“You’ve reached the incomprehensible” intones Robert Clements, the singer in The Good Water, over a maelstrom of prog-like sound. But the really cool thing about the band- whom to be totally truthful I’d listened to one song of before the show – is that they aren’t a Zappa-like thing that’s having more fun than you are.
When they do play a song like “See The Light” it’s a fairly straightforward 60s-sounding thing, but just for fun there’s something about Elephants in the next one (which isn’t introduced) but you can’t ignore the harmonies. Or the brilliant organ of Stuart Webb.
Some have more of a groove and there’s a beauty called “Love”, and there’s something gloriously haphazard about them. As a case in point, there are constant technical issues in the set, dogging drummer Thomas Fisher, but they shrug it off, but there’s one that sticks out. They’ve got a new single, but they’ve forgotten to put it in the set. Slick this isn’t, but The Good Water are all the better for it.
Tom Spencer talks a lot tonight. The frontman for The Professionals reckons he’s “not doing cabaret” but he tells a lot of the stories here.
So during the course of the 70 minutes, we learn that Steve Jones treated him like a “wanker”, he’s not happy with his management, Paul Cook got stoned by eating the wrong chocolate at his daughters’ house, oh and he hates Tories (this should be mandatory). Good. Now, we’re caught up.
In between all this songs break out, and they are usually great. “Going Going Gone” from their comeback album, “What In The World”, “Just Another Dream” from the very early days, and “Easily Led” from last years “Snafu” are the first three and they actually are, in a nutshell, the line this is walking.
The band, it seems, want to play the late stuff, and the fans might want to re-live the old days, understandable of course, given the shadow of the Sex Pistols hanging over this. Drummer Paul Cook is still impressive, and the songs he writes, like “Gold And Truthful” – about his grandparents’ generation – are superb.
They sprinkle the set with a couple of Pistol tunes, and “Silly Thing” gets them pogoing.
“M’Ashes” – a tale of friendship from Steve Jones and Cook – is a fine example of what “Snafu” had to offer, and “Spike Me Baby” likewise.
“Bad Baby” slows things down (“We’re all a certain age” smiles Spencer) while “Payola” is a magnificent thing.
Then Spencer says “We’re going back to the start” and with “Hats Off” they are sneering punks again with the anger in their hearts and “Rewind” and “Kick Down The Doors” keep the energy high – and the new line up has plenty of that.
There’s a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”, which breathes new life into that song, to close the set, but with a simple “if you please Cooky you’ll get a Pistols song; and we do “Holidays In The Sun” is a classic for a reason too.
But The Professionals are the here and now, and not the past. Everyone seems keen to make that point, not just literally by what they say, but metaphorically too by their attitude. And, in more ways than one, they’ve plenty to say.