THE PROFESSIONALS + DESPERATE MEASURES – THE FORUM, TUNBRIDGE WELLS 13.10.21
The Forum opened as a new music venue in January 1993 in a building on Tunbridge Wells Common which was previously used as a public toilet and a brass rubbing centre. It has since hosted a number of acts who have gone on to achieve significant commercial success. The venue is co-owned by Mark Davyd who is also the founder and CEO of Music Venue Trust. The Forum music venue internally is in the shape of a semicircle, with the remainder of the building hosting a recording studio and rehearsal studio. There is also a covered garden area. Talking with the locals, this venue has come on in leaps in bounds over the past few years. Tonight is our first ever visit to this unique venue and it certainly won’t be our last!
The Brighton & Hove News Music Team decided to cross over the county border as sadly there is no Sussex concert date as part of The Professionals ‘SNAFU’ tour. ‘SNAFU’ being the title of the band’s brand new album and meaning ‘Situation Normal All F*cked Up’.
The eleven tracks on the ‘SNAFU’ album are: ‘Easily Lead’, ‘Gold And Truthful’, ‘Spike Me Baby’, ‘Punk Rock And A Hard Place’, ‘M’Ashes’, ‘Heartburn’, ‘Never Say Never’,
‘So No Go’, ‘The Elegant Art Of Falling Apart’, ‘Only Human’ and ‘Consuminator’.
Order your copy HERE including the gold vinyl edition.
The Professionals were formed in 1979 by guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook, both band members of the Sex Pistols. John Lydon had left the Sex Pistols, and both Cook and Jones had sung lead for the late Sex Pistols recordings ‘Silly Thing’ and ‘Lonely Boy’.
The current line up on this tour are Shepherd’s Bush boy Paul Cook (drums/backing vocals), Tom Spencer from Chipping Barnet (lead vocals/guitar), Japanese born Toshi JC Ogawa (bass/backing vocals) and from Hamilton, Canada, Rich Jones (guitar/backing vocals) who has been performing in the Michael Munroe Band since 2014. He is the (permanent or visiting) new boy in the band following the departure of Chris McCormack. You have got to raise your hat to Rich as he only got off the plane from Canada two days ago and has learnt the whole set. It must be all that nutritious vegan food keeping his brain sharp!
At 9:31pm The Professionals took to the raised stage to a massive welcome from the mainly mature crowd. They kicked off with the first song, ‘Payola’, which is amazingly now 40 years old and one of five tunes they played tonight which can be found on their debut 1981 ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ album. I knew straight away they were going to be amazing. Paul Cook looked in his element as his black gloved hands grasped his drumsticks that were going ten to the dozen. It struck me how talented each member of the band is. With two lead guitars and Toshi on the bass showering us with their wall of sound, it was evident that this band all dressed in black are a force to be reckoned with.
The lighting and sound in The Forum was a joy to behold. The only micro glitch was when a guy called Reece (I think) had to be called to immediately sort out frontman Tom’s monitor and leads at the beginning of the third track which was called ‘Easily Lead’. The tune was the first of four culled from the brand new ‘SNAFU’ album. The other trio being new single ‘Spike Me Baby’, ‘Heartburn’ and ‘M’Ashes’. Clearly this was the very first outing for all four tracks as covid has been with us for a while now. Each song brought about great appreciation from all of us.
I noted that the guitar intro of ‘Heartburn’ was somewhere in the same parish as The Mekons ‘Where Were You?’. Certainly nothing wrong with that!
The cap wearing singer, songwriter and stained glass artist Tom Spencer (that surely must have had a large hand in the brand new album’s artwork) informed us that ‘M’Ashes’ was penned as a result of Paul Cook taking former band member (and former Sex Pistol) Steve Jones mums ashes over to Los Angeles for him. This is clearly a tune from the depths of the heart.
‘Hats Off’ from The Professionals 2017 ‘What In The World’ album, reminded me of The Jam’s ‘Eton Rifles’ in parts. ‘Hats Off’ being one of four tracks performed this evening from the aforementioned album. I noted that the intro guitar piece on ‘Rewind’, which can be found on the same platter, sounded rather similar to ‘The Saints Are Coming’ by the Skids. I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised as The Professionals frontman, Tom Spencer, was sporting a Skids’ St Pauli’ t-shirt. Skids star Richard Jobson and supporters united behind the German football team Hamburg, FC St Pauli, whose fans are famed in their fight against fascism and support for refugees.
