St. James Infirmary At The Star And Shadow Jan 2010

Heres a band that have the mark of years of effort and toil at the coal face of the business we call ‘show’, the stress and strain showing on creased brow and angst ridden faces, studied fashionistas, they look like they have walked off the set of ‘this years model‘ as they pose and sneer at the crowd.………….NOT!
Despite having gigged for the best part of 35yrs, Gary and the rest of the band act as if this is the first gig they ever did with a load of mates watching in the youth club, this is obviously still a fun thing for them to do!

Starting the night with a walk around the (packed) venue handing out party poppers and whistles to complete strangers, its then not that clear whether the band have started or it’s a sound check/tune up…but then they riff gradually into a rant song about some poor fellow called Richard Carter, and with consecutive and increasingly insulting and aggressive (but very funny) songs they tear this poor bloke up. Who is he?? I don’t know but he had better stay away from SJI .

It’s a so so refreshing change to see a band who genuinely get up to play with experimentation and abandon, pulling the audience into a spirit of fun and punk ethos, no worry whether the underpants are the right make and showing the correct amount of arse crack here, fashion doesn’t count for SJI now, and I suspect it never has.
‘eight for a fiver’ is a more northern (and punk) version of john shuttle worth, a diatribe against the peasant culture of north east towns, or is a celebration? The band then show a bit more of their depth with a folkie blues song ’old fashioned arms’, maybe a bit slacker than it could have been, (they had put a poster up apologising for lack of practice!) but sung with real meaning and a nice change of pace.

Then its all over, a broken amp finishing proceedings, but no one leaves the stage and banter all round precedes Mr Lang wandering off, and then returning, like a lost care home resident, slowly starting at a ramshackle version of ‘Matty Cabbage House‘, various instruments gathering the pace and with a ‘road runner’ type feel the song rolls along picking up the crowd with it. 10 or is it 20 minutes later, its all over…..and I feel like I was part of it.

By Tony on January 15, 2010


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