Ruts DC – Pelton Arms, Greenwich – June 28th, 2019

Jumped on the tickets when it was first announced. At £10 a throw, they were not to be sneezed at.

I thought Greenwich might be a bit of a pain to get to…but hey, the gig would be great so we’d cross that bridge on the day. Well, as it happened, we could get a train direct to Greenwich from Luton. I had NO IDEA this was even possible. That made logistics nice and easy.

 

We got the train to the stop after Greenwich, Maze Hill, so we could our bearings to the pub. It wasn’t far from Maze Hill station. After we cased the joint, we took a meander along the Thames and headed back towards Greenwich. There was a bit of time to kill to peruse and look about. We ended up at the Royal Observatory. ****PUN ALERT**** I had a “mean time” straddling the meridian. I was getting myself quite muddled about this the other day when I was there…being quite a thicky. Lol! I can be the biggest dumbass sometimes. I’d never been to Greenwich before and didn’t realise just quite what a viewpoint of the rest of London you have from the observatory.

Looking ahead I think this train journey will cut out a lot of faffing getting to the Alice Cooper gig at the O2 in October.

But let’s get back to the gig and Ruts DC.

While we were at the observatory having a mooch about, the boys were back at the Pelton Arms going through soundcheck. From the little clip I saw on Facebook, it was sounding fantastic. I didn’t have much doubt of it.

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A quick pitstop back in the main bit of town for a bite to eat then back to the pub in time for the gig.

Leigh was about in the pub. I ended up seated next to him. I had taken along my copy of the South Of Babylon photobook with Virginia’s photos in. I asked Leigh if he’d sign it for me. “I’m not in it though”, he says to me. “I know, but you’re part of the band now and I’d like you to sign it.” He seemed to think the other guys would be a bit funny about it. He said “If you ask Segs and he says it’s okay, then maybe I will.”

After a short while, my ears tune in to a song playing over the sound system. I think I am hearing the opening strains to something VERY familiar…and then I hear the unmistakable drum and bass combo of McGee and Forbes and YES! Theme For Great Cities was playing in the pub. This pub was now officially the coolest pub in London!

About 10 mins before showtime, Segs and Ruffy arrive at the pub. I take my chance while Segs hasn’t been flanked on both sides by peeps. I sidle up to him, book in one hand, Sharpie in the other. “Hi Segs, could I please have you sign this for me?” “Is this the book? I haven’t seen it yet”, and he has a flick through it. “This is brilliant.” Of course he signs it but then keeps hold of it and carries it around showing peeps. He showed the guy manning their merch stall and then the promotor (I’m assuming?) of the gig. He then goes over to Leigh and shows him. “Hey, have a look at this. Isn’t it fab?” It’s my cue to say “I asked Leigh if he’d sign it earlier on but he said I to ask your permission first. So, will you give him permission to sign it?” “Leigh! You can sign it. I’ll get Dave to sign it for you and all.” Ruffy had gone to a back room to get into his gig clothes. So when he comes out, Segs is on the case. He’s still carrying the book around. He’s got it open on a page of close up portraits of the guys so he can show Ruffy his portrait. “Look at this – it’s that book”, he says to him, putting the book on the table. “Will you sign this for this lady?” With the book all signed, I left them to get themselves ready for the stage.

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The stage was right in the corner of the pub. Acoustic levels were great. Clear views were awkward, esp. if you’re on the shorter side of height, obv. Not much space for dancing…but the couple of ladies in front of us were determined. From my place in the crowd, I could see Leigh but not much of Ruffy and Segs only from time to time.

The crowd kept jostling and moving about. People continuously moving, making their way back to the bar and the back again to try and get back to their spot. About halfway through the set, things were getting a bit steamy. I was getting ready to alert the OH about maybe getting out of the crowd and sitting back down when she says to me “I need to get out of here and sit down. I don’t feel so good.” We’re as bad as each other. Lol. She has Meniere’s so standing venues are not great for her anyway.

Sat back down, we were both okay. Obviously couldn’t see a thing but could still hear things great. Couldn’t fault them for sound levels. They were spot on.

It was a fairly short set. They played for just over an hour. Babylon’s Burning being the close of the set, with a single song encore. Others in the set included Music Must Destroy, In A Rut, Staring At The Rude Boys, Love In Vain, West One, Kill The Pain and Psychic Attack.

Enjoyed the set. Crowd was good. Nothing kicked off. Everyone pretty respectful and stuff. Pub was great. Acoustics inside were great. I do actually prefer acoustic sets. As much as I love the full rock experience, you tend to get a better clarity at the acoustic gigs. There’s no distortion of sound. You can actually HEAR things, you know? The venue location was good too. Easy to get to. All good.

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I went and thanked Segs for a fab set, asked for a snap together and we were off back home.

Not sure when my next opportunity to see them will be. I would LOOOOVE it to be Hamburg in December (where they are supporting The Stranglers)…but things are a bit too up-in-the-air for that to be a definite at the moment. Only time will tell.

