This is The Dirty Strangers first show this year and as ever it is with a new line-up as this is the first show with the bands latest drummer Pip Mailing and to add to the pressure on him the last drummer Lol Fox is in the audience to check out if he's any good.
But first on at The Dirty Canvas club tonight are Thr3e who seem to have been named after the bands singer Steve Woodward's first internet password or a chat about bad names for tribute acts and no they aren't a free tribute act although they may well be influenced by them. They have all obviously played in lots of other bands through the decades.
Thr3e opened up sounding like a heavy blues rock band in about 1973 or 4 on Sweet Thing that had some cracking guitar work from both Steve Woodward and Carlos Linnet and I did like Steve's jump to finish the song.
Paint The Town Red continued in a similar vein reminding me of Free and a bit of Snowy White's Blues Agency mixed with a little bit of The Groundhogs, yes they are a totally 70's sounding band. The new song Ghost Story was the first that had some rather worrisome prog elements to it as they sounded better on the really blues based stuff.
They told us that Picket Fence was off of the bands second album Hey Bartender that meant I was hoping to hear there version of Floyd Dixon's classic at some point, I was to be disappointed on that front sadly, and Picket Fence is about how if we were to build a wall like Donald is we would end up putting up a picket fence along the Welsh and Scottish borders, the music was far better than the lyrics for me.
Sometime, Long Time seem to have a couple of weird proggy interludes that distracted from the mighty blues rock sound they have when they just rock out. Black Dog Blues was another depression blues but played real well with a jaw dropping guitar solo that was just great to hear.
They closed with Open Highway (Long Road Home) which if the M1 had been completed to it's original design would have been pretty much one road all the way back to Bedford for them but things never go that easy in England and it was a good way to end a good 70's blues pub rock set.
After the break Paul Clayton introduced us to The Dirty Strangers MK36 with Pip Mailing making his debut on drums, Cliff Wright on Bass and Dave Bucket Colwith on Lead Guitar with of course the irrepressible Alan Clayton on Vocals and rhythm Guitar.
They opened with a great blast through Special Girl and Pip fit right in straight away with some great powerhouse drumming that seemed a bit more cymbal-centric that Lol's drumming had been. Alan then told us all that years ago when Lol's dad Paul was still in the band they played a gig in a prison an of course they opened that set with Who Blew The Whistle On Me that was played at quite a pace with some cool guitar from Bucket.
Are You Satisfied? Was next and I'm pretty sure everyone was satisfied with both Pip's drumming which was very muscular and excellent and of course the monster solo from Bucket as Al really pushed things along.
Cliff Wright was starting to joke about nicely between songs before they ripped into Liberty Smile like the cheeky monkeys they often are, and they knew as an audience we would be Easy To Please that was the next song that Pip made sound like he'd played it a hundred times before.
Alan took a good look round The Troubadour to see if he could spot anyone who couldn't have Troublemaker dedicated to them, not sure he found anyone, but Bucket doesn't half sound like he could play his way out of any tricky situations.
Well now Al was looking for his Baby again even if his wife Jackie was dancing in front of him as he sang it with a grin on his face like normal. They then slowed things down for a good tear stained wail through Diamonds yeah time to wipe those Diamonds away again.
As Al switched to the second half of his setlist he offered me the first half Cheers Al I already had a pic of Cliff's smaller one sheet to make sure we know it's time to go South Of The River maybe even as far as New Addington rather than Clapham South as they did back in 1990, wonder what line up that would have been?
Time to salute all the Bad Girls in The Troubadour before we all held our Hands Up to all sorts of bad behavior and cheeky scoundrel playing around while dreaming of all those Bathing Belles I think we all want to say me too but that phrase is taken.
Bucket was front and center and string bendingly great on Natural Born Boogie from one of his other bands Humble Pie it sounded great and Cliff's bass never more insistent.
Now they were revving up and flying along the Westway with Shepherds Bush City limits and everything was fine until one of the main engines gave out towards the end and Alan and to work double time towards the end. They tried to fix Buckets amp but it was kaput so he switched to our side of the stage and the clubs spare amp while the rest of the band had a House Party around them the sort where the musicians stroll on towards the end of a song and really up the tempo even if Bucket says the amps a bit shonky sounding.
That only left time for a great sing along to Gold Cortina that had been all turtle waxed to sparkle just right to end another great fun set from The Dirty Strangers MK whatever.