A Megabus journey on one of the hottest days of the year got me to London in perfect time to have a lovely meal with daughter Stacey at a Brazilian restaurant near Victoria before she had to return to work. I then made my way to Camden and quickly found The Dublin Castle which appeared to have a lot of history with up and coming bands and musicians – a press review on the wall mentioned previous associations with Blur, Elastica, Tindersticks and Menswear. In addition there were pictures of Madness and Amy Winehouse above the bar.
I hadn’t been there long when I noticed Phil asking for the side door to be opened – Healthy Junkies had arrived and I soon found myself helping to carry equipment in, after initial introductions had been made. I then enjoyed a pre sound check chat with Nina, her mum and Phil – Nina’s mum had travelled over from Paris.
After the sound check we went outside so that I could conduct my interview with them away from the loud juke box. Phil and Nina provided most of the input for Healthy Junkies whilst ‘atmosphere’ was provided by passing traffic. I also managed to conduct an interview with Bubblegum Screw, the second billed band. This time we had to move a bit away from The Dublin Castle in order to avoid a loudly hissing hose connection; Mark and Zuri did most of the talking for the band.
Time to start soon arrived and The Palace of Justice got things off to a rocking start promptly at 8pm. They turned out to be an energetic three-piece who impressed me with their crisp and enthusiastic delivery. I don’t often do comparisons, but I was reminded of The Imagineers (without the Scottish accents). A giant of a character, Big Grae, was acting as MC, and invited various members of the audience on stage to help assist him, myself included. I seemed to get off lightly – one other had to hold a sheet of newspaper whilst he cut it in two using a bull-whip, more than once, with the final piece being barely handkerchief size! Before Healthy Junkies came on stage he was juggling knives over the prone body of another volunteer, it was only later when checking my photos that I realised that I too had been more or less under the knives as I positioned myself to get the best shot.
The second band were Bubblegum Screw, during the interview they had promised me some good energetic rock and roll – what I got was an incredible performance that had me drawing comparisons with New York Dolls and The Stooges’ Despite my reference to these other acts, the band were very much projecting their own unique version of powerful and forceful rock; certainly no recyclers of earlier bands’ music.
Finally it was time for the headline act, Healthy Junkies, as they got on stage to showcase some of the highlights of their album ‘Sick Note’. Nina was dressed as she had appeared in the video for ‘Trash My Love’ and they opened with another full-on song, ‘Copycat’ to blast away any stubborn cobwebs that may have survived Bubblegum Screw’s set. In addition to being able to enjoy the sound and passion of the band’s live performance it was such a privilege to be able to be so close to them as I attempted to do my best to record some good representative images. Nina certainly made this an easy task as she proved to be very photogenic, and her animated stage presence provided many varied opportunities. Despite having had the opportunity to play an extended set, it was over all too soon, brought to close with Mark from Bubblegum Screw joining as guest vocalist. The evening had been a great success and I was definitely glad that I had made the trip, the support acts had been great, and Healthy Junkies had been everything I expected as they performed an excellent selection of familiar songs interspersed with a couple of new offerings.
Then it was back to the more mundane task of attempting to catch the last train to South East London. This didn’t work out and I ended up finishing my journey by night bus; but that and the the following day’s interview with L Perry will be something for another blog entry.