Gaudi and friends bring warm vibrations to Lewisham on a cold South London Night.
We had tickets for this gig months ago, but as the date loomed, I remembered that I really needed to transcribe the interview I did with Gaudi back in August. I dug out the recording switched off all distractions and cracked on. I finished the interview, uploaded it to the website and sent a link to Gaudi quite late at night, not expecting him to even read it till the next night. Amazingly, at 2am, he sent me an edited version, correcting a few things and expanding on others.
I had already decided that Gaudi was a sound geezer, but him taking the time to check my interview late at night just raised my level of appreciation of the guy.
On the day there was a train strike on, so we embarked on a ninety-minute omnibus adventure. One thing that has to be said about London, is that it has busses. Lots of them. And they are very regular. For a non-London boy like me though, knowing which one to actually get on is a minefield. I’m used to hopping my way around town on the tube. Ye old Tube Map makes it pretty easy to work out where you are and where you are going. The bus service is not quite that simple, but with a little bit of research, you can work out which bus you need and go for it. (Something I need to get into the habit of now that I have my free bus pass back in Wales)
Today’s journey involved a change of bus outside Fairfield Hall, Croydon. An unremarkable building, but I chuckle to myself for being enough of an anorak to know that The Damned Drummer Rat Scabies and Bassist Captain Sensible first met in December 1974 while working cleaning the toilets there.
When our bus arrives, we immediately head upstairs so we can sit up front and pretend we are driving. Although to be honest, I wouldn’t be a very good bus driver – these guys can turn these huge vehicles in an incredibly small turning circle, getting around corners I would not have thought possible.
After an hour of cruising through the suburbs of south London, we are deposited in Lewisham. At first glance, despite it being one of the biggest commercial areas in south London, the town seems – well – unremarkable. There doesn’t really seem to be much more to say about it.
We are booked into the Travelodge, to avoid having to mess about with night busses. The only pub nearby appears to be the local Whetherspoons. I’ve been trying to avoid them in recent years, mainly because the owner is a bit of a right-wing knob and they are pretty soulless establishments, but it has to be said, their food is perfectly adequate and even though we are in the heart of London, the beer is south Wales valleys prices.
We don’t hang about in ‘spoons any longer than we have to and head down to The Fox ‘n Firkin. A proper pub, and no mistake. As you walk in there is a well-stocked bar with friendly bar staff. The bar leads down the side of the pub towards a nice size stage with a cracking sound system at the back of the pub. A corridor down the side of the stage leads to probably the best beer garden in London, a huge area with benches, little snug areas, a firepit, an old railway carriage and a van selling pizzas. Just generally a festival vibe in the heart of the city. Apparently, the venue has a capacity of 1,700, presumably the beer garden accounts for a big chunk of that.
We sit for a while, passing the time, drinking and shooting the breeze, before we are joined by Lord Hale of Greenwich. We drink more, shoot more breeze and introduce Lord Hale to the wonders of Jagerbombs. “They taste like Benylyn”, he cries
When we arrived, the venue was sparsely filled, with a few locals having a quiet drink. We had to double check we were in the right place. It takes a long time to fill up, but fill up it does and by the time the first band hits the stage the place is positively bouncing (and we are positively drunk)
‘The Turbans’ are an exotic seven-piece bunch with a sound that originates somewhere between North London, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle east. Mixing a high-energy blend of Balkan, klezmer, Gypsy and snake charmer funk, they manage to find a unique sound that has everyone up and dancing. They are perfect for the bill. I hate a gig where all the bands sound the same. The Turbans are funky enough to compliment Gaudi, but different enough to avoid repetition. This is the first time I have seen them, but I get the impression they could probably pull a decent crowd in their own right.
In the break between artists, I head out back and order myself a goat’s cheese pizza. The guy serving seems a bit stressed out and it takes forever to be cooked, but it has to be said, it was a rather special pizza.
By the time Gaudi hits the stage, the venue has been transformed from a quiet pub to a heaving nightclub with queues at the door. With a table full of magical musical machines in front of him, Gaudi recreates some of his vast back catalogue of dance music live in front of our very eyes – and no doubt makes some new ones up as he goes. He has been around long enough to read a crowd and knows exactly when to drop the bad boy bass to get the entire room shaking and dancing.
Not one to just twiddle knobs on stage, Gaudi puts on a show, bouncing about and encouraging everyone to get their groove on. It’s infectious – he clearly loves the music he is making and his passion ripples through the dancefloor.
Tonight, he is joined by Danny Ladwa, a beatboxing rapper currently living in North London. They are a team that have worked together on many occasions.
In 2006 Danny collaborated with Gaudi and the Live Dub Laboratory at the Glade Festival, and Gaudi obviously liked what he saw, as this swiftly led to more UK and European dates and Danny being featured later on Gaudi’s album ‘No Prisoners’ on the track ‘Brainwashed Again’. He recently featured on Gaudi’s 13th solo album ‘In Between Times’ on the tracks ‘Unlimited Possibilities’ and ‘Why U Wanna Run’. Danny toured the world with Gaudi for five years (2011-2015) touring the world with Gaudi, performing everywhere from Goa to Glastonbury.
You can tell they have a history, between them their rapport has the entire pub bouncing, grinning and forgetting that it is a wet winter’s night in London.
Prior to the gig there was a niggling thought in the back of my mind that the last time I saw Gaudi I was blown away and tonight might be an anti-climax – but that thought was buried within seconds of him hitting the stage. This guy is a pro and he loves what he does so much its impossible to not be caught up in his passion.
At this point I would normally try to wind up the review with a profound summary and tell you how the DJ set from Transglobal Underground capped the evening off – but to be honest, the Jagerbombs (and the cider) were starting to take their toll and it all ended in a bit of a blur. I do remember having a huge smile on my face; I do remember being surrounded by smiley people; I do remember thinking that this venue grows on me every time I visit; I do remember thinking I need to see Gaudi again and dig deeper into both Danny Ladwa and the Turbans. I suppose that is my profound summary there – a good time was had by all, I spent time with people I love and I have found new rabbit holes to go down in search of amazing music. AND – we had a hotel two minutes away! It doesn’t get any better than that.