Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A S*M*A*S*H-ing Time in Bedford!

A rare live outing for the Welwyn Garden City punk rockers at Bedford Esquires, 8th June 2012. 

It was back in the early nineties when I first saw S*M*A*S*H at the St. Johns Tavern in Archway.  Now a gastro pub, back then it was an old Irish boozer with a good sized hall at the back called the Wild Western Room.  On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday, promoter Slim Chance would put on live music catering for Mods, Rockers, garage punkers and all stops inbetween.  Slim always had a good ear for what was going on, he had Billy Childish on a monthly residency, 60’s mod legends Jesse Hector, The Wheels and The Mark Four alongside current mod bands such as The Clique, Aardvarks or any one of the bands the fledgling Detour label was releasing such as The Directions or Vox Pop.  Always keen to find new talent, he told me about Dog, a rip snorting R&B band from Thamesmead. In return I put him onto Subjagger, a north London 3 piece with a fine line in late 60’s blues influenced rock. Sometimes he’d tip me off of something special he had next week like the time Man Or Astroman played and the queue snaked back towards Archway station.  One such tip off was S*M*A*S*H,  “You’ll love ‘em” he told me. Slim knew my tastes and he was spot on, I did love ‘em.  So much in fact that I went to see them at the Bull & Gate a few days later when the debut single was launched.  Fast forward 20 years later and I’ve travelled up to Bedford to see an all too rare appearance by Welwyn Garden City’s finest, playing support to Jimbob from Carter and alongside Midway Still.

Ed Borrie. Photo by Dave Edwards.

I never saw Midway Still back in the day and have to say I rather enjoyed their set and was most impressed by a track from their new album. But I was here to see S*M*A*S*H and when Ed Borrie and Salv Alessi started the intro to Revisited Number 3 I knew my journey was going to be worth it. Rob Hague walked to the drums and the acoustic intro exploded into life. Time hasn’t mellowed them, the songs still are played with vigor & energy and despite their often dark subject matter, still lift and inspire.  Songs such as Real Surreal, Drugs Again, Lady Love Your C**t, Barrabas and Shame, like fine wines the songs have got better with age.  All that was missing was I Want To Kill Somebody but like all fine wines, it’s easy to be greedy! The half hour set flew by and before long I was sat on the train back to London, puzzled as to how a band such as S*MA*S*H could have gone by largely unnoticed and we are now left with Dullplay as the biggest band in the country! Real Surreal? It most certainly is…

Salv Alessi. Photo by Dave Edwards.
Originally published on 10th June 2012.


  1. I remember seeing a cracking set from Smash at The Adelphi in Hull. Midway Still were a regular outing for me and I took them in at numerous London venues as well as Nottingham and Cambridge supporting The Wedding Present. Dial Square was a truly underrated LP.

  2. S*M*A*S*H have a gig in Hitchin on 5th April!