According to my (nearly complete) records, this was my 384th gig in London, but the first one since Connan Mockasin at Bush Hall in September 2011, and only my third there since moving to Liverpool in August 2008.
I was early enough to manage a pint in a new pub to me, having a very palatable Crouch Vale’s Brewers Gold at the Pride Of Spitalfields just round the corner. As well as the pleasant beer, their was some good music being played, including some classic Neil Young and Peter Gabriel.
I scoped out the venue before deciding it was a little too early to head in, so popped into The Golden Heart on Commercial Street (somewhere I had stopped off at some point in the past) for a pint of Truman’s Zephyr, while again enjoying another pub’s musical choices – this time a whole host of Bowie tunes.
I sat outside 93 Feet East for a while in the courtyard area as it was a pleasant evening – and I couldn’t quite remember how to get in!
I’d only been to this venue once before, to see The Broken Family Band (the last of six times I saw them in a three-year period) supported by Darren Hayman, back in January 2007 together with two of my regular London gigmates, Phil and John.
I finally ventured in about an hour before The Tuts were due on stage, only to find them sound-checking on the stage. I had bought a ticket online the day before (only £8.80 including booking fee, so cheaper than the previous time I had been here!), but didn’t need to show it on the way in with the doorman just taking my word for the fact that I had bought one and stamping my hand.
The small venue was largely seated, with the vast majority of the audience being both female and South Asian. Neither of which is usually the case at gigs I go to, that’s for sure. That’s because this was in fact a night called Golden Tongue, which was an open mic poetry evening “focused on amplifying the voices of South Asian women”.
I headed towards the back, just in front of a garland of fairy lights. The place was small enough to still be close to the stage, and in amongst the rest of the crowd. This meant I could happily accept an Indian sweet goody as these were being handed out, as I was clearly too late for the promised samosas, though I saw a couple being eaten.
The poetry was interesting, with some appealing to me more than others, with a lot being about matters of race and gender. The punters expressed their approval at various lines by clicking their fingers (as opposed to clapping or cheering), which wasn’t something I’d come across before.
I moved up from right at the back following the headline poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, whose work “focuses on race, gender, Islamophobia, intersectionality and decolonising knowledge production”, but fortunately was more enjoyable than that might make it sound.
I’d first come across The Tuts on the excellent Live Ledge podcast back in November 2016, when Tut Tut Tut off their debut album Update Your Brain was played.
The band’s name had stuck with me, despite not having heard anything from them since, to the best of my knowledge.
They are a “three tone” all-female band, consisting of lead singer and guitarist Nadia of Pakistani/Indian origin, “boring white girl” Harriet on guitar and Bev on percussion, who is of Caribbean heritage.
They kicked off with the song of theirs I was most familiar with, Tut Tut Tut, with the sound struggling gamely to overcome the lack of any beef from drums or bass.
Nadia told lengthy stories between songs, including about her recent appearance on an ITV News show called Young, British And Muslim, as well as meeting Jeremy Corbyn that morning, presenting him with a t-shirt with one of their song lyrics on, “people power brings down Tory towers”.
They then played the song that line came from, Give Us Something Worth Voting For, another track off their debut record.
Take On The World was followed by their closing cover of Spice Girls’ Wannabe, which was introduced as being a one-off. However, I’d already heard a live version of it online the day before, and you can also listen to it on their Bandcamp page.
The evening ended early enough (after just five songs) for me to hang around for five minutes before Harriet sold me a copy of Update Your Brain, telling me “that’s a good CD”.
London gigs are likely to remain a rare event for me, even if I am currently having to be down south more often with work than previously. Poetry-based nights out are likely to remain even rarer, though!
The Tuts had said it was a pleasant change to play in front of a crowd different to their usual white male, punk-y audience. I was a white male in a punk t-shirt (Buzzcocks), so at least they had one representative of their typical clientele. No-one else was in a band tee!
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Here is much of the music from the night on Spotify: