*Some names have been changed to protect the guilty.
It’s been a bit of a long day, but I’m making my way to the NHC shop to catch some acoustic acts, namely KC Johnson, Freddy Fudd Pucker and Tim Loud. Apart from the acts one of my favourite parts is always walking round into the hidden lane and listening to try and catch stray notes on the air.
I step into the shop in time to catch the second performer, having sadly just missed KC Johnson. After Handshake, handshake and a “how’s it goin’?” my brain waves meet sound waves as I join in with the toe tapping and head nodding.
Perhaps it is due to the descent into the shop via wooden stairs or the people perched wherever they can, but I always get this sense that the New Hellfire Club shop could be the galley of a ship. Not that there is anything particularly nautical or that I was swaying. The happenings outside of the shop seem unimportant or nonexistent for the time being. A storm on the hidden sea outside may howl in a tantrum, but we are safe in the belly of our ship.
Speaking of storms…
There is a boom-rattle of the heavy door snapping me out of my vibe. Are we under attack? Enter wrestler Jim Smith followed by the subtler James Smith.
Soon a bearded and tattooed Smith is amidst the throng, bottle of Bucky in hand he addresses the crowd over the sound of the guitar:
“Nice hats everybody!”
Suddenly all I notice is hats. It’s an unconventional greeting but then nothing about NHC and its associates are conventional. It’s sort of the point.
I give myself a mental shake. The guy likes to make an entrance and why the fuck not? the worlds a stage after all.
Currently center stage is New Zealander and Berlin resident, Freddy Fudd Pucker accompanied by what appears to be a hard-shelled suit case propped up by a small boulder, played by his right foot like a bass drum. On the tambourine is his left foot. Displaying tremendous co-ordination and unflinching at the temporary interruption. I don’t know if I should jig or mosh at times during his performance as he bangs out tune after tune. His songs are somewhat melancholy yet laced with rage or is it the other way?
a string snaps.
He charges on barely pausing and it appears as if this was part of the song.
Following Freddy Fud Pucker is Tim Loud delivering a punky, bluesy, singy, shouty set.
“what song d’ya wanna hear?”
“what is your favorite? Play that”
Loud appears to think about it for a second before replying flatly “I don’t like any of them.” This gets a laugh although I’m not certain this is definitely a joke.
Next a song about the hi-jacking of the DIY punk scene. A song about a train. Despite the varying stylistics there is an unmistakable anchor in Punk Rock.
Afterwards I manage to squeeze in a look at the selection of CD’s and books. I get to chat to the musicians. Something about Mongolian hip-hop? I find a good random blether always lifts my mood. It’s good to know other people worry about these things too.
The in-shop nights always feel like something special, secret even and can only truly be experienced first-hand.
It gets me thinking. We live so much of our modern life online but what about the unique memories we keep for ourselves? The ones that shape us and add to our personal story. If we all receive the same information through our devices and experience similar situations what is there to make us individual? True we can use a search engine to find whatever we want online but what about the things we didn’t realise we wanted? What about the unexpected?
I feel with audiences - particularly in the UK - there is a fear of being asked or forced to participate in some way but, gigs aren’t so much about what you contribute, they are about what you take away. Where else in Glasgow are you going to have a night with a guy from New Zealand who lives in Germany, and Englishman singing about love but “not hippy crap”, a dog or even a wrestler. Whatever you find in NHC the sound track to the night is always original and exciting.