Nice to hear old skool indie pop goodness being played at Twee As Fuck last night. S’funny, but at the time they were around, I never got to hear bands like Fourteen Iced Bears, Jesse Garon and The Desperadoes, The Shop Assistants etc played in public. If you were lucky you might hear The Smiths or Echo and the Bunnymen, but in the late ‘80s indiepop didn’t get played in bars or even before gigs. Hence our vehement hatred of all things chart related. So yesterday evening in the MacBeth I felt unnecessarily excited to hear ‘Shimmer’ by The Flatmates spangling out and had to restrain myself from singing along like a loon. It still sounds swoopy and shiny and left me still gleefully humming it to myself today. So to celebrate, here are some olden tymes reports on two Flatmates gigs I once went to…
The Flatmates / The Rosehips - Norwich Arts Centre, 23 April 1987
Did some art and listed to The June Brides and then had to watch Top Of The Pops ‘cos The Smiths were on. Hurray! Morrissey’s shirt was ‘tucked in’! (it was a blue shirt, fashion fans, and his trousers were white, yes, white!) He did some v. silly dancing and Johnny Marr was very poutsome as usual. Then! picked up K and went to the Arts Centre. Some very silly sort of jazz group were on first, not very anorak, I’m afraid. But then The Rosehips were on. V. fast fast fast geetarsdrumssinging. They did about ten or so songs, I don’t really know! All the shambly lads were stood round gazing at the stage. In between The Rosehips and Flatmates ‘sets’, two laddies sold us a fanzine called ‘So Naive’ for 30p - a snip! It’s v.v. anorak and cutie, but an entertaining read. S’nice to know there are indiekids in existence around here! Anyway, The Flatties came on and did all the faves (?!) like ‘Happy All The Time’ and ‘I Could Be In Heaven’ and ‘I Wanna Be With Him’ etc etc . Very fast and furious it was too. The Rosehips were dancing about to The Flatmates and one of them (bass player) chucked his drink all over K by mistake. What a claim to ‘fame’! On the way out, lots of people were clutching copies of ‘Take The Subway To Your Suburb’ from the merch. stall on the way out. V. shambly time had by all (i.e. about 60 people).
The Flatmates / The Choo Choo Train – Norwich Arts Centre, 24 October 1988
I have no recollection of seeing The Flatmates this second time, I obviously wasn’t that impressed. I can definitely remember Choo Choo Train, though. I bought their ‘Briar Rose’ e.p. shortly after being utterly enraptured by their set of bubble-gum power pop and played it to death (especially the sunshine fizzbomb of ‘Big Blue Buzz’. According to Martin Whitehead’s exhaustive Flatmates site (http://www.theflatmates.com/), Ric Menck – who so amused me during the Choo Choo Train set, also played with The Flatmates at this gig, after their drummer injured his wrist, but I can’t really remember that either. Lordy.
Zeroomed along to The Premises and paid our £3. The support was Choo Choo Train from the USA and who were ACE and FABBIE and I kept thinking they were The Monkees ‘cos one geetarist looked like Peter Tork. The other one was really huge and he apparently had a virus ‘cos K heard him say so and saw him splashing water on his face in the lavs. The drummer was the best, called Ric, with a groovy sweatshirt with little cars printed on it and he kept getting up and saying silly things into the mic. The big guitarman called the Arts Centre a ‘castle’ and the singer called it ‘the inner sanctum’ Their ditties were really diggy and fab. The Flatmates weren’t so spingly as when we saw them back in the groovy days of old, and ‘Shimmer’ didn’t. Also, the bass player’s guitar strap looked like a piece of fur coat. Oh.