LIVE: Flesh For Lulu, Greenwich Brooklyn Bowl 11/03/15
Tonight’s gig is a bit of an emergency last minute affair. It was supposed to take place in May and be Flesh For Lulu’s big return to the live scene following frontman Nick Marsh’s well publicised battle with cancer. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago the news came out that nobody wanted to hear – Nick’s cancer had returned and he would have to return to hospital to undergo further treatment. Trooper that he is though, rather than cancelling the gig, Nick and FFL brought it forward as their hopefully temporary farewell to the live scene.
More of which later. First up, due to being stuck on a late shift at work, I only manage to arrive at the Brooklyn Bowl (located in the bowels of the O2 Arena by the Thames) in time to catch the last couple of songs by openers Rasp Thorne & The Briars, but what I hear I enjoy. Their marriage of a sequin-covered glam image fused to lurching seasick blues rock is reminiscent of The Cramps or The Gun Club, and there’s plenty of worse places to set your musical stall out than in that neck of the woods. Definitely a band I’d happily go and see again.
It’s been a good couple of years since I last saw Pussycat & The Dirty Johnsons live, probably just before the release of their second (and most recent) album. At the time, they’d just slimmed down to a trio after losing their bass player and if I’m honest it seemed as though their live show had suffered a bit for it with a lot of awkward gaps in the sound. Tonight though, it’s like running into an old friend you hadn’t seen for ages as they remind us what a good and entertaining band they can be, pummelling through revved up psychobilly workouts like Get Outta My Face and Trouble With The Devil with the confidence of a band who know they’re good at what they do. Frontwoman Puss remains a livewire presence behind the mic, hurtling off the stage to scare the onlookers at every available opportunity, while guitarist Jake and stand in drummer Olvis keep up an impressively tight wall of sound behind her to make sure you don’t notice those missing basslines. Good stuff – any chance of that third album some time soon guys?
If there’s a cloud hanging over headliners Flesh For Lulu tonight then they certainly aren’t letting it show as they kick things into gear with the low-slung Stones swagger of Restless. It says a lot about the confidence of this band that they can throw out their biggest hit Postcards From Paradise just three songs into the set and not lose any momentum. Elsewhere, every song takes you down a different musical alley, from the Stooges style chaos of Vaguely Human through sinister goth anthems Subterraneans and Roman Candle, to the frenetic pop-punk of Laundromat Kat. FFL’s other hit I Go Crazy also gets a rare run-out, reworked from its disco-rock origins to a more laid-back almost country-rock feel which works surprisingly well.
Nick seems genuinely touched by the size of the audience and the reaction (“Wow, I didn’t expect it to be this good!” he grins midway through the set) while behind him the 21st century FFL line-up (featuring ex-Rachel Stamp guitarist Will Crewdson, who absolutely tears it up tonight) give these songs the sort of tight energetic drive that they deserve.
Signing off with the dark slow-building Rent Boy. The encore saw Marsh’s UVM bandmate Paul-Ronney Angel and others join him on stage.
Tonight was a great reminder of everything that made Flesh For Lulu one of the ’80s most under-rated bands, and a reminder of why they still sound vital today. If there were just a few more groups with this sort of ability to weld a killer hook and tune to the willingness to experiment that this band has, then the music scene would be a much better place for it.
Get well soon Nick. We’re rooting for you. If you would like to donate to the Marsh Family Cancer fund, please click here.