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'London, Camden, Black Heart, 30 November 2018'   

-  Genre: 'Rock'

Our Rating:
This is the second gig of the week from an act claiming this to be at the end of their career. In this case Bernie Torme is playing the penultimate date on his Final Fling tour, which may well be his last ever UK tour. I sincerely hope not but totally get why in the current environment this may well be the case. I just hope I get to see Bernie play again.

We missed the first band on Smoking Martha and arrived just after Katalina Kicks had started playing as the second of the five trios I got to see this week and in this case a reasonably young band who were singing about Speed Bombs when we got in. Damn, that takes me back as I can't remember the last time anyone I knew did Speed bombs. No matter, this was fast and hyped up like they had swallowed a good gram wrap and were going for it.

I think the next song was introduced as Mannequin. Whatever, it was good and pacey and the bass player was really giving it plenty as the drums pummelled us. Cut It Up may be another song about speed or just another speedy song, but either way they were getting us going nicely.

They did a very cool version of Search & Destroy next - almost as good as the Electric Gypsies cover of this Stooges classic. It certainly sounded really good and got plenty of us singing along. We Don't Care sounded like a band that really cares about being good and tight and really fast and furious which is cool by me.

Yeah Yeah Yeah flew by with plenty of rage and anger before they closed with Forever Young, which had a good bit of anger in it and they left us wanting to hear more from them.

After the break it was time to see the latest line-up of The Dirty Strangers: a band who never seem to play more than about 3 shows with the same iteration, so of course this is different to the last time I saw them with both the guys from The Quireboys who have been replaced by Neal X of Sigue Sigue Sputnik and John Proctor is on Bass, though drums are still played by Lol Fox and of course the original Dirty Stranger Alan Clayton is up front as ever.

They open as a trio with theme song Danger First to get us going and as ever the cheeky Jack the lad lyrics are spot on. Running Slow is anything but slow and Alan and John are swapping glances to get it just right. Alan tells us most of the songs are about girls - good girls and of course bad girls before they do a very cool version of Liberty Smile.

Keeping things a touch salacious Alan then tells us all about Baby and what they would like to do with her and her friend who's up next. the Special Girl. Let's face it this lot have had a few Special Girls in the years before #Me too became popular.

Then on came Neil X to up the band's game somewhat on Satisfied. which featured the first of several really cool guitar solos and breaks from Neil who was in great form. Then as usual they were trying to Walk Away from another girl while throwing glances at each other as Neil lets rip with another great solo and they ended the song grinning at whatever mistake took place towards the end of the song.

They took us on a trip South Of The River to places no sensible North Londoners would want to go as it's so far away even when it sounds this much fun. Then as so often happens down sarf someone tells you that you'd better put your Hands Up and it sounds like a ram raid as they fly through it and Neil's guitar just sounds great on this song.

Yes with The Dirty Strangers they always want the Bad Girls to identify themselves as they dedicate Bad Girls to them and they fairly romp through the song before Alan thanks Bernie for being a friend since the late 1970's. They close with a great cruising version of Gold Cortina to leave us wanting some more.

After a very short changeover, Bernie Torme comes on with Sy Morton on Bass and Mik Gaffney on drums and the set as usual opens with Wild West that has the first of Bernie's guitar solos in it. And well, it sounds every bit as great as ever.

Come The Revolution was smouldering full of great guitar lines and well let's hope great music survives that revolution. Bernie then dips back into his early career with a cool version of Gillan's No Easy Way, which is every bit as vital as it should be and Sy Morton was really ripping into his bass to keep the power surging.

Turn Out The Lights always makes me smile, this being the title track of Bernie's first solo album and the first record by him I bought. This was a great version, full of power and energy and Bernie was still doing a good few jumps in it too.

They went right back to 1977 for The Hunter that I don't think I've ever heard live before. It really rocked as of course did Star that was one of the more concise songs in the set. Of course, it's one that's perfect to introduce the band halfway through it as part of the lyrics I still love this song as much as when I first heard it.

I'm not certain but think Motor Daddy was next to get shredded by a band who were barely pausing all night long before they slowed things down for a monumental grinding version of Stoneship with that wailing guitar dripping with the pain in the lyrics as we all pay the toll.

Then while Bernie tuned his trusty Stratocaster and had a glass of Whiskey, Mik Gaffney unleashed a true monster of a guitar solo for a good few minutes before Bernie and Sy joined back in as they almost lurched down the Rocky Road To Dublin, Bernie's old home town, with some more dazzling guitar.

We then got the obligatory reminder that You Can't Beat Rock & Roll. I'm sure we all hope that the songs original GMT drummer who's T-shirt Sy Morton is wearing, Robin Guy, can beat Cancer as he seems to be doing at the moment. Yes we all sang along as we should to such a great anthem.

They also did a great version of Trouble that sounded very close to Joan Jett's version rather than Elvis' and keeping things Rock & Roll they closed with a proper rampage through New Orleans that left everyone shouting for some more as no one wanted what could be Bernie's last London show to end.

They came back as Bernie told us he's been avoiding playing the next two songs for about 30 years as certain hard core fanboys disapprove of how he played them when he took over from the recently departed Randy Rhoads in Ozzy Osbourne's band. They launched into a great version of Mr Crowley with Sy Morton singing it and doing a damn good job too.

Sy stayed on the vocals for a great version of Crazy Train which had us all singing along. They then got Alan Clayton up so he and Bernie could swap a war story or two before they ripped through the Summertime Blues with shared vocals and of course the whole room shouting along to bring a great show to a brilliant end.

If this really is the final tour Bernie has gone out in brilliant style.
  author: simonovitch

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