100 Club & Soho Theatre , Chasing Bono, The Headsticks, The Vibrators and Ciaran Dowd 10thJanuary 2019
On New Years Eve, a lifelong family friend popped into my sisters house where I was and as we were chatting she said she had been to see a play called ‘Chasing Bono’ and she thought I would love it. She wasn’t wrong. I bought myself a ticket and made my way down to see a matinee performance of the play. Being savvy, and wanting to make the most of my day up West, I also bought myself a ticket to see The Vibrators- ‘Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life’ and the Headsticks at the 100 Club. Sadly the night before I got an email saying due to illness Steve Ignorant (Crass’s legendary front man that I really wanted to see for the first time) was ill and had cancelled.
I got to Soho Theatre and took my cheap seat, which was upgraded just before the performance started. The play is based on the experience of Irish music journalist Neil McCormack who had been at school with Bono, and in direct competition musically with him and U2 at the start; and follows a series of events that failed to change his life the way he wanted them too.
The casting was brilliant and one of the actors Ciaran Dowd, really shone out and was incredibly funny, a touch of camp but not too much, just enough for it not to be obvious or contrived. As I was leaving the theatre I noticed an ad for Ciaran’s one man character show ‘Don Rodolfo’ which was showing that evening at 10pm, which was after his two performances in Chasing Bono- when I saw ‘Edinburgh best new comer award’ I really wanted to see this!
I had a couple of hours to kill so of I toddled to Denmark Street (London’s Tin Pan Ally) and had a look around the music shops. One was called ‘Hanks’ and I think if there is a heaven when we die, mine maybe something like this! Wall to wall guitars and more vintage Gibson’s and Martin’s than you could shake a stick at.It was still a bit early, so I went to the 100 Club for a nose, back to the Soho Theatre to use the loo and have a nice glass of their free fruit infused water, as well as a chat about possibility of getting into Ciaran Dowd’s show on the door.
The 100 Club opened the door at 7.30 but because there only 2 bands now the show didn’t start until gone 8.30, when the Headsticks got into their stride I loved ‘em and they were worth the very reasonable £11 entry fee alone. I have to say it wasn’t love at first sight, as the guitarist look more like an old folkie, biker or blues man with a horrid big scruffy beard and the drummer had a ‘man bun’- fortunately the bun was only temporary, and had the singer not been passable looking, I would have found it nearly impossible to like them. I can be a bit shallow and superficial like that. Musically they were fantastic! Straight to the point, no guitar worship, just great attacking lyrics and vocal delivery with a catchy chorus or two just the way a punk band should be.
The Vibrators came on kicking off with ‘Bad Time’ the vocalist/bass player was asking for more volume on his vocals and when the sound man obliged, things got decidedly distorted. I think the Drummer was the only original member and he was most impressive singing and drumming a cracking performance of ‘Into The Future’.
I would have been happy to stay and enjoy them, but with Knox- the original lead singer, at the back of the room I decided to go back to the Soho theatre and see Ciaran Dowd’s ‘Don Rodolfo’ and boy was I glad I did!
A front row seat meant I had no escape this lethario’s advances, and so when expressing how to feed his hobbyhorse a treat who of course wouldn’t eat is as it was a child’s toy, he attempted to feed it to me. One: This treat was a sugar lump and I’m a diabetic! Two: Having got into the habit of avoiding peoples hands for days, due to the amount of colds and flu going about, I wasn’t gonna start eating a sugar lump from a strangers hand now!!
Rodolpho liked sex- ‘he used people like objects and objects like people, and had never lost a fight as a swordsman, but was once injured by a falling wardrobe!’
The whole hour long show was quite brilliantly funny and the use of backing tapes and sound effects were brilliant. Well I don’t want to spoil it just in case you do get to see it, and I believe it will be touring, so I suggest you do go to see it if you get the chance. I know I’m a little bias loving most thing Irish, but Ciaran Dowd I seriously believe is one to watch out for.
So two plays and a punk rock gig at one of the-if not thee- most iconic music venues in London in just a day, not to mention a trip to guitar heaven as well.
Well, I may be an old carrot crunching Norfolk country bumpkin these days, but I still know how to make the best of a day ‘Up West’ in England’s capital on a budget!