Tonight sees the end of an era. It’s the last Café Rocks at the Café De Paris before the whole franchise moves across the West End to the subterranean shoe box that is Punk.
But we are going out in style. There are seven acts this evening, and although the quality varies, there is not a completely duff one among them.
The best band of the evening by some degrees of magnitude are Lys, who have hopped across the Channel from Brittany. They are frankly brilliant and one of the best bands that I have come across this year. Strung across the stage are an electric guitar, a miked up acoustic guitar wielded by the personable singer and a thumping bass played by a spandex-clad Isabelle Adjani-alike.
While some bands that you have never seen or heard of previously to the first encounter may pleasantly surprise you, Lys seem like a favourite band that has somehow slipped your mind. It’s epic, fuzzed up, bass-heavy pop music, presented with great affability and charisma. Bluntly, they are boulevards better than most other bands around.
Which is not to say that there is not fun to be had.
The first band of the evening are the Silhouette Showgirls, a decent soul-y rock band featuring a muscular front man with oodles of attitude and a penchant for denim and leather that will see them getting plenty of bookings where the audience value a bit of rough trade. Let’s pretend that I am talking about the record label at this point.
Very enjoyable are The Kokos, who represent a very bouncy collision at the junction of Dr Feelgood and The Wedding Present.
I am wary of writing of Cathy JJ and her band, because she seems to embody every trait of the wannabe desperate for that lucky break. She guilelessly lists the various talent competitions that she has won, and brazenly, hurtingly, treats tonight as an audition. She has a palpable dream of success. I hope that she realises it.
There are also sets tonight from Deportivo (oddly uninteresting Blur copies) and Malham Road, who close proceedings with a set of songs that would sound better remixed, pumped up and blasted out from a podium on some sunny Balearic isle.
I must salute the compere, Micky P, who is a real fan of new music and is clearly gutted to be leaving this great venue, which will now apparently be given over to cover bands.
I shall miss all of this.