Some gigs for a change – Tactics and Harem Scarem

Last Friday and Saturday, I found myself leaving the house around 10pm to go an watch some old bands that were around in the 80’s. One I’d never seen, but had all the records, and the other, I’d seen a ton of times from 1985-1990. Both nights were great because they broke me out of my normal Warcraft-and-then-bed rut, and because I ran into people I hadn’t seen for ages. Firstly at the lowly-attended Tactics show, there was the lady on the door who checked my ticket, who just happened to live a few doors down from us when I was teenager. She was the same same pocket sized, solid girl that I last saw as a 20 year old, when her family won Tattslotto (that was their claim to fame). And then I saw gig-stalwart Norman. Leather jacket wearing, book-toting Norman. Eccentric and exaggerated Norman. Bizarre dancing Norman. Boy did Nick and I have some crazy nights with that guy. And he’s still has long thin dreadlocks to this day. But now he has a girlfriend. So it was nice to say hello to them both. Tactics at the Northcote Social Club Tactics were just terrific, though some of the galloping frenetic songs blurred into one near the end. I had a fair dance and bought a CD afterwards. Dave the singer gave lots of song explanations, a lefty-rant and made references to the drug years of a fellow female band member (who played awkward keyboards and was mortified). So the audience laughed a lot. There was a totally un-selfconscious 50 year old right up the front in a tight fitting beige jumper who danced continually that mesmerised me. Plenty of oldies in the crowd. Julian Wu stood their looking bored as usual. Harem Scarem at the Corner Hotel Next night was a much bigger affair because I had a bunch of friends meet me at the Corner Hotel for a band we all saw a lot back then. In fact Peter Edkins and I met at a Harem Scarem show in 1985. Whilst it was a energetic show, I felt it wasn’t so much like the harrowing blues tunes of Love Attraction and Figurehead that initially drew me to the band. Chris Marshall was as engaging and larger-than-life as ever, but the Barry Palmer trad-blues solos left me a bit cold. Plus I was fairly sober. Times had changed. Julian Wu was there also. As my friend Claire said, he needs to stop being such a scene-queen and take a night off. And then I ran into my old school-mate Mannie, who’s partner was a long-time band-goer and had even seen the Saints and the Sunnyboys (original lineups) in the late 70’s. I kept looking around and finding people’s semi-familiar faces, but most of them I never knew very well back in the 80’s anyway. Some Campers go out late one night like old times. I got a chance to go upstairs on the newish rooftop beer garden and was amazed at what they had done. It was better than being in the band room. I wanted to spend the night up there in the open air. Must go back during the day sometime.