The Star Spangles - Live
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The Star Spangles – Princess Charlotte, Leicester (04/11/03)

“I can’t go out looking like this,” I said to Suburban Kid, “you’ll have to lend me some gear from your extensive retro styled wardrobe, geez. I look like a fucking pro-celebrity hill walker in this Berghaus shit & these trainers.”

“Yes, my friend,” said our McLarenesque in-house memorabilia expert, “you need some serious style spreading across that puny body, baby!”

I summoned a pair of brothel creepers (size 8 – 2 sizes too small – fuck!), a ginger box jacket (perfect fit) & the obligatory lapel badge (Clash cop original!) - & ponced about in front of the mirror awaiting the approval of Sub Kid & Mrs Sub Kid.

“Hey hey, my my,” came the desired reply, “you’ve still got it, baby...just about!”

We hit the road out of Coventry & cut a path through the dull & dreary drizzle of impending winter towards Leicester. The talk was of Royal fist fucking & media injunctions, the desperation & sadness of being a member of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club & the distressing mental state of Devendra Banhart (if that’s how you spell his name - & considering he’s had difficulty remembering his own name for the last 5 years of his life - I hardly think he’s gonna be too troubled by spelling mistakes at this stage of the game). A mere 40 minutes later we ambled gamely through the entrance to The Princess Charlotte & discovered that the pay in was only £2 (immediately feeling like a right pair of cunts for bumming our way onto the guest list - & probably denying the group a bag of chips each for the journey home). Arse!

A quick chat with Nick Price & Tommy Volume informed us that The Star Spangles were in fine spirits - despite being in the middle of a gruelling (i.e. tedious) tour of the slightly larger toilets of the UK hanging onto the coat-tails of hilarious pomp cock rock merchants, Jane’s Addiction (shared audience compatibility ratio – zero).

The Star Spangles hit the stage of the enlarged Charlotte (shows how long it’s been since I went to Leicester) in a hail of feedback & malfunctioning microphones. Opening new tune, “Take Care Of Us” was basically rendered an instrumental as a result – not that the boys appeared to give a fuck – they just tore straight into “Angela” - & did their best to dodge the sound guy as he worked away changing mics on his knees. Optimum levels had been achieved by the time The Spangles ripped into another new song, “Make Yourself Useful”: Tommy Volume throwing his ‘yr my gtr hero’ shapes (including a neat left foot to right knee manoeuvre that would have made Wayne Kramer proud) over the minimal space of what can only be described as a ‘cramped’ stage - Nick Price, wearing a grin the size of a Cheshire Cattery beneath his Small Faces hat, slinging his bass about with the kind of glee normally reserved for small children with their 1st sparkler - Joey Valentino literally thrashing the fuck out of his minimal kit – standing from time to time for added emphasis – as if it were the arse of a masochist with a flagellation jones - Ian Wilson sprawling out his vocals (like a man in the throws of a severe bout of gastroenteritis) over the sum of these cacophonous parts. Rock and fucking roll.

Pausing barely for breath, The Spangles unleash another new tune in the guise of “Gangland” (titled “Gangbang” on the set-list) before charging through emotively raw readings of “Tell Lies”, “Science Fiction/Science Fact” & “Stay Away From Me”. A molten rip through Richard Thomson’s “Feel So Good” is sandwiched between another two new tunes, “Tear It To Pieces” & “Give Me An Answer” (The Star Spangles have the best taste in covers: “Shake Some Action”, “Werewolves Of London” & “Crime Of The Century – ample evidence, your honour).

Next up is alleged next 45, “Don’t Wanna Be Crazy” (get it together, Parlaphone), & a selective audience respond with much kicking of legs & flailing of arms (there may have only been about 50 or so in the house – but, boy, they were all having fun - all I could see were smiles) Note to band: if you can come all the way from NYC to play to 50 people in a pub in Middle England on a rainy November night & still have as much fun as it looked like you were having - then you’re definitely in the right band!

“Burn This House Down” is greeted with much help on the chorus from the floor – no one seems to be able to keep their feet still – the sound is beginning to deteriorate once again, but The Star Spangles simply revel in the spontaneity of it all – fun from chaos – fuck the cash!

“Crime Of The Century” & a truly anarchic destruction of “I Live For Speed” close the set & it’s all over inside 45 minutes. The Star Spangles have left the stage.

The group are all back at the merchandising stall within minutes to sign a steady stream of 7” 45s, set lists, flyers, bits of paper & anything else left lying around. Ian spots my Clash badge & tells me The Lurkers were much better. I suggest they cover “Shadow” – Ian prefers “Gerald” – the jury’s still out on that one.

It’s soon time to depart for the M69 home – glad handing & best wishes later – we’re out of the door, flushed with the sober enjoyment of one of the best value rock n roll bands currently on active service on the face of the earth. If you haven’t yet made it to a Star Spangles show – you’re missing something very special indeed.

“I enjoyed that very much, young man,” said Sub Kid as we ambled back to the car, “that was what I like to refer to as quality entertainment.” I have to confer – the boy’s got a point.

spangly track list

Jean Encoule – tMx 12 – 11/03
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