Yes Tufnell Park is deep into the Alternative fact world as they seem to think the 4th of February is the date for a Valentine's ball!! Oh well, with a line-up as good as this does it matter? Not really.
We missed the opening act and arrived just before The Bar Stool Preachers came on. I have to admit I really didn't like too much when I last saw them at Rebellion, but knowing the live rep they have, that made me see them first time round, I wanted to give them a second chance and am very glad I did as they were in stonking good form.
They opened with a song about Signs that was super-tight. Poppy ska-punk, it was good and bouncy. Get A Job (or whatever the next song was called) made sure we knew they were a proper, issues-based band and, damn, it was catchy with it. The songs flew by and One Fool Down was a pretty good Mighty Mighty Bosstones-style number with some great lyrics. Wow, were they working hard!
The song I have down as This Way (or maybe Wake Up?) included really good lyrics and was just really danceable too. Ballad Of The M1 - all about the joys or otherwise of being road hogs - sounded great and had a cool breakdown or two before they closed the set with their theme song: yes Bar Stool Preacher was a very cool way to finish a great and all-too-short set.
Next on were Miraculous Mule who feature Michael J Sheehy, ex of Dream City Film Club, a band I had a tangential hand in naming, but that's a story for elsewhere. Either way, Miraculous Mule are a super tight garage-rock power trio who opened with a song that might be Holy Five that seemed to channel the MC5 and Stooges in equal measure.
Evil On My Mind had another monster riff which they laid on us like their lives depended on it. The next rifftastic tune was about Feel and, well, this felt like the late 60's/early 70's boogie rock reborn with a good dose of Hendrix stylistics going on. The song about Drugs and Guns went by in a blur of a heavy riffs and great swaggering attitude.
I really liked the song that seemed to be called We Bled, but might be something else. Moving On seemed to suggest they'd moved on to using Free as the main reference point instead of the MC5, but not for long as I Go to Jackson was a great road worn tale of the deep south that rumbled by in a blur.
The song which featured a "She Will Die" chorus and a really intense riff as all the bad things unfurled in the lyrics was very cool indeed. They closed with Satisfied, which had the sort of riff that feels like they are having the massive orgasm this set had been building too. Damn, I'm glad I finally got to see them play a full set.
The evening then took its only wrong turn courtesy of the perplexing comedy act that is Frank Sanazi. He apparently tries to combine Frank Sinatra and Adolf Hitler so he can croon about the third Reich in an ironic fashion. I didn't laugh more than once but other people did seem to find him funny.
He finished by introducing Trixie Tassels, who did a very cool Fan dance before stripping off and doing a fire dance with far fewer clothes on. She is very entertaining as always and at least has a few decent tricks up her sleeves. Well, everything's relative as she didn't have any sleeves.
Then it was time for The Urban Voodoo Machine to make their usual entrance to their theme tune; swaying through the crowd and onto the stage to unveil their latest addition as they have swapped the trombonist for a rather fetching French Violinist.
After a few words of introduction from Paul-Ronney Angel,they launched into a great jazzy version of High Jeopardy Thing that went down a storm before they dedicated For All Our Fallen Brothers to Nick Marsh and Rob 'The kid' Skipper. I believe Jary held up Nick Marsh's guitar strap which was draped over part of the drum kit too. It is both sad and a little bit uplifting as everyone swayed and sang along to it.
Well if we weren't downbeat already, we would be after lying on a track waiting for the Trainwreck Blues to roll right over us. As ever, the band were swapping instruments at a good pace and this 10-piece line-up, they were really getting us all going. Not With You cracked along nicely but the Orphan's Lament seemed to have a bit too much mucking about going on, but as this band is almost always playing shows it's no surprise they mess around a bit with the songs pretty much as routine.
Crazy Maria was doleful in the right places and a good tribute to another friend who died too soon. The Bucket Of Blood had loads of shenanigans from J Roni Moe and Jary and also from The Slim as they got us moving to it. The breakdowns seemed to go on for ages and the song was a bit too etiolated for me.
Pipe & Slippers Man was fun and quite upbeat compared a lot of the set. Rusty Water & Coffin Nails is as good a song about booze and ciggies as you can get and they hammed it up quite a bit. While We Were All Asleep was a bit too broken down for me but the rave up bit when they went mental that part was great.
Help Me Jesus went down a treat as always as Paul-Ronney did some serious pleading and Luci Fire did her own street preacher routine to add to the pot somewhat. They closed with Goodbye To Another Year: an odd song to hear in February and was played in episodic fashion with some false endings and a good rave up to close a fine set from the as ever damn great Urban Voodoo Machine.
The Fuzillis had the tough job of not only following The Urban Voodoo Machine but also going on so late that the tubes had finished and half the audience had already left including bassist Zig C's band mates from his other band The Witchdoktors. Still, none of that prevented them from playing a great Grind a go go set.
They opened with (I guess) Stand By, which was a cracking slice of mainly instrumental garage rock with a great sax player. I think the only vocals on the next blistering tune was My Name Is Frankie it flew by with some very tasty guitar from a young guy who looks like he might be Zig C's little boy.
Save Your Ass kept up the whirlwind of adrenal garage punk with a good edge to it. They also moved around all over the place and were very entertaining. What I have down as Baby Shock was the next nugget to fly past us in a whirl of speedy guitars and rocksteady drumming. On the next tune, they were claiming to be "Top Notch Lovers" and, well, on this much speed they'd be lucky to fit that bill.
They have a counting song that goes from 1 to 9 and indeed this band is not overly verbose; preferring to get the message across in the super tight and taut music. Love Got The Monster, apparently, so I hope the monster enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed The Fuzillis.
Then it was time for us all to grind along to Twist At The Top: perfect for performance in an upstairs ballroom such as The Dome. My night was then made when they played a great version of No Fun in the style of The Iguanas or Prime Movers rather than the Stooges. It had some very Steve McKay-style sax which fitted it to perfection.
No idea what they closed with but the guitarist spent the song playing on top of the speakers and looking cool as fuck, so that was fine. It provided a great finale to a really cool set. A band that really needs to be seen live.
It was a really good end to another great Vive Le Valentine night to celebrate another great year for Vive Le Rock magazine. Thanks to everyone involved and to Jim Jones for sterling work on the wheels of steel.