Live Review: Mclusky + JOHN at Electric Ballroom, London

In the early 2000s everyone was banging on about the strokes (Is this it? No really, Is it?!). CDs cost about £14, my weekly food budget, so choices needed to be made. Every song ever was not available for free on YouTube. Was I going to drop £14 on an unknown band from Wales? It was HMV Kingston, something drew me to it, I bought it. It was the greatest first listen since Doolittle

That was 20 years ago. TBH, it seems like longer, tonight I meet a bunch of close friends in a Camden boozer, we are no longer “4 Skinny Indie Kids,” that I can promise you. We walk into the Electric Ballroom and it is like some kind of Back to the Future version of Cheers. It is 2003 plus a few pounds and more beards, many grey. I can’t look in any direction without seeing a pair of friendly familiar eyes, then I am star struck, I see Dan from “That Pedal Show”. I realise what a nerd I have become. Lockdown has changed us all.  We need tonight.

We walk into JOHN. A band I like a lot. A two piece that make noise enough for 10. Great vocals, great tunes. I wish I had listened to more of them before the event so I knew the songs better. I will definitely see them again. They nod to the fact that they are so proud be supporting tonight. 

On they come,  Mclusky, the “*” has gone, this is Mclusky. Falco checks his own guitar, the man of zero pretension. The audience, some who have never seen him perform live before are having that, “Is it Him? Where is his roadie?” Conversation. He has always been like this. I saw them at the 100 Club in 2003 and asked for an autograph. He was stunned. I still have it even though we have long since become friends. 

They start “F*ck This Band”, the new bassist Damien plays the melody, it is slow, it is a song I was told they would never play live incase people talked over it. No one talked, some cried.

Then came the familiar high hat beat, surely not this early in the set? “Eat what you want while you’re falling apart and it opened a can of worms.” Queue chorus, the place goes mental, proper mental, the sound is clear and perfect. I am standing at the back, I am by no means tee-total now but I wanted to remember this one so I was on pint 1. Idles have brought this kind of music to the mainstream in recent years, I love everything they stand for but they don’t even come close to Mclusky for songs. Pepsi challenge it, go on. 

Tonight we get songs, song after song, each one delivered with more vigour and confidence. They are playing for us, they are “our” band. You can keep the bloody Libertines, This IS it. This is three people, a drum kit, a Les Paul and an upside down P bass. Then the telecaster comes out, I love a telecaster but they are shrill. It is hard to pull it off unless, well, unless you can, and Falco can. “She Will Only Bring You Happiness” is a stand out tonight. A grower of a song that has grown since they split in 2005 in the hearts of their ever growing army of fans. Another track that stands out tonight is “Dethink to Survive”. The whole room screams “DANNY BAKER , DANNY BAKER”.

Falco says, “This is a cover, a cover of our future selves”, is there new music coming? We can only hope, the world needs them now more than ever. I could go though the set song by song. This is the greatest band of the last 20 years. All music is subjective, blah blah blah blah, no, this is the greatest band of the last 20 years. Idles have brought them to the attention of a younger generation, slightly younger. There are some people here that understand reels and Tiktok. I am not one of them. What I do understand is this, when Damien starts to “Hell With Good Intentions”, after Falco has acknowledged that he has enjoyed himself (a rare moment of genuine heartfelt warmth from the brilliantly sarcastic frontman), the lyrics are ironically delivered “My band is better that your band, We’ve got more songs that a song convention,” ring out. They are, they are better than all bands, they are better now than they have ever been. They are back, they are playing in the USA and Australia. I want them headlining Primavera next year. They deserve it , they deserve the recognition and success. Next year Brixton Academy, surely. 

Today Idles play a huge stage at Cochella to 100,000 plus adoring Instafans, those are 100,000 plus potential adoring Mclusky fans who just don’t know it yet. Alan is, indeed, a cowboy killer.  Ten stars and a million thanks, from us all, in this room, who once more remember, post all of the weird horrendous shit of the last two years, why live music is vital to our lives. We head home with a smile, to our debts, car loans, council tax, local elections, P60s, mortgages, suburbs and kids, richer in the heart and remembering what it is all about. Is this it? Yes, it definitely is. Thanks again.

Keep up to date with Mclusky (and Future of The Left and Christian Fitness for that matter) on Falco’s Twitter page

Review by Jim Rhesus

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