Saturday, 13 November 2010

270 VELVET CRUSH, Drugstore, 18 Wheeler, London Islington Powerhaus, Friday 3 June 1994

Hit the smoke for this hotly-anticipated one at 8.15 - a new venue for me in London! Geoff, Brett and Dianne from The Julie Dolphin turned up, so Clive and I had a chat with them before the first band came on. 18 Wheeler, from Scotland, sounded very much like Teenage Fanclub (surprise surprise!) with their chunky riffs and harmonic sing-along choruses. Not too original, but not too bad either, and definitely a promising new album to check out...

Really not sure what to make of Drugstore, the second band on at 10. A diminutive lady vocalist with serious Kristen Hersh fixations and a strident but occasionally grating voice was initially off-putting, but then a couple of splendid originals seemed to win me over; then they did a slow-paced, plodding version of the Undertones classic "Teenage Kicks" which was frankly god-awful. The jury is definitely out on them...

Thankfully Velvet Crush, an odd looking combo indeed, brought some class to the proceedings. Short, chunky helium-voiced vocalist Paul Chastain also plucked some mean bass, guitarist Jeff Borchardt hit some spellbinding wah-wah and sported a mean pair of sideburns, extra guitarist Mitch Easter (I discovered later) embellished the sound, but the star was undoubtedly drummer and band leader Ric Menck, an amazing focal point with his splendid driving rhythms and occasional forays to the front of the stage, to chat to the crowd.

Despite all the stick Velvet Crush get about being Big Star homage freaks, to me they're more occasionally Byrds-ian in their jangly country and rock hotch-potch. It was no surprise (to me, at least), therefore, that they capped their gorgeous set (which drew mainly from forthcoming new LP "Teenage Anthems To God" (!) and culminated in a superb "This Life Is Killing Me" - rocket in its' pocket and all!) with a cover of McGuinn's "So You Wanna Be A Rock'n'Roll Star". And rather splendid it was too!

Had a chat with Ric afterwards and got my set list signed - a great way to end a superb evening!

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