Hillerwood Promotion were proud to present Dodgy as their first live act at The Prince of Wales Theatre in Cannock. With a 400 capacity, and only 200 tickets sold before the actual event, i have to admit to being skeptical on how the night would unfold.
First up were local band Cal 22.
This young four piece band had the difficult job of kicking off the night.Opening while the venue was still filling up, they struggled at first to find their composure But as you'd expect from a band influenced by the likes of The Who,The Clash & The Gaslight Anthem their attitude took hold and the rest was history. Reminding me of Weller strutting around the stage in the days of The Jam, Frontman Ben Phillips commanded the stage like a seasoned pro, With Mitch Dodd on Bass reminding me of Paul Simonon from The Clash in his heyday , Alex Jones on Guitar & backed up by Christian Chalmers on drums, they soon captured the attention of the incoming crowd. By the end of their set, you got the feeling that this gig would give them the confidence to push on to maybe one day becoming Cannocks very own Headliners.
Next up Sam Forrest had the difficult job of keeping the crowd entertained before Dodgy entered the stage.
With his clever lyrics and beautiful acoustic playing, Sam, a member of Manchester band Nine Black Alps was just what the doctor ordered, while he played out his set, it was becoming obvious that by the time Dodgy were to take stage there was going to be more that the 200 people expected, The Venue was filling up nicely and the anticipation of the band that gave us hits like 'Staying Out For The Summer' & 'Good Enough' back in the 90s, was growing minute by minute..
20 Years ago, Yes that's right folks 20!!!, Dodgy first entered the music scene.Their first album The Dodgy Album was released in 1993 by members Miller,Priest & Clark, 3 albums later and many band member changes, The original members were back together to release Dodgy's 5th album Stand Upright In A Cool Place in 2012.It's these two Albums that they've decided to play in full on their Current Back to Back tour.
The venue now full, Dodgy entered the stage to a rapturous Cannock welcome, Straight away you could tell that this was a band who knew what they were doing. Banter was had between band and crowd with singer Nigel Clark declaring the crowd had only turned up because they thought they'd brought tickets to a dogging event, Reference to goings on over Cannock Chase.
The first half of the set was all about the hear & now, Stand Upright In A Cool Place is an Album that sounded even better live than on CD, and that's saying something as in my opinion its probably their best work to date, 'Did It Have To Be This Way' is a song that even on first listen has you rummaging through your memory bank remembering the old days and live it's even more powerful. Then when my personal favourite 'Shadows' was played, i kept expecting Neil Young to enter the stage and for everybody to be transported back to San Francisco in the 1960s. And in many ways we were. The whole album has that mellow feel that makes having a flower in your hair feel like the right thing to do.
During the interval there was a prize draw where a Guitar signed by the band was raffled off for local Children's charity S.N.A.P, which was a really nice touch.
The second stage of the night was all about going back to 1993, this was where most of the crowd probably felt more comfortable and it showed with people looking more relaxed and starting to let their hair down, There was a sense from the band that 'this is where it started & we're proud of it' BUT you got the feeling that the first part of the night is what this tour is all about. A brave decision some would say to play two albums in full that were recorded 20 years apart BUT i tell you what, it works and it works really well, especially when you have a band that can actually play live and Dodgy showed they certainly can do that.
INTERVIEW - Mathew Priest
Q1) As its been over 12 months since ‘Stand up right in a cool place’ do you have any plans for a new studio Album? And if so when would you be looking to get it released?
Yeah we've already started recording, we've got loads of songs, even better than the last lot. The only problem is that we're not on a label and we're not time rich so things take a little longer. It's cool, fans know that we deliver so they don;t mind waiting
Q2) You intend to release a Live album from this Back to Back tour, why did you decide to have fans names (who signed up) on the artwork of the album?
It makes it a bit more personal for the fan and it also gives them an added incentive to buy the fucking thing! :-)
Q3) Why play The Dodgy Album & Stand Upright In A Cool Place on this tour? And was that an easy decision to make?
Well we knew it was the 20th anniversary of our debut album this year and we've always been tempted with these "play the album in full" shows BUT there's still a lot of love out there and within the band for SUIACP so someone came up with the idea of playing them back to back, so you get a real sense of 'now and then' with the band.
Q4) How was it that Ian Broudie came about to produce The Dodgy Album?
We really liked 'Sense' and 'Pure' by the Lightning Seeds and of course his work with Echo and the Bunnymen so we met up and got on really well with him. He's an amazing producer, very clear about what he wants + it gave us the chance to record in Liverpool, which is Mecca for musicians :-)
Q5) You first called yourselves ‘Purple’, why? And how did you become Dodgy?
Purple? Fuck knows, I guess we were trying to be psychedelic, that was before Andy joined. The name Dodgy came about during a long night on magic mushrooms, it made complete sense then. It hasn't made much sense since. There's a lesson kids - don't take drugs and name your band, or your kids.
Q6) You once played in Sarajevo, Bosnia while the war was still happening, Would you do something like this today? And what’s been your favourite venue?
Yeah, why not, the kids who we played to seemed to really appreciate the fact that we'd made the effort to go there. We weren't really scared, it's more exciting than anything in a weird way. Nothing like a war zone to heighten the senses.
Favourite venue? Any one that has good monitors and the hotel next door.
Q7) You’ve supported many social issues such as The Liverpool dockers strike, Charter 88 and more recently the Willow Foundation, Is this something you look to get yourselves involved in and are passionate about or is it just good publicity for the band?
We never went around 'looking' for issues to back, they'd usually present themselves. Like the dock workers strike, Nige went out to get some fags when we were recording in Liverpool and saw this picket line. He got talking to the guys and we realised that there was virtually a media blackout on this strike so we offered our support and did a few fund raisers. Growing up a lot of our politics were informed from bands we listened to - The Clash, The Jam, the Smiths, The Beatles even. If we turned some kids onto the plight of the dockers or made them go out and vote then great.
Q8) What’s the music industry like now compared to when you first started out? And what advice would you give bands trying to break through now?
Crikey, it's a completely different beast. Two major things have changed, how artists record and deliver their music and ultimately how people access their music, and the cultural importance of music has changed drastically.
Advice? Don't expect to make a living out of it now and if you're shit, keep sending me demos as we find them hilarious on the tour bus :-)
Q9) Back in the 90’s, did you feel part of the whole Britpop scene? If so was it a good time to be in a band?
The early 90's was a great time to be in a band as the indie scene was very fertile and vibrant. We'd had the 80's indie scene producing some great bands and then baggy happened, so it was ripe for something to happen. I think kids were ready for some decent bands in the charts and it just so happened that there were loads of good bands coming through, there wasn't a scene as such in the beginning, just good bands all coming through at the same time which the media called Britpop. It's like the start of Rock and Roll, there were loads of mainly black artists releasing these tunes that mixed up church music with blues and swing for years before a white guy called it Rock and Roll.
It's not like we were handed a remit in 1992 that said "you will play music inspired by the Who and the Beatles and it will be called britpop", we didn't have a clue about it until some German interviewer asked us about it. "Brit WHAT?"
Q10) Who/what do you listen to on the tour bus? And is there any current artists who you think we should be paying attention to?
You know what, we actually like it quiet on the bus now unless we've had a drink and then all sorts of shit goes on.
I've been listening to this band from Birmingham called Black Sabbath, they're ace, you should check them out.