The 13th July was an infeasibly warm day. As our driver, Addison, pulled up outside Islington’s famous Hope & Anchor, we could see the heat rising in hazy curlicues from the tops of the bolted-down picnic tables; could read summer’s quiet malevolence in the sun-surprised, boiled-meat faces of the pavement’s imperfect constituents. Tonight was shit or bust. With Jay-Z and Justin Timberwolf playing the 02, and the Stones down the road in Hyde Park, we knew we had to bring our A-game.
We couldn't let the fans down. Not again, and not here. As we man-handled our amps, guitars and religious paraphernalia down into the basement venue the pressure of expectation was driven home by a banner draped across the back wall, reading ominously, “Welcome to the Hope & Anchor, London’s most famous music venue”. Forget Wembley, the Royal Albert Hall, the Brixton Academy; this was it, the Holy Grail we had been searching for the whole of our adult lives.
A lithe young man with a tattoo on his neck approached me. “Allo,” he said, “I am Flynn”. “You are thin?” I replied, “Non! I am Flynn!” Flynn turned out to be the bass player of The JFKs, who were fresh from Paris, France. They had pulled a crowd of thirty in the Dog and Paedo in Harlow the previous night and were young and hungry. “What do you play?” I asked. Flynn regarded me contemptuously. “Rock n’ Roll!” he replied in disgust. Of course. It turned out the JFKs didn’t know a lot of English, but we were able to get by with a combination of hand gestures and half-remembered GCSE French. “Est-ce je peut borrow your bass amp?” I asked. “Je ne vais pas toucher your settings!” We got by just fine.
Later, after our usual pre-gig culinary ritual of noodles eaten on tiny furniture in the middle of the street, we repaired back to the venue to greet the fans coming in. Eventually, our engineer, Mister Pete, beckoned us on to the stage whilst, sign of a true professional, seamlessly reducing to nothing the blare of the strangely inappropriate euro-pop coming through the PA. It was time. We knew then, like so many great acts before us, we were going to have to play really fucking loud to get anything over the whir of the air conditioning. The rest, as they say, is history...
released July 24, 2013
Cover photo by Natalie Scicluna.
Live engineer Mr Pete at the Hope & Anchor, Islington.
Mixed by Alex Martin.
Music by the Comet Line.
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