Last Updated on March 5, 2023
Originally published in Beat Motel issue 6
This was the first time I’d been to the D&M since it reopened. Apart from the fact it was like a sauna inside I am delighted to report it’s a cracking venue. They’re making no attempt for the left hand room to be anything other than a decent place to host bands and as a result it works really well.
A good-sized stage (with those awful railings now removed) and plenty of space to dance/watch the gig. First up were The Floating Maxwells who I believe have formed out of the ashes of The Rejects. Frontman Uncle J and saxophonist Nickie have returned with a similar type of ska-based band but are now trying to encompass a range of styles into their sound as evidenced by the brief foray into rap (!).
Apparently this was their first gig and apart from a few technical hitches it went very well, the songs were good and were well played. There was even some between song banter with J offering anyone a tenner if they would be the first to dance. I was also mightily impressed with drummer KY adding some excellent fills as well as taking lead vocals too.
All in all a tidy start to this bands career, lets hope we see them in town again soon. During the Maxwells set I spotted a diminutive chap at the front of the crowd. Sporting a classic 2-Tone t-shirt and being rather reminiscent of a smaller Buster Bloodvessel I thought here’s a bloke looking forward to a good night…turns out he was the lead singer of The Chancers!
As they completed their sound check he put down his bottle of beer, ambled up on stage and proceeded to lead this 9 piece band through a blistering set of Eastern European ska.
Speaking to Roki from the Ballistics beforehand I’d been informed The Chancers were from the Czech Republic but the first voices I heard coming from the stage were distinctly south London and Scottish so I reckon they must have recruited members more locally.
That said it doesn’t matter where the band comes from if they can play as good a set as this lot. Checking out their website later it seems they’re now getting used to playing UK gigs and I certainly hope they come back again soon as once they’d got up a head of steam they really got the D&M skanking with loads of people dancing.
After a brief break to cool down and recharge the beer glass it’s time to catch up with The Big. I saw them at this very venue several years ago supporting perennial Ippo faves LoveJunk and they were so good I’ve tried to see them every time they’ve come back since.
It’s probably been a year since they visited the Steamboat and if it wasn’t for the fact lead singer / guitarist Ed is so huge then I wouldn’t have recognised him as he strolled around the bar beforehand. Normally sporting a crew cut he’s now decided to grow out his ‘fro and take possession of a massive, Grizzly Adams style beard. I’ve never seen someone’s appearance change so radically but fortunately it hasn’t changed the quality of his performance onstage as he’s his normal entertaining self.
Strangely for someone who thinks he’s such a fan of the band I’ve only actually got one album, Last Chance, but the lack of familiarity with other songs in the set never stops the enjoyment. The musicianship is always spot on but it never gets so technical as to spoil the vibe of the set. You can sing or dance along to every number this band plays such is the infectious nature of each tune.
All the favourites are played with ‘Essex Wanker’ getting a particularly loud cheer. By the end of the set the crowd, and the band themselves, are flagging from the extreme heat in the venue but that doesn’t stop them inviting all members of the support bands on stage for a 5 minute ska jam.
It’s quite a sight to see 15 plus people playing a variety of instruments all thoroughly enjoying themselves and seeing the crowd get off equally as much. I’ve now made it a priority to check out the rest of their albums as each time I see The Big I’ve clearly forgotten what a good band they are and just how great their music is. If they come to a town near you it’d be a mistake to miss out, take it from me these boys (and girls) play up a storm!