Venue – Koko, Camden, London.
Gig Buddies – Ellie, Neville, Carol-Anne, Tony and Graeme.
Gig Booty – 50th Anniversary Tshirt
I loved the 40th Anniversary Bonzos concerts and felt a little sad that I couldn’t get to the last Three Bonzos and Piano show in Milton Keynes last December, so when a Bonzos 50th Anniversary shindig was announced for Camden with the The Rutles as support and the date was doable, how could I not go?!
The tickets were purchased, travel plans hatched, accommodation acquired and as an added bonus a few extra buddies let me know they were going along too! Let The Good Times Roll indeed!
A leisurely train ride from Liverpool and a reasonably simple journey to our Travelodge in Vauxhall meant Ellie and I weren’t particularly rushed or harassed upon our arrival at Mornington Crescent tube station.
One photo opportunity later we were in the Lyttelton Arms and had already stumbled across our first pal of the evening, the lovely Neville and his friend Nick. Carol-Anne and Tony joined us just before it was time to wander across to Koko and there was even a brief encounter with Ellie’s friend Jayne who was en route to see Ray Davies. It was quite the social whirlwind.
Once inside Koko I managed to find my smashing online chum Graeme and his brother for a brief hello before taking up our position for the show I have known Graeme for several years via various social media but this was the first we’d actually met.
The Koko is a lovely looking venue and considering this was at reasonably short notice for getting everyone together they did a good job with the staging of the show, however it wasn’t really the right kind of venue for either the act or the audience. The Bonzos bits were extremely visual which is a bit of a bugger when you can’t see much in an all standing venue. Plus there were times that the band were seated resulting in the audience seeing even less.
The Rutles, well two of them, Ron and Barry, entertained the thronging crowd with a mixture of
material from both the original soundtrack album and the slightly more recent Archaeology release. There was a memorable drum solo from Mr Wom, which I am still giggling about, and he also got to show off his newspaper tearing skills. There was dancing and singing along a-plenty from our merry band of Rutlemaniacs!
Instead of thinning out a little in the break the audience became more compact and squished as we waited for the Bonzos. I had hoped to chat a bit more to Graeme but there was no room to move around us. I hadn’t expected such a crush for this gig at all.
The Bonzos, sans Innes for this bit, launched in Jollity Farm with gusto and then led us through some of their more anarchic numbers aided by Legs “Larry” Smith and punctuated with pieces by a street theatre outfit called Desperate Men. As I said, much of this was very visual so from our point of view most of those around us were unaware of the ventriloquist shenanigans during Little Sir Echo or the fact that at the end of Falling In Love Again Vernon Dudley Bohey-Nowell was giving it some welly on a musical saw solo. I knew because I remembered those bits from the 40th Anniversary shows.
Losing the visual context really did affect things but it was still a tonne of fun. I was particularly amused near the end of this section when Legs appeared resplendent in a turban decorated with an ornate peacock pin (yes I couldn’t see very well, but I do have a very good zoom on my camera) and began to sing I’m The Turban Spaceman before being warned by the others to stop as the composer was in the building! Ending with a gorgeously shambolic Sheik of Araby, Roger promised that some of them would be back shortly with Neil.
Before the next segment of the show we were treated to a showing of an art school film by Neil Innes, a silent movie featuring Roger Ruskin Spear and the much missed Vivian Stanshall. Fascinating to see and a nice way to include Viv in the evening’s proceedings.
The second slice of The Bonzos was a slightly less chaotic affair featuring Neil, Roger and Michael Livesley who has been doing the Rawlinson End stuff. A lot of this bit seemed to involved most people on stage being sat down so once again not much of a chance of seeing anything. There was a belting version of My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe and a rousing rendition of The Equestrian Statue, but it was Urban Spaceman that, unsurprisingly, received the loudest reception of the evening. The b-side of that single rounded off the show, including a divine belch from Roger before The Intro and The Outro was used to let us know just who had been entertaining us all night.
Before we escaped out into the night the whole ensemble turned their backs on us while they were photographed with the sold out venue in the background. It was only when I saw some of those photos later that I realised there was a couple of packed out balconies above us!
It really was the end now and time to head out. Saying good-bye to everyone outside Koko, the plan was to head straight back to the hotel but upon discovering that Graeme was near by, we stopped off to say goodbye and grab a photo of me and him on the memorable occasion of our first meeting. He said lovely things about this blog too, must have been the drink!
Huge thanks to Neville Stannard for the set lists.
A full set of my photos from the evening can be found here on flickr.