Live @ The Venue, Derby
Live at The Venue Derby
I am a lucky boy just lately. Having the joy of photographing other brilliant bands from the 80's here I am at the Venue in Derby. Whilst not possessing the sharpest of staff it's a nice little place this. Longish bar and a big room although quite dimly lit I feel quite at home here.
As the support draws to an end the room is starting to fill up with skinheads and trilby donned fans. I could have sworn as I gazed through the dark that id just clapped eyes on Ranking Roger. The support incidentally hail from Sheffield and go under the name of Smiling Ivy who, as I was reminded by the good lady Mrs G, we'd seen up at Southsea a few months ago. They had a good set with a mix up of ska and rock and reggae.
After what seemed like a decade Pauline Black, Gaps and the rest of the Selecter made their way from the back of the room onto the small but adequate stage.
I remember them as a cracking ska outfit with something to say and a lead singer full of dancing and political points of view. As a kid I always thought she was a bit scary somehow. As well as being into the futurist stuff and getting stuck in the mod revival back then I had a deep liking for early reggae and the Two-Tone stuff like The Beat and the Specials and the group stood before me now The Selecter. I wasn't Political back then and I'm not now as it goes. I'd as much interest in politics as I had in Maths. but I loved the music.
The good thing is that the latter really hasn't changed. Like some of the bands I've seen lately we've all got a little older but believe me the sound of the Selecter hasn't changed. The energy hasn't either. Pauline comes to life as soon as she looks out into the murk and says with a smile "So, this is Derby? Well, we are The Selecter!" and the whole band burst into the eponymous track.
They raced into "Out on the streets again", "Time hard" "They make me mad" and "Danger". Aptly, It was about here when someone in the crowd decided he was going to heckle the now in form Miss Black. Best of luck i thought as he shouted something about The Bodysnatchers. Now Pauline had heard some of this and pointed into the crowd and simply said "what's wrong with him?, what's his problem?" Oooh crickey I thought and smiled with a little chuckle as she put him right back in his place and he slinked back into the gloom.
Pauline reminded us that while other bands back in the 80's came and went The Selecter came and stayed and are still going because they had something to say and broke into a blistering version of "My England". All the while this is going on the long tall thin figure of 'Gaps' Hendrickson continually jumps and skanks around the stage as if he was still a teen. By now his suit is wringing. There's not a dry stitch on his grey/silver shining suit. The whole band are really on form now and crowd are reflecting the energy right back. The entire front of the room is now moving up and down and jumping with arms flailing around and trilbies flying and bumping into each other as at a punk do. There was beer everywhere.
They flew through the set finishing with outstanding renditions of "Three minute hero", "Missing words" and "On my radio" which of course sends the throng into oblivion.
The photos don't do it justice really. This was a heaving, sweaty, ferocious place to be if you had come to just watch. If you were stood near the front you had no choice. You were doomed. Slowly the infectious music gets a hold and your feet start to tap and then head starts to nod and move back and forth like a demented pigeon on steroids. Then as the rest of them gleefully bump and bang into you, you find that actually you don't give a flying ****. And that's it. You've succumbed to The Selecter. Gaps doesn't help either. Staring at you if you dare to take a breather and Pauline glances every now and then with some kind of unique pride at what they'd accomplished. Bloody marvellous.
They were quickly back on to the stage for the encore. I would have been too having seen the small waiting area at the side of the stage that really you'd only enter if you were staying for a couple of seconds. Not good. They continued where they left off with "Carry go bring come" and then a frantic "Too much pressure" and ending with "My Collie" which you'd have thought would have been about a dog? (chuckles quietly to himself) And a good time was had by all.
The band went straight to the other side of the stage to autograph etc and as they passed me I managed to pat Gaps on the back and congratulate him on a darn good set. He looked at me and a big grin manifested itself across his face and he replied "Hey, thanks man" and left me wringing my hands out.
We made our way back out into the cold Derby night and drove our way back home heads nodding to the sound of the Two Tone CD id found in the back of the car. It was then that I discovered to my disappointment that Its hard to skank and drive at the same time...........
Rating out of 10