Friday, 29 August 2014

17/02/2012 The Yo-Yo's & Plan A @ The Barfly

SubjectThe Yo-Yo's & Plan A @ The Barfly
DateCreated2/24/2012 1:43:00 PM

This is a night I've been particularly looking forward to - 2 bands who nobody
ever expected to see play again, now both together on the same bill!

Wanting to spend as little as possible at the venue's overpriced and poor quality bar I headed for Camden's newish BrewDog pub first for a livener or two - or maybe even three. It was more crowded than on my previous midweek visit, but not too bad considering it was a Friday night. I was hoping to sample the lovely Paradox Jura I tried last time, but they weren't serving it this time - although I did spot a barrel of it downstairs ready to be connected to the pumps so I live in hope... I had to settle for some weaker beers at a mere 10.4% or so, but they put me in a good mood before heading for the gig.
I'm not often at The Barfly these days as there doesn't seem to be much rock 'n' roll there any more - just indie scenesters, but now I find myself back there for the second time in 3 days. Although I already had a ticket I found there was a queue in the venue and I only just got upstairs in time to see the start of Plan A's set.

The band were back to their old two guitar lineup for this their first gig in a
few years. As well as an extra guitar there was also a lot of extra hair compared
to the Plan A of old! Jef looked like a refugee from the Black Spiders while Nick looked like he was in a metal band!

Drummer Gary is as ever, just Gary - probably the most distinctive drummer playing this type of music and probably pleased to be back behind a full kit as opposed to his more usual gig these days as half of the Urban Voodoo Machine's drum duo.

Jef was sporting a T-shirt saying 'It Ain't Van Halen without Dave Lee Roth' - he said that campaign was successful - so how about a similar one for Bill Ward in Black Sabbath? This produced a BIG cheer of approval from the crowd!

The setlist was pretty much as you'd expect with most of it taken from the band's 'Hey Ho!', and 'Just Leaving Acton' EPs along with some stuff from the band's still unreleased last 'X From X' EP. This was a sold out show so the band enjoyed playing to a packed venue.

As ever, Plan A gave a good account of themselves with a loud and in your face set of tuneful punk - 'Hey Ho!' still being their catchiest song in my opinion. Jef was virtually unrecognisable due to all the extra hair on his head as well as his face, and his trademark Gibson Les Paul guitar swapped for an unusual Gibson RD instead. There is no mistaking his distinctive vocal rasp though. There is a change of vocals for the last song as they are joined by Tom Spencer for a Sugarsnatch song with his old bandmate Nick of Plan A - it's quite an incestuous night.

It was great to see Plan A back in action again after a few years - lets hope this isn't the last we see of them. I hear there might be some activity from them in the summer so keep your eyes open...
Like the previous outfit, the Yo-Yo's are the sort of band I used to come to see at The Barfly regularly a few years ago - when the venue used to put on the sort of bands I wanted to see, instead of the current indie lightweights.
This is another band I never thought I'd see again - it's about seven years since they imploded in a very messy fashion in mid tour.
Now to celebrate Danny McCormack's 40th Birthday they are back for one night only - demand for tickets was so high that this gig sold out in a day. A second show was added for later the same night at the same venue featuring the same bill - I think this sold out as well so they could have played at a bigger venue really. However, Danny's brother Chris McCormack is involved with running the Jubillee Club night which happens at this venue every Friday so go figure... I'm at the first show and needless to say it's packed!

This is purely a one-off gig to celebrate Yo-Yo's mainman Danny's 40th birthday, and as he says tonight himself he's as surprised as any of us that he's made it this far! The lad looks healthy and in good shape - he's even drinking water on stage!

Drummer aside (tonight they have borrowed the current guy from Yo-Yo's offshoot The Loyalties) this is the lineup of the band that recorded their second album 'Given Up Giving Up' so we have Tom Spencer and Rich Jones in place of Neil Phillips on the other guitar.

This was always going to be a gig with a cracking setlist - most of the band's fantastic first album 'Uppers And Downers' is played, along with a song or two from the second album and some choice B-sides like 'Rock City' and 'Stockholm Sick Blues'. For me, just hearing 'Home From Home' again was worth the price of admission - the best song EVER about a pub!
Add fantastic songs like 'Head Over Heels', 'Time Of Your Life', and '1000 Miles Away' and you have what for me is pretty much the ultimate Friday night set of rock 'n' roll - the band's 'Uppers And Downers' album is still one of my all time favourites by anyone, and definitely the best thing to put on when getting ready for a good night out!

Danny is on good form and obviously enjoying himself, and the band play well - I can't remember the last band I saw who played so many really great songs in such a short set - the old cliche 'All killer - no filler' really was true for once. How I've missed this band - and I know I'm not alone in that. The Yo-Yo's set was over all too soon, but to be fair at around 35 minutes or so it was actually a good ten minutes longer than some sets I saw them play back in the day.

With Plan A and the Yo-Yo's having finished their sets, the fun still isn't over.

Next we are treated to a short set of covers by a group of 'special guests' - which turns out to be a punk/alt supergroup of sorts: Andy Cairns from Therapy? leads Chris McCormack from 3 Colours Red, his brother Danny, (ex-Wildhearts) Rich Jones (Yo-Yo's/Loyalties/Amen/Black Halos) and Ray McVie from Sex Pistols offshoot The Professionals, and another ex-Wildheart Ritch Battersby on drums.

In fact we've seen perfomances from 3 ex-members of the Wildhearts tonight, and another ex-member in Stidi the drummer was supposed to be playing tonight as well although I don't know what happened to him - unless he only played in the late show?

I can't remember much of this band's set, although it was good fun and included the Pistols 'Silly Thing' - the highlight was the Therapy? classic 'Screamager' which went down a storm!
Andy Cairns was very much in his element playing to a packed and sweaty little club - reminding me of the time I saw Therapy? play a secret show supporting Groop Dogdrill at the old Barfly at The Falcon - the best show I ever saw the band play!

This is easily the best gig of the year so far for me, but all too soon the fun is over and it's back downstairs as they clear the room for those with tickets for the second show - featuring the same bands playing the same sets. This leads to the only disappointment of the evening as this arrangement means that lots of our friends are upstairs for the second show and it restricts the chances to socialise - some people I hardly see or don't see or get a chance to talk to at all - very frustrating with so many friends all in the same building but not together.

It's not really happening downstairs as people slowly drift away to meet other people elsewhere. Not wanting to give any money to the venue bar for it's inferior beverages (which I have managed to avoid all evening) I head off back in the direction of BrewDog for some fine ale to fortify me for the journey home, but bump into some friends leaving another bar only yards from my destination. I have a look in this place instead and find some more friends who were also at the Barfly earlier - they serve real ale here too so I stay for one before heading for the last tube - which I only just manage to catch. I get home in well under an hour - which is pretty good from Camden well after midnight. Result!

See you all in 10 years for Danny's 50th then?

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