The day had finally arrived: Sunday 13th September 2015. The day of Random Hand’s final show before they started their indefinite hiatus. All eyes had pointed towards this date, the day of their final Camden Underworld show, since it had been announced earlier in the year.
First band up was Kings Lynn's Faintest Idea, a band I'd seen a week previously supporting Random Hand at the Late Summer Skank in Bristol. As ever the horn section started the set in the crowd, rounding everyone up and insuring a decent chunk of the crowd were right down the front for the set. Eventually the horns joined the rest of the band on stage and Faintest Idea ripped through a set of ska infused street punk anthems. Since Random Hand announced their hiatus I've thought about which bands could be taking their place at the top of the ska punk pile. With their important political and social messages and their ability to write catchy lyrics as well as being one of the best live bands in the scene, for me Faintest Idea are going right to the top.
Next up were melodic pop punks River Jumpers from Brighton. This year River Jumpers have had somewhat of a transformation, having changed the entire line up other than front man Nick and become a five piece rather than a four. This was actually my second time seeing River Jumpers in two days after seeing them the night before at Might As Well Fest at the MacBeth In Hoxton, where I really enjoyed their set. The legendary Jesse James were originally supposed to be playing this show but sadly had to pull out and so River Jumpers got to play. It felt like a bit of an odd choice for a ska punk show but that really didn't stop them putting in a big performance. Even though I had just seen them the night before, I had a great time singing along with the band who worked really hard to get the crowd onside. It paid off; after a little hesitancy the crowd warmed to them and by the end of the set people were dancing and singing along.
Anyone who knows anything about the UK's ska punk scene will know about the long relationship between Random Hand and their special guests tonight - Sonic Boom Six! Both bands burst onto the scene at the same time and have played together countless times so it was only right that Sonic Boom Six played this show. The anticipation was high for a band that don’t play anywhere near enough live shows. Playing an old school set, SB6 had the crowd jumping immediately with favourites like Sound Of A Revolution, Piggy In The Middle and Bigger Than Punk Rock. I can't think of a band that are slicker on stage than Sonic Boom Six with both Laila K and Barney Boom managing to wrap the crowd round their fingers. The set even managed to get some stage divers, as well as Random Hand's Joe Tilston having a go himself. I know this was obviously Random Hand's night but I would have loved to see Sonic Boom Six play a longer set. Happily they are going on tour in November to promote their long awaited brand new album.
Next it was time for the band we were all waiting for - Random Hand! After what seemed like forever, Keighley's favourite sons took to the stage and put on the greatest set I've ever seen them do, and I've never seen them play a bad one. You could forgive them for getting lost in the emotion of the night but it seemed to make them play better than ever. They were clearly more determined than ever to put on a show that nobody in the room would forget. Every song got a fantastic reaction, it's not until you see Random Hand live that you realise just how many amazing songs they have written during their career. Front man Robin’s on-stage banter was in top form as well; whether it be popping balloons, joking that nobody was to have any fun or by telling the crowd that the band were in charge because they were better than them, everyone in the building was having a great time with the band. The floor of the Underworld was fall front-to-back of people dancing and singing along with Random Hand. Everyone was clearly really trying to make the most of the band knowing they won't be seeing them live again for a long time. There was a funny moment when a member of the crowd requested that the band play Wheels On The Bus and Robin jokily responded that that was more the kind of thing Sonic Boom Six would do. Cue Barney Boom coming on stage and leading the band in a rendition of the song - only at a punk show! Sadly the show had to come to an end and as they finished with Scum Triumphant all of their friends stormed the stage to sing the final chorus, as did a big portion of the crowd. After the crowd had cleared Random Hand appeared back on the stage so that the people who had remained on the floor could see the whole of the song without the stage invasion, a move I thought was really classy.
Random Hand are one of the best punk bands our scene has ever seen and will always be remembered as legends and will be sorely missed. Good luck with whatever you do next boys. Please come back and "Play Some Ska" soon!