Sunday, 22 September 2013

A foot in both camps

If you thought it was cold north of the Arctic Circle – think again. If the long winter nights are getting you down in that Antarctic research station. Forget it. On Saturday there was only one place to be:

  The coolest place on earth

Yeah, that’s Chelsea man.

As I was waiting for Larry Stabbins new band, while the roadies were setting up, the feedback sounded like gunfire. All around there was a silence for a moment while all the gangsters and their bodyguards jumped out of their skins in the luxury restaurants and jewellery shops all around us.

I was watching a stage set in the long space between two luxury blocks of flats in ‘new Chelsea’ – thieves town.

I was so struck by the similarity with the 1980’s – which for some people was all about making (stealing) as much money as they could, as quickly as they could get away with it.

Other people like me were fighting back – on picket lines and on the streets. Mostly battles lost, which is why things are so bad now. Sorry about that, we tried our best.

And while the music reflected the lust for cash, there were some rebels, even after Punk was dead.

There was a vibrant Jazz dance scene – a Black and White groove, on the edge and late in the night. The bands that wrote the soundtrack to those nights made their money by day playing for the rich, by night playing for us.

Working Week (I’ve written about them before) were the best and the most political. Larry Stabbins was uncompromising on the Sax.

And here he is:
When the band fired up, the first piece was full of the Latin rhythms, the fire and Stabbins screaming Saxophone. I was back in time. Back in Kentish Town, back at Ronnie’s. That sound was unmistakable.

Zoe Rahman was electrifying on piano, worthy of her recent Music of Black Origin (MOBO) award, while the Conga playing and the drums were a treat.
The Week had a foot in both camps, always a dangerous place to be.

It was over far too quickly for me with ‘Soul Train’, a great Working Week set piece, full of rhythm and life.

My friend turned up as Zara McFarlane was getting in full swing and he got a table for me right up at the front – ringside seat!

Here she is:

It was a blend of Soul and Jazz that was right for dusk, and she's a bit of a Diva:
And for good measure I can’t resist putting in this beautiful shot:

 There’s more to come. The night had hardly started.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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