The Pirates live at The 100 Club, London

Friday 7th January 2005

Report by The Big Bloke ( photos to follow )

Oh what a show - that silenced the armchair critics who gave the lads such a beasting after the Half Moon gig. This was one of the all time greats

Deciding to stay sober for the evening I drove down and with Dave, Roger Morse and friend we arrived at 7:00pm being able to park just 100yds from the door. I'd arranged with Bernard to get in early during sound checks and sure enough there was Mick in his jacket and scarf and John with his new teeth on stage warming up - but no Frank.  I went over, said hello to Mick and John and introduced myself to the stand in drummer Simon Holdgate. It transpired that Frank was nursing a painful hand and Simon had been brought in at the last minute to avoid cancelling the gig. He'd barely had an hour's rehearsal and had only played with them twice before . . once on TOTP2 - he looked a little nervous and so would I.  We stayed for a while and then left them to it while we went for a bite to eat.

Before leaving I'd cheekily put a reserved notice on a table at the front. It worked - when we returned other tables were inhabited but not ours so we got a few pints and settled down. The crowd was a bit thin and I was seriously concerned. It was now 8:00pm and the support band - The Tailshakers - were due on in 30 mins.  Surprise number 2.  The Tailshakers hadn't turned up!!  Mick, John & Simon now had to change their proposed start time of 10:30 and do two sessions instead of one but we'd have to wait until 9:45 for the first one. Oh well - a few more pints for those not driving and coke ( coca-cola, - not the white stuff ) for yours truly. All of a sudden the place seemed to fill up and it was standing room only. Despite the wait everyone was in good spirits and the sounds man kept spinning tracks from the past. Mrs Green arrived and with nowhere to sit I offered my seat at the front - after all I wasn't going to need it as I was going to video the whole gig. I'd already worked out my angles to move around the hall and even convinced the guy at the back twiddling the knobs that he should share his hidey-hole with me and my camera for a while. ( the end result is brilliant and I'm currently transposing it to DVD ).

Finally the appointed time came and on they came to tremendous applause.  You could see that Mick and John were really fired up this time and it showed with new riffs and licks from Mick throughout the evening - the strings were on fire !  Johnny responded with more feeling to the lyrics than ever before and Simon - well Simon was absolutely brilliant.  All the usual numbers were there but somehow they sounded like they'd had an injection of go-go juice. At the end of the first set I became an impromptu "roadie". As I was filming Mick as he left the stage he walked straight up to camera and asked me to rescue his blue guitar from the piano and bring it to the dressing room. Dave looked horrified as he saw me get up on stage - he'd scolded me before for invading the stage at Putney and thought I was doing it again.

The second set was even more electric and enticed 4 lads to the left of the stage to start dancing - one did an brilliant impression of Chuck Berry's duck-walk and it's on camera. People danced, sang, chanted and applauded - a truly superb evening.

Simon Holdgate is what I believe a drummer should be. I always liked Ringo Starr as a drummer because he wasn't a "technician", couldn't play to music in the early days but played with real feeling. Simon was the same - maybe because of the lack of experience with the lads. Perhaps if he'd played as many gigs with them as Frank has he'd be more polished and would lose some of the spontaneity. However you analyse it he played a blinder - well done Simon.

Altogether an excellent show.  Mick played like a new man, John was the solid foundation as ever and Simon played his heart out.

Well done everyone and get well soon Frank