Deaf School St Albans shield, small-3

Dublin Castle, London

September 2007

Click on any photo to take a closer look!

The Dublin Castle is a pretty apt venue for Deaf School, near as it is to the present Mr Bright (Suggs) stamping ground and a nice if compact place it is too. I chatted briefly to a bloke who saw the School back in 1974 on the University circuit and realised that the place was filling up with the youth of the mid-70s, old Deaf School fans to see their band. Bizarrely enough the DJ plays “Fun House” by the Stooges all night, not exactly fitting for the main band I would have thought!
Having positioned myself right at the front of the stage, I took in the support band Vanessa and the Os practically face to face. And what a lovely face it is. Vanessa (the O consisted tonight of one male guitarist who also played a bit of drums) is a blond, French and breath-takingly beautiful. They play a brief set of some nice Velvet-esque material, mainly sung in Vanessa’s mother tongue which sounds very sexy even though to be honest as far as my studies go she could be discussing the merits of the latest government white paper on non-stick chewing gum. They are very well received by the already quite excitable crowd, which has now packed out the small music room.

After another spin of “Fun House”, Deaf School emerge through the crowd. First off bass player Mr Average, Cliff Hanger (Clive Langer), on the keys Rev Max Ripple and the replacement drummer (sadly original Tim Whittaker died in the early 90s), start up. Its plain to see that time has been kinder to some Schoolers than others - vocalist Eric Shark looked particularly ill and didn’t make the encore - but as soon as they struck into “Last Night” (my favourite Deaf School song fact fans, a brooding and touching song of regret), they showed exactly why they were so highly rated and why even if you take the Pistols out of the equation, music in the mid-70s wasn’t a complete washout.

Enrico Cadillac Jnr is still the master of ceremonies, spiv-like evoking some seedy glamour and Bette Bright showed what a great one of a kind singer she still is and deserves to be remembered as more than someone who married into Madness. The third wheel in the singing department Mr Eric Shark, doesn’t let his apparent ill health dim one bit his role, taking part in the manic dancing mayhem on stage - there is almost too much happening!! - and the whole thing swings like it was minted yesterday.

Most of the set came from their first two LPs (the exceptions being “Thunder And Lightening”, a version of “I Wanna Be Your Boy” which was a bit scratchy due to it being the first time they had played it in 30 odd years and a graceful “Morning After”). Its wrong to pick out favourites, but the very wonderful “What A Way To End It All” and “Cocktails At 8” among many other provide delirious sing-a-longs (led by Deaf School’s number one fan who was beside me, the man they call Spizz) and it all climaxes with a wonderful Bette Bright vocal performance on the fitting “Final Act”.

They left the stage to a massive ovation and were quite simply wonderful. If this sounds like a massive, rabid fan rant, it is and I’m not apologising because Deaf School are that darn good!
Epilogue

The advertised special guests didn’t turn up (Suggs was lurking around!), but I was glad to be honest. Deaf School have probably had enough of someone turning up late and claiming all the glory! What last night offered among other things was a chance to look back at a time when things were just forming, the future was coming together, a time away from 2007 when any sort of attitude apart from “please love us” is termed “punk”. Deaf School weren’t punk in any way, apart from if you class doing it your own way and doing it bloody well punk.

Far from being the ghosts of youth from 75, Deaf School in 2007 are still vital, still a top live band, still the best night out you’ll have. If a band like Deaf School emerged today, they would take over!

 

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