31st December 2015
PJ Molloy’s, Dunfermline
Bad Manners these days consist of Dougie (Buster Bloodvessel) Trendle and a collection of no doubt talented and capable mates, performing a set which I would hazard has probably not changed much in thirty years. The band had played The Liquid Rooms the previous evening, but I had not been tempted. However, when I noted they were performing at a venue a mere drunken half-hour waddle from my front door, I decided this was an infinitely preferable option to enduring the questionable Hogmanay delights served being up on TV.
Also I had last seen Trendle perform in 1981, and I feel it is always good to catch up with old friends at New Year.
But before being re-united with Dougie I found myself being re-introduced to if not quite another friend, then certainly a name from my spotty youth: Max Splodge – who, as leader of Splodgenessabounds had enjoyed his fourteen minutes of fame back in June 1980, with the top ten hit Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please.
I did wonder how he was going to eke out his support slot with just that one not terribly memorable hit to his name, but he solved the problem by covering a selection of equally Gumby-esque tunes from around the same period: Hurry up Harry, Nellie the Elephant and Swords of a Thousand Men and the like. Max (backed by a selection of current Bad Manners musicians) tried his best, bless him, but his retro Oi! antics were met with general indifference by the good folks of Dunfermline.
A state of affairs which probably contributed to him snarling “Happy New Year” and stomping off stage halfway through his set closer “Two Pints...”, leaving the band to happily thrash the thing to a close. But then again, perhaps it always happens that way.
Rather spookily, Bad Manners began their set in the same manner they had when I last saw them a whopping 34 years earlier, with Trendle making his entrance after the band had rattled their way through the instrumental Echo 4-2. My first thought upon seeing him was how (relatively speaking) little there was of him. Now we are not talking anorexia here - let me make that clear. And I am guessing he presently tips the scales at closer to 20 stone than 10, but compared to the pics I had seen of him during his gargantuan 30-plus stone days, Trendle looked positively svelte.
His remarkably dextrous cow-tongue was (perhaps not surprisingly) still in place - to the delight and disgust in equal measure of the ladies around me. Sadly, what clearly had appeared to have disappeared with the excess baggage was the voice. For despite the frequent entreating of the sax player in the direction of the mixing desk to jack up the big man’s mike, the vocals throughout barely progressed beyond rasped shouting. But through a mixture of gun-craziness, cartoon antics and the sterling work of the set of razor sharp backing musicians Trendle stuck it out (rather like his tongue when I think about it).
As if in compensation on two occasions the singer, no doubt to the chagrin of the mixing desk bod, squatted down to turn up the bass guitar on the amp behind him. To rather fine effect as the bassist’s crystal clear work boomed out across the dance floor, rattling the spirit bottles in their optics behind the bar.
All around me middle-aged guys sporting pork-pie hats and clutching cans of Red Stripe enjoyed a whale of a time as the hits kept coming: Just a Feeling, Lorraine, Lip Up Fatty, Walking in the Sunshine climaxing (if that is an appropriate term in the circumstances) with the entire dance floor linking arms to Can Can – Offenbach would have been birling in his grave as we (and occasionally Alec Salmond) say up here.
All good clean fun, and it certainly beat sitting in watching Jackie Bird introducing The Bay City Rollers at the Old Fruitmarket on BBC1.
This is Ska
My Girl Lollipop
Feel Like Jumping
Walking in the Sunshine
Red River Ska
Can't Take My Eyes Off You
Just a Feeling
El Pussycat/Guns of Naverone
Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu
Inner London Violence
Don't Be Angry
?Don't Knock the Baldhead
Lip Up Fatty