I ummed and ahhhed about reviewing this one as I know a couple of the guys in the band, even played in a band with one of them, it could be a bit awks if it’s a bit of a shit show, but it wasn’t, in fact I really enjoyed it.
This sell out show doubled up as Steve’s retirement do and to my surprise, if you had a pink wristband there was a free bar, happy days. I caught the back end of the support band when I arrived and was a bit concerned that the front man only had one leg, fortunately it turned out this wasn’t the case, of their music, it sounded alright to me.
Before the main act came on Steve had a few tributes paid to him by his fellow fire fighters and union members. It was clear to see they had a lot of respect for him but if you know Steve, this would not come as a surprise. Then came the main attraction. The last time I saw Steve and the Protest Family was their final show before lockdown in March last year at The Birds Nest in Deptford, this was also the first time I saw them and was taken by how bloody good they sounded as a band, even with a bit of a shitty PA. Tonight they sounded even better.
The set was a mix of older material, new material and a golden oldie that goes back so far I even played on one the the many versions there are out there. The opener appears to be the standard opener as they started with it last time out, the a capella Hardworking. When I first heard this I thought it was a brave one to begin with, but in context with the rest of the set it works well and goes straight into Side Of The Fox, a ditty about the pointlessness of foxhunting (well that’s what I took from it without going into too much analysis). Keeping with the fox theme, the first newbie of the night Not That Fox, yes Lawrence Fox, an easy target for Steve to work on, and quite frankly a deserving target.
A couple of tunes about our glorious leader BoJo were next followed by one of the highlights of the gig, and one played last time, Air Miles Andy. Since the last time I heard this, the Duke Of York has had a bit of a rough time of it, and not even because of his overall pointlessness as a member of the Royal Family, no, as it is quire clear that he is a loathsome person who should do some jail time at his mother’s pleasure but clearly never ever will, he is a Prince after all. However I digress, if I was not mistaken the lyrics to this one had been updated.
The first real old classic, and anybody who has been on a Sunshine Coach should know this song very well, was Brisbane Road. Back in the 6 Of 8 days occasionally we would play this as an encore with Steve, but it never sounded as good as this, and with a fair few O’s fans in attendance it was no surprise that this went down well. OK, so Tamika Mkandewire dates this song a bit, but who cares, this was definitely sing along of the night, and The Orienteer is still only a quid.
Song of the night for me was up next, Supersonic. I love the backing, it works for me, don’t know if this has been recorded, but for me this sounds like it would always work better live. Before you knew it the final song came, the closer last time out as well, God Save The Queen’s Speech. Can’t argue with that as she has a bloody enormous council house and it does need mentioning. No encore was played, but no matter, perhaps next time.
I really enjoyed the show, but what took it to another level from last time was the band sounded very tight and solid. Also, a mention in dispatches for Funky Lol’s fabulous guitar sound. I loved that scratchy high sound he had and thought it worked great with the sound of the band.
So, if you like a bit of satirical song writing performed very well indeed, you could do no worse than catching SW&TPF at a venue near you, if you happen to live North and East of the river, otherwise you may have a bit of a wait. Up the O’s
Setlist: Hardwork Side Of The Fox Not That Fox Have I Got News For You A Statue Of Boris Johnson Air Miles Andy No Pasaran In E17 Have A Word Should I Be Wearing A Mask? Brisbane Road Supersonic Han Solo The Gable God Save The Queen’s Speech
Promoting her show bought her a stalker A breakfast programme professional talker Who’d say “Not all men” while just the sort Who’d hack kids’ phones and not get caught Thought he should have a princess, by right On account of being rich, male and white But she married her prince and left him a frog And his mid-life crush, a one-sided dialogue As she quite rightly saw fit to ignore His emails, text messages and more
But Hell hath no fury like the male gaze scorned And he’d met Epstein, she should’ve been warned That the gutter press is his dominion And trial in the court of public opinion His stock in trade, where he took up arms To do her reputation just as much harm As he could, thinking only of himself While claiming she was lying about her mental health A step too far for ITV As he parted company with GMB
But just wait for the “I’ve been cancelled” cry As he gives his career another try On a new opinion-led news station Serving blinkered news to a blinkered nation Where opinion is often fuelled by hate And despite the facts given equal weight Where like minds will give the airtime To his “She ghosted me” incel whine So, prepare to boycott that news organ And let’s have a curfew for Piers Morgan
After the success of Santa is English, we’ve decided for as long as we’re locked down we’ll produce and put out a new video every few weeks, recorded and shot in isolation but brought together by our nascent mixing and video editing skills and the power of the internet.
The first one lands this week, using up previously unreleased footage from the last time that we were allowed to meet up outdoors, after that, we really are flying solo (together).
My late father would say keeping body and soul together. I never really gave the phrase much thought at the time but it’s a fair summary of the challenge that’s faced us all this year: the struggle for sustenance for our bodies: food, housing, medicine, employment; with none of that nutrition for the soul: live music, football, pub, socialising. At the end of the day a Zoom1 call is only so rewarding, particularly if that’s what your day-to-day work has become, and it can be a poor, though necessary, replacement for real human interaction.
Being in a band is all about that interaction, sharing the creative process, the synergy of playing in time and in tune with one another (like flapping your arms and finding out that you can actually fly) and the shared experience of band and audience that makes a great gig, well, great.
We’ve spoken elsewhere about what we’ve done to compensate for not being able to gig: the make-it-look-live videos, the live streams where we could and, of course, my sprawling COVID-19 drama set out in nearly 150 songs and poems, and while there’s no substitute for the real thing, online shows are here to stay and we can reach people that way who would otherwise never get to see us live.
But it’s New Year’s Eve, so let’s look forward. It’s big pharma2 (of all people) to the rescue and with a fair wind and a following sea the return of real football, real pubs, real music, and real people is coming, but with lessons learned, continuing to reach out to those who can’t get out, and not leaving newly created mutual aid structures3 behind.
Onwards into 2021, friends. Look after yourselves, look after each other and, in the wise words of his holiness, John Cooper Clarke:
Gimme the vaccine, Maxine.
Happy New Year!
Other online meeting software is available.
More on that another time.
The extraordinary efforts of We Shall Overcome with Pauline, Joe, Matt and Pete at the helm have continued throughout the pandemic. We’re not going anywhere until we’re no longer needed.