Thursday, 18 September 2014

Got Cape. Wore cape. Flew. Review of last ever GCWCF show at The Forum.

Get Cape Wear Cape Fly *****
Some Shit Rap shambles *****
The Xcerts *****
Shane McGowan 

The Forum, Kentish Town, Friday 12th September 2014

So, it's finally here. The public pyre-lighting to see off a decade long 'project'? The Up helly aa of a nom-de-plume or stage name sobriquet? The gallows rites of an act? A band. A bloke? Tonight we are gathered to bury Get Cape Wear Cape Fly. And to praise him. (It. Them.)

Around 10 years ago, Mr Sam Duckworth from sunny Sarfend produced an album of such staggering influence, prescience and quality that he was going to make life very difficult for himself. Difficult to beat. Difficult to live up to. Difficult to follow up. Difficult to shake off.

And by his own admission, the intervening years have oft been marinaded in that difficulty. But throughout the 'career' or tenure of GCWCF, he has cemented himself in the position of all round brilliant bloke. Caring bloke. Supportive bloke. Revolutionary bloke. Talented bloke. Honest, dignified and integrity-soused bloke.

Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager is without a doubt, a modern masterpiece and should be on every self-respecting music loving being's shelf, cloud or iPod. And tonight we are seeing some of its hallowed contents along with some equally sparkling further works from Mr Duckworth's later oeuvre being laid to rest for the very last time.

So, while there's a party vibe in the air, there's definitely a lump or two welling in the collective throats. A frisson of sadness not far under the surface. Damn it, it feels like a wake, rather than a farewell party.

But before we turn to the main man and his death cape, Sam has curated, well, a curate's egg of an evening. Due to the early start I miss most of Sean McGowan's spiky, sassy and sardonic jamboree, but he seems to have pulled a decent smattering of the floating mourners away from the Red Stripe pumps and onto the floor to slap them with his socially sarf coast estuarine rants, raves and roams. 

The Xcerts *****
The mourners however are a little more insouciant and stand-offish for the always excellent Xcerts. Regardless of the relatively sparse floor dwellers, the trio's sound is huge tonight and a mix of older favourites and stunning tasters milk every dB out of the ballsy PA. 

Pop Song and Shaking in The Water are genuine instant classics. Radio friendly enough but with a majesty, complexity and even a noir underbelly. If this is anywhere near what else is to come on  their long-awaited new long player, then they won't be playing half empty support slots for much longer.

Like a diminutive and slightly gauche bastard offspring of Tom Petty, Sam Carter, Kurt Cobain and My auntie Lyn, frontman Murray Macleod shows genuine and heartfelt respect, friendship, comradeship and love for Duckworth and regales the crowd with anecdotes of how he was totally fucked up by Sam's 'appetite for life' early in their career back in the BSM era when Sam personally championed the band (I fondly remember one evening in a converted strip bar in Soho at a very late show....nuff said - well, it is a night for reminiscing as well as revelry).

The short but oh-so-sweet set ends with the anthemic and energetic Slackerpop during which an impish Macleod manfully manages to get the crowd to enter pantomime world and get involved. 

A fitting and special performance, just can't work out why they're not on directly before the man himself.

Some Shit Rap shambles 1/2****
I won't rant. Or be too disrespectful. Rap is not really my thing. 

So I am more than a bit bewildered at Sam's choice of guests; even more so at their position on the bill. I don't even know who they are. Which is, I admit, a little disrespectful. Forgive me.

But it's kind of like two blokes having a syncopated shouty road rage argument in Peckham High Street bawling into each others' faces with some dude on a record player spinning bits and bobs of tunes that seem to have no rhythmic, melodic, structural or percussive link to what or how the shouty blokes are doing.

An absolute shambles. Made worse by the conveyor belt arrival of other road ragey special guest blokes in anoraks who ramble on about weed and get the crowd (well, the scant few who show any interest whatsoever) to shout back 'SHIIIIT!' Exactly.

Now, I know Sam is very much a man of the people and is a no respecter of boundaries, borders, discrimination, demarcation or crippling taxonomy and genres. In short, he oozes diversity, respect and integrity and his diverse and inclusive influences are legendary and eye-opening. Know what he was trying to do. But, in all honesty, for once, he's dropped a bit of a bollock here tonight. Let me hear you say SHIIIIIT!

Get Cape Wear Cape Fly
So, onto the main event. Hankies ready.

The venerable old Forum is now as full as a fat man's pants and there's a genuine feeling of love and magic in the air. Mr Duckworth bounces onto the stage to join a full horn section, drums and, of course, his laptop. 

Leaving no Bohemian stone unturned from the incredible Chronicles, and giving most of them a completely new coat of varnish or gold leaf and tinkering with rhythms, arrangements, time signatures and ileum-loosening sub bass, the drooling and fine-voiced throng lap up every syllable and semi-quaver. Without being too glib, it feels like a massive, real time loved up Karaoke.

Regularly adding and subtracting to the line up, often leaving his slight frame but massive presence alone on the stage peeking out from behind his well-love acoustic, the show tugs at heartstrings, provokes and allures, gets heads a bobbing and feet a shuffling like some massive dance like your dad at a wedding flash mob. And the wee man looks like he's loving every fucking minute of it.

The full band add weight when called upon, faithful sidekick Mikey Glenister and his horny friends add honks, badaps and sheen, noodly keyboards complement the beeps, farts, wobs and real bass upon sub bass and real drums upon quantized clicks and booms all create a perfect storm. Add in Duckworth's flawless, raw, honest and eastbound A127 glottal-stop infused vocal cajoling, polemicising, philosophising and thought provoking vocals and, lest not forget, pretty fine plank spanking and the perfect storm becomes an irresistible tornado. And sounds as relevant and as original today as it ever has done.

There are genuine tears all around me for Lighthouse Keeper which is a personal highlight in an evening actually impossible to pick out highlights and voices finally gave out during the wonderfully apt and show stopping bas da ba da ba joy fest that closes this particular chronicle.

Not an unsullied larynx or a dry eye left in the house.

I kind of shot my emotional bolt when it comes to putting into words Sam's last show, as I was under the impression that a show he did at the New Slang event in good old Kingston earlier this year which left me as an empty quivering, tearful wreck. So I couldn't' fully put into words how delighted I was when I heard he was going to go out in the right manner here tonight. And what a way to go. What a night. A truly legendary performance.

He has his reasons. And I'm sure they're as good as the bloke he is. And tonight is a fitting and celebratory end of an era. A monumentally important era. 

It's a total joy and a privilege to have been here to be part of it tonight. And to have been there witnessing the growth, and regrowth over the past decade. And I wish him all the best in the next stage of the journey. Or the next stanza, verse, chapter or volume of his chronicles.

Hats of Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, whatever or whoever you were. You flew. Oh yes. 

And thank you. 

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