It’s been a hellish half-decade since Chatham’s insanely prolific garage-punk forefather Billy Childish last stepped onto a London stage, and the buzzing anticipation amid this packed mid-afternoon matinee crowd couldn’t be more electric.
From the moment Childish – subtly bedecked in a Davy Crockett-style buckskin suit and raccoon hat – bangs out the opening riff to All Our Forts Are With You, you can just tell he’s relishing every minute of this long-awaited gigging return.
With wife Julie Hamper, aka Nurse Julie, on bass and backing vox (as well the odd lead vocal) and old compadre Wolf Howard (The Buff Medways, The Daggermen, James Taylor Quartet) thumping the tubs, Childish gives us everything we’ve grown to expect from him over the years, even down to the inevitable slew of self-mocking one-liners every time he misplaces a verse or struggles to tune his guitar.
Highlights include the nostalgic grin-heavy duckwalking during Link Wray’s Comanche, the discordant snarl of Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot and guest appearances from Ludella Black and Kyra La Rubia of Thee Headcoatees. La Rubia’s wired and maniacal stomp through Wild Man is worth the admittance price alone.
Welcome back, Mr Childish. It’s been far too long.