Love you back to life again!

Fruitbat Nov2
Jimbob Nov2
Carter crowd Nov2

A journey back in time, then … Carter USM‘s reunion/final gig at Brixton Academy: I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. There was something gorgeously nostalgic for me about going in via the guest list door down the side of the Academy (these days I don’t generally do guest lists at gigs – in my days as a music journalist, it’s all I did!) – and then, of course, bumping into various figures from the old Carter days: Jim’s girlfriend Jakki, Daz the super-roadie, Adrian their old manager (I can’t believe Steve Lamacq wasn’t there, but I didn’t see him before, during or afterwards). Carter long- and short-sleeved tops abounded, but were they originals, or new ones? It didn’t matter. Old Carter fans had filled out a bit, and most presumably now had babysitters to thank for this rare Saturday night out. We were talking about a sold-out Brixton (always Carter’s local venue) full of fortysomethings, and perhaps a few thirtysomethings, re-living those glory years of the early 90s – perhaps some of the younger ones were kids of Carter fans? No apologies for this bit of moderate time-travel (ten years since Carter split, 20 since they formed – both decisions made on Streatham Common – and around 25 since they bestrode the world, or part of it, as two) – Jim and Fruitbat had made the wise decision that those earlier days of conquest were the ones to be celebrated: no Wez the drummer (nice fella though he was), no other unecessary band-members, and no songs from the later albums (correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Glam Rock Cops, 1994, was the most recent song played).

Thanks to Eddie Curry from the Carter USM boards, even though I didn’t ask him, for the borrow of these hot-off-the-camera photos, and to Mark Reed for getting the set-list up so quickly:

Surfin’ USM
Every Time A Church Bell Rings
My Second To Last Will And Testament
Say It With Flowers
Rubbish
Billy’s Smart Circus
Taking Of Peckham 1-2-3
Do Re Me
This Is How It Feels
Anytime Anyplace Anywhere
The Only Living Boy In New Cross
Prince In A Pauper’s Grave
Shoppers Paradise
After The Watershed
RSPCE
Glam Rock Cops
Lean On Me
The Impossible Dream
Bloodsport For All
The Music Nobody Likes
A Perfect Day To Drop The Bomb

England
A Sheltered Life
Rent
Sheriff Fatman
GI Blues

Sorry about this, but yes, Fat Jon Beast came on to introduce the boys in time-honoured fashion.

Beast Nov2

I’ve seen him do this from London to New York in the past, and it was only fitting that he did it again tonight, dressed only in a gourd, and just as portly as he always was. (Lovely to see him and give him a big hug after the show – he was fully dressed by then.) If you never saw Carter, or had them down as indie chancers, I won’t try to convert you now – it’s somewhat late in the day – but for two blokes, two guitars and a backing tape, they once again made a fantastic noise. Yes, it’s effectively DIY punk rock, but constantly melodic, with synth flourishes and social realism, plus Jim’s crossword-clue lyrics, most of which came with massed accompaniment on Friday. It was brave to have some of the promos showing on a screen, as we could compare the faces of Jim and Les with their younger selves (they looked particularly lean and hungry in Rubbish). Because of his choice of flat cap, Fruitbat looked very much like an athletic granddad, but in an act of high camp he returned for the encores in his old costume of shorts, t-shirt and cycling cap – at which point he downed his first alcoholic drink for seven months, and commented, “That was nice.” Jim looked stylish indeed in black shirt with red braces and red armbands.

The aftershow was well-attended in the upstairs bar, where, swiz, the beer cost three pound thirty a bottle. Thanks to current manager Marc I was escorted back to the dressing room (mainly because I couldn’t hang around long), where I expressed my appreciation of a great and emotional night to Jim with a further manly hug. It was a hugging sort of night. Grown men crying. That sort of thing.

I never felt the need to see the reformed Sex Pistols (if you didn’t seem them with Sid, it wasn’t the Sex Pistols), nor the Pixies (whom I saw the first time around). I witnessed Bauhaus at Brixton the other year, and that was a fabulous night of theatre, and I’m glad I experienced the reformed Pop Will Eat Itself too – a similar vintage crowd to Carter’s, and another good night for babysitters. So I have nothing against bands reforming in essence. If the audience is there, where’s the harm? As long as they don’t play new songs. Heaven forbid.