The pick of the four ‘What In The World’ album cuts for me was definitely ‘Monkeys’, which sounded as though it could have easily have been a Sex Pistols song. Talking of which, we had a couple of tracks associated with ‘The Pistols’ tonight, those being the Cook and Jones penned 1979 No.6 UK hit single ‘Silly Thing’, which was the third single released in promotion of the film ‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’. It was recorded after the band’s original lead singer, Johnny Rotten, left the band. It was a joy to watch the guys perform this number so tightly tonight and to see first hand Cook’s metronomic drumming.
The other tune associated with ‘The Pistols’ was the first encore track ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’, which was originally written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and was first recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders in May 1966. It is also a hit for The Monkees in November 1966 and was their first B-side to chart. The Sex Pistols version got to No.21 in 1980.
Tonight’s final number, the seventeenth of the night, was ‘Little Boys In Blue’ (from 1981 ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ album). This certainly rocked the venue with the fast drumming style and was a great choice to end with. The band finished their enjoyable 71 minute set at 10:42pm. They were joyous to be able to play live in front of fans again and those that took the time out to visit The Forum certainly didn’t regret it one bit!
The Professionals setlist:
(Intro tape: ‘You’re Wondering Now’ by The Specials)
‘Payola’ (from 1981 ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ album)
‘Going Going Gone’ (from 2017 ‘What In The World’ album)
‘Easily Lead’ (from 2021 ‘SNAFU’ album)
‘The Magnificent’ (from 1981 ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ album)
‘Just Another Dream’ (from 1997 ‘The Professionals’ album)
‘Rewind’ (from 2017 ‘What In The World’ album)
‘Spike Me Baby’ (from 2021 ‘SNAFU’ album)
‘Silly Thing’ (Sex Pistols cover)
‘Crescendo’ (from 1981 ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ album)
‘Hats Off’ (from 2017 ‘What In The World’ album)
‘Heartburn’ (from 2021 ‘SNAFU’ album)
‘Kick Down the Doors’ (from 1981 ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ album)
‘M’Ashes’ (from 2021 ‘SNAFU’ album)
‘Monkeys’ (from 2017 ‘What In The World’ album)
‘1,2,3’ (from 1991 ‘The Professionals Featuring Steve Jones And Paul Cook’ album)
‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’ (Paul Revere and the Raiders cover)
‘Little Boys In Blue’ (from 1981 ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ album)
For more information about The Professionals, visit theprofessionalsband.com
The opening act on the night was Desperate Measures who were featuring their new line-up of sole surviving founder member Eugene Butcher (formerly of Glitterati) on vocals, former K-Line/Done Lying Down drummer James Sherry, and current Rich Ragany and The Digressions band members Michael Gaffney aka ‘Gaff’ (on guitar) and Ricky McGuire (on bass). Ricky is also known from UK SUBS and The Men They Couldn’t Hang.
This was my second encounter with the band, having previously witnessed them playing live at The Dockyard Club in Southsea on 24th January 2019, when they were supporting Kirk Brandon’s ‘The Pack’. Back then, they had Anzi Destruction (who incidentally was the former vocalist of Finnish industrial glam punk quintet Stereo Junks!) on guitar and Donagh O’Leary on bass (the latter of which I believe was in the audience this evening), so tonight’s Desperate Measures line-up is half a new one.
Desperate Measures originally formed in the early 1980’s in Christchurch, New Zealand and now tonight’s London based quartet arguably offer up standard traditional punk band fayre with accompanying riffs, but nothing more. They took to the stage bang on time at 8:30pm and entertained the crowd with their nine song 33 minute set.
Visually this unit appear to be an amalgam of styles with talkative frontman, Eugene Butcher, often opting for the AC/DC and Status Quo look, whereas new boy ‘Gaff’ from Liverpool who follows the blue jersey’s of the city, has a 1970’s New York punk meets goth look going on.
Ten days ago, the band dropped their six track extended EP/mini album titled ‘Rinsed’ and as a result performed four of the tunes found on the release for us this evening, those being the opening number ‘Scars & Memories’, ‘Lost Angels’ as well as ‘The Rich-Tual’, and the latest single ‘Flowers At Your Door’. The track of choice for me was the first single release titled ‘1984’ – which if you are lucky can be found on their debut 7” 1982 EP – because of Ricky’s meaty bass on the track and ‘Gaff’s’ 1919 band style guitar. Their set concluded at 9:03pm.
Find Desperate Measures on Bandcamp.
Desperate Measures setlist:
‘Scars & Memories’
‘Enjoy The Ride’
‘Flowers At Your Door’
‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ (The Stooges cover)
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