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  • Writer's pictureJO'B

Galen & Paul, Bush Hall, London, 25th April 2024

Updated: May 5

If you are Paul Simonon from The Clash, I suspect that comes with some burden of expectation from fans, musicians, journalists, everyone. It must be joyous to just go "fuck 'em" and do what the hell you like. Since The Clash collapsed, he's dallied with music (Havana 3AM), picked up his career as a very talented artist, returned to music, playing bass for The Good, The Bad & The Queen with Damon Albarn, Simon Tong (The Verve) and afrobeat drumming legend Tony Allen. He's also played with Gorillaz both on record (Plastic Beach) and live (alongside fellow Clash legend Mick Jones).

So, if you want to make a gentle album of summer cafe songs, half sung in Spanish with the daughter of Soft Machine's Kevin Ayers, you can do that. And if the ageing punk Clash fans don't like it? See above.

The album, Can We Do Tomorrow Another Day?, sounds like they are busking outside a cafe, chilling out and sending musical postcards from the most fabulous holiday. It's breezy, a summery project, born from a chance meeting in Spain during lockdown. Galen had been brought up there and Paul was in Mallorca for lockdown, painting and tentatively thinking about song ideas. This random collaboration soon gained a stellar supporting cast (Tony Visconti produces, Big Audio Dynamite's Dan Donovan does keyboards, Damon Albarn appears playing melodica, The Verve's Simon Tong on guitar and Polar Bear's Seb Roachford on drums).

The album was a surprise joy in 2023 and the chance to see a member of The Clash this up close and personal was too good to resist. I drag my friend Fi along as I think she'll find it entertaining and also she is super stylish and I suspect it will be a very stylish crowd. I am right and the ageing punks are here, but rocking a fine selectiion of trilbys, pork pie hats, newsboy's a very smart crowd. One gent is rocking a very fine leopard print coat. I feel underdressed and wish I had been brave enough to wear one of my hats. Bugger.

We grab a beer and meandor a third of the way into the room, whch has been a soup kitchen, a bingo hall and a snooker and social club in its time. It's art deco, shabby chic and it's busy tonight. But it never feels oversold, or unsafe. We stake our claim to an area and chat away, but the band soon take the stage. Like the audience, they too are stylishly clobbered up for the show. The band in black or white suits, the drummer and Galen in a mix of both colours. Paul rocks a newsboy cap and looks dashing. I have a small crush.

Opening with Lonely Road, a lilting, fifties, european style shuffle kicks things off (well, less kick, more gentle nudge). It's followed by It's Another Night, its rolling bass driven strum, reminiscent of Blur's London story telling, name-checking various landmarks on a bus journey through the city. Paul's been hanging around with Mister Albarn a lot to be fair.

Room At The Top is Brill Building pop and some wonderful keyboard flourishes and a great, wonky organ solo. There's real chemistry between Paul and Galen. She's never less than charming as a performer, her Spanish giving the show a very different feel. Her obvious enjoyment in performing and her joie de vivre complements his cool.

I’ve Never Had a Good Time… Paris is their cheeky, comedy song, deftly delivered ("we like it when they say ooh-la-la-la" and "let's go to Blackpool, they've got a tower" and "avez vous une cuppa?"), whereas No Es Necesario has a Morricone feel to it, it's more measured, Twangy…The whole show is just enormous, understated fun.

They skip the sham of going off stage for the encore and launch into a jolly, stripped down Guns Of Brixton and the crowd sing along merrily. Get A Life brings proceedings to a close and they are gone. It's a gentle, breezy show but I probably don't need to see it again. But if they are playing, go, you will have a splendid evening.

To the chaps stood behind us, I am glad your friend has reached the age of 80, whilst another is celebrating his 70th. And I am sorry another lost their mum, my genuine sympathies to your friend and his loved ones. But perhaps, just perhaps, a stripped down, largely acoustic gig featuring a genuine legend isn't the place for that discussion and maybe take yourselves off to a bar and celebrate your friends and drown your sorrows, rather than drown out the band. Just a thought!

Stay safe, and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe (see link below), x


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