I finally pay my second visit to The Troubadour this century as they seem to have someone with some sort of clue booking the bands and promoting them better than they have in the 30 plus years I've been a regular gig goer.
So this is still only about the fourth or fifth visit I've made to this venue that was legendary in the 60's and has just kept bumbling along since. The fact that The Dirty Strangers have been promoting their club night there for the last few months has meant I've wanted to get down there once more and finally made it for last Friday's excellent show.
We arrived just before Paul-Ronney Angel started his first of three London shows this weekend. This one was solo followed by Saturday's outdoor gig with The Urban Voodoo Machine (the review of which will follow shortly) and as special guest with Sylvain Sylvain on Sunday. I failed to get a ticket for that one in time.
As this was a solo show, Paul-Ronney was in Black and white rather than the normal Black and Red. He opened with a nicely bruised version of Captain Of a Sinking Ship with some nifty guitar work as well as his rather bruised vocals that sounded like they were somewhere in between Willie Nile and Garland Jeffries.
Goodnight My Dear was nice and slow and doing its best to wrench at our heartstrings, which was a continual theme as he was then singing about how all his friends were Dropping Like Flies and far too soon too. A great sad song.
Paul-Ronney then whipped out his Kazoo and having attached it to his harmonica holder took us all to church on Oh Mary Don't You Weep. Of course he got everyone singing along as he hammed it up on the Kazoo before giving us a few bars of Henry Hoover and checking we were all singing the chorus again.
He then played a stark and magnificent version of The Urban Voodoo Machine's most recent single January Blues that I've now had stuck in my head ever since. It works brilliantly with some added Kazoo to bring home just what a mess we seem to be in at the moment.
He also did a harmonica version of Killer Sound that worked well, even stripped of its normal killer sound. He then Welcomed Tomi Rae Brown to the stage to duet on Seven Spanish Angels: this was a very cool version of this old classic and yes, she has a great voice for belting out songs like this.
We then got a very doleful version of Orphan's Lament that was brought to life at the end by a stage invasion by Simon Hanson who joined in on drums for the last minute or so. He stayed on stage for the finale when they were joined by Guy Bailey and Alan Clayton for a great vamp through Baby What You Want Me To Do playing it faster than Neil Young does but with less menace than John Cale. That's to mention two of my favorite versions of the song, but this was a great fun ending to the set.
After the break it was time for this week's line up of the extremely long running The Dirty Strangers who this time out start off as Alan Clayton as ever on Vocals and Guitar, Cliff Wright on Bass and Guy Griffin from The Quireboys on Guitar with Lol Fox starting on Drums.
They kick things off with the (sort of) theme tune Danger First, which I always think should be called the Stranger Blues. It's fast and frenetic and Guy Griffin has the chord changes for the songs on a sheet of paper next to his setlist. Running Slow is anything but slow as this bluesy just tight enough rock and roll really gets going.
Here She Comes is next and no it's not a cover but a damn fine tune about another woman who's a real Troublemaker set to make your day and wreck your life at one and the same time, so to speak, which means she's The Dirty Strangers kinda gal.
The frantic pace keeps up with Guy Griffin struggling to find the right chord sheet for the next song, Liberty Smile, and it sounded rough and ready. They then sing the band's first song of the evening about Baby (well I'm sure they've call many different people baby over the years) and this is perfectly Stones-style sleazy blues rock.
Easy To Please is next and it has lots of the crowd singing along and a few people up and dancing as they get ready to sing about a Special Girl, although I'm not sure she'd be happy to be known that way. But, damn, they rock hard and fast.
They did a very ragged version of The Crown that seems in places to be falling apart at the seams and yet still sounds cool. Alan then gets all possessive on Stuff that has just enough cheeky charm to get away with telling his other half to make sure She Don't Touch His Stuff.
They then got nicely territorial while poking fun at any poor souls who come from South Of The River which has often been seen as a crime by us North Londoners as this song makes clear. They then sang about the band's favorite kind of woman - yes it was time for Bad Girls and damn they do like them.
They then expanded to become the 2 Guys from The Quireboys line-up with the addition of Guy Bailey on Guitar and a magnificent hat that certainly helped us to answer the question the first song the expanded line up played, Are You Satisfied? Well listening to this lot play, yep, we were well satisfied.
The classic Diamonds was next and was played like they were all having a riot playing together. Totally tight and yet messy enough around the edges to be perfectly rock & roll. The next thing they mauled was called Hands Up but it still sounded like a stick up ram raid of a sleazy rock tune to me and they all looked like they were having a blast playing it too.
We then got the band's summer anthem Bathing Belles that you'd think twice about writing these days, but it has enough saucy seaside postcard charm to it for them to easily get away with it. Simon Hanson then took over from Lol Fox on drums for Shepherds Bush City Limits. That's about 800 yards from the Troubadour at a push and as ever they vamp it up on this perfect re-working of that other tune.
Then for Girl Called Tina (or is it Gold Corrinne? no no it must be a Gold Cortina) Lol went back behind the drums and Simon Hanson took up the tambourine and carried on playing the cymbals while Paul-Ronney Angel joined in on Backing Vocals. They all stayed onstage for the encore, Good Good Loving: a real romp and a great end to another really great show by a band that are always worth seeing no matter which legends are in the line-up.