Thursday, 4 November 2010

285 VELVET CRUSH, 18 Wheeler, London Highbury Garage, Friday 17 February 1995

A slow start to the gigging year thus far, but they're going to start coming thick and fast now! This one was also a "first"; the first time in 3 attempts that "Nibs" has managed to actually get into the gig, following a couple of sell-outs! We (me and Nibs, plus Dave, Ady and Clive the drive) arrived at 10 to 9 after a difficult journey through London, full of anticipation for "The Crush". But first, the sorcerer's apprentices, as it were; support 18 Wheeler, who took the stage dead on 9. They kicked off with a rocking start, which dipped slightly midway through the set, when they started to come across slightly derivative of Teenage Fanclub. However, they then picked up noticeably later on, with "Revealer" a highlight, and a set climax much more like their magical, harmony-laden LP.

The venue was well packed for "The Crush", but I still managed to squirm my way down the front for their entrance at 10. Led on by drummer and mainman Ric Menck, an imposing figure in denim, with scruffy hair and a drop-handlebar moustache which gave him the impression of being none other than the lost Doobie Brother (!), the Crush, also augmented tonight by extra guitarist Tommy Keene (apparently a quality singer-songwriter in his own right, as I later found out), kicked off a majestic set with swirling oldie "Window To the World". A splendid selection of their country-tinged rock ("powerpop, I guess," Menck himself called it!), which was touching and careworn in parts (such as the wonderful "Why Not Your Baby", introduced after quite a preamble by Ric!), and breathlessly manic as you like in others (such as the brilliant "Atmosphere" and the frantic, incendiary "This Life Is Killing Me") followed. Utterly wonderful musicianship, excitement, a well-rocking set climax, the usual Crush lunacy from the mesmerising Menck, and a whole lot of great songs played with passion and care; this all equalled one brilliant set!

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