Dear Karate Boogaloo -
It’s really bitter sweet that I write this, you know. I know how much you love The Ruts. I wish you were here. I really, really mean it. I thought I liked the Ruts too, but, once again, listening to them BECAUSE you like them so much, I heard the band differently. I had you as a filter or as a kindred spirit (if that means someone who I am thinking about so strongly that they might be in the room too). I know your taste in music has heart and soul and boots that have been tramped around in. Last night I could see what you see. 100% men with souls with jackets off - men, dammit, from Hayes Middlesex, where I went to high school - but that old story of ... they were a few years ahead of me. See if I can recreate it for you in case our spirit-connection went behind one of the million rain clouds that have been passing England lately.
Parking space right outside the tiny shop front that is the 12 Bar in Denmark Street next door to Steve Jones' (Sex Pistols) old flat. Open the door and you get a warm reception at the desk. You are required to pay THREE POUNDS to get in. Your mind does a time warp.
All the faces in the room are immediately Chaucer characters. Esso's (ex-Lurkers) glinty smile from a bench behind a beer on a Tudor hewn-wood table top. Posters cover the beams. Check out the merch desk. Badges £1. T-Shirts £15 (good cotton). Bathrooms are up creaky stairs from the ante-chamber on your left and before you duck through the doorway to the stage cave area which might have been a boiler room at one time (what that big pipe is doing in there, I’m not sure) you could step down left and play pool or pinball. There’s some amplification sizzle and tick and we’re in under the balcony bit at the back.
The band wobble up and balance on the stage: Support band is The Duel - a gutsy blonde girl singer in her red Lurkers t-shirt and her platform brothel creepers. A young Captain Sensible sultan on electric pianos (one strap round his shoulders), a striped t-shirt sailor-face on electric guitar, a stand in bass player, in his best suit jacket, who was great. In the corner is Pumpy Drums - his goatee beard is dyed red today, red sunglasses, red (life aquatic) wool hat - he plays seriously in his cartoon t-shirt: BAM!
Introducing their last song, singer Tara Rez says, “We are truly blessed to have the Ruts playing next. Their first acoustic set in 35 years!” She is wrong, but that’s only because these Ruts have NEVER done an acoustic set. Why not? There is no sensible answer.
The room fills up with your roman descendents and spiky toothy geezers. I am in the front row and remain there for the whole set. Seggs says, “we’re not going to do the encore bit. We’d never get out and back.” They sit down. The evening sets sail.
They seem HUGE and capable to me: big men with broad shoulders and wide ribs and pulsing hearts. The sort of men you’d see at the Thames Dock Yard with rope and inked-arms clanking anchors, smiling with a golden tooth maybe. Every song is powerful and moving and dubbed and echoed with joining in bits and SPECIAL GUESTS Aynsley Jones and Larry Love from Alabama 3.
Highlights for Gary were In A Rut, Rude Boys, Babylon’s Burning ... hold on, no. “Just the whole set really”- and for me Love In Vain (dedicated to Malcolm, their singer who went down the path before Sid and Philip Seymour Hoffman) ... guest vocalist Aynsley Jones, Dave Ruffy’s sweet backing vocals and witty banter in between. Lee Heggerty agreeing to say Hello to you on my camera! The joy that radiated off this band and the hope that he’s telling the truth, that even though this is their first acoustic set, there may be others.
With love from London, Daisy! xo
With love from London, Daisy! xo