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'London, Leytonstone, Ex-Servicemen's Club, 15 July'   

-  Genre: 'Alt/Country'

Our Rating:
This show was billed as Chris Cacavas and Ed Abbiati but sadly Ed wasn't able to make it due to ill health. In time-honoured fashion, however, the show must go on and hopefully Ed will be fully recovered and able to come over and play with Chris next time they tour. All the bands on the night wished him well and thanked him for all his effort in putting together this short tour.

First up was Hakan Soold who is better known as Hawk from Stockholm's Plastic Pals. Tonight he is playing solo on an electric guitar and opens the set with a new song, Psychic Reade,r that is quite careworn and slightly relationship-wrecked. Timing Is Everything is next and is not too bad at all, though like much of this set it could do with a band playing it

Cards is a cool song about the hand fate deals you at the end of a relationship and when you know it's time to move on. It's also the first song of the set Hawk plays from the Plastic pals album Turn The Tide which Chris Cacavas produced.

Hawk then pays tribute to his favourite part of London and the venues he likes to go to in Clerkenwell. It's mainly a tribute to the Betsey Trotwood and The Apple Tree pubs and the music they put on - a good version of a very cool song.

He then takes us across the pond for Providence that is a sort of love letter to Rhode Island and other parts of the US.Then it's time for Riding With Elvis, one of the songs that most misses not having a band behind it, it sounds good enough solo but needs more guitars and a bass for sure.

Hawk closes his set with Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea and is joined onstage during the song by Chris Cacavas on Keyboards and backing vocals to play the parts he played on the Plastic Pals original. The addition of the keys lifted it quite a bit and it was a very cool end to a highly decent opening set.

After a very short break it was time for The Lucky Strikes who I haven't seen in a while. They opened with one of my favourites of theirs, the fabulous The Butcher and Mrs Shaw: a wonderful and dark tale of rum goings on down in the Delta wherein Dave Giles' accordion really worked brilliantly.

To Be An Actor kept the pace going so that although much of the material is downbeat this never at any point felt down as the band were having far too much fun for that. Paul Ambrose was starting to move round on the stage while playing his bass like he's channelling Norman Watt-Roy.

Then on Gone Gone, Matthew Boulter is singing the sorry tale of Josephine Butler as Dave Giles' keyboards build to bring some tension to this sad tale. After some in-between song joking once they'd stopped laughing they played a cool version of Stand Back that had some nicely tricky guitar work from Matt.

They were soon beating those War Drums and making sure to follow Will Bray's lead on the drums as they get across the songs message about the awful destruction that comes if you listen to said war drums. Keeping things dark they then played Fangs that made me smile at the lyric.

They dedicated Homesick to Ed Abbiati and we all hope he's feeling like he has a fine heart soon as possible. We then set sail for New Avalon which is The Lucky Strikes song Ed covered with Lowlands on the Low and Lucky EP a few years ago. It always makes me think of some new devilish water ride in Peter Pan's playground in Southend where the band are from. I know it has nothing to do with that but still.

Matt then introduced Easily Until It's Done as being about Barking Railway Station: a place to me that always seemed marooned on the edge of the one way system even before they built the bypass. On this song it really feels like the setting for a disturbing thriller that would see something drastic happening on the forecourt.

They closed the set with the brilliant Michael who as ever they haven't seen for a while. What has happened to him and how will he survive a great tale of a life lived on the edges of society.

They did more than enough to get an encore and gave us a rather jaunty cover of Dylan's It's All Over Now Baby Blue that provided a cool and upbeat end to a great fun set.

Soon enough it was time for Chris Cacavas and The Dirty Devils who for this tour are Joe Barreca, Maurizio "Gnola" Glielmo and Andrea "Bisteur" Paradiso. Yes Chris is the second ex-member of Green On Red to tour this year with an Italian band.

They open with Against The Wall which was also the opening song on the excellent Me & The Devil album with Ed Abbiati that this tour is promoting three years after it came out. But that doesn't matter as the band sound great and while they may want to burn you down they are more likely to just get us grooving.

Me & The Devil is decently angry and really jumps in places as the drummer (who I can't see from my seat) really powers the band along. Oh Baby, Please is next and it's such a cool break up song that just works really well live even if Chris needs to employ his own Human music stand- in this case Sophia from Stockholm - as the English women don't have the skills for this job. Yes it's one of the songs Ed should sing live but Chris has it more than covered.

Dusty Roads is nicely careworn and has that slightly bruised feel of the best of his solo material. California Into The Ocean sounds as good as it has ever sounded - a really great version of this classic song.

I really should have noted down when Chris played a few solo songs but I think Once the King was the first one to get the stripped back, heartfelt treatment. Disappear certainly got one too and it's one of those songs I almost can't imagine with a band as it needs to be sparse.

The Other Side is a great argument song and while the band tries to play it like they are arguing they are far too tight for it to feel like that. The Big Joke is played with a bit of a smirk and a wink before the set closes with a cool dark rumble through Long Dark Sky that feels all close and tense like a storm is brewing.

Of course they get an encore that opens with a good singalong to a cover of Paul Westerberg's Looking Out Forever which certainly put a smile on a good few faces. Then Chris did a very cool solo version of Who's Your Whore. These days, it feels like the question song that Dan Stuart answered on The Whores From Upstairs but that might be stretching the knicker elastic somewhat.

Chris kept things nicely downbeat on The Stage as he explained just what the lay of the land was like. He then finished the evening off with a nice sing-along to Loving Tree as most of the audience ended up singing "I Need Love" on repeat while Chris sang the verses. It was a very cool denouement to a great show with a really well put together bill. Then it was back to the evening's cool DJ Gurbir for a few more tunes.
  author: simonovitch

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