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Sleepers, East Boldon (Nov 2004)

Friday 26th November

Eighth Line-Up: Lenny (Vocals), Dave Lunn (Guitar), Woody (Drums), Chris (Bass)

I haven’t been out and about quite as much as I would have liked over the past few months and, consequently, have missed out on some great performances by some of the north-east’s best bands. Nige has sickened me with his tales of hard edged rock and roll, moody rock blues and awesome guitar performances by many of this area’s talented musicians. And to miss this year’s Stormin’ the Castle – well, let’s just say I don’t think Nige will ever forgive me. And I missed seeing Veece and Michelle who work tirelessly to bring the whole thing together. But I digress. Of course, I have my favourite bands, and favourite venues, but always like to support the venues that support the bands (some more deservedly than others). Some bands supply superb heavy rock, some down and dirty mean lickin’ blues rock (hiya Bad Bob!) and some bands have that deep, moody feel that many bands can only dream about… and now I’m talking about one of the best known bands on the live circuit for the past… oh, many years… Tubesnake.

I’m saying nothing about tubing the snake because lately it’s been too easy to get into trouble, but for a band who doesn’t shout about itself, doesn’t seek publicity but just gets on with what they do best, they turn out some cracking tunes.

“What can be said about Len?
He is the ultimate moody frontman”

On Friday myself and Nige travelled to Sleepers in East Boldon, just one of the venues where Linda Cross supplies the bands, for me to get my regular “fix” of a uniquely moody band. I mean, how many bands can turn out a superb rendition of the Stones’ Wild Horses (giving Nige the goosebumps) and then next minute getting down and heavy for Gimme Shelter (Stones/Thunder)? I cannot fault the playing of any member of the band: Woody on drums looks the youngster of the band and belts out rhythmic drumming with ferocity but can apply the gentle touch when needed (sounds good to me!). Chris on bass looked fairly morose for most of the first set but surprisingly cheered up nearer the end (someone must have told him he really was getting paid!). Dave on guitar can be a great showman when the spotlight is on him and turns out some ultra-tasty licks. And Len, well what can be said about Len, he is the ultimate moody frontman. He doesn’t “sing” the song, he “feels” it. With panache aplenty. I love watching Len, I love hearing Len. When he is on form, there is just no-one to touch him. Mean, moody – and magnificent.

Len’s voice and charisma lends itself to the Bowie/Doors style and it’s not surprising then that a greater part of their set is made up of songs from the aforementioned.

Even though the band were still soundchecking late, it was not until about 9.30ish that the guys opened with the always-recognisable Ziggy Stardust, Len soon got into his stride and let rip for Helter Skelter. The band relaxed and we were treated to a superb rendition of Sweet Jane (Lou Reed), a favourite of mine Eleanor Rigby, a superb Wild Horses (hanky for Nige), finishing the first set with a deservedly-long People are Strange (and no way would I mention that Nige didn’t know the Doors did it).

Anyway, second set and what a spanking version of White Room – often heard, but rarely done as good as the Tube boys. Uptempo for Suffragette City, just loved Paint it Black, not sure why Smoke on the Water was in there, probably just to keep the “Alright Now” brigade happy.

The highlight for me (and the penultimate highlight for Nige) was the superb Gimme Shelter. Even the gobby-after-a-few-JDs Nige was speechless after this. It was magnificent I must agree. A real tour-de-force.

It’s not easy to categorise Tubesnake’s music – but strangely enough the title of the brand new CD sums it up fairly accurately: “This ain’t Rock and Roll, This is Tubesnake“. If Nige gets his finger out, a review should be up on the News page.

All in all a band I never get sick of seeing; a great band, a great sound and a great bunch of guys … what more could you want?

… Val, posted on Riffsonline website, Nov 2004

Sleepers, 26th Nov 2004 (photos by Nige from Riffs)