In recent times, Chas n Dave have had a renaissance in their popularity. For those unfamiliar with their work (I suspect anyone outside of the UK), they are a cockney duo signing songs that one can only describe as ironic. Their heyday was in the eighties where songs such as ‘Snooker Loopy’, two Tottenham FA Cup Final songs, ‘Margate’. ‘Rabbit’, ‘There Ain’t No Pleasing You‘ regularly reached the heights of the charts. This seems somewhat unimaginable in 2005.
Their renaissance was helped by friendly crack-whore Pete Doherty as Chas n Dave were booked as support act for the Libertines. Being booked on Jools Holland’s New Year’s Eve hootenanny was also a high point and reinforced their talents to the public at large. This year’s Glastonbury festival saw 15,000 cram in and around an 8,000 capacity tent. As tonight’s event is almost sold out, it appears that Chas n Dave still have the touch with a young, hip crowd.
Coming onto much applause, the duo play their first set of two. This is supposed to reinforce their image as serious musicians, with Chas n Dave playing two guitars and covering classic rock and roll tunes from the 1950s. “This is one that Carl Perkins taught me when I was playing Butlins”, announces Dave as he goes into ‘Matchbox Blues’. Whether he did meet Carl Perkins is irrelevant, it is still a somewhat funny proposition. The final cover song of the set sees two banjos come out, and Chas n Dave swap the East End for a southern USA state. “Don’t worry we’ll be back later with the piano and all that later”, says Dave as the crowd breathe a sigh of relief.
The act that follows is the Rollin’ Stoned. This is a tribute act extra-ordinarie! The band comes out to a few ripples of applause and much bemusement dressed as their much richer counterparts. Charlie Watts is in his 60s phase with long hair, Mick Taylor has a permed wig, Bill Wyman stands at the back with his bass guitar at vertical, Keith Richards looks like he really has lead a junkie-superstar lifestyle. Mick Jagger has all the effeminate dance moves and moves his jaw in an uncanny manner, blink and one could think that it really was Mick from the late 1980s. ‘Start Me Up’ gets the crowd going. Then a couple of songs later, Brian Jones dressed as an angel with large angel wings coming out of his back comes out to the stage, the band launch into ‘She’s a Rainbow’, the Stones’ LSD inspired drug song, and play it to perfection. The Rollin’ Stoned then turn back the clock to play ‘Carol‘ one of the real Stones’ first hits. The act covers all of the essential 60s hits: ‘Paint it Black’, ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Brown Sugar’, the crowd now in full swing cheering and shouting in all the right places (‘She said yeah, yeah, yeah wooooh!’). Close your eyes and you could be at Wembley in 2006 watching the real Stones. The show climaxes with ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’. The crowd are now singing and dancing, forgetting the fact that these people are essentially a bunch of weirdo’s on stage.
Chas n Dave return to the stage to much applause. The hard-core fans at the front of the rail have white shirts, braces and flat caps. There are a few women dressed as working class turn of the century (20th century) women. Some have handkerchiefs on their heads, others look like Dave on stage in a suit jacket and hat. People it seems are determined to have a good time. Whether this is done in irony is another matter, do these people really have Chas n Dave on their ipods?
Chas n Dave are accompanied by their drummer who looks about eighty and that he’s about to keel over at any point. The trio is now complete and more familiar than their previous outing on the stage: Piano, bass and drums. The band plays all of their famous songs (bar ‘In Sickness and in Health’) with some songs in-between which are merely extended ‘honkey tonk’ piano songs and a chance for people to have a good boogie. These songs were perhaps as English as you could get, to be more specific they were as ‘Londonish’ as one can get. This is something that could only have been a product of London. They should be put on postcards like Buckhingham Palace, black taxis and red buses are.
Highlights were obviously their most famous songs. ‘Margate’ saw the entire front area become a massive dancefloor with much singing (“Forget the Costa Brava, I’m telling you mate I’d rava have a day down in Margate wiv all me Family“). ‘Sideboard Song’ brought out mild hysteria from the crowd, especially the drunks. ‘Snooker Loopy’ was well received but failed to ignite the crowd as their other hits did. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the video was the funniest aspect of the song. Football songs were ignored, no partisan crowd here tonight, but ‘Rabbit’ was sung “for the ladies” (“With your incessant talking, you’re becoming a pest”). The final song was their no1 hit, ‘There Ain’t No Pleasin’ You’. The crowd are now lined up in rows with their arms around each other, swaying and singing in unison. A random stranger comes up to me, kisses me on the cheek and then hugs me. Closer inspection reveals that it could be Bez from The Happy Mondays, however it could be a case of the beer goggles clouding my judgement. But at that point the crowd and I no longer cared for such issues, it truly felt like a communal moment that so many bands fail to create. Overall the event was great fun and well worth the admission price, which is more than I can say for some bands. Get your flat caps out and go and see Chas n Dave ASAP, you won’t be disappointed.