LaFaro, Jetplane Landing
If you're not aware, in order to attend this gig, your name had to be on the list. If it wasn't on, you weren't getting in. So, as they were busy taking names, two thoughts came to mind, either Santa was checking who was naughty or nice, or the ass-kicking was to be delivered in an organised manner.
With these thoughts in mind, our first present was a support slot from Jetplane Landing. In some ways a bit of a forgotten band, their influence has lived on in the growth of the determined, uncompromising, resolutely local, defiant and proud, DIY attitude of bands like ASIWYFA and Lafaro themselves. Of course, this would have been irrelevant if they couldn't do the business on-stage, but there's no sign of rustiness tonight. It's loud enough to make the amps bounce, a melting pot of sound with melody and jazz touches alongside college rock, punk and RATM and Bodycount style funk-rap.
Halfway through they announce that they are JPL - much to the delight of the crowd who are lapping up the anger, passion, politics and rock. As Andrew Ferris takes the opportunity to preach at us to use our anger and rage, no-one takes notice of his exhortation to leave and do what we love, mostly because as he said "half an hour with Jetplane Landing is not enough". Hurry back please.
The Lafaro lads admit that the bar has been set pretty high. Their response to come out with the Red Army's guns blazing with a fiery Leningrad. Immediately the precise JPL have been replaced by nasty, sweaty men making nasty, sweaty music. We know to expect loud riffs, filthy mouths, near the knuckle insults and unrelenting tunes, and they deliver in spades - Alan's buzz-cut reflecting the lean, mean, ass-kicking machine in front of us.
It might be the small, intimate venue, and friendly audience, but for this watcher, this is the best the lads have been in about 18 months, tightened by touring and fuelled by anxious energy to get the album out there. Actually, about the album, it's the stuff left off it that tells you how good they are, being able to ignore live behemoths like All Of These Things and Not Even A Song. The throbbing heartbeat breakdown of Great Conversations... is dedicated to Marty who had the unenviable task of caging the beasts. A demand of "riff!" is answered with recalled oldie Cold Dog Soup, as they grab us by tender-parts and shake vigorously. As for Tuppenny Nudger, well I'm glad I've grown my hair recently because otherwise my head-banging would look stupid. A successful request for the perverted Big Kevin is a suitable ending to an evening of aural masochism, but we don't actually let them leave the stage as we howl for more. Acceding to our demands, Chopper... (previously Climate) becomes an impromptu encore. Barely satisfied we stumble out realising that these four were Santa's unlikely elves special-delivering an ass-kicking. Must remember to write a thank-you letter.
Photo: Matthew Patton