The chrome hand of progress may have wiped out pretty much every rock’n’roll landmark in the West End, but in the 100 Club’s sticky-floored cellar its troglodyte spirit lives on.
Dressed in matching denim jackets sheared off at the shoulders, these gnarled New York legends have the look of garage rock chain gang seeing out a life sentence. “Hey you guys!” growls near-mythical frontman Rudi Protrudi as a brutalist cover of Davie Allan & the Arrows’ Blues Theme sends the front row into a frugging frenzy, while a quickfire Caught You Red Handed and Bad News Travels Fast are delivered with paint-stripping intensity, added lascivious effect provided by crazed keyboardist Nico Secondini poking his tongue out.
A ferocious cover of Screaming Lord Sutch’s Jack The Ripper and Bevis Frond’s I’ve Got Eyes In The Back Of My Head are nods to the band’s appreciation of their surroundings, and the pace only lets up when Protrudi – now 65 – acknowledges that a lifetime’s commitment to the cause has taken its toll. “I need to take a breath… I’ve already lost my voice,” he gasps before a sizzling finale of 1-2-5, Action Speaks Louder Than Words and She’s Wicked.
Feedback roars, the crowd goes ape. Rock’n’roll may appear to be dying out on street level, but on nights like this, you sense its subterranean heart will beat forever.