Garage – COD Definition: A building or shed for the storage of a motor vehicle or vehicles. Garage – Clive’s unofficial musical definition: what happened in the early 1960s when young musicians got tired of being packaged up as various parent-friendly Bobbys by big record labels and went back to making lots of noise in the nearest available space, usually where Dad would normally store his motor vehicle or vehicles. It’s the kind of sound that has driven rock’n’roll music from the very beginning, it’s very hard to capture on record without either taming it beyond recognition or blowing every meter on the mixing deck, and it sounds best when it’s played very loudly in confined and rather tatty space. All of which means that two excellent garage bands playing on the same night at the 100 Club, one of London’s longest-established raw music venues, made for a magnet that drew a big crowd of discerning, if slightly hard of hearing, music fans.
Support band for the night were the Baron Four – a young but hugely enthusiastic, talented and original-looking outfit. Though I’m sure they would cite a raft of less mainstream influences, I couldn’t help thinking that this was how the Beatles would have turned out if Brian Epstein hadn’t found them and modelled them into the Fab Four – and that they might have had a lot more fun if he hadn’t. They keep their band identity simple, with a line-up comprising Baron Mike on bass and vocals, Baron Kev on lead guitar and harmonica, Baron Joe on rhythm guitar and Baron Mole on drums. I couldn’t begin to record the set list – garage doesn’t lend itself to discernible song titles – but they were excellent from start to finish. And that was just the support band.
Headlining were a band not seen on stage since 2002. The Kaisers were formed in Edinburgh in 1992, originally playing rock’n’roll standards, but quickly broadened their repertoire and were signed to the No Hit Record Company (more of which in another article soon). Despite attempts to label them a British Beat sound tribute band, they established a strong reputation for original sounds in an authentically garage style and, despite an early change in line-up, went on to tour successfully in the States. By the late 90s, repeated changes in membership were taking their toll, and they ceased performing in 2002. Until now – and their much awaited gig at the 100 Club. I’ve got to confess, I’m not 100% sure who was in the line-up (it was too loud and I was enjoying myself too much to enquire) but, judging from their Facebook Page and the band’s history, it’s should have been been George Miller on lead guitar; Johnny Maben on drums (both original members), Mark Ferrie on bass and Dean Micetich on rhythm guitar. If the Baron Four were channelling 1964, then the Kaisers are definitely in 1961, rediscovering rock’n’roll after its emasculation by big business. The crowd loved them, and the set flew past. Fortunately, some dedicated YouTubers have made it possible to pick out some of the numbers covered: Lonesome Tears in My Eyes; Little Twister; Hip Shake Shimmy Kitten; Uh Huh, Oh Yeah; What’d I Say; Leave My Kitten Alone; Sugar Babe; and Good Good Lovin’. We could have demanded encores until the small hours, but after a high energy set delivered without let-up, they must have been ready to collapse.
The night was made complete by the string of old faces we ran into, but I won’t turn this article into a series of name-checks. Suffice to say it’s a long time since so many of our pals were gathered in one place, especially for a gig that wasn’t exclusively aimed at the rock’n’roll scene. To add icing to the cake, the photo featuring my brother-in-law is still on the wall, and the T-Shirt hung on didn’t manage to cover him up, so even that worked!