I’m literally minutes back home from the best gig of the year (so far): Was (not Was) played a largely unadvertised gig (apart from their website) in the cosy surroundings of the Carling Academy in London’s Islington. Hot on the heels of the release of their latest album, the impressive and fortunately well reviewed boo!, they played two gigs in the UK and featured on that outstanding show with Jools Holland.
Again, why there was actually no advertising for the gig is beyond me, but this way it was an intimate affair in a small club.
Initially the gods were against us. After arriving at the Academy, we had to be evacuated from the premises, as the surrounding mall apparently was suffering from a bomb-scare. Fortunately, only 45 minutes later the efficient and polite Metropolitean Poilce Force let us back (after first evacuating me again out of a friendly gay bar [I didn’t know. It was dark and friendly. I only realised after I realised the lack of real ale] called EDVI [which apparently stands for ‘Edward the 6th’] in which we sought refuge from the evacuation of the Academy).
The dastardly bombplot kept us out. Bummer.
But after letting us in and us realising the small crowd looked like a good-natured fifties birthday with a 10:1 male to female ratio we settled in to the friendly vibe of the place, and after half an hour the band arrived, receiving an friendly roar from 250 middle aged men (and some of their wives and in one instance their daughter). The playlist, as far as I remember (which is 90% complete but not in the right order) consisted of a lot of early stuff, the best songs from the latest albums, but for some reasone ‘What up, Dog?’ was short changed. As the best girlfriend ever and myself hoped for ‘Spy in the House of Love’, ‘Anything can happen’ and ‘Anytime Lisa’, we were a bit disappointed, but with a back-catalogue that massive I realise it’s hard to pick your setlist.
Anyway, the setlist (in the order I remember it. This is not chronological):
- I blew up the United States
- Hello Operator
- 11 Miles an hour
- Semi-interesting week
- Crazy Water
- Walk the Dinosaur
- Out come the Freaks
- Where did your heart go (and I always thought this was by George Michael)
- Your Luck won’t last
- From the Head to the Heart
- Papa was a Rolling Stone
- I feel better than James Brown
- Knocked Down, Made Small
Did it groove? Oh yes, it did. Don Was (‘I had this Bass for 20 years but that’s never happened before’) played three quarters of the gig with a missing D-String, but that little mishap did not reduce the power of this tight rhythm section. Shame the Academy’s sound system swallowed his bass almost completely, together with half of the drum set. David Was was able to provide some light entertainment and the trio of Sweetpea Atkinson, Sir Harry Bowens and their third bloke who embarrassingly I can’t remember gave us pitch perfect soul. The musicians were excellent, people were enjoying themselves (apart from those ladies who unsuccessfully tried to squeeze into their 20 year old skirts, as they were only able to sway gently) and I think the band had a ball as well. With other words: a total success.
It would have been even better with ‘Shadow and Jimmy’. But what can you do.
Missing from your set list is:
Wheel Me Out
which they played after Hello Operator (I think) as part of their ancient history from the club scene in the early 80s.
They played the same set on the previous Thursday in Oxford. Again, Spy in the House of Love and Anything Can Happen being the main absentees in my opinion. The audience on Thursday was even smaller, maybe just 100! 100 voices didn’t prove enough to get an encore that night. I was so good, though, that I had to come to London too.
Will we ever see them in the UK again?
Thanks for the completion of the setlist. As for seeing them again: why not? They were at the Jazz Cafe last year, weren’t they?
Always wanted to see them and they didn’t disappoint (apart from not playing enough from the brilliant ‘What Up Dog’) If we’d had ‘Spy in the House of Love’ ‘Anything can happen’ ‘Shadow and Jimmy’ and the sublime ‘Somewhere in America There’s a Street Named After My Dad’ (best song title of all time) it would have been perfect. Maybe next time….