The fabulous Dream Syndicate are back in Europe touring to promote These Times, the bands second album of new material since they reformed, with the current line-up of Steve Wynn, Dennis Duck, Mark Walton and Jason Victor and Chris Cacavas and tonight is the bands biggest London show since the reformation as they get to play at The Scala in Kings Cross for the first time.
I arrived nice and early to make sure I got to see all of Emma Tricca's opening set as although I have been introduced to her at least a couple of times over the years I don't think I've seen her live which considering she has an album recorded with Jason Victor of The Dream Syndicate is something that needed to change.
Emma played solo with an Acoustic guitar for most of the set and opened with what was introduced as being a new song that had some wonderful guitar playing that reminded me of Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell and was lyrically in that sort of place too it sounded wonderful. Mars is Asleep was next and continued very much in the same sort of vein with some wonderful playing and the sort of lyrics that remind me of Joan Baez it was very laid-back sounding, but the lyrics still had plenty of bite to them.
Emma then sang about what it's like to be Lost In New York that didn't sound nearly as frightening as it once would have been and from the sound of things, she survived it well enough. The next song was about a distant surrender and had a quite downbeat feel to it.
She then brought Jason Victor on who added some really nice textures on his custom Swope electric guitar to Julian's Wings before she closed with the rather beautiful The Servant's Room that Jason Victor also decorated with his textural playing to compliment what Emma was doing near perfectly that guaranteed they left the stage to a very good round of applause.
This evening, having the kind of crowd it did, just before The Dream Syndicate came on Peter Perrett came and stood just in front of me for the show and for once he was in disguise, yes he didn't have his shades on, at least until the light show got going. They opened with a long slow intro to How Did I Find Myself Here the title track of the first come-back album that eventually bursts into life and well they just sounded great.
We then got the first song they played from the new album These Times and it was the great chugging road song Put Some Miles On and this is a band that has certainly done that over the 35 years since I first saw them play at The Marquee in 1984. They kept on the road for 80 West as Steve asked about what happened there and they try to figure it out.
Black Light seemed as much a plea from the audience to stop the bright white lights flashing in our eyes as anything else but still sounded great and the interplay between Jason and Steve's guitars was something to watch and by this point Peter Perrett seemed like he couldn't take his eyes off of what Jason was doing.
In the old days at The Scala it would have been taken for granted that the entire audience would have been Out Of My Head but these days that's not the case, but this song certainly brings back fond memories to lots of us and well Chris Cacavas gets some great spacey sounds out of his keyboards to go with the frazzled guitars.
They then dipped into the bands back catalogue to take us all down to The Medicine show once more and just the first few notes was enough to get a big cheer from the packed Monday night audience that treated it like the old friend this song is and suddenly lots of old blokes were singing along.
Armed With An Empty Gun had more than enough new life breathed into it and it still seems a totally relevant song and well Dennis Duck does a great job of making us feel his rim shots could be bullets fired from said empty gun while the singing around me seemed to get louder. They kept with the gun theme for Bullet Holes from These Times that has enough paranoia in the lyrics to make Steve sound like one of the local junkies spouting off at a mile a minute about what he's seen and to claim some of the shrapnel scars on local buildings are actually bullet Holes rather than reminders of world war 2.
They kept with the new album for Recovery Mode that seems quite an apt song in an area that has recovered as much as Kings Cross has after it's years of despair when it would have been almost impossible to walk the 100 yards from the station to the venue without being offered some drugs or sex but now in this lovely cleaned up venue Recovery Mode sounds a fantastic mode to be in.
Chris Cacavas then left the stage as Mark Walton led the band into When You Smile and that wonderful bass line just got everyone smiling again but not as much as Halloween did damn it sounded near perfect and thankfully at the right time of year.
They got properly frantic on That's What You Always say with Steve taking the main guitar solo rather than Jason and damn what a solo to make us all very happy indeed as soon enough it was time for The Days Of Wine And Roses once more to explode into our minds and make sure most of us sang along to it.
Chris Cacavas then slipped back behind his keyboards twiddled a few effects pedals and they launched into the set closing Glide as Steve kept telling us he may never get higher it was easy to believe with how much this set had lifted everyone up enough to almost forget what's going on in this old world of ours and it was a great way to close a great set.
Of course they got more than enough cheering to come back for an encore that they opened with one of the three songs they have on the 3X4 album of cover versions of classic paisley Underground songs by paisley underground bands in this case The Bangles Hero Takes A fall that they play without Chris Cacavas and damn it sounded great.
Chris came back on to add his keys to Still Here Now and well of course they are and everybody in the Scala was most thankful that they have returned in such fine form. The Side I'll Never Show might not have been the song I was shouting for, but it was a damn near perfect pick and sounded great nice and mellow but still sounded great.
They then closed the encore and night with a great version of Merritville a song I normally think about when driving past the medical centre named after it in deepest south London on the way to Gatwick Airport and where the band was headed after this show. But the song still sounds great after all these years and the only real question this set left anyone was when will they come back and play some songs from Out Of The Grey, we may have to wait a couple of years for that. At the end of this set most of us would have gladly chanted for another encore. As ever with The Dream Syndicate go and see them live if they get within a 100 miles of you.