Saturday 9 June 2018

He Ain't Heavy

Name above the door
You know the feeling: you get off the train, walk out of the station and then realise you haven't got a bloody clue where the venue is. 'Excuse me mate, you from Sheffield?' Oh God, thinks the hapless passer by, not another flaming tourist. 'Easiest way to get to the 02?' Fucking hell, that's an easy one, (I can tell) he's thinking. 'It's that big white box building up there', he said, pointing to the big white box building. 'See it?' I did: smashed it. 

Catching a late afternoon train out of Nottingham means there's plenty of time to find the venue (tick), find pub(s) near venue - Spoons and Head of Steam (tick and tick) - have a couple and still get there in good time (tick). No repeat of Amsterdam.

Thomas Walsh is Pugwash
The last time I saw Pugwash was in Islington, north London. I was with my good friends Steve and Mondo and we'd been drinking in Holborn most of the afternoon. I do remember meeting Mark Ellen for the first time and the delightful Kate Mossman. My memories of the gig, however, are patchy, though I do seem to recall the guitarist from XTC joining them on stage at one point.

Anyway, that was back in 2010 and I did say to Mondo the next day how I'd love to see them again when I was a little less, ahem, relaxed.

So when I saw that Pugwash were opening for Nick Heyward on his latest trek around the country I snaffled a pair of tickets faster than the devil on horseback.

When Thomas Walsh walked onto the tiny stage he all but filled it - I wrote a while back that Thomas Walsh is bigger than the Beatles. After a few words of introduction in his broad Dubln brogue he launched straight into Perfect Summer from the shimmering Siverlake album recorded earlier this year in LA. His songs are perfectly formed three minute pop nuggets made to be heard by the whole world: one day they will be, but just for tonight, Sheffield were given their very own private performance. Highlights too many to mention, but Mason on the Boundary (from Duckworth Lewis) and Nice to be Nice meant that I could have gone home a happy man, even if I hadn't have stuck around for the night's star turn.  

Nick Heyward is my brother**
It's not hard to see why Nick Heyward asked Pugwash to go on tour with him. They compliment each other perfectly. And if they're not already writing together then they should be.

Heyward's pedigree meant that he could come out of the traps with two Top Ten Hits (Love Plus One/Take That Situation) and still have plenty of gas left in the tank. Complete with a rather fetching smoking jacket, and an equally loud five piece band (six if you count the man himself), he treated the crowd (though gathering may be a more accurate term) to a masterclass in how to string together a bunch of hits (and a few near misses too), tie them up in a bow and deliver each and every one like his life depended on it.

Standout songs*? If I had to trade one for my grandmother it would be Kite. And He Doesn't Love You Like I do; OK, both grandmothers then.

* Nick has been dropping the Beatles' Dr. Robert into his set for as long as I can remember, and last night was no exception. Here he is in 1993 performing it on Danny Baker's late night Saturday TV show with the Railtown Bottlers, Danny's house band (look out for a very young Mark Kermode on standup bass).

Nick Heyward - Dr. Robert

**Interestingly a woman from Middlesborough who I was chit-chatting to down the front said I looked like Nick Heyward's brother.

In other news, Nick said that his daughter (who resides in Shefield, apparently) was in the audience. So, techNickally, that would make her my niece then?


  1. Sounds like a none to shabby evening out.

    1. The day I decide to stop going to gigs and stop drinking beer is the day they take me to the glue factory.

  2. This is a double bill from the heavens!

    1. Maybe not from the heavens Brian, but, as double headers go, then not far off. It was one of those nights I got to the gig in plenty of time for fear of missing the 'support'.

  3. That building used to be Barry Noble's infamous Roxy! I went a couple of times for an indie night - it was a nightmare. It was such a big place and it got so rammed, when you went to the gents or to the bar sometimes it took you about an hour to find your mates again.

    1. The lads were playing in the o2 2 - the club within a club - so no fear of losing my way. My worst experience for that was up in Newcastle many moons ago: I was on a floating nightclub on the Tyne, and it had a revolving dancefloor. Where you'd get off and on was anyone's guess.