Orange Juice/Joolz/Woodentops/Everything But the Girl/Aztec Camera: Brixton Academy

THE BATTLE between pop group and duff PA system Is a common spectacle at London’s bigger venues. That the legendary Orange Juice chose to end their career to such circumstances speaks volumes for their dedication to a carefree existence as seminal pop starlets, unafraid of getting their hands dirty in a real life rock ‘n’ roil confrontation of Status Quo proportions.

The Juice took to the stage at 7.15 (which is an unearthly hour for seasoned gig-goers of any creed or persuasion!) and ironically opened the show for three other popular combos destined for greater things – ironic, because Edwyn and pals have been left shuffling about in the wings, squabbling over the solitary royalty cheque and cursing the cards they were dealt. Tonight they played with characteristic verve and abandon, Edwyn cavorting about the stage like some doomed insect busy enjoying its last few moments of life. All the hits were produced for a final airing, and there can’t have been a dry eye in the place as they left the stage for the last time to the strains of their first Postcard should-have-been smash hit, ‘Simply Thrilled Honey’.

The Woodentops fared less well under the circumstances. Their single, ‘Plenty’, was the highlight of an otherwise uneventful set, and it wasn’t long before Joolz, the compere for the evening, was on stage and involved In a hostile exchange of views with the audience which culminated in cries of “off, off, off” to which she eventually took heed.

Everything But The Girl have made a sound start to their career by capitalising on the politically-motivated student market and playing a sweet blend of jazzy blues. Tonight they performed a mixture of old and new material from their forthcoming LP, ‘Shoot Me Down’ and ‘Trouble And Strife’ hinting at a more fluid and rhythmic sound, perhaps due to the efforts of one-time Mo-dette and Funboy 3 member drummer June and ex-Young Marble Giant Phil Moxham on bass. ‘Each And Everyone’ was introduced as “the song that’s made our record company the most money”, and, despite the band’s sometimes grim and inhospitable persona, they left the stage warmer than they found it for which we were all thankful as temperatures seemed to be dropping towards freezing point as the night progressed.

By this time, the onstage entertainment was taking second position to the scenes of mob warfare at the toilets, where crowds of cross-legged punters hopped and squirmed about as they waited their turn. Things were just about to turn very ugly when Roddy Frame walked on for a solo rendition of ‘Mattress Of Wire’, before being joined by the rest of the band who broke into ‘The Bugle Sounds Again’ and ‘All I Want Is Everything’.

The strength of Aztec Camera is Roddy Frame’s songs and the childish and demure fashion in which he puts them across. The rest of the group plod rather miserably away in the background, ail of them kitted out in standard Little-Boy-Blue gear and neatly-pressed side partings (copyright Edwyn Collins circa 1980), so it’s not surprising that Frame’s the centre of attention in a pair of dramatic tartan trousers. “Cold in here, isn’t it?” he remarked at one stage. “Maybe that’s because there isn’t enough coal”. Weft done, Roddy, we’ll make you the spokesman for a generation yet.

The concert raised more than £19,000 for striking miners and was a notable event, not only for the co-operation of the groups and the organising bodies involved {everyone gave their services free), but also the crowd of more than 4,000 who, by paying a fiver each, illustrated their support for thoroughly worthwhile cause.

© Julian HenryMelody Maker, 2 February 1985

Leave a Comment