Bull & Gate 19th May 2001. THE place to play in Britpop London. So it was natural I missed the boat by about 7 years. What do I remember? Loads actually. The setlist, the flapping ties and the oversized jeans. I remember the BBC radio workshop keyboard, the xylophone (harking back to even earlier experiments - more about those in future), the ill advised ballad. I have a recording somewhere - the first Silvery bootleg made by Mr. Briggs who was responsible for the recording made available to our 7 fans on the 'Silvery I Presume' download coincidently at the same venue, 8 years later. It's worth saying that the Bull & Gate hosted many Silvery gigs after this first one - a very very drunk one the night England beat Germany 5-1 (including a wobbly version of a song not dissimilar to 'Vindaloo' halted by the drummer being knocked off his stool by a huge bunch of flowers), triumphant gala performances, two totalled guitars, two band splits and the latest, sadly, a dismal short set opening Steve Lamacq's night 'In New Music We Trust' boasting two broken ribs, 3 new members and an unplayable new single. We will rectify this soon. Oh, and the best one - sometime in 2002 when I managed to fall off the front AND back of the stage.
What did we play? The year (!) since the previous gig (see that previous entry) hadn't been wasted - although looking at the setlist it's strange we didn't play a few of our really good songs that I remember were ready at that point. We started off with a little ditty called 'Lovely Lady', a delicate and knowingly cheesey 2 guitar converstaion. Myself and Howard (Silvery 2000 - 2004) trying to keep a straight face. Then came 'Theremin', the usual feedback intro favoured by bands who think they are being clever. I sat at the drums for that one, confusing work pals who had the grace to pop along for support. Murray the drummer (Silvery 2000 - 2003) whipped up a howling theremin storm and Howard started up his enormous amplifier. The marching intro of 'Uncatchables' came next (it's notable that we had 3 intro ideas for the gig, so, naturally, played them one after the other in order of volume) - all inaudible backing vocals and heavy metal middle bit. It's worth saying our bassist for the night was Steve. I don't know what happened to him. Oh hang on, that why we only played 7 songs. The next gig, in Luton (recruited, unbelieveabley through our Bassist Wanted advert in Melody Maker) was the first with Barnesy on Bass - my old pal from school days and adventures in our first band ('Theme' - they'll be more about them here soon). Barnesy lasted as long as Murray although he had the sense to get a job and start a family rather than bugger off to go surfing.
Looking at the setlist, some of these are still contenders for album 3 - no mean feat for a band who have never had a problem with shortage of songs (shortness of songs, however..). Indeed, one of them stayed in the set all the way through and ended up on the first album. That's right, 'Revolving Sleepy Signs' is nearly as old as the internet (I'm sure that mattered little to whose heard it that surreal Saturday morning on Radio 2 that caused a huge on air row between Mark Lamarr and Jo Brand). 'Engines' was Elastica and Menswear all in one ('But...?'), and along with 'March On Your Hometown' formed the backbone of our first demo tape at the time. A tape incidently that got some excellent reviews. We though that was it - a thumbs up from Organ. Job done. Alas, one taste and we wanted more. That is, until everyone cleared off and we mothballed the band for 12 months and I wrote the first album, coming back fully fledged with a new line up and new clothes in 2005. Not the first of our ridiculously long periods being a band only in theory.
Where were we? 'The Confounders' still has the best ska bit of any Silvery song - a shame the verses were gash. 'Toads' was played twice because the keyboards weren't loud enough. I liked Howard's keyboard part for that. 'Goodbye Waves' is a brilliant song. Not really a 'live' song though if you know what I mean. We played half of it at the next gig and then it disappeared completely.
I could go on. You know, the look of shame on the bassists face when we saw he was wearing a t-shirt with 'Bollocks' written on it (he must have been a fortune teller or something) as we bounded on stage dressed as the cast of Das Boot. I've got to have my tea, so I'll leave you with (for your enjoyment) some reviews from the era. I'll be honest, I think I wrote the last one.
Organ, Winter 2000 - "Three tracks that have a fragile quirky Menswear/Low Art Thrill new wave pop art taste to them - this is rather good. They feel as good as anything Elastica have done, they remind us of Minty or Nancy Boy, Silvery are indeed a real low art low rent thrill. They're from London, we should all make contact and find out more. Three spiky spunky songs that cum recommended."
Songs & People Fanzine, Spring 2001 - "They look like a cross between Elastica's kid brothers and "Modern Life Is Rubbish" era Blur, but sound like Magazine and XTC twatting each other over head with big glam guitars. That's not to say they aren't 'pop'. The Bowie element is there, but when they play with the Ska awkwardness of the Cardiacs you go away scratching your head."