John Andrews | 07.03.2010 15:55 | Culture
I was fortunate enough to see Chumbawamba at the London Passing Clouds venue in Dalston (N) East London on 4th March 2010.
The venue is a converted warehouse and is part of a collective The Magpies Nest which puts on acoustic / folk gigs. The building is great for gigs such as this – small and intimate it most certainly is. Upstairs, the Treehouse Café was serving good food in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Chumbawamba band members and their support, O’Hooley and Tidow, were in the café happy to talk with anyone that went up to them. If these bands have any pretensions then they are very well hidden!
The gig was sold out; I would guess that there were between 250 and 300 people there. The crowd was the friendliest and most humorous that I have seen for quite a while. I went up to the small ‘merchandise table’ selling band CDs and asked the man there if he was with the stall. “No” he replied, he was waiting for someone to attend the stall “the problem with anarchists is that they don’t want to take your money”. Chumbawamba just could not fail with such a crowd. Boff Whalley (vocals) heard an amazing laugh from a girl in the audience; it was the sort of laugh that started as a full laugh and continued through several transformations to something resembling a cry. After some banter, the girl told Boff that it was a ‘Norwegian Laugh’. Boff looked baffled and then said something along the lines of “Ah yes, cosmopolitan London, we don’t get Norwegians up North”.
Chumbawamba’s line up has changed many times in their close on thirty year history. The current line up is Neil Ferguson (Guitar / Vocal / Sound Engineer), Lou Watts (Vocal and numerous acoustic instruments), Boff Whalley (Vocal and Guitar), Jude Abbott (Vocal and Trumpet) and Phil Moody (Accordion / Xylophone Tie and George Melly impersonator on Ratatatay!)
From their new album, ABCDEFG, they sang Pickle, Wagner at the Opera, Underground, Torturing James Hetfield, The Devil’s Interval and Ratatatay. There may have been others but I was not keeping notes. They sang Add Me, Fusilado and Charlie from their previous album – The Boy Bands Have Won and a selection of songs from earlier albums. Probably the biggest cheer of the night went up for The Day the Nazi Died:
We've been doing this one for years but it's still relevant, unfortunately
Open your eyes time to wake up
Enough is enough is enough is enough
We're taught that after the war the Nazis vanished without a trace
But battalions of fascists still dream of a master race
The history books they tell of their defeat in forty-five
But they all come out of the woodwork on the day the Nazi died
They say the prisoner of Spandau was a symbol of defeat
Whilst Hess remained imprisoned and the fascists they were beat
So the promise of an Aryan world would never materialise
So why did they all come out of the woodwork on the day the Nazi died
The world is riddled with maggots--the maggots are getting fat
They're making a tasty meal of all the bosses and bureaucrats
They're taking over the board rooms and they're fat and full of pride
And they all came out of the woodwork on the day the Nazi died
So if you meet with these historians I'll tell you what to say
Tell them that the Nazis never really went away
They're out there burning houses down and peddling racist lies
And we'll never rest again until every Nazi dies
Their message is deadly serious but they manage to do everything in a fun and humorous way. They discuss the story behind the song giving immediate meaning to the song and always treating the crowd as their intellectual equivalents.
Chumbawamba were very ably supported by the excellent O'Hooley and Tidow; two girls who really can sing and Belinda’s piano playing is sublime. They played through their new album – Silent June which was released in February 2010.
All in all a superb venue, a great crowd and unforgettable bands. Thank you Magpies Nest / Passing Clouds; O’Hooley and Tidow and Chumbawamba for a brilliant night.