The Blockheads – Dingwall’s Camden, London
16th Dec 2023
Reviewed By: J. Flexman
I’ve caught The Blockheads quite a few times, both in the latest incarnation and indeed others. Seeing them at Dingwall’s this year, was as ever a joyful pre-Christmas jamboree, with special guest John Otway, performing obscure Blockheads songs such as ‘Rude Boy’, an early Jankel/Dury collaboration, ‘You’re More Than Fair’ from the Kilburn and the High Roads period as well as the lurid ‘Plaistow Patrisha’ from the “New Boots and Panties” album.
It was an entertaining segment with the first two tracks being of a reggae nature, replete with teasing tongue-twisters. The aforementioned ‘Plaistow Patrisha’ was full of punk profanity and Otway delivered this in his inimitable iconic style as Blockhead vocalist, Mike Bennett, spat out a ‘lawless brat from a council flat’ (oh oh) tremendous vocals and a great bit of swerve ball casting.
The main set had all the firm favourites, such as ‘Partial To Your Abracadabra’, ‘Wake up and make love with me’, ‘Clever Trevor’, and a brilliant singalong version of ‘Billericay Dickie’. The latter was a particular highlight, as the audience joined in on every last brilliant lyric – that tells the tale of a naughty geezer, having a series of erotic escapades, which could have come straight out of the Max Miller period.
We were also treated to ace versions of tracks from the underrated, but massive selling “Do It Yourself” album, including ‘Sink My Boats’, and the absolutely marvelous funk- out of ‘Inbetweenies’. A special mention of the other “Do It Yourself” track ‘Lullaby Of Francis’ must get a mention, as it was great to hear the group jam into the soft-reggae field once more, sending a tingle down the proverbial spine.
Chaz Jankel’s versatile keyboard and guitar style was the cornerstone of the evening, along with John Turnbull’s guitar licks on ‘Itinerarate Child’ from the “Mr Love Pants” album. This fantastic story driven track, tells the tale of a bunch of new-age travelers on the hippy trail, getting in trouble with the law. Mike Bennett puts the yarn across dramatically, and was punctuated fantastically by the amazing rhythm section of bass player Nathan King, and the versatile and superb drummer John Roberts.
A special shout out should go to long-term saxophonist Dave Lewis who played two saxophones on, ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, and amazing standout moments also on ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part Three)’ and a rousing ‘Clever Trevor’. Mick Gallagher’s squelchy keyboards are always fantastic, and gave The Blockheads that idiosyncratic backdrop, that has always made them not instantly easy to put in a pigeon hole. Needless to say, replete with Nathan King’s magnificent Xmas bass jingle medley on opus ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’- a magnificent time was had by all!
Blockheads 2023/24 Tour/Upcoming gigs: