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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
Shepherds Bush Empire, London, December 7th 2007
Sinead Posts: 80. Re:Shepherds Bush Empire 07/12/07 - 2007/12/11 17:15 I think the Docs were awesome on Friday, really good. But I agree I don’t think the crowd were quite as up for it as thgey were last year. Just wasn't as wild! Although we tried to make up for that in my little area by going completely mad! I had a brilliant night! Shame about I useta lover being missing, but apart from that it was proper Ghostcastle!!
It’s nearly Christmas isn’t it? I can tell because what passes for seasonal goodwill is going into overdrive inside a packed, noisy, excited, boisterous, happy and thoroughly saw doctored Shepherds Bush Empire. Actually I think it’s what the Daily Mail would call binge drinking. There’s a big crowd all around us who all seem to know each other, or be related in some way, and the majority are from the L'Île Emerald. While I’m fighting jungle-warfare style to the bar the Photographer is bonding with the matriarch of the party, exchanging Oirish family stories, life-histories and the like – you know, the usual stuff that happens at these dos. So what with her pedigree and my Gaelic thatch we’re family. And we’re neatly tucked into a corner by the sound desk from where the boozing and the behavioural changes it brings on as the night progresses is as much a spectator sport as the Saw Doctors. While we nurse a glass of the dark stuff it seems the majority are on lager and cider, pints and pints of the stuff, occasionally accompanied by something spirituous with coke. The girls are delicately sipping on their half pints, and throwing back shorts as if they’re going out of fashion. One of the girls, wearing only a large T-shirt (which some of her ‘friends’ seem to be trying to take off her) is hoisted precariously on the shoulders of a boy, looking not forward to the stage, but back to us and the folks above at the bar. Her shirt is advertising the venue of an after show party in south London – free bus, bar ‘till four, and “free buffet”, the thought of which is making the Photographer wretch. The way these guys are going they’re not going to make it.
Saw Doctors
Saw Doctors Oh, and on the stage it’s the Saw Doctors. How do they manage it? For a long time they’ve been the ultimate good time show band – you wonder how they can work through the same songs (some of which, we should be reminded, are very, very good) night after night after night with such apparent enthusiasm. But they do. It’s a shame that subtlety is thrown away in favour of the party atmosphere, but you can still appreciate the quality of some of the writing – and the playing is surprisingly good – ex Waterboy Anthony Thistlethwaite is quite outstanding on bass. While years of touring seem to be etched hard into Davy Carton’s face his vice is as strong as ever. And front man Leo Moran works the audience to perfection – he’s all Buddy Holly glasses, squinting glances into the audience and comic raised eyebrows – but he drives and drives the band on, and – as if they need it – whips the willing crowd into even more of a largely alcohol-fuelled frenzy.
And it’s sadly noticeable that as they do so the universal good humour just begins to get a hard edge as dancers crash into drinkers and jealous boyfriends try to repossess their girls. But we stay to the end (although it’s totally thrown away I have to hear ‘Hay Wrap’ which traditionally comes as the final encore) and manage to exit intact, promising that we’ll meet up next year, same gig, same place.
It’s cold outside – smokers are huddled outside the pubs, early seasonal revellers are stumbling along the pavements, Santa Claus hats at jaunty angles. Behind us the rest of the crowd are pouring from the theatre. We’ve been down to the doctor’s – it is nearly Christmas isn’t it Serge? - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)

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