Posted 1 September 2015 by Andrew Gardner
Did you get tickets to see the Blockheads at a pub-brewery in Partridge Green last month? Will it be a highlight of your holiday in Sussex? It's a very small gig so if you did you're lucky - luckier than me, anyway. It really is THE Blockheads, albeit obviously minus the late lamented Ian Dury and Charlie Charles, and the lineup can vary - but the core remains the same and they have an unbelievable depth of talent to choose from. When I first saw they'd be playing locally I have to say it felt absolutely surreal. In subsequent incarnations the vocals have been provided by Phill Jupitus, Baxter Dury and Derek 'The Draw' Hussey, who has that gruff, estuary delivery that suits the songs so well and I'd guess he'll be on duty this time.
The Blockheads were always one of the tightest funk-rhythm-jazz bands around and made the perfect foil for the irascible, effervescent Ian, who was one of the best and most charismatic frontmen I've ever seen - he could hold a lively post-punk audience in the palm of his hand. I can't imagine Wilko being there, but then until now I'd never imagined this lot playing at a Sussex pub (and I've just learnt that they're down for Worthing in September and a club in Haywards Heath in October as well), so who knows?
And you know what, it's full circle. You might think big bands should play big venues, and wonder what's happening and whether it's worth it when they make a comeback and play the little gigs. But in the late 70s and early 80s when they were huge, smaller gigs were the norm. We had lots of smaller venues where tickets were affordable - no saving up for big arena gigs. If you braved the mosh-pit you could always get close to the stage, and if you stayed back you still weren't far away. Even Brighton Centre was too big, by my reckoning then, but now you'd probably think it intimate.
I've noticed that almost every recent review ends with a pun(ch) line taken from one of the songs. I'm not going to fall into that trap, let's leave it to the makers of what should turn out the definitive documentary: In the Line of Dury. Oh yes!