Is it still acceptable to use the word “vibe” in polite conversation? I’m not sure but if it is, I’ve rarely been to a venue with a better vibe than the Enterprise, in Camden.
Clamber up the steep stairs and you’re in what resembles a slightly oversized front room. Get there early and you can nab one of half a dozen stools with small tables right in front of the tiny stage.
There’s quite literally no room for airs and graces in this place, and headliners Peggy Sue & The Pirates mingle with the crowd, along with seemingly being best mates with everyone else on the bill. If everyone breathed in you might fit 70 or 80 people in the room, and by the time second act Stuart James grabbed his acoustic guitar it was almost full. People plonked themselves cross legged on the floor around the scattering of tables, and when the acts finished they too invariably headed for the nearest seat. Stuart James and Dockers MC ended up on my table.
The atmosphere generated by the crowd, the bands, and the venue itself was unpretentious and easy going, like a group of mates in someone’s living room. While I didn’t actually strike up a conversation with anyone (other than the person I came with), its one of the most relaxing and enjoyable evenings I’ve spent not talking to anyone in a long time.
Peggy Sue & The Pirates
The “Sounds Like” section on myspace pages can be a place where some get lost in their own giddy self importance… “oh Early Joy Division, Ella Fitzgerald with a hint of Nico“. Rosa ‘REX’ Slade and Katy ‘KLAW’ Young who together make up Peggy Sue & The Pirates simply proclaim themselves “The best thing you’ve ever heard, prepare to wet your pants“.
While they may not be entirely serious in that claim, they’re probably well aware that they are pretty bloody good. Refreshingly, on stage that confidence is laced with nervousness, a hint of amateurishness at times, and lashings of beguiling wit. Reacting to cries for more towards the end Katy says they’d “love to play for you all night“, only for Rosa to quip back that since all their songs are two minutes long they’d need about 80 albums worth of material.
Their mixture of soul, folk and doo-wop is maddeningly catchy, with at least three or four tracks standing out as killer singles. Oddly “Telivision” is pencilled in as their debut despite it being the weakest song on the night.
Far better is “Superman“, the first song to deal with the considerable heartache of being a superhero. The hook line of “Ohhh Peggy Sue, I don’t know what to do” has burrowed its way so far into my consciousness I may never stop mumbling it. Beginning by justifiably asking Superman what there is to be sad about, when he’s so good at flying. There follows a litany of woes, from wearing the same outfit since the 30’s, Lois Lane not knowing his real name, not to mention:
“I keep getting played by all these different actors, some of them are great, but some of them are wankers.”
It could easily be trite or throwaway but instead it’s both funny and sad. “Shot of Tuaco” is equally wonderful; or as Dan Le Sac summed up more eloquently it “takes that awkward first night and turns it into the ideal first encounter. Pow!“.
Learning a lesson from Regina Spektor that it’s ok to make weird noises on record “Spare Parts” features all sorts of static noises, but most importantly another hooky chorus offering to lend various body parts, e.g. lips for your kisses. “New Song” is perhaps best of all, and will have you shooby dooing around the office for weeks.
In a day glow dinosaur t-shirt, and a blinging gold C3PO necklace, Rosa in particular is blessed with a beautiful voice, along with that wonderful soul/jazz influence in common with their good pal Adele. Katy compliments her perfectly, and together their harmonies deliver a knock out blow.
Peggy Sue & The Pirates
Peggy Sue & The Pirates – “Superman” (MP3)
I’ve previously raved about Stuart being “like Mike Skinner if he’d grown up on Billy Bragg & John Cooper-Clarke rather than UK Garage“, and I’d dragged a friend along on the strength of him being on the bill.
On record his complex dark observations on life are delivered in rapid fire machine gun style, leaving you in awe of what he can cram into 2 and a half minutes. On stage however, while you still wonder at how every single second is filled with a word, and question how he memorises the hundreds of lines, I also found myself unable to make out much of what he said. It’s frustrating when you know the lyrics are so damn good.
The rigid structure of all of his songs i.e. start at breakneck speed, super fast lyrics, 2minutes up, now stop dead without so much as an extra strum, left me longing for a surprise 3 minute guitar solo (perhaps played behind his back or with his teeth).
There was however much to admire, “City on a roll” had those sat on the floor singing along with its “You can clean my body, you can’t clean my soul” chorus, and everyone else spellbound by the sheer richness of its verse. “The Food Between Her Teeth” is a wondrously caustic attack on a worthless man culminating in the stinging rebuke that he’s not worth “The food between” his long suffering woman’s teeth.
Stuart has two Myspace pages packed with FREE songs – head for Stuart James for acoustic goodness, and to The Camberwell Hit Factory for the same incredible lyrics set to brutally basic but bloody brilliant beats.
I can’t recommend the Camberwell remixes enough… and they’re FREE!
Myspace (FREE DOWNLOADS)
Camberwell Hit Factory remixes Myspace (FREE DOWNLOADS – RECOMENDED!)
Stuart James – “Waifs & Strays (Camberwell Hit Factory mix)” (MP3)
Stuart James – “City On A Roll” (MP3)
With her dad watching on from the side Laura Dockrill, aka poet Dockers MC gave him good reason to look so proud, as the crowd chuckled along with her every line. The only act on the bill without an acoustic guitar or indeed any backup, and the strumming wasn’t missed.
Despite her ripped tights (intentional or an accident climbing the stairs?) she was both sassy and funny, combining rhymes about a local Usher look-alike, “gotta a big dick… doesn’t know what to do with it” with tales of promotion at Argos.
As a child of the 70’s I can’t help but conjure up lazy comparisons with Pam Ayers, although swap the sweaters for Reebok Classics. A slice of Pam’s 70’s popularity would be welcome, but I’m sure Laura wouldn’t thank me for the link, and I doubt she’ll ever write anything entitled “Do You Think Bruce Springsteen Would Fancy Me?” On the other hand she did deliver a love poem to Rolf Harris with only the slightest of winks, so perhaps the Boss may yet get another ode.
Apparently she also did the artwork for Kate Nash’s album, although I may have made that up?
Dockers MC (Myspace – FREE DOWNLOADS)
Listen: Dockers MC – “Rude Girl” (MP3)
Looking like Elvis Costello crossed with someone off the I.T. Crowd (Channel 4 Sitcom), and wearing eye wateringly tight jeans, Josh Weller has received some glowing press of late. In common with most of the acts he joked with the crowd, and most of his songs come laced with humour.
“Pretty Girls” makes the not exactly radical observation that Pretty girls are not always as nice as those less blessed, but gets away with it courtesy of some clever lines and a chorus praying “that they’ll be ugly when they’re 40, in their marks and Spenser’s boots“.
For “Pop Star” he drags a poor Jay (of “& Silent Bob“) look-alike up onto stage to gamely accompany him on washboard. His attempts have the audience and Weller in fits of laughter, although by the end it’s getting dangerously close to being in time. In tribute the lyrics are tweaked to proclaim him a popstar “A Washboard Popstar“.
I’d not heard of him before tonight, but he was one of the highlights on a very strong bill. Getting home I nabbed as many of his MP3’s as I could find, but for some reason the live magic, for me at least, didn’t quite transfer to his demos. I may be (and usually am) wrong, but judge for yourself, and most definitely catch him live if you get the chance.
Listen: Josh Weller – “Pretty Girls” (MP3)