What’s To Come – The Gig For The Second Half Of The Year

Things have been pretty quiet gigwise since The Stranglers and Stewart Copeland gigs at the end of March.

I had wanted to see Michael Rother in London, but it was too soon after the previous two gigs mentioned for me to go. Too skint too. Had to knock trying to get to Mott The Hoople on the head. I tried selling my Barras ticket on to get to Shepherds Bush Empire, but it didn’t happen and gave the Barras ticket away.

Could have gone to a free gig last week at The Lexington but again was just too skint to afford to fare into London.

But tomorrow night, I’m in Greenwich to see Ruts DC again. This time they are doing one of their little acoustic affairs, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of Babylon’s Burning. Should be a goodun.

After that will be the next BIGGY! Up to Glasgow to see Trevor Horn (and GUESTS – she dreams!) on July 27th.

August will be pretty quiet. No big old music festival in the Brecon Beacons to go to this year.

September is my first ever drum show in Manchester. Cherisse is taking part, so I thought I might as well pop along and see what’s what. That’s on September 21st. Before that is a bit of a special homegrown treat. You Am I are coming over for a short tour of Europe and hit London on September 12th. Last time I saw them was when they were over here in 2016, so I am looking forward to that.

The next one after that will be another BIGGY. Alice Cooper at the O2 in London on October 10th. NEVER seen him before. Not been to the O2, either. Obviously should have gone to see Simple Minds there in November, 2015, but ended up out in Oz instead. And well…who is on the guest bill for Alice? The band I SHOULD have been seeing at the Simple Minds gig. The same band I didn’t see much of back at the end of March. The Stranglers.

I then get to see the band recommended to me by Olivier Gerard when they return to London. Whispering Sons are heading back across the pond and play The Moth Club in Hackney on October 25th. A slightly early birthday present. The ticket was £11! I mean, can’t argue with that, can I?! I couldn’t see them when they were here last, their gig was on the same night as the Stewart Copeland gig. Nothing clashing this time (as far as I know at this point), so I grabbed a ticket this evening.

Finally…I am MEANT to be going to Hamburg in early December to see The Stranglers yet again. But with things as they currently stand…I really don’t see much of a chance of it happening right now. I can’t see myself having the funds to renew my passport until, well…until such time as it is either essential that I travel and I borrow funds or…the miracle occurs.

In the meantime, there’s a bit of live music there to keep me occupied. Not exactly as it was last year…but the way things is going…thank FUCK Simple Minds are having touring down time this year. I would be frigging crying my eyes out if they were touring and I couldn’t go to gigs. It was how 2014 and 2015 were. When I first became uber fan, I didn’t see them. I couldn’t afford a gig. My first gig was Cambridge in April, 2015. I wanted to go to more. I eyed off De Montfort Hall in Leicester, The Hexagon in Reading, whatever the venue was in Oxford (can’t remember it off hand) and whatever London was? But I couldn’t stretch to any of them. Boomerang at Hickstead was the only other thing I could book…and I didn’t book it until after Cambridge because I just wanted to see them again so, SSSOOOO much!

I have been very, VERY lucky to have gone to as many SM gigs as I have since then…and to some of the places I’ve been too…travelling to Dublin, Paris and Aix-Les-Bains – and being at the absolute holy of holies and being at Barrowland. So, yep…I am very thankful this downtime is happening while I am skint to absolute buggery.

But there’s the odd gig to enjoy in the interim. Keeps the juices flowing, eh?

Staring At (Photos Of) The Rude Boys – New Ruts Photobook

There’s a new Hanging Around book release featuring the photography of Virginia Turbett. The book in question features photos of The Ruts (aka Ruts DC – as they are known these days).

The book called “South Of Babylon: The Ruts 1978-1979” is available to pre-order through the Hanging Around Books site and is released on May 27th. Click here to order your copy.

Really looking forward to this one.

Review: Ruts DC – O2 Academy Oxford – February 18th, 2019

My first time for a gig at Oxford – and at this particular venue. The venue is pretty small…would maybe hold 750 tops. I like these size venues though, esp. for GA standing gigs.

The support act was The Professionals, with drummer (and Sex Pistols legend) Paul Cook the only existing original member of the lineup. I didn’t really look up the support act before the gig, so it was somewhat of a surprise when my friend and companion for the gig said that Cookie was playing as part of the support act. I’m getting my quota of drumming legends in these days!

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And as I didn’t know the support act that well, I didn’t know much of the material performed, although of course Silly Thing sounded familiar to me when it started. I think if I have things right they also performed Just Another Dream and Join The Professionals. Pretty sure they also performed I Didn’t See It Coming, and probably did 1-2-3 as well. It was a fast pace set as you would expect from a punk outfit. Short, punchy songs. Lots of energy. I enjoyed their set. Sound level was loud. My ears were stuffed before the Ruts even came on!

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And as for The Ruts? Well, we were given the full theatrical intro for what is a 40th anniversary tour of their debut album, The Crack. With a backdrop of a huge canvas print of the album’s artwork, they played the whole album in tracklist order, starting with their biggest hit, Babylon’s Burning – which I filmed.

