THE TEARAWAYS + THE DEL STRANGEFISH INEXPERIENCE + THEE SHERBERT PEARDROP EXPLOSION – THE PRINCE ALBERT, BRIGHTON 1.12.23
To quote The Tearaways recent single ‘Are You Effing Kidding Me’, was my exclamation on learning that Blondie’s drummer, the actual legendary Clem Burke, who has been at their stix since 1974 is going to be playing live in Brighton at The Prince Albert with his band The Tearaways. Once again I would be able to stand a mere six feet away from the master as he went about his business of twirling his drumsticks and bashing the hell out of his kit. I attended The Tearaways previous gig here back on 23rd August 2019 and on that night Clem gave me his drumsticks, which are one of my treasured possessions. You can read the account of that night and see the drumsticks HERE.
I have actually seen Clem Burke in action a few times since that 2019 date; these being 1st July this year with Blondie who were supporting Iggy Pop (Review HERE), on 10th March this year with Sex Pistol Glen Matlock as part of ‘Lust For Life’ (Review HERE), and with Blondie on 28th April 2022 (Review HERE). It has to be said that I still get rather excited at the prospect of seeing him play, in fact just as much as my debut encounter with him when he was on drums for The Eurythmics at Brighton’s Top Rank Suite gig on 6th March 1983. I guess that Clem just really loves to drum and given the opportunity will join an outfit and head out on tour, irrespective of the size of venues that they are playing. So not surprisingly tonight’s encounter had sold out.
The Tearaways formed way back in 1980 and combine the influence of the British Invasion with the California Sound with a touch of the Ramones, Clash and Blondie thrown in to deliver high energy performances wherever they perform. Their sound however is not limited to those as you could easily throw in other names like The Bellamy Brothers, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, The Kinks, The Hollies, plus Squeeze and come up with The Tearaways format.
The band dropped their latest long player ‘And For Our Next Trick’ back in March and featured the dual lead singers of bassist John “Fin” Finseth and rhythm guitarist Greg Brallier, lead guitar David Hekhouse and drummer Clem Burke (Blondie). Also, from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Benmont Tench played keyboards and Steven McCarthy (Jayhawks, The Long Ryders) added pedal steel guitar. Check out the album HERE.
This evening’s gig at The Prince Albert is the final date of their short but sweet UK tour having already played London’s 100 Club on 24th and 25th November, Bristol’s Thunderbolt on 26th, and the telling inspiration of The Cavern in Liverpool last night. Judging by the equipment on stage, these lads aren’t short of a bob or two, I spy co-lead singer John’s Rickenbacker bass; whereas other vocalist Greg has a Rickenbacker guitar as well as a Martin acoustic guitar; David also has a Rickenbacker guitar and a Fender Esquire guitar; there’s also a Epiphone guitar that gets utilised half way through the set by a guest guitarist Jeff Bakersfield; and obviously there was Clem’s decent drumkit; plus a Nord Electro keyboard on offer as well by their keyboardist Willie Aron.
Clearly the band don’t appear to need the money and so are quite possibly ticking off the places of inspiration for their sound with this tour, no doubt Brighton is included because of our historic Mod influences. Tonight we get served 16 tunes that run across exactly an hour, from 9:59pm to 10:59pm. Not surprisingly, more than half of these are from the latest ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album, most of these are played first commencing with the blues rock ‘Are You F*cking Kidding Me’ which finishes with a James Bond guitar riff courtesy of David, which sets out their stall. Even after this opening number you can see how good the joint vocals from John and Greg are, and Clem’s drumming is a pleasure, whereas I would put money on David having the most fun out there!
‘Not Good Enough For Me’ from the LP was choice two and this reminded me of The Everly Brothers, whereas following tune ‘No Love Lost’ initially started with Clem’s drumming pattern being not that far off Blondie’s ‘Dreaming’, which unfortunately was the closest to Blondie we were going to be served tonight. The band’s sound is unmistakably American, like track four ‘Married And Single’ with its Country rock (Tom Petty-ish) tones, and (Yacht rocker) selections five and six ‘Power Pop, Pop Punk – Let Me Be The Last’ and ‘Easier Done Than Said’ which reminds me of The Bellamy Brothers duo, but one could argue that these sounds in themselves hark back to earlier times in the UK. Although these first selections had been relatively good, thankfully the real headshakin’ ‘Saturday Everyday’ arrived just in time in order to lift the tempo somewhat. Maybe John had realised this and stated “We are going to take you to New York City”, and he and his chums launched into ‘Come On Jaan’, which was for me certainly the right direction to be heading in, with its Heartbreakers meets Glam rock vibe. This was the eight tune in a row from the album and now they were starting to branch out.
