We got the train down to London. Had a quick dinner in the Smollensky's burger place just up from the venue. Nice food. For some reason there were a bunch of goths hanging around outside the Astoria. I'm not sure they were there for the gig. We went upstairs and positioned ourselves right in the middle. Unfortunately all the seats were taken.
First up were female keyboard/drums duo Smoosh. They made a nice racket, but I couldn't understand a word of the lyrics due to the usual dodgy sound. The stage was very bare with just the instruments and flight cases piled up at the back. I guess there is just no spare space there. The support kit was cleared pretty quickly and then the lights went down...
First on stage was a very tall 'security' guy who checked the place out and then called out the band. E and his fellow guitarist came on with guitars blaring out noise like a squadron of helicopters. Both were in military jumpsuits and sunglasses with E sporting a flying helmet and goggles. The drummer was done up like Fidel Castro. They then went into a rapid series of great songs, most of which I recognised. The 'security' man was actually part of the act and introduced each song with some cryptic statement and danced along with some martial arts and boxing moves. He also played some percussion, keyboards and guitar. Unusually there was no bass player apart from at least one song where E played bass whilst the guitarist sang.
They really rocked! Over about 100 minutes they played loads of songs including a lightning version of My Beloved Monster and covers of You Put A Spell On Me and That's life. Smoosh came on and danced through an encore of Cancer For The Cure. I thought the gig was over when the lights came up and the PA started playing an instrumental version of Saturday Morning, but then the band came back on and played that song themselves.
It was a more theatrical performance than I expected. E hardly spoke and let security man go and slap hands with the crowd and feed them squirty cream(?). This didn't detract from the brilliant music and they even managed to make the lyrics clear enough. I have to say that I have never heard so much use of feedback at a gig.