Overall, this was the twentieth time I have seen Prowse in one or other of his guises, putting him two gigs ahead now of The Fall as the band or singer I have seen most often in my life, according to my trusty spreadsheet.
For anyone who cares, third and fourth on the list remain the largely unknown The Projects and the utterly unknown (as they were) Fantasy Dogs, the band formed by mates of a school-friend in deepest Essex back in the late 1980’s.
While I enjoy seeing Prowse solo, there’s usually something more special about seeing him with a band, though tonight was not quite up to his usual standards for some reason.
His solo records are not as good as the Amsterdam ones in my opinion (especially the self-released The Curse and Attitunes), with 2014’s solo debut Who Loves Ya Baby something of a disappointment compared to the heights of his catalogue. Fortunately, covers record Compañeros from the following year was a marked return to form.
I didn’t really get the full flavour of even that as I headed to the bar for an overpriced pint of San Miguel as well as having a chat with old mucker Matt (and partner Karen).
Next up were The Sums, a local band led by Digsy, who has gone through various incarnations over the years, including Smaller, but is perhaps sadly best known for inspiring the name of an Oasis song (Definitely Maybe’s Digsy’s Dinner) and the lyric to another.
I headed over for a chat with two other friends (Lee & Ali) when Matt went to the bar. Lee asked me who they were, but I subsequently remembered that we had both actually seen them supporting Amsterdam before, back in May 2009 at the New Picket (now District). Perhaps beer was involved that night.
Lead guitarist Lee Watson tragically died earlier this year, with the line-up now including Chris Mullin on bass, Richy Northcote on guitar and drummer Chris Campbell.
Mullin had surprised (and I’m not sure best pleased…) Digsy with the backdrop – the classic Bohemian Rhapsody image of Queen with Freddie Mercury’s face replaced by Digsy (impossible to see in my photo, unfortunately).
I couldn’t name any of the songs played, despite owning a Smaller album (Badly Badly, claimed by Noel Gallagher to be amongst his favourite LPs), but it was all toe-tappingly pleasant, without wishing to damn with faint praise.
After a brief interval it was time for the main event which kicked off with the multiple Liverpool-referencing God And Man from Who Loves Ya Baby. Throughout the show there were no new songs at all, which was slightly disappointing, but Prowse is hardly prolific on the song-writing front.
Takin’ On The World, originally on Amsterdam’s 2001 debut Attitunes, was a rather pedestrian version sadly, as it’s amongst my favourites of his. Like the next song, it later featured on 2005’s The Journey.
The lovely Love Phenomenon (also on Attitunes and The Journey) featured The Blow Monkeys’ Neville Henry on sax, and was followed by a rather leaden Joe’s Kiss (also from The Journey).
A couple of numbers from Compañeros followed – the poptastic Johnny & Marie, originally recorded by Up And Running and written by Phil Jones, and My Name Is Dessie Warren, with the latter song’s writer Alun Parry coming out to assist.
Here’s the original version of Johnny & Marie:
A few tunes were played in quite extended versions, including Name And Number (a Pele song also re-recorded for Compañeros) and Prowse’s first band Pele’s Raid The Palace. He changed the backdrop for this one from a shot of him looking all troubadour-ish in front of the Mersey to a giant NHS logo.
Here’s a clip of Name And Number from the New Picket gig:
Late highlights included Home, the only track played off 2007’s Arm In Arm album, and a fine cover of The Clash’s London Calling, with a huge “’cause London is drowning, and I, I live by the river” singalong.
Fittingly, a typically moving version of Does This Train Stop On Merseyside? came right at the end (on both The Curse and The Journey). There was still time for one final song, with Prowse inviting Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s guitarist Brian Nash on stage to sing their festive classic The Power Of Love.
There wasn’t time for any more as we’d already gone fifteen minutes past the ludicrously early 10pm curfew, but this was a good end to proceedings. However, that meant there was time for a couple of swift ones with Lee & Ali.
We headed to The Peacock just down Seel Street, but didn’t stay for long as the music was so loud (yes, we are that old now). We then headed to The Jacaranda, a bar I used to occasionally visit on my trips to the city before moving up, but somewhere I’d not been to since its reopening a couple of years ago.
The music was good in the Jac, and the beer was suitably acceptable too, but time was a-ticking so I only stayed for one before heading home after another good evening courtesy of Ian Prowse and co.
I wore my red Shack t-shirt (which can just about be glimpsed to the back left in this crowd shot:
Sadly I failed to spot any other band tees on the night, although rumour has it there was a Marillion one in there somewhere…
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Here is a very little of the music from the night on Spotify: