Sunday, 6 February 2011

788 MIDWAY STILL, Hotel 75, Band Of Burt, Swindon Victoria, Friday 14 May 2010

The welcome return to Swindon for 90's live favourites Midway Still, a band who after a "slight return" a few years back with a sprinkling of gigs and a single, "Fuck You", now seem to be upping the ante a little more seriously, with a new CD "Note To Self" out on Boss Tuneage and a return to town organised by uber-fan Tim, who roped me into writing the blurb for the Vic website! So I took a drive up the hill after the kids went to bed, hitting the bar early doors and hanging out with Tim and the Still boys before they shot off to watch the footy. I'd brought along copies of a few of their set-lists from back in the day, which amazed and amused - luckily they couldn't recall the drunken oik who crashed backstage at the Link in 1993 with a "Grunge Is Dead" t-shirt and stars'n'stripes shorts on!

Hung out with Tim on the door of the back-room venue as people meandered in and out during the 2 local supports, Band Of Burt who weren't my cup of Zappa-esque challenging bluesy tea but did their stuff well, and Hotel 75, who were punkish and clumsy and didn't. Honestly though, I didn't pay too much attention really, as I was chatting to Tim, Penny and crew!

Took a wander down the front when The Still were due onstage at 10.30, in front of a poor turnout (Swindon punters, bah!) of nevertheless enthusiastic folks. The Still, thankfully, didn't let that dampen their spirits as they set to their task with commendable conviction, drummer Dec in particular flailing furiously and propelling this rock behemoth along like a high-octane jet engine. I'd previously talked with Dec about Taang! Records and Boston pre-grunge rock, and in a sense Midway Still are kindred spirits to the likes of Dinosaur Jr., early Buffalo Tom and Lemonheads etc., aligning their amphetamine-fast, supercharged guitar overload with ridiculously easy and catchy melodies - a "bat's ear for a tune amongst all the guitar fuzz", indeed! "Counting Days" was a groovy early highlight, and the set, punctuated by their self-deprecating banter and some piss-poor jokes from Dec, was laid back yet noisy, thrilling and a whole barrel of fun, and sounding as good as I've ever heard The Still. New numbers from "Note To Self" were prime chunks of catchy guitar rock, showing that even after all this time, the apples still don't fall too far from the tree; yet oldies like the Husker Du-esque "What You Said", the groovy "Disappear" and the phenomenal "Better Than Before", as uplifting and sing-along as ever, won the day and got me rocking as best I could down the front, given my seriously buggered knee. Great to see The Still with their appetite for the simple joy of playing rock'n'roll well and truly restored!

Hung out a bit afterwards, grabbing congratulatory words with the boys and an elated Tim, and getting my second signed set-list in as many nights, before the time caught up with this veteran. Nevertheless, a real welcome return, and hopefully not the last time The Still come back to town!

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