Thursday, 5 December 2013

China Drum - The Return

Apparently in 1995 Steve Lamacq, noted Radio 1 DJ, referred to China Drum as "The Best Band in Britain". You shouldn't say stuff like that lightly. And it may have been slightly provocative, after all he wanted to stir interest in his listeners, its his job, and how long this opinion remained true for him I don't know, but I believe he meant what he said, when he said it.

I saw them at The Lead Mill in Sheffield, Tuesday 18th October 1994 (I was 17 please call the cops) in support of Green Day, it cost £7 for a ticket or was it £6. It was £6. You read that right, it'll probably cost you £60 today. It was the first (and only) time that I stage-dived - but I went and waved when I did, "Looked like you was waving to your mam" they said. I did, shame on me. Before that I took an accidental head-butt from a guy moshing like mad next to me during the first support act. No apparent injuries, 3 hours later after the encore I collapsed from concussion... remains to this day the best gig I have ever seen. I've seen more than a few since, I don't say it lightly.

China Drum were the second act. Now I have something to confess. At the time of the gig I didn't know their name. As is proved by the picture below: an excerpt from The John Leggott College magazine for which I proudly wrote (badly) a review of the night. I have kept it all these years, It was the first (and only) article that I ever did - (I didn't wave to my mam while writing it). It wasn't like today, we didn't have the internet back then like we do now to look it up. Yeah I could have found out I suppose but I was 17 I had more important things to worry about (beer) than tardy journalism.

Just in case you wondered if I was a nobhead back then as well. I was.
It just proves quality will shine through, you don't have to know something's name or know what something is to know its good and enjoy it (I've been a big fan of Findus Lasagne for years as well)

I'm still friends with the people who went to that gig it was one of the most memorable nights of my life. I saw China Drum again I'm not sure how many times. But I remember at one gig where I met Adam Lee the lead singer after they had finished playing and I must have done what I refer to as the "belly trick" (A party trick where I used to stick my belly out like some kind of mutant bullfrog - haha I had forgot I used to do that until I wrote this) because he wrote on my 6" vinyl of Wuthering Heights "Fat Bastards Unite and Eat". 19 years later I don't look back and think "how sad" I think "That was amazing, it made my day, what a fucking legend". That's how you keep fans for 19 years.

So its last Sunday night 1/12/2013, The Adelphi Club in Hull ( The Adelphi is a one of a kind venue. No seriously there is nowhere like it. No. Seriously. Here's a pic of the flaking front door. Its like one of those secret clubs you see in film where the dingy door hides a mad party, with lasers and pole dancers, unicorns with afro's and Jesus playing a Les Paul in shades and.. er... except the Adelphi is not quite like that inside

Its small, its basically a converted terrace house with the ground floor knocked through. Its intimate. Maybe you shouldn't describe a punk gig as intimate its connotations are too romantic but then again maybe you should, there was a lot of love in the room.

Openers were Attack The Embassy, a good name. They suffered a bit from "Very loud but not very good" syndrome of gig openers the world over. But I was into in parts, there was potential there they just need to get tighter and work on their sound. ( Second support was Menshevik, the front man was full on and it was heavy to start off with, the first band that came to mind was Slayer but thats misleading it was punk at the hard fast end, I didn't like it and the singer was right off the stage in amongst the crowd up on tables. In your grill. I started thinking what the hell have I come to here, what is he doing, what is going on, maybe if I close my eyes he won't see me. Honest energy though and skill and just being fully entertaining will win you over every time. Menshevik just got better and better. The singer was actual the model of an extrovert front man and that's what you want. Heavier than I normally like but I genuinely enjoyed their set. (

And then it was time... I recognised them I'll say that, but a lot has changed in 19 years since that Lead Mill night. Of course it has. There's not much that doesn't change in 19 years. But 19 years is good amount of time to perfect your art. These were older, more professional, experienced, musicians, it sounded superb, you could tell. They played all the classics. I love Biscuit Barrel personally (and I'm thinking about ruining it with a cover even haha). They had the northern chat, it was like watching a bunch of your mates on stage you could tell they were having a good time, it makes a difference to the spectator, elevates the experience. Bill McQueen the guitarist wasn't there, but was replaced by John Steel who was top notch. There was no reason given but there's a link to a short documentary below which suggests that he probably couldn't get the time off ==> If you're a fan of China Drum or just a general lover of music check it out its quite short and it is interesting. Another change was Kate Stephenson replacing Adam on the drums. I don't know how he ever drummed and sang, I know trying to play guitar and sing is bad enough. Dave McQueen was excellent on Bass a proper lad taking photos on his phone and chipping in on Adam Lee's banter. (

Going back to what it says in the college magazine I don't know if they played A Minor I think they played Meaning though. They finished with what in my opinion is one of the most inspired cover versions of all time Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights. They played Erasure's A Little Respect as the final song, its a disgracefully singable song and they do a good version but Wuthering Heights is the real genius choice. This was a great great gig for many different reasons.

Leading up to the gig it was a bit of nostalgia - Lets go see The Drum for old times sake. And after, well it was - When are they playing again? This better not be over!!! 

A song to finish...

No comments:

Post a comment