Friday, 1 March 2019

Gig Review: Call Me Malcolm at the New Cross Inn 24/2/19 (Mind Charity Gig)

New Cross Inn all-dayers are always special days but this past Sunday there was an extra special one. New Cross Inn regular Holli is running the London Marathon in aid of Mind later this year and organised a lovely all-dayer to help raise some money. The line-up she put together was staggering – featuring a who's who of bands often associated with the venue, all giving up their time for free in aid of this great cause. Before reading on, please go and sponsor Holli here.

The day began with one of two acts that I'd never seen before – Laurence Crow. It was nice to see a decent size crowd gathered despite it only being 2pm and it being a beautifully sunny February day with there being a nice green space just around the corner. Laurence was the perfect choice for an acoustic opener with a enthusiastic and infectious performance. Deciding to play his set down on the floor rather than the stage got the crowd more involved. The set featured songs from his recently released album How To Survive Modern Life, which I'm very keen to check out. Laurence finished things up in very memorable fashion with a crazy rendition of Gogol Bordello's Start Wearing Purple which was made slightly anarchic when a pal took over guitar duties, not so smoothly, mid-song and things got a bit out there – but out there in the best possible way.

Crowd bois turned stage bois Bald Head & The Dreads were up next with their own unique brand of ska punk they call Paul Smith-core. They do love Paul – they’ve even written a song in his honour named the Be Sharp Bop where they encourage the crowd to pick him up and surf him. Knowing the man himself was not so keen on the idea, they printed off a Paul mask and made SKIV's Connor Yates the honourable Paul for the set and up in the air he went. It's not all about Paul though, there's also a song about the New Cross Inn, your drug dealer being late and how dogs are much better than jobs. Bald Heads & The Dreads are a band that are a lot of fun to watch and I'm interested to see how they develop.

SKIV are a band that seem to get better and better each time I see them. Admittedly the last time was a couple of weeks ago at the Chewing On Tinfoil all-dayer and lead guitarist Liam was very under the weather but still. At full strength SKIV played one of the most memorable sets of the day, fantastic melodic punk rock (and a new more alternative grungey rock song) and hilarious banter. These four guys play off each other well and are all clearly so comfortable together on the stage. Singles Sunday Service, Wasteman and Gumdrop Candy Mountain all got fantastic receptions and had plenty of people singing along. The rest of the set was also fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the song named Why Aren't The Chips Ready Yet? or something like that, they didn't seem to know. SKIV at full strength are a band with a lot of potential and look set to make a great name for themselves throughout the UK scene.

Seemingly arriving just in time to play their set were Fastfade, whose bassist Joe had earlier that day run a half marathon in Brighton. This was my first chance to see the super fast skate punks since the release of Happy If You Aren't back in December. It was great to hear those songs live, with Weirdo in particular standing out. I'm always amazed by how fast Fastfade play and the energy that comes off the stage whilst they play is forever infectious. Partway through the set they covered Captain Everything's Chance Of A Lunchtime which always makes me happy as I really miss that band. As ever with a Fastfade set, there was plenty of banter between the band and the crowd (Ryan's poor nan!) which got some laughs. I also got a bit of a kick out of Müg's Mark Bell jumping up on stage to help out drummer Jake fix something – Emma and I have a bit of an in-joke about Mark always fixing something whenever he's at NXI. What also seems to be a New Cross tradition is whenever Connor SKIV is about is he gets on stage to play with another band, this time taking over bass duties so Joe could sing lead and have a bit of a dance around the stage. Finishing the set with Walkie Talkie, Fastfade again showed why they're earning themselves a reputation of being one of the best new bands on the scene.

Up next was one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing – it was only Müg. These four chaps don't get out much anymore due to more grown up responsibilities such as work, wives and babies so it's always nice to see them when they do get together. After a brief practice the morning of the gig, they took to the stage and blasted straight into the first of a few new songs. Yup, Müg have some new songs! They sound great too! Müg's technical skate punk was as good as ever and the band definitely seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage. The big highlight for me was when they played Pop Isn't A Dirty Word, my favourite song of theirs. It was so nice to see Müg still being so well received and I just wish they could play more. I've said this on a previous review of these guys but they are one of the most underrated bands in the UK. Finishing the set with Tweed And Elbow Pads garnered a big sing-along to end the set.

