On the beat with Robert Nichols; PEEL REGENERATED, THE GREEN ROOM & ? GEORGIAN THEATRE, STOCKTON.
IT is a decade now since the passing of John Peel and by now it is sadly obvious that nobody is ever going to fully fill the void left by the veteran Radio One presenter. He was an old school hands-on DJ but he made it personal. His tastes were ridiculously eclectic, a dub record could be followed by an episode from a Scotch Sitting Room with Ivor Cutler and then by his favourites, The Fall. His constant passion for unearthing new music and following new directions was an inspiration. Can you imagine what it felt like if Uncle John actually played your record? I am lucky in that I can and I will never forget it. Steve Harland's Peel Regenerated was two years in the making, but sadly, a horrific hand injury meant headliners Nightingales were forced to withdraw but there was still plenty more talent to experience. As I opened the door to The Green Room the garage band organ-itude and guitar of The Things wrenched me inside. An obscure Manchester band who were thrust into a fleeting late night spot light by Peel. I would then engage with Inca Babies in the Green Room, the big figure also appearing with A Witness playing stalking bass to a guitarist/vocalist's quick fire sparring. Terry Edwards, once of The Higsons (you might know comedian Charlie) and now of the Scapegoats and Gallon Drunk showed off his multi-instrumentalist skills in The Green Room. Jesus and Mary Chain and even a Dr Feelgood tribute to Wilko Johnson were included in a set featuring sax, trumpet, guitar, vocals and backing beats.
Over in The Georgian, new wave skiffle band Terry and Gerry owed homage to Lonnie Donegan, someone John Peel often cited. They reformed and got the washboard out one more time especially for this night. If that was an indication of the eternal power of Peel this was reinforced by Green Room headliners, Eton Crop. When Steve tentatively emailed Erwin Blom regarding the gig, the vocalist replied that Eton Crop were no more but would reform and travel especially from Netherlands to play and what a show they put on. A jaunty beat, garage keyboard, duelling guitars, flying violin and spat out, slogan-eered vocals delivered some of the stand out songs from their five John Peel sessions. Over in The Georgian there was a buzz of excitement for headliners Blue Orchids. The legendary Martin Bramah, founder of The Fall, stepped forward out of the shadows to form his own band and they hit us with The Flood. How amazing that song still sounds. If reading too many books leads to Martin's Velvet Underground like Bad Education then I will stick it out in the library. What an amazing event and a tribute to Big Figure Promotions as well as the great man John Peel and long may the legacy continue. - Robert Nichols @rob_fmttm