100 Club, Oxford St, London 19.10.19
Took the train to London, heading for Oxford Street’s legendary 100 Club (carrying an injury and a walking pole!). Gig 62 of the year having seen 129 different bands – sometimes I think it is taking its toll.
Tonight it was Spizz….or should that be Spizz Oil, Athletico Spizz 80, Spizzenergi or the Spizzles. This lot used to change their name annually, band member turnover matching the name instability. A full range of t-shirts and badges available on the merch stand – pick which name you want.
At the heart of it all is ‘Spizz’. Last Saturday I was at the Roundhouse for The Psychedelic Furs. In the bar afterwards we noticed a guy with a leather jacket on with ‘Spizz’ on the back so I bowled over and asked if he was going to the 100 Club the following Saturday. “Hope so. I AM Spizz!” was his reply. He let me off and I grabbed a selfie after he had put his comedy teeth in and glasses on.
How was I supposed to know? I hadn’t seen him since 1981 and which bands go around with their own names on their backs?
I can’t really remember seeing Spizz but a mate I went with from school (Nick NCo) reminded me we were at The Lyceum in the Strand. It was 1981 and the five band line up was headlined by ‘The Spizzles (Athletico Spizz80..in brackets in case we didn’t make the link)’. He reminded me we had ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’ badges: they played it and we went home happy. I remember that bit now, with prompting, and let’s face it that is what we wanted to hear tonight.
Having reopened the Spizz vault recently I also wanted to hear Soldier Soldier, Amnesia, No Room and Red and Black. I’d start with these if opening the Spizz vault.
THE 100 Club
You would hardly know it’s there. Even if looking for it you can miss it. Just a doorway and a small sign sticking out above it, leading downstairs to the 355 person capacity museum of jazz, blues and rock. A historical vault, its walls laden with photos of the greats who have played here.
It started as a jazz club in the 1940s and in 1964 became the ‘100 Club’ that it is today. All sorts have played here: The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, and Siouxsie and the Banshees as the punk think was exploding but also big names doing special gigs like The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Alice Cooper. September 1976 was the infamous punk festival.
The club’s website expands on the history here:
Hard work to keep a live music club like this going here given the nature of Oxford Street and developments that surround it in this shoppers bit of ‘tourist London’.
A lot of old punk, post-punk and Oi! bands seem to rock up here: Custer’s last stand against a tide of inevitability.
My 100 Club visits
It was the last century, just, but I didn’t visit this historic venue until 23 February 1999 when I came into town from near Reading to see ‘Straw’. Really good poppy band that released several EPs and an album before disappearing.
It was 17 years before I returned, excited, to see my first Ramonas’ gig – I was limping with a dodgy foot then come to think of it – but it had all the pace and energy of the original Ramones live. I leant on a pillar – one of the three that get in the way – and just punched the air. That was 19 March 2016 with
the interestingly named and even more interestingly dressed Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons supporting – lead singer sporting a tail. Good. Leaping on the tables next to the stage like ..er…a pussycat.
In October 2017 I came to The Blow Monkeys with mate Dave (DPi) I’m here with tonight. We came to the sound check and I was amazed at how good they were. I really like their last album – The Wild River – mellow – well worth a listen. One of my favourite albums that year.
Since them The Members and Chron Gen in January 2018 and the best of all, Sleeper on 23 May this year after I won a couple of tickets for a special live radio concert for Absolute Radio.
A gig celebrating a 40 year anniversary of Spizz. Good crowd in, of an age and smiling.
Spizz himself came on complete with accessories – laser pen, light up space-age glasses, led enhanced jacket, flashing coloured gloves – I have never seen anyone else wave a laser pen on stage like a lecturer.
After a bit of manoeuvring and pillar dodging we got to see and hear Red and Black, Soldier Soldier and Amnesia, which made early appearances. 6000 Crazy was another that stuck in my head. Spizz thanked everyone who had bought the bright yellow 40th anniversary t-shirts and invited them all on stage for a glorious rendition of ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’ with several beaming extras on backing vocals.
This was a one of those gigs that far exceeded expectations. The early-bird tickets were ten quid. A marvellous celebration.
As the set came to an end we played the encore game – going back stage here involves going across the room through the punters to a door at the back so acting out the process is more practical and was delivered with more enthusiasm for it.
On a day of Brexit marches it was fitting that Spizz put the last song to a vote between second goes at Soldier Soldier and Captain Kirk. Soldier Soldier got huge support but hey, Captain Kirk was always going to be a good ‘backstop’..and that’s what we got. Once again I went home happy, 38 years after the last time…and with another badge.