It had been over ten years since I saw Electric Six in Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms so I had to be there.
This was originally going to be on December 3rd 2017, until a dilemma emerged. Subsequently, it was postponed. An email was sent out by frontman Dick Valentine himself, announcing a dilemma: “Kate and I are expecting the arrival of our second kid in mid-to-late November and this of course makes it impossible for me to commit fully to the entirety of our UK/Europe tour at the end of the year, thusly, we are postponing the whole year-end tour a few months, into February and March of 2018. We’re happy for us. You should be too. However if you are determined to take the low road here, to be obstinate, to be selfish, to refuse to accept that Electric Six will not be there for you this holiday season as it has been for so many years….then I am willing to schedule a fight with you so this bullshit can be settled once and for all. Each fight will take place at a time and venue that is mutually agreed upon between us. Contact my FB page and we’ll set up the fight via personal message. We’ll set up a time and place and I will be there, buddy. I don’t care if you got a whip, I don’t care if you got a chain, I don’t care if you got a shotgun. Just so you know, my personal preference is to fight at Primark…it’s usually well-lit in there, and thusly, the fights are more fair.”
Overcome with nostalgia, I wasn’t picking a fight with Dick.
The first support was a very funny upright electric bass player called Grant Sharkey . After a stressful time, this concert was very much about escape, and hearing him rant about Donald Trump, Theresa May and Boris Johnson just wasn’t right for me to start with, but I was won over. He refused to perform a song requested by audience members (called ‘Uncle Twinklefingers’) and said there were only a select couple of places that he would play it because it was “too disgusting”. I guess it was his Cocksucker Blues. He got a lot of audience participation, getting everyone to growl during a song called ‘UURS!’ (“I’m an animal!”). He performed a song about gender, called ‘Genitals’.
I really should sort my wardrobe out, at least so says my mother. Band t-shirts, novelty t-shirts, jeans and blue zip-up hoodies (of varying thickness to suit the weather) make up about 90% of it. I’m partly inclined to agree. However, they are just too much fun to give up. I remember that aged about 20, I went on holiday with my family to Anaheim, California, and I developed quite a jealousy of the USA’s chain of Hot Topic stores and the rebellious ‘alternative’ culture that it conveyed – still very rock orientated, “cray-cray” wasn’t yet in the dictionary, and no one had yet called me a ‘millennial’.
So why am I pondering over this? I have an addiction to silly t-shirts, and I wore one to this show. Next were Mutant Monster who were an all-female Japanese punk band. They were good fun. I never realised how I could be so enchanted by a Japanese woman saying “konnichiwa Southampton!”. Standing at the front, I admit that I felt a bit worried about my t-shirt, which had a stereotypical noodle monster on it, and Japanese text that I didn’t know the meaning of. I kept my fleece on, despite the inevitable heat of the revoltingly sweaty venue, until they left the stage. I was caught nonetheless at the end of the night, and leaving after Electric Six. Mutant Monster were at the merch stand. Drummer Chad spotted the shirt, pointed and laughed. I said that I didn’t know what it meant, but I didn’t get the explanation that I had hoped for. Just “HA HA! That’s funny!” from frontwoman Meana. As I was now standing with them, I asked for a photo with them and Chad made sure that all of the girls were pointing at my shirt. I know know that it says something along the lines of “Ramen: Delicious But Dangerous”, so there had been no need to panic.
Electric Six were good fun, although I don’t think they were quite as energetic of when I had last seen them (last time they performed ‘Gay Bar’ at a ridiculous tempo) and neither were the audience, who stood very still with their heads bobbing up and down. They performed all of my favourite songs from Fire, and fittingly, it was annoyingly hot in the venue. I was really happy when they ended the main set on ‘Synthesizer’, which considering Dick Valentine’s quick wander around the stage to tell everyone to play it, seemed to be an impromptu decision. Dick also still does his party trick of standing very still and staring at the back of the room like a statue, during long sections without vocals.