They literally did branch out with the arrival of an additional guitarist for the rest of the set, who may or may not have been Jeff. He straps on the as yet unused Epiphone and they are away with what I suspect to be ‘I Can’t Let Go’, which I find out is an Evie Sands cover from 1965 and sounding not too unlike the Beatles. The final ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album selection comes next in the form of ‘Charlie, Keith And Ringo’ which certainly highlights exactly what Clem can do. The first of six straight covers to see them out arrives with the Small Faces 1967 ‘All Or Nothing’ which sees Greg take the lead vocal. According to the setlist, this was to be the following tune, but worry not it wasn’t going to be omitted. The rockin’ ‘California Man’ was next and I suspect that this was the same as The Move’s 1972 single. The omitted tune was next, this being their take on Joe Jones’ 1960 ‘California Sun’ single, in which David added the Beatles ‘Day Tripper’ riff at the end. Although enjoyable, it seemed slow to me, but that’s on account of hearing the Ramones version countless times.
Looking at the setlist almost beneath my feet (as I was at the very front), I noted that was the last track on their setlist. I was worried that the night might have ended. It was 10:47pm as the lads vacated the stage and surely there would be time to cram a couple more in before 11pm curfew. Thankfully the door almost immediately swung back open and they were back at it. Clem stated “Thanks everybody, we are going to play some rock roll” and they were off with ‘Going To Go-Go’ which might or might not have been the same as Smokey Robinson And The Miracles 1965 ‘Going To A Go-Go’ single. Anyway half way through I could hear they weren’t in sync and Clem called a halt and the track was aborted. They signed off with (full versions) of ‘One After 909’ by The Beatles from their 1970 ‘Let It Be’ album, followed by ‘Let It Bleed’ by The Rolling Stones from their 1969 album of the same name. At 10:59pm they were done!
It had been an enjoyable experience, with arguably nothing new in the form of sounds. It is what it is, which is a handful of truly accomplished musicians doing it for the fun of it and winning new fans along the way. The punters enjoyed themselves, as obviously did the band. Let’s hope that they fly back over this side of the pond in the not too distant future!
John ‘Fin’ Finseth – vocals/bass
Greg Brallier – vocals/rhythm guitar
David Hekhouse – guitars
Clem Burke – drums
Willie Aron – keys
Jeff Bakersfield – guest guitarist
The Tearaways setlist:
‘Are You F*cking Kidding Me’ (from 2023 ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album)
‘Not Good Enough For Me’ (from 2023 ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album)
‘No Love Lost’ (from 2023 ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album)
‘Married And Single’ (from 2023 ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album)
‘Power Pop, Pop Punk – Let Me Be The Last’ (from 2023 ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album)
‘Easier Done Than Said’ (from 2023 ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album)
‘Saturday Everyday’ (from 2023 ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album)
‘Come On Jaan’ (from 2023 ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album)
‘I Can’t Let Go’ (Evie Sands cover from her 1965 ‘I Can’t Let Go’ single)
‘Charlie, Keith And Ringo’ (from 2023 ‘And For Our Next Trick’ album)
‘All Or Nothing’ (Small Faces cover from their 1967 ‘From The Beginning’ album)
‘California Man’ (The Move cover from their 1972 ‘California Man’ single)
‘California Sun’ (Joe Jones cover from his 1960 ‘California Sun’ single)
‘Going To Go-Go’ (aborted) (Smokey Robinson And The Miracles cover from their 1965 ‘Going To Go-Go’ album
‘One After 909’ (The Beatles cover from their 1970 ‘Let It Be’ album)
‘Let It Bleed’ (The Rolling Stones cover from their 1969 ‘Let It Bleed’ album)
There were two support acts on the bill this evening, with the main support slot going to the relatively new The Del Strangefish Inexperience which not surprisingly is headed by Del Strangefish of Peter And The Test Tube Babies fame, who takes care of lead vocals and Gibson Les Paul 70s Deluxe guitar duties for their 10 tune half hour set which ran from 8:53pm until 9:23pm. The other band members are Jim Phelan (of Penny Blood) on Fender lead guitar and backing vocals, Dom Smith on Fender Precision bass and backing vocals, and former Test Tube Dave O’Brien on drums.
This evening we are treated to mainly new, never heard before songs along with a couple of Test Tube classics at the end. Judging by their name The Del Strangefish Inexperience are a local outfit that obviously see the humorous side of things, just like Del’s recent book ‘Jinxed: How Not To Rock’N’Roll’ which is a jovial account of his life and antics thus far – Grab your copy HERE. The antics in their tunes tonight is mainly highlighted on number 7 ‘Silicone Beer Gut’. This Del informs us is about a young boy who wanted to be fat and became so via the assistance of the ‘Silicon Beer Gut’. I wonder where the subject matter came from? I have my strong suspicions.
