TV Smith - Mosely Arms, B'ham
Taking to the stage somewhat later than originally planned due to the state of the nations train network (I'd love to lie & say the Gang Of Four's "Outside The Trains Don't Run On Time" blasted from the jukebox to herald his arrival but instead it was "Down In The Tube Station @ Midnite" by The Jam), TV Smith duly apologised & explained;
"I travelled up on the train which was going @ about 2 or 3 mph all the way. They announced that the train would arrive in B'ham @ 20:20 & I thought 'do they mean the time or the year?' "
The Mosely Arms; a compact/bijou/spit/sawdust venue, packed with a fiercely partisan crowd, many of whom sang along @ the top of their voices. The young, the 20 somethings & the not so young barked out the chorus to the opening "No Time To Be 21" in unison, bombarding Smith with requests from the off. One man & his acoustic gtr (occasionally augmented by a drum machine - "let me introduce the band") were happy to oblige & the set list soon flew out of the window.
Looking markedly thinner & a touch greyer than he did in 1977, Smith played the roll of rock & roll survivor with aplomb. Delivering his material the way it was written; with heartfelt conviction & attention to detail, Smith's entire body appeared to rise & fall as he spat out classics like bullets. Requests were honoured where ever possible ("Cast Of Thousands" was missing - "Unless someone's brought a choir along with them I wouldn't do it justice"), mixing old & new material in equal measure. We got "My Place", "Bored Teenagers", "Bombsite Boys" & "On Wheels" & most of "Crossing The Red Sea". We got "My Place", "Tomahawk Cruise" & a superb reading of "The Lion & The Lamb". We got "Expensive Being Poor", "I Know What You Want", "This Year Next Year" & the title track from his latest excellent Cherry Red release, "Generation Y" (Cherry Red Records - CDMRED 151). We got "World Just Got Smaller" & "The Future Used To Be Better" from the recent superb TV Smith & Punk Lurex OK ep (HICKS-051 - order details @ foot of page). We got the moon on a stick, basically.
The set ran the best part of 2 hours, careering towards a rousing finale of "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" featuring the entire crowd on backing vocals which was preceded by TV Smith's thoughts on The Adverts, Punk & the passing of time;
"My Punk Rock Poem"
It was strange being in a punk rock band, people gobbed at us & then shook us by the hand. We played every toilet in our green & slimey land. First of all for 15 quid, & then later on, a grand.
30 days of madness touring with the Damned, turning up to soundcheck to find out we'd been banned. Driving back to London in the mini van.
Didn't get to the USA as planned &, looking back, we didn't change the music scene a lot. But we did have 1 hit single & supported Iggy Pop, & sometimes people tell me that The Adverts changed their lives & that's nice.
It was great being in a punk rock band!
"That's about it, " said a visibly drained TV Smith, "I can't do a shitload of encore's, you'll fuckin kill me!" We shouted & shouted, of course, & Smith relented & belted out a couple more tunes like the trooper that he is. The Mosely arms responded with admirable gusto; CD's were snapped up, hands shaken, heroes met & dreams realised. Nothing changed & no-one died but no-one left empty hearted either. Turn on this TV & put yr.self in touch with the politics of the personal - there's no time to relax, yet alone be 21.
10 Questions For TV Smith
1. What was yr. proudest moment during active service in The Adverts?
I guess it was the first time we stood on stage at the Roxy and found our self playing a gig. There we were...doing it! It didn't matter how unrehearsed we were, how badly we played, how terrible the sound quality was...we'd found a way to express the idea of our band, and suddenly we were in the middle of, and helping to define, the greatest musical movement since rock music began.
2. What were yr. three favourite Adverts gigs?
It's difficult to talk about favourites because every one is special. The whole first year was very exciting because the audience was so ready to hear it. Gigs really buzzed because of that. I suppose my three favourite periods would be: the gigs at the Roxy, the tour with the Damned, and the tour supporting Iggy.
3. When did punk die for you?
4. Did The Adverts split too soon? Was there anywhere else you could've gone?
Maybe we split too late. We'd tried to move in a different direction and most of the audience didn't want to go with us. Punk was starting to be defined by the media instead of by what the groups wanted to create, so the only thing you were allowed to do was repeat the formula. People were confused when "Cast Of Thousands" came out and it wasn't "Crossing the Red Sea, Part Two."
5. Has anything since captured the excitement of the punk rock explosion?
Every gig for me still carries that excitement. But as a movement, I haven't seen anything that even comes close. I think it's because we knew exactly what we were fighting against in 1977 - the stagnant, self-indulgent music scene that existed at the time. The only way to do what we wanted was to completely reject everything that came before. Now the enemy is more diverse and more difficult to spot.
6. As genres mutate in the modern palette that is pop 2000 which flavas have caught yr. ear?
I don't like pop. I only like the underground.
7. Are there any plans for a band tour with the "Gen Y" set?
I don't want to be tied to a band right now. The climate at the moment means that "more" would be "less." I love the freedom of being able to play whatever I and the audience want, without being restricted to "what the band knows," and taking a band around with me would mean I couldn't play half the venues I play now, just for practical and financial reasons. I do miss the engine of a band behind me sometimes, and when I get the chance I borrow a band for a few numbers, for example in Finland I often tour with Punk Lurex OK and we play some songs together at the end of the gig - best of both worlds.
8. Any plans for a follow up to "Gen Y"?
I'm trying out new songs in the live set all the time, but at the moment I'm so busy trying to get out to play to as many people as possible that I haven't had the chance to record anything else yet. My next album project is to make a "Best Of," re-recording a selection of songs from the last 25 years, then I plan to move on to record a new album sometime next year, just as soon as I get a break from touring. Luckily I don't have any record companies telling me when and what I have to record - I can work at my own pace, and I think things turn out better for it.
9. People tell you that the Adverts changed their. life - who changed yr.s?
Iggy, Bowie, Velvet Underground, Sex Pistols, Jacques Brel, Tom Waits, The Ramones...many more too numerous to mention.
10. Off all the songs you've written, what's yr. personal favourite?
No! No! Don't ask me to choose between my babies!!