Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Tonight we went so see the acoustic arm of the long-serving punk/folk agit-prop anarcho-syndicalist Prescott soakers Chumbawamba at the Darwin Suite, Derby.

A strange event. For a start, the room was laid out with individual round tables, four chairs around, with vases of flowers, giving the impression of a twenties German underground nightclub. And then the audience; a bunch of hand-woven folky types of all ages from 6-60 who looked like they had come down on a coach trip from Hebden Bridge. I felt I stuck out a bit in my standard punk ensemble.
And of course, the music. We'd downloaded their latest album (The Boy Bands Have Won) so we should have known what to expect, but heck, sorry guys but Chumbawamba without Alice Nutter or Danbert Nobacon is like a chili con carne (vegetarian version of course) without the chili - nice enough, but no flame, no heat, no va-va-voom.

They managed to slip in a snatch of 'Tubthumping' ("a medley of our one hit") , but otherwise there was little energy in the set. The acoustic Chumbies engaged in a little nervous banter with the audience (for example, wondering why the venue was called the Darwin Suite. An erudite member of the audience reminded them that Erasmus (Charle's grandfather) used to live not a hundred metres from there. As heckles go, this was actually informative!), but on the whole they came across as amateurish and unrehearsed. That's not a bad thing; they were real people you might meet in a pub who had some interesting thoughts on Bertolt Brecht and Philip Larkin they'd like to share.

A gem though was the accordion playing of Phil Moody, evoking the atmosphere of a smoky Parisian dive (though of course, in these smoke-ban days, that's just wishful thinking).

They tried to get a singalong going for 'On eBay' (from Babylon back to Babylon. And there's a coincidence, as I bought their 'Un' CD on eBay for 99p), but otherwise the audience were pretty sedate (at a Chumbawamba gig! Where were the Sisters of the Immaculate Misconception?! Where was John Prescott?!).

Still, all in all pleasurable enough, and better than staying in and watching the telly. And I forgive them the dreary 'Hull or Hell' because they did do the excellent 'Homophobia', which I have embedded below.

Oh and here's a link to their MySpace site where you can hear clips from their latest album.

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