Nice to feel like a 26-year-old fan again. And this exchange took place in the bar beforehand which has nothing to do with Carter but made me smile:

Irish bloke [to me]: You’re Stuart Maconie!
Me: No, I’m not.
Irish bloke: Yes you are!
Me: No, I’m not, I promise you.
Irish bloke: You sound like him.
Me: I’m not him. [I’m kind of teasing him at this point, hoping he will realise his error without me having to tell him who I am]
Irish bloke: My wife is a big fan of your books.
Me: That’s great. But do you mean she’s a big fan of my books, or a big fan of Stuart Maconie’s books?
Irish bloke: No, definitely yours. Can I take a picture?
Me: Of course you can. [I still have no idea if he thinks I am me or Stuart at this stage, but I figure his wife can work it out later]
[He holds camera phone out and we put our heads together for a snap. Click. The flash doesn’t go off]
Irish bloke: Oh well. Cheers anyway!
[We shake hands and he goes off, merrily]

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39 thoughts on “Love you back to life again!

  1. The first time I saw Carter was at a school in sleepy Steyning, a tiny gig memorable for two things – blagging my way backstage to meet the band, and a rare collision between stage divers running on from stage left and stage right. I remember interviewing them for our crappy fanzine at a subsequent gig, at Sussex Uni, too. Seems like there’s a lip smacking, jaw breaking, rip roaring 90s revival going on…Dan Thompson

  2. The first time I saw Carter was at a school in sleepy Steyning, a tiny gig memorable for two things – blagging my way backstage to meet the band, and a rare collision between stage divers running on from stage left and stage right. I remember interviewing them for our crappy fanzine at a subsequent gig, at Sussex Uni, too. Seems like there’s a lip smacking, jaw breaking, rip roaring 90s revival going on…Dan Thompson

  3. Smashing evening and a wonderful set. And I don’t feel so bad about blabbering at you afterwards in a very tired and emotional manner – at least I knew who you were 🙂

  4. Smashing evening and a wonderful set. And I don’t feel so bad about blabbering at you afterwards in a very tired and emotional manner – at least I knew who you were 🙂

  5. I was just listening again to Carter on Gideon Coe’s show, still sounds good after all this time :-)BTW, have you joined the world of Facebook? It seems to be pointless, but fun if you like playing scrabble.

  6. I was just listening again to Carter on Gideon Coe’s show, still sounds good after all this time :-)BTW, have you joined the world of Facebook? It seems to be pointless, but fun if you like playing scrabble.

  7. “I never felt the need to see the reformed Sex Pistols (if you didn’t see them with Sid, it wasn’t the Sex Pistols)”Hmmmm! I saw the Pistols twice in Doncaster in 76/77 and believe me, the original Matlock line up was THE best – the nimble bass, and the harmony vocals – the SPOTS return visit with Sid was lumpen and a dirge – sorry Andrew, but if you saw them after Sid joined, it wasnt the Pistols! Old Man Punk Purist rant over.Great Carter piece by the way!CheersJohn

  8. “I never felt the need to see the reformed Sex Pistols (if you didn’t see them with Sid, it wasn’t the Sex Pistols)”Hmmmm! I saw the Pistols twice in Doncaster in 76/77 and believe me, the original Matlock line up was THE best – the nimble bass, and the harmony vocals – the SPOTS return visit with Sid was lumpen and a dirge – sorry Andrew, but if you saw them after Sid joined, it wasnt the Pistols! Old Man Punk Purist rant over.Great Carter piece by the way!CheersJohn

  9. Of a similar wotsit, did you know that Wiz – lead singer of the very lovely Mega City Four – died just 12 months ago after collapsing with a blood clot on the brain ? This article made me internet-off to see what they were up to, and I have just discovered this.http://www.spiny.co.uk/megacityfourThey were my version of your CarterUSM… in other words then, this article made smile but also made me very sad.There.That bloody depressed you didn’t it.I saw MC4 in Cardiff at their ‘height’ and they will always be famous in my group of friends for pretentiously storming off stage shouting ‘JESUS FUCK FUCK’ at the audience because one of them stage dived during one of their slow acoustic numbers.Bless.

  10. Of a similar wotsit, did you know that Wiz – lead singer of the very lovely Mega City Four – died just 12 months ago after collapsing with a blood clot on the brain ? This article made me internet-off to see what they were up to, and I have just discovered this.http://www.spiny.co.uk/megacityfourThey were my version of your CarterUSM… in other words then, this article made smile but also made me very sad.There.That bloody depressed you didn’t it.I saw MC4 in Cardiff at their ‘height’ and they will always be famous in my group of friends for pretentiously storming off stage shouting ‘JESUS FUCK FUCK’ at the audience because one of them stage dived during one of their slow acoustic numbers.Bless.

