Blue and green record exploding into shards

The Flow
Live (Saint Jude)

In the spirit of the man Doherty, whose band Babyshambles are headlining tonight’s gig, I attempt to romanticise London in the poetic, slightly camp way he and his followers do. Arcadia, London Town, Albion, etc. These words evoke feelings of history and glamour; a time of national pride long forgotten and being resurrected by romanticists and pretenders.

I’ll be honest. I see none of this in London. I see train times that contradict the nightlife schedule, grimy side streets that are too daunting to be termed ‘unwelcoming’, and bustling crowds of people so self-involved that they may as well be alone. What’s more, the purveyor and promoter of the peaceful, utopian London is the one most likely to disrupt tonight’s proceedings with his inebriation or general absence.

All this could have been irrelevant from the off, as the paparazzi circus surrounding PD almost cost The-Mag’s photographer and me entry to the Rhythm Factory tonight. The obscene level of photographers meant a tightening on security, meaning only the most well-known and brown-nosed reporter could photograph Doherty’s wiry frame. Our primary responsibility lies with a band called The Flow, however, and after some bargaining with the surprisingly friendly doormen, we are on our way in. The main drawback of this is that we have to leave as soon as The Flow end their set, the best possible outcome under the circumstances, but little consolation to Mark, whose snaps of Doherty could have paid for a month’s rent.

The Rhythm Factory is a small aged venue with wires hanging from the ceiling and ground damage that could be described as pot-holed. The character of the place shows some of the romance that the aforementioned poets insist on. However, this could just as easily be put down to the venue’s tight purse strings. That aside, it is the perfect setting for an evening of debauchery and rock and roll, topped off with a touch of exclusivity that a sold-out night with Babyshambles brings. I’ve no idea what the support bands will be like. Until…

Saint Jude wander on stage and tune their instruments with the DJ’s soundtrack still blaring out over the sparse crowd. They appear absent-minded, almost nervous. However, this turns out to be confidence that is only gained from experience and the knowledge that you put on a good show.

There are six of them in all; a core band of five and a female singer wearing a loud 60s-inspired dress. These togs have not been bought for this show; this group are extremely comfortable doing what they do and break into funky, grungy, rocking riffs from the off, superbly complimented by the front woman’s soulful voice that echoes with real emotion. The room fills throughout their set, and it is clear that we are all won over.

Those clever lads from The Flow have ensured their good crowd response by claiming most of tonight’s tickets for friends of the band. A roar goes up as they take to the stage, adding to my expectation that they should be at least as mind-blowing as Saint Jude. Such is the nature of gig line-ups. They are young, but with youth comes enthusiasm, and the frontman has more than enough of this to cater for his three bandmates. Taking dancing lessons from The Music and Kasabian, he flails about to the band’s classic rock/indie inspired jaunts that would inspire movement from the crowd if the sound was just a bit more full.

The Flow are the perfect example of a band reliant on volume. The stomping riffs and drum beats are catchy enough but are ultimately repetitive, and the song structures are utterly predictable. This stuff needs to pack a punch, and compared to Saint Jude’s all-consuming wave of sound, this just feels underwhelming.

Frontman Dave Drew keeps things interesting by cutting shapes reminiscent of Jim Carey (the reverse squat may have pleased the girls but disturbed me somewhat) and seems to be encouraging his own band members as much as the crowd. The future bodes well for these talented musicians, and who knows what they’ll produce once they are freed from the shackles of imitating their heroes and attempt something a little more unique and exciting.

So through fear of being collared by some great hulking bouncer, Mark and I see ourselves out. Out of the warm, bustling, expectant East London venue and onto the cold, desolate London street. As Mark rightly points out, the only thing that would put us on top is if Doherty pulls a Doherty and spends his band’s set semi-conscious in a bedsit somewhere, murmuring about the beauty of Arcadia in muddled prose form. Did he turn up? And did the cute brunette in the glasses make it through the whole gig despite being too pissed to stand still or talk after the second band? Answers to the usual address, please.

Guest article from Matt S.

Written by Guest Writers on

Between 2003 and 2009, [the-mag] had regular contributors from music correspondents covering their local scene. You'll find them all in the guest writers section. The specific writer is mentioned at the bottom of each article.

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