveyors of bleeding-raw emotion operating in popular music, but also augmented with a hang-it-all dynamism which bordered on the extreme, particularly from shoeless Bill, who I thought was about to topple over on a number of occasions!
The big acoustic guitar was trundled out for the inevitable "Going Underground", but was swiftly followed by a hushed and touching "Frozen Lake", which left a lump in the throat, and an acoustic "Tangerine" which left me goggle-eyed! A 4-song encore hammered it home good and proper; even when The Tom aren't on top form, they can still play a blinder!
Another quick word with Phil afterwards, finding out about his "hobby" band in Boston, with Bill, Josh Lattanzi and "awesome" Tom Polce. Sounds a lot of fun - just like this untogether yet still passionate Buffalo Tom performance!