CHAS AND DAVE AT THE O2 ABC, GLASGOW, 31 MARCH 2013
Most people of a certain age will have heard of Chas and Dave. Most of them will also pull a face when their name is mentioned. They’ve never been considered cool and have never tried to be. My first live experience of the boys was in Dunfermline in 2007 at the all seater Carnegie hall. A seating capacity of 540 and a show split into two halves. Old London songs in the first half and then the classics in the second half. The longer the show went on, the more people were on their feet, dancing round the rows of seats and being chased by an old woman with a stick away from the stage. At the end of the show, Chas and Dave sold their cds from a box as they sat on the edge of the stage.
They cut their teeth around the British music scene in the 60s and 70s. Both being in several bands and being session musicians for various artists. (Chas’s list includes Jerry Lee Lewis). They also of course invented Eminem. Well on Labi Siffre’s album “Remember My Song”, Chas played guitar and Dave played bass on the song I Got The which was sampled by Eminem on his breakthrough song My Name Is.
Eventually, Chas became tired of the way British bands copied American accents and got together with Dave with Mick on drums. So the group consisted of Charles Nicholas “Chas” Hodges (piano, vocals, banjo, guitar), David Victor “Dave” Peacock (bass guitar, vocals, banjo, guitars) together with Michael William “Mick” Burt on drums. They released their first album One Fing ‘n’ Anuvver in 1975. Mick was still playing the drums when I saw them in Dunfermline whilst in his mid-eighties.
The first top twenty hit came in 1978 with Gertcha and then The Sideboard Song (Got My Beer on the Sideboard Here). Other successes came in 1980’s Rabbit (really, 1980?? Scary) and two years later, Ain’t No Pleasing You. It would appear that their “Rockney” style was proving to be popular.
1986 saw their snooker record, which they recorded with the top players of the time, Snooker Loopy, reach number 6. They also recorded four songs with Tottenham Hotspur in the 1980s, although never play those songs live. (Spurs recent lack of trophies means they should maybe look into another collaboration).
The nineties saw a collection of songs to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE Day reach number 2 in the charts and they also toured America for the first time.
The 2000’s saw them supporting the Libertines at the band’s request, with Pete and Carl even joining them on stage for a couple of songs.
Other notable milestones include opening for Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979 and playing Glastonbury in 2005.
The death of Dave’s wife in 2009 led to the announcement that Dave was to retire. They reformed to play a “Farewell Tour” in 2011. I attended the gig at the O2 ABC in Glasgow as part of this tour. It was in the smaller downstairs venue and was sold out and packed. It’s not the greatest venue when it is busy here, as you don’t see a thing, but it was a great evening. The only popular music band I’ve seen whose encore consisted of the most well-known songs that they had already played earlier in the evening. Sadly no Mick, but he had taken a well-earned retirement. A great send off for the lads.
I was pleased to see that a “Back By Demand” tour of the UK in 2013 was to take place with a Glasgow date at the O2 again. Even more pleasing was that it was to be in the larger upstairs venue in which I have seen many good gigs in the past. The date was to be Easter Sunday, so no need for any worries about time off as nearly everyone gets the Monday off. Hotel booked and 7 of us going to the gig this time.
Meeting up in one of Glasgow’s hostelries beforehand emitted strange looks, as four of us had flat caps on and four had braces. (some with both)
Arriving at the venue quickly alleviated any fears that the upstairs venue would be too big as it was mobbed. Quite a few others were resplendent in the aforementioned Chas and Dave uniform and a good atmosphere was in the room as support band The Raw Kings played upbeat country music.
There can’t be too many more quintessentially English bands than Chas and Dave, which I suppose makes it slightly bizarre that on the second song in, there are over 1,000 Scots belting back “give me a London girl every time” to the stage. Many of them unashamedly putting on what they think is a London accent as they sing. It didn’t take long for “rockney” to turn into “jockney”. Dave’s godson is on drums and looks considerably younger than the more well-known twosome. A varied set, which includes a cover of the Jerry Lee Lewis song Breathless, What A Miserable Saturday Night, Banging In My Head, the recent Premier League Darts tie in Got My Ticket For The Darts, and of course, the fan favourites – Snooker Loopy, Margate, Gertcha, Rabbit, Ain’t No Pleasing You and The Sideboard Song. The crowd goes particularly mad for closer The Sideboard Song, as they do for most of them, as mass singalongs, and odd dancing (of which I played a large part) spread through the audience.
The camaraderie at one of their gigs is like no other I’ve ever been to. Everyone seems to get on and any “you spill my pint??” moments are laughed off quickly. Smiles are on the faces of all and there is much talking and hugging of people you don’t know.
It’s over all too quickly and this time, it is only an hour and 15 minutes that they are on stage, but Chas and Dave are 69 and 67 respectively and coming to the end of a lengthy tour, so I think this can be forgiven.
So what is the attraction? I’ve heard people refer to them as to London what the Proclaimers are to Scotland, but I hate the Proclaimers. How come they can get a song to be as popular as Rabbit is, when the word “rabbit” is repeated about 600 times? How come you can have a band where loads of people go to a gig and they play songs over 30 years old and everyone knows some of the words, but not all of them?
I think the attraction for me is that they play incredibly catchy songs and get nowhere near the praise they should for how talented they are as musicians and how cleverly their songs are put together. Rabbit, a song about a woman who talks too much, is repetitive, but is done in very clever harmonies. It also has the genius line “you’ve got more rabbit than Sainsburys”. Their lyrics are clever and witty although many of them are very London based, can be related to by many. London Girls includes the line “if you ever go down to london town, your legs will turn to jelly. Cos the girls down there i swear are just like models off the telly”. So simple and yet makes you smile and is clever. (Well it does me anyway). Many of the songs are sung at breakneck speed and the lyrics can’t be easily picked up, but the catchyness of the choruses will often stick with you. (Listen to The Sideboard Song as the perfect example of this).
So there you have it. Chas and Dave. Living legends who seem to become more popular all the time. Try and get to see them if they tour again. You (and they) really should.
Not a great quality video I took, but you get the idea with the crowd: