The sweat in rockfeedback's offices on the Monday preceding its first Basement Club event of 2004; dripping off the walls, we tells ya. And, why? Every promoters' worst nightmare - guest-lists. And we're talking serious guest-lists - and the abundance of names whacked on top of 'em.
Come Thursday morn, the proverbial eve of the show as it were, and we squeal with rage as we contemplate the practicality of accommodating 300 people's requests to attend a show occurring in a venue-capacity half that size. Bugger. It's danger, alright.
So, come the dismissing of around 50-100 innocent chancers on the door (sorry, guys - please reserve entry in advance to avoid disappointment...), even those allegedly 'guaranteed' a space are wailing at the huge queue which they must join.
Sadly, some miss first act, Kennedy - who rocket onstage straight in like a bat outta Hades, fresh from LA. So hot is it downstairs from the dancing laydees at the front and crammed-in-like-a-tuna-fish fans 'n' industry that frontman of the group Jack, barely two punk-rock-psychedelia-smacked-out songs in, begins to strip to a modest pair of briefs, his bling-bling 'K' gold-chain whacking against his slinky-slink, bare waif-chest. The girls scream, the men howl with laughter. And the climax is a fittingly euphoric one - debut-single 'Wake Up, Motherf**ker': an anthem stuffed up to the eyeballs in Ramones backing-vox and hammering drums that end 25 minutes of debauched sleaze in unquestionably unwilling coherence and frothing dexterity.
Suddenly, mid-way through next act, Bloc Party, prior exhibitors at The Basement Club, The Futureheads run down the stairs to excitedly join a full room which watches the 'next stars of 2004' parading their hammering massage of quirky Brit-beat post-punk. From a thundering 'The Marshals Are Dead', to a ravaging 'Little Thoughts', from a steely-staring, cold, edgy 'She's Hearing Voices' to a beguiling, warming and compulsive closer 'The Answer', every moment for Bloc Party is a classic one - with every record-label head worth the biscuit nodding noggins in discordant unison, a grin from ear-to-ear at the sheer beauty of it all. Quite possibly, consider this a last, classic unsigned show in the capital from Britain's future leaders.
Then co-henchman and fellow rock 'n' roll rioter of The Basement Club, Gordon Raphael takes to the stage. With his four wilfully mismatched accomplices, all clad in a series of sassy hats and half-suits, Raphael himself is a mop-top of Jim Morrison hair and stoner-eyes, gazing towards attendees in a 50-minute unleashing which sees influences collide with in-house innovation that wins London for the fourth time ever.
Opener 'Nu One' is a pulsing groove-rocker along the lines of snarling, upcoming, debut-45 '2-Track Mind', while 'Strong' is a mid-tempo, 60s-waltz of elevating guitar-lines and introspective, lyrical admission. Best, though, is when we get tripped out during a wailing and surprisingly infectious blaring of 'Never Shoulda Started', which sees a refrain of the track-title and a combined-vocal take on of 'Yeah', that outranks even everything that proceeded it. Although on a creative curve rich to consume at first, Raphael's new combo embodies the blues and soul of many-a-master of the classic-rock mould, with a panache and distinction refreshingly of its own.
And so we party once more into the night, courtesy of spinning from rambunctious rockfeedback tykes Tom Hannan (presumably, the man responsible for, quite rightly, playing multiple Peaches compositions) and Samantha Hall (who inexplicably airs a Talk Talk number), while the only slightly camp Beamon 65 & The Hellion bombard us with a smattering of today's hits, courtesy of The Vines, et al. Tough life.
Bring on Feb. Did we already tell you to please reserve in advance?
Photo-Credit: Ian Rendall @ Grassroots Xchange