The Reverend Horton Heat/Scotch Greens – Concorde 2, Brighton (12 April 2006)

Scotch Greens - duller than the name suggestsI know very little of Scotch Greens. In fact as we roll into Brighton, I can’t even remember what they’re called, and TBH we don’t really care. We are here for one thing, and one thing only. Something that’s not been available in our hometown for well over a decade, and we missed it back then. But, first we have to wait. This is Scotch Greens.

Our ears pick up as the band start and the plaintive plucking of an electric banjo comes trough the doors towards the venue bar. Interesting… And, indeed, on first appearances, they are interesting. We get a vaguely countrified take on The Pogues with a yank hardcore punk edge.

By the time we’re into the third song it’s getting pretty samey and not quite so interesting. In fact, we’ve even moved along from the re-evaluation of their sound to the more folky moments of Green Day to them sounding more like “local heroes” and all-round tosh merchants The Levellers.

By the end, we’ve given up and are debating whether the bass player or the drummer is the only one you’d salvage from a rock ‘n’ roll aircrash. (FWIW, the drummers brilliant and looks like he’ll die if he stops beating the skins, the bass player bounces like a loon. Drummer wins.) There’s even a deeply ill-advised (although I’ll be charitable and assume un-advised) attempt to lead the audience in a fist-in-the-air chant of “Oi! Oi! Oi!”. Blank looks all round.

So, now I know a little more, and on tonight’s showing that’s more than enough.

Rockin' and rollin' with the two JimsLet’s make no mistake here, without having seen him live The Reverend Horton Heat is a rock ‘n roll hero. He should be in everyone’s list of top ten artists, whether they like it or not. His second and third albums (The Full Custom Gospel Sounds Of… and Liquor In The Front, Poker In The Rear) are two of the greatest of the 90’s. The kind of thing we should be breaking into people’s houses and inserting into their record collections. I’ve wanted to see this man live for so long that it could be said that I would more than likely just lose all critical faculties. But then, I could have had very far to fall.

No such fear. I’m not usually one to waffle on about the virtuosity of a particular musician (or even the whole band)* But this man is guitar god. From the HUGE surf opener Big Sky through to the mosh-tastic Psychobilly Freakout (hey! no messing about there) just what he is doing with his fingers beggars belief. Even better, it sounds fan-bloody-tastic.

We get what could only be described as a greatest hits set. (Well, up to the last album but one. The last one being last year’s Christmas album) About halfway through, he stops to tell us that someone on his website was sniping about him not changing the setlist in over ten years. So, to throw a gauntlet down to the sad loser sitting in his mother’s basement (like all internet users) he opens to the audience for requests from his ten album back catalogue. Nothing suggested gives them any problems. In fact, a request for Gene Vincent‘s Race With the Devil – which they’ve never recorded or released – is simply shrugged off by bursting straight into it without losing a beat. Bloody marvelous it was too.

Been a long time since I’ve seen a proper old-fashioned wrecking pit. Not sure whether to be more afeared of the fists or the unspeakable quiffs. Ah, old psychobillies never die, they just move to gay seaside resorts. Everyone is jumpin’ sweatin’ rockin’ and rollin’. Which is as it should be. This is real dance music, in the purest possible sense. And, we just can’t stop ourselves. Which is as it should be.

For the record: It was the fists that were most lethal. My kidneys were aching by the end of the night. Well worth it.

*Of course, except drummers – which seem to be a bit of an obsession at the moment.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

18 April 2006 at 11:03 pm

Posted in Gigs

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