Friday, 12 December 2014

Buffalo Bar, N1

You will have heard that the Buffalo Bar on Highbury Corner N1 is closing right? We loved it, and I thought it timely to take a brief look back in our standard more-excitement-than-skill journalistic scribble at the Silvery BB story. A story intertwined with the ups and downs of the good ship Silvery and ROCK HISTORY ITSELF. I count us having played 7 times over the years. I'm sure that's not a record but that puts the venue 2nd on our most gigged list after The Bull & Gate in Kentish Town (also RIP). As an Islington lad myself (well, since 1997) it's somehow always been there and Indeed I can't remember a time when it wasn't, so tightly it goes with North London life. Sure, there are better places to play, but I'd be hard pushed to think of a better place to see a band. And it certainly is up there with those places you'd be guaranteed to be on at least nodding terms with most of the people in there. And that's a positively a plus point when you can hardly walk at the end of a heavy night.
I'm pretty sure the first time we played there was supporting David Devant & His Spirit Wife in 2005 just after the 7/7 attacks - as a relatively new 4 piece in stupid bandsman's uniforms and wonky eyeballs-on-stalks fast songs. As mentioned elsewhere here, it felt good being one of 2 bands so heavily intertwined thematically with London's history getting out there and reclaiming a sense of normality a couple of days after the bombs. It was all surreal still, but we toasted London Town and it felt good. And then played a very fast 'Seven Seas Of Rhye' to round the set off until we could stand up no more. I think that was the night we lost a bag of demo CDs and later saw some kids throwing them at cars going around the roundabout outside. We joined in, naturally. They're worth about a quid now I think. And the night of that amusing drinks incident with Julian Barrett. 
2 more gigs quickly followed in late 2005 - one propping up the bill with The Pipettes / Kitty Daisy & Lewis, and another for that relatively short lived monthly celebration of all things glittery 'Glam-O-Rama' (I think our misleading name got us that booking). We were getting better (just) and these were the happy days of walking down to the Buffalo Bar from rehearsing at Backstreet Studios up Holloway Road (also RIP) to do a gig and then walk back. I remember doing it but don't remember why. Supporting The Pipettes also led to one of the great unreleased Silvery tunes - 'The Buffalo Munch' being written and demoed on the spot as they sound checked and we watched. It's really good. I'd suggest releasing it as a fundraiser for the faithful BB staff but it's lyrics are a bit blue. Always good for singing during a technical hitch. Which reminds me of all the recordings of our gigs at the Buffalo Bar, the early ones on Minidisc and the later ones on amazing futuristic MP3. I'm listening to them right now. They reveal amusing intros by the always affable Paul Guided Missile (whose nights we often played and went to socially), an awkward 'interview' on stage by the comedian before us at one gig (the night after George Best died if I remember rightly), and most importantly, an always wonderful in-yer-face reaction from the audience. Notably from gig to gig as that audience swelled from just our friends in the early days to actual punters who had heard us on the radio. Also measurable by how close to the toilets the bassist had to stand to make room for the crowd. I should cobble together a live album from the various recordings. Perhaps I'll leave that for a VU-style boxset during the big Silvery archival push in 2034.
I can't remember us being there during 2006 with London gigs balanced firmly between Nambucca and Koko that year (4 times each) but the next bootleg in the archive is from February 2007 - fresh from a live review in NME and settling in our new bassist as the newly signed 'slick and professional' Silvery took shape. It was a fun return to the venue and The Duloks joined us for the usual encore of 'You Give A Little Love'. The next stop seems to be 2008 and one of the typical hangover gigs of the era around the time of either our 2nd or 3rd single release. I remember racing back from a gig in Brighton that afternoon (the gig with the pint glasses and mid song fight on the stairs) to get to the beer garden of the Famous Cock for the pre sound check drinks. I grimace at the thought now, but a coating of Fosters and flavoured shots made 'The Nod' easier to play. I think we played that one wearing our Russian police hats that we'd brought back from Moscow.
Regardless of us playing, the BB was visited quite a bit. I loved Glam Racket there (I remember once they played one too many Catapult songs and I honestly thought I was going to die walking back home down New North Road) and would often go to see whatever band was playing. Mush's newly reinvigorated Ten Benson was great, as was more recently Sheffield's Faerground Accidents featuring my pal Muzz. Usually hiding around the back by the pinball machine viewing the stage like a sniper through the arches, pillars and bar staff. Actually, one of my happiest moments was doing the Mud roadie dance to 'There's A Raver Coming Home' played one Glam Racket. Sad to say the final Silvery gig there was a messy 5 song affair with a thrown together line up for our pals at Indieoke. Even the live band karaoke couldn't halt the diminishing returns for the band as we rolled towards the end of 2010 (as is the way, early 2011 was our biggest commercial peak so far with a return to Koko and 2 months on the 6Music playlist). Good pictures though that night thanks to the seasonal fairy lights forming a boxing ring around the stage. And essentially, isn't that what it's all about? Thanks for the memories BB.

Postscript: It was only after this was posted I remember the times we'd be across the road at The Garage and after we'd played realise that 'the gang' had got confused and gone to The Buffalo Bar thinking we were there instead. One of the many ways 'Silvery Luck' will reveal itself. Stupid Silvery Luck. 

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