A night on the Stiff-riff, courtesy: Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe. Ian Dury, Reckless Eric et al, had me reaching for the painkillers in the early hours of Friday last.
I had just returned from Wolverhampton Civic Hall having experienced the musical equivalent of a kick in the head from punk's "band of gypsies" — and it hurt.
But whatever the rock-shock, put your hands together for Stiff. Just two quid for five featured "artists" (snigger) can't be bad at a time when most major pop stars wouldn't sneeze for less.
Wearing fighter pilot's goggles, Ian Dury got proceedings under way with a yell of "une, deux, trois, quatre, cinq" after Reckless Eric had wandered on stage looking, midst the great stack of amps and speakers, like little-boy-lost.
Adopting the now familiar knock-kneed, punk-eyed stance, Reckless lashed the first riff and that really was that.
It was almost one hour and one act later before Larry Wallace — more like Ted Nugent than Ted Nugent — picked his way through the first lead-guitar break. Clapton favourers were not amused.
Back to Reckless — it was simple, it was basic, it was raw BUT it was vibrant and exciting with vibes that tickled your stomach.
His hit — "Whole Wide World" — really grabbed. With two drummers and a bassist for foundation, an organist for ?, two slashing rhythms and sax for cutting edge. Reckless, with gravel tones, was supremely effective.
He was followed by Nick Lowe's band. After a burst from Wallace, Nick was joined on stage by Britain's old / young man of rock Dave Edmunds and with the two in harness belting out an old Chuck Berry number, it was just like old times.
Lowe ended with "Heart of the City", some mountainous bass and two sets of crashing drums which had the punks a-pogoing.
Have you ever seen anything like Ian Dury? Punk's answer to Norman Wisdom or even Ralph Reader himself, spent most of his time on stage fighting the mic stand... and the mic stand won on points.
For his featured appearance, Dury discarded the goggles and sported a felt bowler hat — the sort diddy men wear. And though he looks funny the songs are no joke and their presentation is positively-charismatic.
Though it was not easy to identify words, songs about Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll can't be all bad. For Ian Dury I predict: "This one will run and run."
Top-liner Elvis Costello is not, as the name suggests, an amalgam of the recently deceased "King" and half of a once famous American comedy duo.
Elvis is a bespectacled young man who riffs out songs about the pretensions of small men.
Sadly I could not give earnest Elvis the full focus of my attention — the eardrums were, by this time, yelling for mercy and the exit door.
And don't think I have not been influenced by this night on the Stiff-riff — I've thrown my "grass" through the window followed by a record collection, carefully and painstakingly accumulated through the 1960s.
The 70s are here — belatedly — and the Stiff-riff "rools."