When Trams, Mayors & Dub Pistols Collide...
You actually couldn't make this shit up. The first night of Dub Pistols UK tour, and they're in Croydon in part of a multi-use building comprising a theatre, conference rooms, long corridors that remind me of jury service in a Crown Court, lots of stairs and very swirly/stripy carpets a la seventies new-town hotels.
It wasn’t just the venue that took me to the edge of my comfort zone. From the moment of arrival at Croydon train station, it was all a bit of a surreal night. A little like stepping out of a plane when you go on holiday, very exotic and all just a little bit unfamiliar. Yes I know we have trams in this country but when I saw those metal grooves on the road and saw a real life tram swinging round the corner it put such a silly smile of excitement on my face!
Anyway back to the gig, and as it was my first visit to Fairfield Halls, I took the opportunity for a little bit of exploration. It was then that I got the un-nerving sense that something big was occurring, there were groups of security personnel around every corner, small huddles of smartly attired retirees speaking in hushed tones, and carafes of water on every table.
It wasn't too hard a deduction for me to make to realise that I was in the wrong part of the building, so it was a hasty about turn and straight to the long and very dark hall. Whereupon I found a DJ who was spinning some tunes at a slightly muted decibel level. Curiouser and curiouser. When I enquired about the lack of volume, everything became much clearer...
...Boris Johnson was in the building, holding his final 'People's Question Time' before he steps down as mayor of London in May. Luckily he didn't prattle on for too long, and as soon as he disappeared into the night, the Dub Pistol party began with bells on. It was almost like waiting for dad to go out for the night, so that all your bezzas could come round for a house party.
In fact, a massive party with all your oldest and dearest friends was very much the atmosphere for the entire night. Dub Pistols have a lot of links with this area of South London, (frontman Barry Ashworth having grown up just down the road in Carshalton, and drummer Jack Cowens also with family connections here) which is emphasised by a lot of pointing, waving and non-stop smiling all the way through the gig.
At one point Barry leapt off the stage to come for some cuddles with a couple of close friends who used to be partners in crime in the world of club night promotion. There's also a few family members of various band people in the crowd, although to be honest everybody feels like one big part of the Dub Pistols family.
From the minute they take to the stage to the last resounding notes of the final encore, there is an overload of bouncing and mashed up dub step ska moves from both the stage and the floor, and I would hazard a guess at a lot of alcohol spillage.
Dub Pistols have been in existence since the mid 1990s, albeit in a slightly different line-up, cos let’s face it, a couple of the current band members look like they were definitely post-millennium babies (ok maybe not quite that young). But whatever the age, the tunes old and new all have a freshness, as well as a quality that just induces a state of blissful euphoria.
The set is jam packed with favourites such as ‘Sticky Situation’, ‘Mucky Weekend’, ‘Pistoleros’, ‘Peaches’ and ‘Gangsters’ and the smiles just keep on coming. Some bands have the confidence in bucket loads and the swagger to just get on and revel in it all, and Dub Pistols certainly come under that umbrella.
For the first night of their current tour, it really couldn’t have gone any better. If you have the chance I would recommend partying with them in a town near you soon, or just join the Dub Pistols family at a festival or two this summer.