  11. Beth, I have not, nor will I ever join Facebook.John – I bow to your greater first-hand experience of Sex Pistols line-ups, but since I saw neither of them, my stance remains the same: no point in seeing them now. (Did you see them when they reformed?)iamnothtebeatles, I met the Megas on a couple of occasions, and found them charming gentlemen. I could in fact be seen dancing to them when they appeared on The Word! I was sad when I heard about the death of Wiz. I was asked by Steve Lamacq to DJ at his memorial concert, which I would have done, but it was the same night as my birthday and I already had plans. (Jim and Les played some Carter songs that night, which I’ve watched on YouTube.)

  12. Beth, I have not, nor will I ever join Facebook.John – I bow to your greater first-hand experience of Sex Pistols line-ups, but since I saw neither of them, my stance remains the same: no point in seeing them now. (Did you see them when they reformed?)iamnothtebeatles, I met the Megas on a couple of occasions, and found them charming gentlemen. I could in fact be seen dancing to them when they appeared on The Word! I was sad when I heard about the death of Wiz. I was asked by Steve Lamacq to DJ at his memorial concert, which I would have done, but it was the same night as my birthday and I already had plans. (Jim and Les played some Carter songs that night, which I’ve watched on YouTube.)

  13. My girlfriend and I were desparate to go to see Carter as she was a teenage fan (28 now) but we couldn’t get tickets. So we went down to Kent to see my mum and dad instead. She got a call at 9pm saying that her boss had wangled her guestlist and aftershow tickets if she could get there in twenty minutes – not normally a problem since we live in Wandsworth. But a big problem since we were 50 miles away.So we couldn’t go.Gutted does not begin describe it.

  14. My girlfriend and I were desparate to go to see Carter as she was a teenage fan (28 now) but we couldn’t get tickets. So we went down to Kent to see my mum and dad instead. She got a call at 9pm saying that her boss had wangled her guestlist and aftershow tickets if she could get there in twenty minutes – not normally a problem since we live in Wandsworth. But a big problem since we were 50 miles away.So we couldn’t go.Gutted does not begin describe it.

  15. Cool. I loved MC4 to bits, and knew nothing about this or any memorial concert. How amazing to be asked to take part! I have just given Who Cares Wins a spin with a tear in my eye for its marvellousness. I shall wear my hooded top whilst making the tea later for full effect.Incidentally I only saw Carter once – supporting The Wonder Stuff in Paris when I was a teenager who would do things like go to Paris just to catch a gig.I never really understood them myself, but then I was a massive fan of the New Fast Automatic Daffodils – so my taste cannot automatically be trusted. Actually, I still rate the New Fast Automatic Daffodils – so don’t trust me at all.Ever.

  16. Cool. I loved MC4 to bits, and knew nothing about this or any memorial concert. How amazing to be asked to take part! I have just given Who Cares Wins a spin with a tear in my eye for its marvellousness. I shall wear my hooded top whilst making the tea later for full effect.Incidentally I only saw Carter once – supporting The Wonder Stuff in Paris when I was a teenager who would do things like go to Paris just to catch a gig.I never really understood them myself, but then I was a massive fan of the New Fast Automatic Daffodils – so my taste cannot automatically be trusted. Actually, I still rate the New Fast Automatic Daffodils – so don’t trust me at all.Ever.

  17. carter usm- living legends !!!what a gig, what a night , g4rown men crying during g.i. blues says it all , i know its to much to hope for but please jim and fruity please lets have another in ten years time, please!

  18. carter usm- living legends !!!what a gig, what a night , g4rown men crying during g.i. blues says it all , i know its to much to hope for but please jim and fruity please lets have another in ten years time, please!

  19. Hi Andrew, I am the wife of the now extremely embarrased Irish bloke quoted! (very accurately, I might say, going by his own hazy recollection of your conversation.)I’m am indeed a huge fan of your books – I’ve never read any of Stuart Maconie’s books although I’m sure they also have merit! I also like to read your blog although never felt the need to join in until now!The photo is pretty dark but it’s clearly you and my drunken husband-at least he got proof.I was also at the gig – a group of 6 of us had travelled over from Belfast – wouldn’t have missed it and they didn’t let us down – funny thing is I had been teasing my husband for quite sometime that I wasn’t that bothered about seeing Carter so long as I got the chance to meet you …Irony for you?Anyway -sorry I didn’t get to say hello – glad the husband (Craig as I call him) made you smile….

  20. Hi Andrew, I am the wife of the now extremely embarrased Irish bloke quoted! (very accurately, I might say, going by his own hazy recollection of your conversation.)I’m am indeed a huge fan of your books – I’ve never read any of Stuart Maconie’s books although I’m sure they also have merit! I also like to read your blog although never felt the need to join in until now!The photo is pretty dark but it’s clearly you and my drunken husband-at least he got proof.I was also at the gig – a group of 6 of us had travelled over from Belfast – wouldn’t have missed it and they didn’t let us down – funny thing is I had been teasing my husband for quite sometime that I wasn’t that bothered about seeing Carter so long as I got the chance to meet you …Irony for you?Anyway -sorry I didn’t get to say hello – glad the husband (Craig as I call him) made you smile….