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And of course, they just got tighter and tighter through the set. Segs seems like he should have been the frontman all along to me. No disrespect to Malcolm Owen intended at all, just me wanting to give credit to Segs. He’s fab and just takes it in his stride. They found an absolute gem of a guitarist in Leigh and, speaking as I did earlier of drumming legends…hell! For me, Dave Ruffy is right up there as one of the best drummers around. Sublime effortlessness.

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The setlist is pictured above. Nearly 24 hours later, and my ears are STILL ringing. If you’ve never seen them live and you like this genre of music (punk/ska/rock/pub rock), get along to one of their gigs. You won’t be disappointed. Honestly, they really are one of the best live bands going round right now. They never disappoint, and last night was no exception.

February 2019 – The Start Of Next Year’s Gig List

They are starting to line up like dominos! Firstly, today John Grant announced more gigs for early next year, including Cambridge Corn Exchange on Feb 7th. Caezar play Oran Mor again on Feb 15th – I’m def. going! I’ve also committed to Ruts DC in Oxford on Feb 18th, and now, the Lemon Twigs have just announced a gig at the Roundhouse on Feb 27th.

February is already getting very full. Wow!

Ruts DC – The Hat Factory, Luton – March 31st, 2018

My introduction to Ruts DC was with them being support to The Stranglers when seeing them last March at Cambridge Corn Exchange – and, well, conversely it was SM’s billing of support for them (The Stranglers) on the autumn arena leg of the Big Music tour that made me explore them more and go and see them in their own right live (again…I had been aware of them for many, many years, but only knew a few of their songs).

And last night that run continued with Ruts’ support being local reggae/dub/ska band ‘easydread’ (small ‘e’, a la easyjet – they are from Luton after all). They were bloody fab! I ran into the saxophonist/co-vocalist on the way out – a very affable chap he was too. He had stopped to talk to another fan. I noticed him giving the guy a business card. I had no funds with me (a rare occasion on being so close to home, I could just take my phone with me and nothing else), so when he was done chatting with the guy I asked him for a card, said I thought they were fab and he told me of their upcoming gig at Esquires in Bedford.

The band are a seven piece combo, with a brass trio of trumpet, sax and trombone. Definitely worth checking out. This was their closer for their set – dedicated to Luton…

On to Ruts DC. WOW! These guys really are still the biz. It was obvious at the Stranglers gig last year. Both I and the OH were blown away by them, and I had promised myself to see them again. There was a short set they did for BBC Radio 6 Music towards the end of last year that was shared via Facebook Live and seeing that just compounded how fabulous they are to me.

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Amazingly, when meeting Virginia Turbett, we got talking about other bands…who we like, etc (yes, it wasn’t ALL about SM and how many “fruitier” shots of Jim she had…) – and she’s a HUGE Ruts fan!

Rather bizarrely, when I first saw the gig on their FB page, I dithered about going. And continued to do so for WEEKS. I had just been to the SM gigs and so, for one, I was Skinty McSkintface. But I kept pondering it, thinking – it’s local, no travel costs, the ticket price is great…GO ON! And STILL I kept holding off, until Good Friday. I knew I’d end up regretting it if I didn’t go. So, that was it! Mind made up. Ticket bought.

And wow! Never to disappoint, these guys. A-MAZ-ING! An incredible wall of sound resonates from this trio. And they ROCK! Like, REALLY ROCK! They’ve not forgotten their punk roots…only difference is, THEY CAN PLAY! Geez! Can they play! To the degree they make it look like a piece of piss. A cake walk!

Last year, I really didn’t know any of their stuff. But over the year I’ve managed to take in Babylon’s Burning, Jah War and Mighty Soldier – all of which were on the setlist (I think any crowd would string ‘em up if they didn’t do Babylon’s Burning!), but so were Dangerous Minds, In A Rut, West One, Rude Boys, Music Must Destroy and Kill The Pain…all of which are really starting to make in impact on the brain.

I was in the bar last night (no, no drinking…just a place to sit for a bit) and Segs walked past me. I mouthed ‘hi’ to him and he said hello back to me. I couldn’t stop him. What would I say? At that point I was so ignorant, I didn’t even know his name! I just knew he was one of “the boys”. Since then (this morning), I have educated myself some and on who’s who, and a brief history of them.

As for last night and my VERY brief encounter with Segs…well, I wish I could have said, “Hi Segs, can’t wait for tonight. Would you mind signing this for me?” and produce my ticket stub with a pen (yes, Jim…I had a pen on me! Lol). But alas, I felt a fraud for being there and not even knowing his name!

Final words on the gig itself? A masterclass in performance. They are GOOD. Really good. Seriously. GO SEE THEM! I will be in future…again and again.

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A souvenir. If only I had had THIS with me for Segs to sign.

The YouTube clip was filmed pretty much where I was standing last night (the guy was behind me and just to my left) and was MUCH better than my Facebook Live clip.