Tuesday, 19 October 2010

328, 329 TRACY BONHAM, Supp. Deus (328), London Camden Dingwalls and Birmingham Foundry, Wednesday 12 and Friday 14 June 1996

This double-header needs a slight preamble. Back at the Letters To Cleo gigs earlier this year, LTC's splendid guitarist Michael Eisenstein told me my friend Phil Hurley had left the Gigolo Aunts and was playing in Tracy Bonham's band, so when I saw an ad advising Tracy's support slot with Deus at Dingwalls, I was determined to be there! However, calls to various agencies and outlets failed to pony up a ticket for this sell-out, but a call to Deborah in the Island Records Press Office, and some gushing about Tracy, secured me one on the door! So, I took the afternoon off and a train to London, hitting the venue at 8.45 and getting in for free! Result!

After a cursory look around the venue (which had changed beyond recognition since my last visit - the legendary Big Dipper gig in 1989!), I found the backstage door and asked my presence be announced to Phil. The incredulous boy rushed out; handshakes, backstage access and introductions to Tracy and the rest of the band ensued in a whirl. Spent an hour or so catching up with one of the nicest and most enthusiastic chaps I've met during my gigging days, a bloke I'd be honoured to call a friend even if he weren't in a band. Great to see him again!

However I was also here for a gig - and so was Phil! Made my way to the front as the classically-trained Tracy took the stage for a bit of solo violin "wankity wank". A slim, diminutive figure, she nevertheless possessed a powerful, emotive voice, and her musical style, a headlong clash of Alannis Morrissette angry US alt-rock femme, pre-grunge Babes and a large slab of good old tune-filled Boston college pop, was amply and ably delivered by the band. A thunderous "Mother Mother" was the set highlight, as I became a one-man whirling dervish for a nevertheless well-received support set.

Popped backstage afterwards, then we repaired to the upstairs bar for drinks and chat with Phil and the band. Spent another hour and a half - missing Deus completely! - chatting with Phil, bassist Drew and drummer, the impressively haired Shayne (Shayne the mane!), as the Island people paraded their new find Tracy. Eventually left with hugs and best wishes from the man, missing my 11.20 train but so what? A tremendous evening!

Then a couple of days later, I did it all again!

Well, not quite true, actually, I took a late trip to B'rum to this gig, a free show in a splendidly sleazy black punk rock club, and loitered around for an hour or so before Phil, Tracy et al returned from their pre-gig scran, Tracy getting searched on the way in - to her own gig, yet! Got sorted with a pass for the after-show party from Drew (again, this gig was an Island "showcase", showing Tracy off to biz VIPs etc.), and Phil also introduced me to his friend Russ, a friendly and talkative chap who I later found out was The Wonderstuff's Miles Hunt's brother (and he said he was just their guitar tech!) before the set at 10.

I took front centre again as Tracy took the stage, spot on 10. This time I was joined as I moshed to the edgy, angular and moody set, made edgier by a brainless heckler abusing Tracy verbally. She and Phil dealt with him, though (Phil particularly so, grabbing him by the collar and getting him thrown out - hooray!), and the air of tension resulting from that incident gave the already agitated set a more menacing feel.

Popped up to the Island party awhile afterwards, but came back down as the band were having a post-set conflab, Phil being particularly pissed off about the heckler. Nevertheless, I got to chat and exchange warm greetings with Phil before I left. Good luck to Tracy - and to Phil!

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