The place doesn't have a great reputation locally and as they don't serve real ale I'd never have reason to set foot in there normally. It's a members only club anyway, and as Groucho said "I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member". I'd checked out the band on their website and they sounded good, plus I knew the beer was cheap in the club even if not to my usual taste. I was quite looking forward to checking this gig out, but I was also curious to see how many people actually turned up? I was wondering if I'd be feeling sorry for the band - used to touring and playing good venues, but playing in a tiny club to only a handful of people? Who knew that a quality band from the USA would be playing in this little club not known as a music venue? Would the local music crowd used to seeing cover bands for free in local pubs be prepared to cough up £12 on the door? For a band they'd never heard of?
I needn't have worried - when I arrived the place was full! In spite of my concerns the promoter obviously knew what he was doing. The band had actually played locally at least once before without me knowing, and there were people here tonight wearing the band's T-shirts. It was an odd crowd though - to me anyway as I felt a bit out of place in a room full of blokes in their 50's and 60's - not the sort of gig I'm used to at all. I haven't been in a crowd like that since I saw Dave Edmunds play at Shepherds Bush Empire a few years ago - and I felt out of place there too. Although the club was full, I hardly recognised anyone - which is very unusual for a local gig. Judging by the lack of trade at the bar in spite of the dirt cheap prices, and the amount of cans of Coke lying around I suspect most of those present weren't local and many had driven to the gig. I think promoter Pete Feentra probably has his own crowd of followers who will travel from all over North London to his shows - although there seems to be a very narrow demographic with an almost entirely male crowd and virtually no young people. In fact almost no one under 40 years old. Still, unlike most of their age group this crowd are out and actively supporting live music - and that can only be a good thing.
As I arrive the support band are still playing. They are called Fuzzwalker and are really good from what little I catch of their set - they remind me of current U.S. band White Denim. I wish I'd got there early enough to see their whole set. To the bar! Only £2.30 for a pint of Theakstons? Yes really. OK, so it's keg and not real ale - but at that price I'm not complaining... After a couple of those I look to see what's in the chiller cabinets behind the bar to see if they have any Newcastle Brown or similar? No Broon, but I do spy Marston's Old Empire IPA - it's 5.7% and only £2.50 a large bottle - that's me sorted for the rest of the night then!
Then it's on to the headline act. As expected the Billy Walton Band are pretty good. It's good solid rockin' blues. The band are all excellent players, and Billy Walton himself is a likable frontman as well as a very good guitar player. He's a bit of a showman too, but without going over the top - he's just having fun.