The Moorings in Aberdeen is a rock and roll oasis in a desert of granite. A hole in the wall pub that has crammed every tacky pirate cliché into every nook and cranny while also schizophrenically aspiring to be the biker/titty bar from every seventies exploitation b movie you could care to mention.
In the gents toilets there’s a plaque asking patrons to kindly not eat the urinal cakes while in the ladies another reserves a cubicle for quiet sex. There’s even a chalk outline on the dance floor hinting that at some point some sort of heinous, and fatal, crime has been committed.
It’s my sort of place I guess.
The sort that offers a port to lay anchor in while you ride out the storm of mediocrity that rages all about us.
Tonight the in house entertainment is provided by glam rock terrorists Tragic City Thieves, raspy voiced necrophiliacs The Brother Corpse Trio and an Elvis impersonator with a fixation on Star Wars called Darth Elvis.
Not your run of the mill line up anywhere else, but perfectly suited to The Moorings I suppose.
Tragic City Thieves as a band are out of their west coats comfort zone tonight and one man down due to bassist Jim Rider pulling a muscle in his back while sitting about doing nothing much at all.
In rock circles that’s not as cool as pulling a groupie, or even pulling your own knob in the back of the van after a gig, but regardless of how mundane his accident was he was still posted as MIA, and it was down to the remaining musketeers to carry the show.
….and carry the show they did.
As someone who has seen them a fistful of times I could be a bit hypercritical and draw attention to how the lack of Jim Rider swinging his bass about impacted on the sound, the look and the whole last gang in town attitude they have, but if I did, then that would detract from the fact that they still managed to make many other bands look pedestrian.
Maybe it was because they were down to three men, but I was getting a distinct Manic Street Preachers vibe from them. Not the latter day bombastic stadium friendly Manic Street Preachers, but the young hungry and slightly anarchic band that had the music press all in a froth many moons ago when they ripped through every toilet in the UK passing itself off as a music venue.
The last time I seen these guys it was Stu on guitar that shone, but tonight the gig rests on drummer Divs diminutive shoulders. He’s Animal from the muppets peaking on an amphetamine rush. All leopard print flurries with flashes of gaffa taped nipples and Slipknot grunts and growls into the mic. Like much in life it shouldn’t work, but it does.
While he has always contributed backing vocals I’ve never seen him this vocal. It’s as if he decided that as they’re a member down he would have to do the work of two, and by the end of the set he’s a sweating puddle of wrung out sinew looking for a drink or ten to re-hydrate himself.
CJ battles heroically with the job of being front man tonight. Without the full band to carry certain songs he’s nailed to the stage. If, as usual, he was to abandon his guitar and leap into the crowd he knows that musically everything will fall flat on its arse. So against all his natural instincts he hangs in there behind the mic and chugs away on his guitar to cover as much of the sound as he can.
For the uninitiated I’m sure that this is enough. The passion is still there and as clichéd as this sounds the band still rock. but I can’t help thinking that those who are impressed with this gig would be blown away by the full band experience.
So hurry back Jim. The guys need you and you’re missed.
The Brothel Corpse Trio are a quartet tonight. As it’s their album launch they have a couple of mates up to add backing vocals to the set. Not sure why though as the ’guests’ take centre stage and do little more than draw attention away from the rest of the band.
One does a very relaxed sort of chicken dance with his thumbs in his pockets and adds some vocals, while the other stands there like a store room dummy emulating the nodding head dogs that people place in the back window of their car.
Meanwhile the real trio give it all they’ve got. They remind me of a band who aspire to be a horror punk version of the Kings of Nuthin and it’s an attainable dream to be honest. They have all the parts and it’s just a case of putting them all together and fine tuning it a bit.
The vocals are imbued with whiskey soaked raspy bar room brawl bravado, and the guitar work is frenetic enough to get blood pressure up, meanwhile while the upright bass and drums do their job of holding everything together. They have a no frills approach, but it works. It’s all there.
My only criticism is that after the third song everything started to sound a bit similar.
Maybe if they expanded the band and brought in some sax and honkytonk piano everything would explode in your face, with the show jumping from feeling like a raucous party to verging instead on being a riotous assembly. That’s what they should be aiming for.
Highlight of the set for an old fella like me was their cover of Surfin Bird.
Everything else was entertaining enough. But just needs a bit of tinkering to get the most from it.
Headliners Darth Elvis are of course a comedy band, but the best always seem to be the ones who take the tongue in cheek attitude to the max, and Darth Elvis and the Tattoine Trio most definitely take it to the max tonight.
They live and breath it when they tread the boards. Coming on to the strains of the Star Wars theme we have a Jedi on guitar, a storm trooper on drums and a bounty hunter on bass, and as backing bands go I guess you can’t go wrong with a bunch of galactic warriors like this on your side.
The star of the show however is the King himself. Was there ever going to be any doubt of that?
The Sith Lord, Darth Elvis takes the stage resplendent in white rhinestone jumpsuit, cloak and black leather glove, does some stretches, gets into the feel of it, poses a bit throwing Elvis shapes, and then proceeds to envelope the large and very drunken crowd in the palm of his hand.The part is played to the hilt. Blending the king of rock and roll with the fictional Star Wars bad guy to the extent that you don‘t know where one ends and the other begins is comedy genius.
Everyone knows the Elvis material, and everyone is well aware of the Star Wars movies, so mixing them up together doesn’t take too much to wrap your head around. It’s not that much of a reach to get it.
Songs like That’s alright Jabba and You aint nothing but a nerf herder are very easily sung along to, and the, by now, drunken audience are quite happy to lend their vocal talents to them all, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I was belting them out along with the best of them.
This is pretty much the perfect entertainment for a night out.
No one is taking themselves too seriously and if bands intent is for people to go home with a smile on their face then it’s mission accomplished.
If Darth and his comrades in arms ever decide to pay a visit to a venue near you then I would advise anyone to jump at the chance of letting your hair down and grabbing yourself a hunka hunka burning Sith.
As I semi-drunkenly weaved my way to the door I had to laugh thinking about what anyone who had strayed into the Moorings would have thought.
Probably that they had just, like Brad and Janet, took a wrong turning and left normality aside for a short holiday in an all singing and dancing alternative universe.