I was looking forward to seeing the Ruts D.C. The last time I saw them they were the Ruts...in other words the original line-up,so we're going back,ooh,quite a few years! I was still living in the West country at the time and the venue was in either Exeter or Plymouth (memory's a little hazy!). In any case, it was a well-documented gig as singer Malcolm Owen, mashed out of his box on 'stimulants' took it into his head to start headbutting the cymbals on the drum kit ! This, inevitably, resulted in a nasty gash to the forehead and poor Malcy had to be carried off-stage bleeding profusely. This happened very early on in the set but with a little help from one of the roadies, they gamely managed to finish off their set supporting the Damned! Well, there were no such upsets tonight and i can gladly report that it was a great pleasure to hear all those old songs again. They now have a female singer in the line-up and the added vocals work particularly well on 'Jah wars'. The classic songs 'Babylon's burning' and 'Staring at the rude boys' sounded powerful and fresh and i was pleasantly reminded of how many other great songs they have: 'It was cold' with its insistent bass line and edgy guitar lodged itself in my brain for days after the gig. 'Suss' was tight and strident and then there was the classic 'In a rut'. A mighty fine debut single for an enduring band. I went along to the gig with not too many expectations but left one happy punter and you can't ask for much more than that!
Wilko Johnson is a bit of a legend...he's been doing this for around 40 years now and it's good to see that he can pack out Koko two nights in a row to a genuinely appreciative audience. There aren’t very many artists that play stripped down rock n roll/r n b that can pull such an audience and there was an atmosphere of genuine warmth in the venue. Such is the respect that Wilko commands.
'Roxette', the old Dr.Feelgood standard has always been one of my favourites and sounded great on the night. It was a particular pleasure for me to find out that the brilliant Norman Watt-Roy was in tonights line-up - a bass guitarist par excellence, as his previous work with the Blockheads has more than amply proved. 'Back in the night' was another Feelgood standard which went down well. Towards the end there was one of those 12-bar blues workouts where the band get introduced that went on just a bit too long and I found myself wishing that some of that time had been given over to letting the Ruts have a longer set (the Ruts set did seem a bit short!). Apart from that it was a good set and the two encores were most enthusiastically shouted out for! Good man Wilko !
Review by Bob Spitzer