They offload their first handful of tunes ‘Intro’, ‘Up & Down’, ‘Why Bother?’, ‘You Get On My Nerves’ and ‘Weak’ and it’s evident that unlike the hardcore oi elements of the Test Tubes, the Inexperience are an altogether more pop punk offering, although ‘Weak’ (the best thus far) was heading off into their territory. From where I was standing, Jim’s guitar was somewhat drowning out Del’s vocals which was a shame, but I guess that Del is getting accustomed to being out-front, so maybe no harm done.
For me, the last half of their set was a major improvement and the quartet were clearly getting into their stride with the arrival of ‘Highwire’, which certainly is a knee-wobbling-foot-tapping slab akin to the best Buzzcocks had to offer. Please write more of these Del!!! The aforementioned singalong ‘Silicon Beer Gut’ anthem was next with its Sweet ‘Blockbuster’ style drumming intro courtesy of Dave and Crafter acoustic guitar instead of Gibson from Del. This was followed by ‘Run Del Run’ which (Test Tube fans) is not a new updated version of the Test Tubes ‘Run Like Hell’, but one that simply is about not wanting to tour anymore. The lyrics being “We’re sitting in a tin box; Surrounded by pain; Like ants on rotten fruit; Circling the drain; Watching on from the wings; With tears in our eyes; The curtain goes up -2nite we die; Crossing the road to get to the middle; The critics are waiting; The gutters the limit – 2nite we die; Run Del run; This ain’t no fun; Run Del run; Into the sun”.
The quartet signed off with a couple of Test Tube anthems ‘Banned From The Pubs’ and
‘Blown Out Again‘ and surprisingly there wasn’t a mosh, but I guess most of the punters here tonight are accustomed to The Tearaways more subtle renditions. At 9:23pm they were done, the highlight being ‘Highwire’.
The Del Strangefish Inexperience:
Del Strangefish – vocals/lead guitar
Jim Phelan – lead guitar
Dom Smith – bass
Dave O’Brien – drums
The Del Strangefish Inexperience setlist:
‘Up & Down’
‘You Get On My Nerves’
‘Silicone Beer Gut’
‘Run Del Run’
‘Banned From The Pubs’ (Peter And The Test Tube Babies tune)
‘Blown Out Again‘ (Peter And The Test Tube Babies tune)
The openers this evening were Thee Sherbert Peardrop Explosion who formed in 2010 and are purveyors of 1960’s garage, nuggets and gems. They are regulars on the Brighton gig circuit and one could arguably state that they could even be referred to as The Prince Albert in-house band. There’s nothing fancy about this quartet, unless you include the shirts on their backs. Holding the fort to the rear for their 27 minute 10 covers tune set is pork pie hatted basher ‘Bongo’, and in front of him is the trio of ‘Psycho on Fender Mustang bass and backing vocals; stage left (our right) is vocalist ‘Django’ who favours a striking dark denim Gretsch semi-acoustic guitar with Bigsby vibrato tailpiece with bridge; and completing the quartet is ‘Sir’ Clive on our left (stage right) who plays a paisley Fender Telecaster.
The chaps kick off with an instrumental ‘Thunderin’ Guitars’, before launching into ‘Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White’, ‘Psycho’, ‘Quick Joey Small’, ‘Little Bit O’ Soul’ and ‘There’s A Storm Comin’. It is a superb performance all round and the vocals are split amongst the trio of frontmen. The band breaks for a well-earned round of tequila shots and then head on into ‘California Sun’, after which ‘Django’ informs us that up next is “The best song ever written” this being in his eyes ‘Agadoo’ by Black Lace. Oh OK, it wasn’t actually that, but ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ by 13th Floor Elevators.
There’s a lively finish with a romp through ‘Rumble’ (Link Wray & His Ray Men) segued into ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ which was famously covered by the MC5. If surf rock and proto punk blues numbers are your bag then Thee Sherbert Peardrop Explosion are well worth checking out. At 8:37pm they were done and I wandered off for some liquid refreshment!
Thee Sherbert Peardrop Explosion:
‘Sir’ Clive Sherbert Fontana – guitar/vocals
John ‘Django’ Sherbert Dib Dab – guitar/vocals
Stephen ‘Psycho’ Sherbert – bass/vocals
Will ‘Bongo’ Sherbert – drums
Thee Sherbert Peardrop Explosion setlist:
‘Thunderin’ Guitars’ (Jeujene And The Jaybops/The Bambi Molesters)
‘Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White’ (The Standells)
‘Psycho’ (The Sonics)
‘Quick Joey Small’ (Kasenatz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus/Slaughter And The Dogs)
‘Little Bit O’ Soul’ (The Little Darlings/The Music Explosion/The Ramones)
‘There’s A Storm Comin’ (The Standells)
‘California Sun’ (The Rivieras)
‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ (13th Floor Elevators)
‘Rumble’ (Link Wray & His Ray Men)
‘Ramblin’ Rose’ (Jerry Lee Lewis/MC5)