This is the Dirty Canvas Xmas special with the legendary The Dirty Strangers, who as usual have a different line-up to last time, so that John Proctor and Scottie Mulvey are missing and this time they are playing with a three guitars line up of Alan Clayton with Dave Bucket Colwell and Guy Griffin alongside Cliff Wright On bass and Lol Fox on drums.
But before we get to them, I managed to arrive just in time for the start of the set by The Resistants feat Djamel Abina from The Blue Carpet band on vocals. Now The Resistants are a bit of a mystery as I can find no online details for them other than a couple of youtube videos that took some digging up, but it's fair to say they are 4 seasoned musicians joined by a truly great front man who play a set of well-chosen covers.
Any set that opens with a rambunctious take on Born To Lose the old Heartbreakers classic that has Djamel giving it his all and striking some great poses while really nailing it, they rocked the hell out of it. They then went into 999's Homicide and it had more bite to it than 999 did at Rebellion earlier this year, still most of the audience were singing along.
Then Djamel did his best to sound like he meant every word of Ain't it Fun but no one can sing those words with as much feeling as Peter Laughner did on Friction's original version of the song that finally came out on his box set this year and was recorded less than a year before he did in fact die far too young. But this version had loads of bite and sounded great.
Djamel then heard a Harmony In My Head and they tried to play as speedily as The Buzzcocks and got pretty close to it.
They then got The Resistants normal singer up to special guest with his own band on Bo Diddley's Pills although played more like the New York Dolls with some screaming harmonica and backing vocals from Djamel it was riotous good fun.
They then demolished the Sex Pistols Did You No Wrong played good and thrashy. Then it was back to the Heartbreakers for One Track Mind that may well have been the biggest sing along of the set.
The Professionals Little Boys In Blue still sounds as relevant now as when it came out sadly and this was a great spiky version of it. Keeping thing Pistols related they then rampaged through No one Is Innocent and Djamel dedicated it to the often very not innocent Tommy Kennedy. It was a great close to a very cool set of covers.
They weren't meant to get an encore but due to demand Djamel sang a very cool solo version of Hoagy Carmichaels Up A Lazy River that went down well and was a cool way to end their set.
Next on was Tommy Kennedy to give us a short reading from his book "Just Tommy Nightmare In Jamaica" that came out a few months ago on www.newhavenpublishingltd.com his short set comprised of a joke and then he read from the opening chapter of the book that tells of his release from the General penitentiary in Jamaica. As I've just read the book I am going to extrapolate a bit and say you should go and buy this book for a great and scary read of one mans downs and downs and the odd high's in a life steeped in strife from childhood abuse through to time in Borstals and prisons around the globe Tommy has lived a life on the edge, he's been a B & E man, a bricklayer, a drug dealer, a short con scam artist and a music promoter and manager among other things and the book takes us on a hell of a ride that you think has hit rock bottom in a Thai prison only to get even worse in Rema remand centre and General Penitentiary in Jamaica. The fact he's survived it all and has come out the other end a lovable rogue is miraculous in itself, go get the book and be glad it's his life and not yours, although he has had a lot of fun along the way too.
Then it was time for Paul Clayton to introduce his dad's band The Dirty Strangers to the stage once more they opened with Special Girl that was driven along by the are they aren't they dueling guitars of Bucket and Guy Griffin.
Alan dedicated Who Blew the Whistle On Me to Tommy Kennedy who is still looking for who got him arrested in Jamaica even if he doesn't deny doing the crime. This was punchy and Alan put on his best innocent face.
There was only one answer possible to the question Are You Satisfied and I think almost everyone there would have said yes as Bucket unleashed a mighty solo as they sounded as tight as can be. Easy to please was exactly what the crowd had become as you only had to keep playing top notch rock and roll and we were all happy.
Liberty Smile had Guy Griffin and bucket trading licks and really kicking things along. Then Alan was looking around to see if he could find any Troublemakers in The Troubadour well maybe one or two if he looked hard enough.
As ever they played a really fun version of Baby that slowed things down a bit but not much and then we had a full on version of Diamonds complete with a couple of additional backing vocalists one of which was Paul Clayton sorry I didn't the other bloke, either way it made a slightly sad song a lot more fun.
Alan then asked if anyone was here from South London as if by way of introducing South of the River that had another one of Buckets brilliant solos. For Bad Girls some Bad Girls were persuaded to dance down the front the fact one of them may well have been Alan's wife was exactly as it should be and it was a riot.
Hands Up who thought this was a great set, well almost everyone in the place, but no really Hands Up sounded great and Cliff Wrights bass was a bit on the thunderous side. Bathing Belles was as cheeky as it always is.
As ever we had to wonder if The Troubadour is inside or outside of Shepherds Bush City Limits, I say outside by about 1000 yards or so but when The Dirty Strangers are here it's inside and this motored along.
Then it was time for Bucket to really come to the fore on Natural Born Boogie that he usually plays in one of his other bands Humble Pie damn that solo was stunning, and they all looked like they were having so much fun.
Somewhere out on The Old Brompton Road someone was revving up a Gold Cortina to go on a great cruising joyride through the band intro's and Alan telling us that it's Lol Fox's last gig as drummer for a while, wonder whose in the hot seat next as they roared through the chorus a good few times.
They made sure we knew that this gig Was Nothing But A House Party and we should all get up and dance and lots of us did and it was a great way to close the show.
Not surprisingly they got an encore and another special guest got up and sang What you're Gonna do About it with raucous backing vocals and lots of fun and games onstage between the three guitarists to make sure everyone was smiling at the end of a great fun set.