Monday 28 March 2011

Oh! Gunquit and The World Service at The Wheelbarrow - 26 March 2011

Oh! Gunquit (pic by David Michael Defries)

It’s a night of surprises. Not all of them pleasant.

I’m trying to find a pub called The Wheelbarrow that is billed as being right by Mornington Crescent tube station. It isn’t.

It’s the pub formerly known as Tommy Flynn’s which is midway up Camden High Street. The venue has had a redesign, which is presumably what inspired the name change.

The new layout is an absolute fucking disaster.

The area where the bands perform is now perfectly blocking both access to the toilets and a large chill out /foosball area. It is not so much a stage as a space in the middle of a busy corridor.

In the early part of the evening this just about works. Until a band comes on.

The first band on are The World Service, who are resolutely mainstream, but solidly good and very watchable.

The singer has a strong voice and a decent stage presence. They won’t rock your world, but they deliver a good time. I’d give you more information, but they appear to be unGoogleable.

I’m ostensibly here to see Oh! Gunquit, whom I had previously caught at Offset last year.

And tonight the band are terrific, a dynamic blending of fifties/sixties rock(abilly) done with a modern twist. There’s no slavish devotion to ‘authenticity’ just a saxophone driven goodtime canter.

They are great. ‘Cindy’s Got a Tiger’ is great. ‘Flip The Top’ is great. The hula hooping is probably great, if I could see it.

What is not great is being squeezed into a gap less than ten feet wide, being buffeted back and forth by people either going to or coming back from the loo or just pushing past to play foosball or looking for their mates or going to the toilet again or seeing what the band looks like or coming back for a drink or having a dance or avoiding the scary pissed looking guy or seeing what’s happening or having a good chat or getting wedged or taking photos or going to the toilet yet a bloody gain or for Chrissakes make it stop!!!!

For part of the time I’m crushed against a bench. I can’t move. I’m trampled nonetheless and as I write this I have a lovely black bruise up my entire left leg.

The bands tonight are good to excellent. I urge you to see them. I also suggest that unless an act plays there that you really can’t see anywhere else, that you avoid The Wheelbarrow like the plague. It’s a total joke of a venue. You can do better.

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