  21. Ever so slightly miffed from the provincesAs a Carter fan, its great to see the two blokes and a drum machine back on stage. Or it would be, had they decided to play a few more venues other than London and Glasgow! What about the rest of the UK? Living in deepest Derbyshire, it was just too impractical for us to get down to the smoke. I’m sure the boys would still get good attendances if they took their show out to some of the big cities. A case in point- Last week I saw The Wedding Present doing their George Best 20th Anniversary tour at Rock City, and judging by the numbers in attendance, I would say there is definitely a market out there for a mini pre-britpop revival. At least the Ned’s are playing Wolverhampton in December, proving not everyone’s given up on the Midlands Massive! By the way Andrew, great pic of you disguised as Fruity.Jim(Bob) Self

  22. Ever so slightly miffed from the provincesAs a Carter fan, its great to see the two blokes and a drum machine back on stage. Or it would be, had they decided to play a few more venues other than London and Glasgow! What about the rest of the UK? Living in deepest Derbyshire, it was just too impractical for us to get down to the smoke. I’m sure the boys would still get good attendances if they took their show out to some of the big cities. A case in point- Last week I saw The Wedding Present doing their George Best 20th Anniversary tour at Rock City, and judging by the numbers in attendance, I would say there is definitely a market out there for a mini pre-britpop revival. At least the Ned’s are playing Wolverhampton in December, proving not everyone’s given up on the Midlands Massive! By the way Andrew, great pic of you disguised as Fruity.Jim(Bob) Self

  23. You’re welcome for the setlist by the way. Glad to see you enjoyed it as much as everyone else – its lovely to be in a room where everyone has great taste in music. Mark Reed

  24. You’re welcome for the setlist by the way. Glad to see you enjoyed it as much as everyone else – its lovely to be in a room where everyone has great taste in music. Mark Reed

  25. seconded re the Senseless Things reunion, and can i please add That Petrol Emotion to the list.I would of course love to see Age of Cchance do their noise thing again, but sadly that will never happen.onwardsmark e/ireallylovemusic

  26. seconded re the Senseless Things reunion, and can i please add That Petrol Emotion to the list.I would of course love to see Age of Cchance do their noise thing again, but sadly that will never happen.onwardsmark e/ireallylovemusic

  27. Hey Mark, I’m sure you once told me on Playlouder that the Petrols were reforming! (Maverick here btw)Then again I saw the Undertones recently and the O’Neills appeared to be having too much fun to do so.Any odds on a Husker Du reunion?

  28. Hey Mark, I’m sure you once told me on Playlouder that the Petrols were reforming! (Maverick here btw)Then again I saw the Undertones recently and the O’Neills appeared to be having too much fun to do so.Any odds on a Husker Du reunion?

  29. You mean you’re not Stuart Maconie?I am off to see the Fall later this month and will be happy to hear the new stuff as well as any old material Mark E deigns to serve up. One way to avoid pontless reformings is to never split up.A friend went to see the Pistols last night and the general concensus amnongst us foty-something boring old punks is that they have becme their own tribute band and should be renamed The W*nk Pistols.

  30. You mean you’re not Stuart Maconie?I am off to see the Fall later this month and will be happy to hear the new stuff as well as any old material Mark E deigns to serve up. One way to avoid pontless reformings is to never split up.A friend went to see the Pistols last night and the general concensus amnongst us foty-something boring old punks is that they have becme their own tribute band and should be renamed The W*nk Pistols.

  31. hey there maverick.yeah – there was indeed talk once of a TPE reunion, but sadly it never happened.we can but hope.in fact – i’m off to email steve now and hassle him some more as its been a while.onwardsmark e

  32. hey there maverick.yeah – there was indeed talk once of a TPE reunion, but sadly it never happened.we can but hope.in fact – i’m off to email steve now and hassle him some more as its been a while.onwardsmark e

  33. Now I’m trying to work out what year it was they played at my school…!!!Must have been 89 or 90…A friend of mine had booked them – for a Saturday night in the school theatre.We explained to the teachers that it would be a charity benefit type thing…The moment they came on it became clear that this was going to be an insane evening….400+ school kids and locals all jumping about like nutters – and about 3 members of “band security” and a few teachers were all that was available to try to maintain order….There was one particularly memorable moment when a less than slim member of the lower sixth stagedived from stage left only to see the crowd part beneath him as he fell……

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