Comus – Borderline 28th April 2012

A couple of years ago I hadn’t even heard of 70’s cult psychedelic folk band Comus but then for some reason their name kept cropping up on one of my e-mail groups so I decided to check them out. I fell in love with their first album First Utterance the first time I heard it and have been wanting to see them ever since. They only reformed in 2009 playing together for the first time in 37 years and have done a handful of gigs since. I was going to go and see them about this time last year but my car broke down a few days before the gig and I ended up spending all my money.

We did manage to get Roger Wootton and Glenn Goring to appear as a duo at the Summer of Love festival last year but although I enjoyed their set it didn’t have the weirdness that the Comus songs have on record – I don’t think the fact that it was pissing down with rain helped matters much either. So I decided that I needed to see the full band and was glad to see that they were playing at the Borderline in London on 28th April.

I’ve always loved the Borderline as a venue but it had been quite a while since I’d been and the first thing I noticed was that there had been some changes. I think they’d knocked the wall behind the sound booth down and made the gents smaller so that there was more room to stand and watch the band. Other than that and a new small bar near the “dancefloor” it was still pretty much as I’d remembered it.

I was at the bar when the first band came on. They were called Purson and from the very first song they had the audience entranced with their sixties flavored rock. They looked and sounded as if they were playing a speakeasy in 1969 with just the lack of oil lamps and a smokey haze giving things away. The lead singer, Rosalie Cunningham, who was wearing a long flowing hippy dress has a lovely voice and plays a mean guitar while the rest of the band kick ass behind her!

Next up were Fusion Orchestra 2 who turned out to be a reincarnation of a band that were around in the early 70’s  with one album that has achieved a cult status – bit like Comus then! However the new incarnation (with a 2 added on the end of the name probably to avoid lawsuits!)  only has one original member, Colin Dawson, in it. At first glance I thought that maybe it was the drummer but it turned out to be the guitarist. The band came on and were just about to start when a female singer suddenly appeared wearing a black dress with a flower in her hair. This sudden last minute appearance jarred me for a few minutes because she didn’t look as if she belonged with the rest of the group but once you got used to her looks her voice fitted in well. She did admit though that the album, Skeleton in Armour, had come out almost 20 years before she was even born.

After they had finished the stage was virtually stripped bare of equipment leaving only a small rack of drums before Comus took to the stage and opened with Song to Comus off the First Utterance album. Unfortunately due to a technical hitch Colin Pearson’s violin was not audible during the song and there was a long gap while it was sorted out before the set continued with a favourite of mine Diana. The sound seemed to improve as the night went on and by the end they sounded great. The set was comprised of all but one song from First Utterance and the three new songs from the new album (or mini album as they called it) Out of the Coma.

Set List

Song to Comus
Diana
Out of the coma
The Return
Drip Drip
The Herald
The Sacrifice
The Prisoner
Encore
The Bite

I enjoyed seeing them live and my only criticism would be the lack of material. Given that they only play stuff from their first album as the second album was generally regarded (even by the band) as crap they will find it hard to continue to pull in crowds if they play the same songs every time. The three news songs were good and Out of the Coma sounded much better than it did when I first heard it at SoL last year. They seem to be working closely with David Tibet of Current 93 who was supposed to be there but couldn’t make it due to illness so maybe that might produce some creative outpourings.

R.I.P. The Mecca 1964-2012

So as the bulldozers finally move in to demolish somewhere that was a huge part of my youth and turn it into another bloody Tesco store I thought I’d dig out the tribute I wrote a couple of years ago but never got round to publishing.

The Mecca/The Mayfair, Friday nights, Progressive/Rock/Heavy Rock/Heavy Metal, cheaper entry before 11pm, dashing from the Blue Bell after 10:30 closing time, bar till 2am, queuing up the ramp, Genevieve’s upstairs, bouncers in DJ’s on the door, practising your date of birth, afghans, combat jackets, flares, desert boots, patchouli oil, Snakebite, Southern Comfort, Pernod, Chris Cowie,  the DJ booth, revolving stage, the tree, the staircase, All Right Now, Hocus Pocus, Stargazer, the girls from Boldon, Elspeth’s chest, hippy chicks, headbanging on the dancefloor, Rob Kilburn playing imaginary guitar with his imaginary effects pedals, sitting on the floor during Stairway to Heaven, Freebird after the band, Smoke on the Water, Ian Gillan Band, Wishbone Ash, Blowin Free just like a cornfield, You are like a Hurricane, pissy lager in chunky glasses, getting drunk and passing out in the toilets/in the corner/under the tree, getting pulled by the drug squad, getting thrown out, sitting on the sofa in the girls cloakroom, Xanadu, I’ve seen all good people, Highway Star, Garry and Rob and Russ and Paul, Keith and Debra andKaren, Meeting Val (well it seemed like a good idea at the time), Louise, bottles of booze in girls handbags, the old bloke who cleaned the gents, starting at midnight on Easter Saturday and going till 4am even though the bar shut at 2, She’s not there, Be good to yourself, Brown Sugar, the view from the balcony of a floor full of head bangers, going into Genevieve’s and taking over one of the car booths to annoy the smoothies until the crap disco music forced us to retreat, hippy skirts and kaftans, velvet jackets and demin, badges and patches, nicking the bar towels, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy, Hendrix and The Doors,  the sudden dash onto the dance floor, long hair flailing, girls spinning, Layla, The Logical Song, Wishing Well,  They call me the Hunter, wishing we’d been old enough to have seen Zep or Free or Thin Lizzy when they played there, tour t-shirt, kinky boots, lace up jeans, Cider and black, the raised area to the right of the stage or the table under the stairs next to the tree, Breadfan, Paranoid, Doctor Doctor please oh the mess I’m in, being kicked on the foot by a bouncer “get up or get out”, going for a walk around, Girlschool, Southbound, White Heat, Terraplane, White Fire, Tygers of Pang Tang, bangles and love beads, the taxi rank, dodgy burgers, walking back up Newcastle Road, getting up for work the next morning, combing the tats out of your long hair……

The images above come from this site although I notice some of them are mine!

The Mecca was a huge part of my life from about 1977 to around 1983 and Newcastle Road just won’t be the same without it.

Stop Press: My friend just sent me a picture showing the demolition in progress

And there was a report in the Sunderland Echo about it

SoL 2012 – The Trailer

The 6th annual Summer of Love Party is to be held in Kent on the 6th & 7th July 2012

The line up  is

Friday 3.00 pm – 12 midnight
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Marrakesh Express – covers of Byrds and CSN
Sarah Tonin – psychedelic rock
Heart of Rust – Neil Young cover band
Adam Piggott & Jayne Freeman
Corey Webb

Saturday 11.00 am – 1am
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Cosmic Finger – Grateful Dead Cover Band (from Germany)
Michael Chapman – a fully qualified folk survivor from the 60s
Rant ‘n’ Rave – Americana originals
The Blox – Ian Dury cover band
Galley Beggar – describe themselves as a mix of Fairport Convention and Led
Zep.
Kerry Andrew “You are Wolf” – young alt.folk original

Summer of Love Party is a private party and entry is for members only – so pop along to ourwebsite for details on how to become a member!