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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Old Town old school big night out: Maroon Town bring classic ska back to Clapham Manor Street

Maroon Town at Bread and Roses, Clapham, 20 Novermber 2015. Come
back soon, please!
Everyone knows Bread and Roses in Clapham Manor Street is a great pub, perhaps the only pub left in SW4 you feel good going into.

Apart from being the only trade union-owned pub I know of (anywhere), this pub has always been a delight to visit, if only because of just how unlikely it even exists any more, least of all in banker-rich SW4.

But here it still is, the beer prices are still a bit less than your average Clapham boozer, and they still put on great nights of music, comedy, poetry, theatre, the lot.

Last night was a case in point. The normal irresistible urge, to head uptown on a Friday or Saturday night, was easy to resist as temperatures plunged to zero.  Somewhere I'd read that a well-known ska band was playing at Bread & Roses this weekend.

I had seen the band - Maroon Town - ages ago, maybe late 80s, and always wanted to see them again. Last night in Clapham Manor Street I realised why.

Even tuning up the band were capable of sending the electric charge down your spine, when suddenly a rocksteady guitar chop meets a bass-line on the way down, and a drum kicks in at exactly the right wrong moment.

For a while there were more musicians on stage (nine) than audience, or so it seemed - but  there was a good last-minute influx, looked like some good old original skins were there, pork-pie hat identified, buzz cut boys now in the mid to late, but still swearing well.

Clear as hell this band are going to demand a party, and there's no way they'll be playing much if people don't move. People moved all right, alright, they need not have worried.

People were there to dance. There were the loyal fans, the friends and family, all dancing beautifully. And lots of young Europeans, all dancing lustily.

Can't remember much - the music was like the blood in your veins, pulsing very healthily. There was a ska version of the Herbie Hancock standard Chameleon which had tears streaming down my face (why? cos this was the tune my daughter chose for her GCSE dance piece).

Though, to be honest, it takes very little to get my tear ducts over-producing these days.

That and four pints of London pride.

I loved their opening number, Boom! Ska! and I loved their Afro-Cuban-Latino stuff as well. And then they did one of their classics, I think it's Average Man - anyway, by then all inhibition had flown, and ill-advised feet were lifting far off the floor, knees angling away, head down, fingers pointing down, oh gawd.

Sorry, anyone I bumped into, anyone whose enjoyment of this evening was lessened by the spectacle of an aged string-driven animated skanking scarecrow.

Thanks, anyway, to Bread and Roses and the whole Maroon Town community.

And if you'd like to check out some of their music, here's a good place to start: Average Man.

And here's another one.

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