Steve Drewett (of The Neurotics)
solo at The Square, Harlow, Essex September 3rd and
The Neurotics at the Square, Harlow, Essex September 10th
review by Jack Rabid published in 'The Big Takeover' Number 25, volume 9, issue 2 New York Fanzine
Steve Drewett (of The Neurotics) solo at The Square, Harlow, Essex September 3rd
First night in the UK, suffering the dual effects of jet lag and being up for 39 straight hours ( the longest I've ever been awake, ever) due to the overnight flight, but I wasn't missing this! As mentioned in Issue #23 in the "Neurotics live in Newcastle" review, the likelihood of a U.S gig is slim and none, so the idea of Drewett solo compounds this equation exponentially! So the 40 miles north of London was a very short distance to travel. And in many ways, this was a more enjoyable affair then the rockin' Neurotics if a completely different brand of intensity.
Arriving on the stage in his home town before a roomful of friends, with solo support of his electric, Drewett read a snippet of a recent interview he did, where he professed an affinity to the blues artists who have been playing for 30 years, in small towns and back bars, completely unconcerned with any commercial or financial success.
With that, he jokingly announced, "Welcome to an evening with "Blind Lemon Drewett," and off he went , straight into the new single, "Never Thought." Playing slower, more deliberately, and more dramatically than with the band, Drewett nevertheless tapped the same kind of build up emotion inherent in the band recordings; if anything it was even more direct, straight-ahead and affecting due to the whole sparcity of backup.
I suppose on some of the more aggressive numbers one could sense the missing rhythm section (just as one can hear on Billy Bragg's "It Says Here," even though there never was one!) on the slower stuff, the ballads, and rock-reggae material, the solo sound worked famously,
The most memorable feeling, however was this rare opportunity to hear Drewett SING; his voice does cut through the power-drive of his band, but here with no competition from busy instruments, with his voice twice as loud, Drewett captivated the assemblage. It was as if we were all hearing it for the first time! And what a voice! Golden, delicate, yet forceful, straddling great sympathy and anger, Drewett is so passionate, he moves all those who hear him (Sounds once referred to Neurotics as "convincing" and "reasonable rebels"). This is the kind of personal impact we all crave from our music or art or exchange in general; It is not every day where one mulls over a show and considers himself changed somehow.
The Neurotics at the Square, Harlow, Essex September 10th
If you've read this far, you're obviously interested, so it is here we'll break the news: after ten years, 4 LP's (One live), 8 singles and a live cassette, THE NEUROTICS ARE DISBANDING.
Sometime in July, bassist and original member Colin Masters left the group. Masters is the unfortunate contractor of pleurisy (Inflammation of the Membrane that lines the chest and covers the lungs), which means that after a decade of slumming it on the road, he is now forced to look after himself properly.
Apparently, he feels it will be easier to do that out of rock 'n' roll, and perhaps as well it's time to do something new. Unfortunately, his departure was poorly timed*, coming just before the group was booked to play a massive festival in East Berlin, the 2nd time Neurotics have been invited to appear in the Eastern Bloc. Rather than blow off the opportunity, they taught their set to a close friend, Mac, who plays trombone on the new LP. Mac thus has joined the band as bassist, but Drewett also feels this is time for a fresh start of sorts. As Neurotics have not been a punk band really since 1983 of so , it's thought their name is actually inhibiting their exposure in the UK and in this they may be right.
*(Actually, Colin didn't make the tour because he was too ill, it was after the band returned that Colin having thought about his future for two weeks announced his departure - webmaster).
Thus, they are changing their name (as yet undetermined) and will be dropping the Neurotics' material from their sets. The catch is, and this is a strange one, that when the new band (which is , after all 2/3rds Neurotic, ha ha) performs in Europe, where they are quite popular, they'll tour under the Neurotics, and relearn that material. So in effect, they're only splitting in their native England. Weird huh?
To go out in style Neurotics booked three final farewell gigs for England, and fortunately, one took place during my visit in Harlow, again at the Square, a chummy, happy club. So a week after Drewett's solo gig, once again British Rail was the recipient of yours truly's 3 pounds, 60 pence, ($6.25). The Square was the recipient of another £2 ($3.45, cheap!), and a packed house was the truly lucky recipient of 3 hours, Yes a 3 hour (believe it or not, an hour and a half longer that the Grateful Dead are playing these days!), A whopping total of 37 songs, as Neurotics bade goodbye to their home town as both opening and headlining act (Drewett during second set: "Well, I think we've blown the support act off the stage.")
Thinking back, it's the longest gig I've ever seen. Neurotics left out perhaps but a half dozen songs, even with covers, both recorded (Ramones - "Blitzkrieg Bop," Ben E. King - "Stand By Me," Flaming Groovies - "Shake Some Action" done as "Take Strike Action," and the Members - "Solitary Confinement" done as "Living With Unemployment") and new (Bobby Fuller's - "I Fought The Law" more Clash than Dead Kennedys).
All the old singles were trotted out, even "Kick Out The Tories" and the very first 1979 single "Hypocrite," which brought original Neurotics drummer Tig out to play with the group for the first time in seven years. The crowd, refreshingly half female, screamed, applauded, danced, drunkenly knocked shoulders and cajoled, apparently undaunted by the timeless onslaught of song after song (apparently, your humble editor was the only wimp in attendance numbed, if in ecstasy, by the endless gig).
10 years of sweat poured out to a biased local crowd, no release untouched. Drewett tossed out a hundred disc-less sleeves of the rare "When The Oil Runs Out" single with the lyrics on the back, and the crowd sang the choruses. It was that kind of evening: for Harlow rock 'n' roll it was probably the event of the century! And though in performance Neurotics played better in Newcastle last year (Mac being new, needs some time before he can match Colin's ten years of gigging experience with the group, and he was doing an admirable job of remembering/faking some of the old obscure stuff) this was a concert to remember, an instant cherished memory in the making.
This was history. Oh! The flashbacks will haunt for years.
(Note: the final two gigs took place in London in October the last at the Fulham Greyhound 29.10.89 and were both as long and emotional affairs.)
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