Robin 2 Club, Bilston, Wolverhampton
6th June 2012
The fact that there were three original members in this line-up alone warranted more of crowd than that which ventured forth to the Robin 2 Club, to see what was billed as The Deviants’ ‘only show out of London’. It may have had something to do with a collective post-Jubilee fatigue brought on by an extended bank holiday weekend; it may have been the diabolical weather (there’s nothing like a depressing wet and windy Wednesday afternoon in the West Midlands to dampen the spirits after all!). Or it might just have been that others were waiting to see them in London the following week, sharing a bill with Dirty Strangers, Sonja Kristina’s Acid Folk and headliners Beatnik Youth among others (as it happened that event had just been cancelled by the promoter but word had not yet filtered out). Or maybe it was a combination of all the above factors as to why this was so criminally under attended.
That said, those that did make it were treated to a mighty fine performance by this recently reconvened and ever improving line-up of The Deviants; featuring the original Deviants frontman Mick Farren and rhythm section of Russell Hunter and Duncan Sanderson, as well as latter day Pink Fairy Andy Colquhoun, and Nik Turner’s Space Ritual alumni Jaki Windmill on percussion and backing vocals.
The Deviants opened with a song that the Pink Fairies’ used to play live way back in the day: a cover version of The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’. Sandy’s vocals may have been a little rusty at times, but there’s still nothing wrong with the way he handles the bass! As the first song ends Mick Farren enters and takes to his now customary stool - centre stage. Andy Colquhoun introduces him as the “Godfather of it all” and the band then launch into an old favourite from Farren’s 1978 solo album Vampires Stole My Lunch Money. Next up is a thunderous rendition of ‘Leader Hotel’ - originally an acoustic number by Farren’s Tijuana Bible project.
Although the spectre of former Deviants and Pink Fairies guitarists Paul Rudolph and Larry Wallis are never far from fans’ thoughts, it can’t be denied that Colquhoun is a more than capable guitarist in his own right and he’s surely earned his spurs as the official Deviants guitarist. After all, he’s been a long time musical collaborator of Mick Farren’s since way back in the mid-1970s when Andy was in the punk band Warsaw Pakt. Since then he’s worked with Farren on numerous recordings, including different variations of The Deviants. He also joined Hunter, Sanderson, Larry Wallis and Twink for the Pink Fairies Kill Em and Eat Em reunion of 1987. Continuing as Flying Colours with Hunter and Sanderson after the departures of Twink and Wallis, they recorded a raft of new material, including a song called ‘Police State’. The Deviants performed it tonight with Colquhoun stepping up to the microphone for vocal duties whilst administering some blistering lead guitar.
Farren returns stage-front again and introduces the band before concluding “We’re still standing”, until Sandy points out the stool, to which Farren then adds “... except me. I’m sitting - I’m getting too old for this shit!” That’s as maybe, but Farren’s still an imposing stage presence even if he’s not as animated as he once was, and given some recent health issues too, you’ve really got to hand it to him, at least he’s still getting out there and doing it.
The tempo slows down a bit on two new compositions, ‘Cocaine and Gunpowder’, from a new collection of poetry and other musings by Farren called Black Dogs Circled, and ‘Beautiful Women And Broken Machines’ - both go down equally as well as the older, more well known numbers. Having said that perhaps one of the loudest cheers of the night was reserved for ‘Billy The Monster’, that peculiarly oddball cross between the Bonzos, Zappa and the Fugs from the Deviants’ eponymous third album. Although live it lacks the unique basso profundo call and falsetto response routine as provided by Boss Goodman and Russell Hunter respectively on the original recording. Jaki Windmill handles the chorus part admirably enough, and it’s just amazing to see The Deviants, including three of that 1969 line-up, up there doing it anyway!
Another old Farren favourite benefits from the full band treatment as they barnstorm through a rollicking version of ‘Aztec Calendar’, before Colquhoun takes over on lead vocals again for ‘Stopped At The Border’. Then it’s another new song -“a narrative of old” as Farren describes it – called ‘Something To Do Between Cigarettes’. Fittingly enough it lends itself well to Farren’s suitably smoke ravaged voice - he recently had to quit the weed for health reasons. The last Deviants album proper, Dr Crow from 2002, is then visited for the jaunty blues number ‘Taste The Blue’, but the evening is made complete when they round proceedings off with the only other song from their ’60s canon of work to make the set – ‘Rambling B(l)ack Transit Blues’.
As if to prove that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the band come together magnificently. Farren’s spoken intro gives way to the familiar explosive blues workout: Sandy’s bass rumbles like a B-52, and the way Hunter effortlessly pounds his kit it’s obvious he hasn’t lost any of that old skin-thumping magic of yore either, whilst Andy Colquhoun replicates the original guitar breaks with considerable verve over the distinctive bolero style section. Then it really is “time we all went home now” as the dying lyrics admonish us. There’s no encore, and the weather may have dampened the ardour of less doughty gig goers in the Black Country that night, but this doesn’t matter, it was a more than memorable occasion for those who did make it.
It may well have been billed as The Deviants’ ‘only show out of London’ on the posters, but after this solid performance I doubt it somehow. And there was more than enough enthusiasm generated among those present for this ever improving line-up of The Deviants to hopefully take encouragement from this and do some more provincial dates in the near future.