In a perfect world a Flesh For Lulu gig would be taking place in the O2’s main arena, not in a bowling alley beside it. But then in a perfect world it wouldn’t be happening tonight at all.
This gig was scheduled for May, but brought forward when frontman Nick Marsh got the latest news in his fight against throat cancer. Having already undergone surgery and chemo, the disease was back.
Backstage pre-show, Nick is doing his hair and demonstrating how wide, post-surgery, he can open his mouth (he’d struggle to eat a plum), pointing out where the surgeon will cut next and describing how that might affect his face. We often talk of rock stars as ‘survivors’ – for making it through a mid-career slump or being dropped by a label. Nick Marsh is redefining all that.
The gig was beautiful – and heartbreaking in a way that I doubt many Flesh gigs have been. Wrongly tagged ‘goth’, Flesh For Lulu are more like London’s answer to The Replacements (Paul Westerberg has even covered one of their tunes): brilliantly crafted rock’n’roll, with a Stonesy swagger and a yobbish attitude. The band play all the right songs (Restless, Subterraneans, Postcards From Paradise, even a revamped I Go Crazy), and pull it off like it’s just another night. Long live the new Flesh.