Just Say Nay were on next and completely changed the tone of the day with their brand of ska punk. Today featuring nine members, it's always amusing watching Just Say Nay attempt to cram everyone on the stage. This evening they played a set consisting mainly of songs from their upcoming debut album which I believe is due at some point this year. Despite nobody knowing any of the songs, it didn't stop us having a skank to what I think is one of the most creative bands in UK ska punk. It seems as if they are adding a bit of gypsy to their sound and I loved it – and I'm so excited to hear more! They did play some old favourites in the form of Low Blow and Bouncer which got great reactions. Just Say Nay are such a talented bunch of individuals but coming together they are just something else. You don't really know what you're going to get with them but you know it's going to be the most amount of fun!

After quickly popping out for a delicious falafel and halloumi wrap, we arrived back in time to see the start of Triple Sundae's set. Because this was a special day, Triple Sundae had decided to play an old school set comprising of songs they never play anymore and are likely to never play again – the complete opposite of Just Say Nay's approach to their set. Playing old favourites from the band’s first EP Flaked, the crowd ate this up and got quite rowdy having a big sing and plenty of folk took to the stage to dive back into the crowd. For one track Hassan invited Connor and another New Cross regular Theo on stage to sing half a song each, both being fantastic show men they nailed it. For one last surprise, former Triple Sundae horn player and current Just Say Nay guitarist Dave joined the band on stage as they got really old school. Finishing the set by playing last year's Piece Of Mind EP in full felt perfect as the band prepare to shift into the next era of their life as a band. I can't wait for them to get that new EP out!

Next to take to the New Cross stage were King Punch, who were gearing up to take the party to an even higher level. High octane ska punk was the name of the game here – big sing-alongs, ridiculous dancing and so many smiles. As soon as they started, with a song which I assume is called Weekend Warrior, my body lost control and I became a skanking machine. This band are one of the most infectious bands I've ever seen, it's impossible to stay still when they're playing. King Punch are all about having the most amount of fun and ensure the crowd are all involved. During one track they have everyone basically doing squats – it was exhausting but lots of fun. Of course they played Feeling Hot Hot Hot which lead to a massive conga line around the venue, including a trip downstairs to Stocks Bar – I assume they didn't venture into the toilets on the journey. I bloody love seeing King Punch live and I wish to do it more, please.

The penultimate act of the day was a band I knew absolutely nothing about. It turns out that The Lovespuds are a six piece (although on this occasion they were without their brass section so played as a four piece) ska punk rock band. I appeared to be in the minority with my lack of knowledge on this band as there were plenty of people down the front excitedly awaiting the band to take to the stage. There were lots of loud cries of "SPUD-ARMY" from the crowd as the band got ready. I was exhausted by King Punch so decided to just hang out by the side of the stage and watch what was about to unfold. The Lovespuds are a very watchable band with their frontman Matt in particular showing a huge amount of charisma, brilliantly playing to the crowd. The look of joy on the faces of the crowd whilst these guys were playing was lovely to see and they had the room dancing. Not knowing any of the songs myself, the big highlight of the set for me was a cover of The Final Countdown with the crowd encouraged to be the horns for the introduction. The crowd enjoyed The Lovespuds so much that they demanded an encore, even though the day was now pretty much running an hour late, which they duly obliged.

Finally it was time for the day’s final act – everyone's favourite ska punks, Call Me Malcolm. It's always quite a special event whenever Malcolm play the New Cross Inn but on this occasion they were playing a very special set, performing last year’s album of the year, I Was Broken When You Got Here, in full! They were pulling out all the stops as well, not only did they have added trumpet courtesy of Lloyd from Easydread but they also had Barri Mason who played keyboards on the album. And, to top that, they even had Elisabeth Hopper (aka The Voice) from the album’s therapeutic interludes ready to perform her parts – this was such a nice touch. You probably already know just how good this set was. It wasn't long before I found myself right in the middle of the pit, skanking, singing and helping endless crowd surfers, most of whom were much bigger than me. Malcolm welcomed out Bruce The Bunny to have a dance which was very popular amongst the crowd. Our great buddy Sarah Shout Louder was also making a rare appearance at the New Cross Inn and, of course, was "down the front" having a whale of a time seeing Malcolm for the first time. You'd think that with an album show some songs might get bigger reactions than others but this didn't seem to be the case at all here. We all went bananas for each and every song – that shows just what an incredible album these guys put out last year. Of course the set was finished with All My Nameless Friends, which included Be Sharp's Paul eventually getting crowd surfed, as always against his will, before Elisabeth came back on stage one last time to end the set. What a great way this was to end a fantastic day!

We had such a lovely day with great friends, watching great bands and hopefully helping Holli raise lots of money for such a great charity, Mind. Good luck with your marathon Holli! Make sure to donate to her cause here.

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