In April 2010 I constructed a post on KYPP for The Mob’s ‘No Doves Fly Here’ 7″ single released on Crass records.
Among the comments left by the browsers on that post was an idea from KYPP’s Alistair about trying to get an exhibition together for the late Wilf’s artwork to be shown in public. Along with Steve Beatty, under the moniker of Cracked Image Graffix, Wilf’s and Steve’s artwork adorned the record sleeves of all The Mob’s vinyl output and several other early All The Madmen record releases. Joanne who was close to Wilf for many years raised an interest in a comment on that same KYPP post.
See that KYPP post HERE.
While the comments on that KYPP post were slowing up a little and eventually coming to a close, Joanne must of been busy finding old acquaintances of Wilf’s to sound out this idea of an eventual exhibition of Wilf’s artwork. I can only assume the reaction was positive as Joanne, along with Graham Moore an old friend and band member of Psycho Daisies, a band which Wilf was a sometime member, started to locate and collate artwork from many private collections for the art exhibition. Between Joanne and Graham over eighty original pieces of Wilf artwork was sourced and ready for display.
In early October 2011 the exhibition, which was now named as ‘The Grotty Hand Of Wilf’, was open to the public at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil. An article about Wilf and the exhibition appeared in the Yoevil Western Gazette, Kill Your Pet Puppy online also helped to promote the event.
Along with the art exhibition being held at The Octagon Theatre, a concert was organised at the nearby (and strangely named) music venue pub ‘The Quicksilver Mail’. This concert would have The Mob headlining in their original local area for the first time in over thirty years. Support acts were courtesy of Try Not To, a band that features the son of Graham Fallows from The Mob in the line up. Psycho Daisies a band mentioned earlier in this text that used to feature Wilf as a member back in the early to mid 1980’s and had reformed specifically for this special night. Idiot Strength were also to perform unveiling a brand new lineup for this event.
Obviously north London was not the place to be on this special night, so after organising a day off work and some Yeovil accommodation for the weekend, myself and my family headed west early on Friday morning. Under bright blue skies we traveled speedily towards Somerset stopping off at Stonehenge for old times sake as it was rather conveniently on the way.
The Penguin family headed straight to the invite only private viewing of the exhibition before stopping off at the bed and breakfast as the Stonehenge stop had made us enter Yeovil rather later than expected. Amongst the folk already at the exhibition were Joanne and Graham, Curtis and Mark from The Mob, Debbie from Bikini Mutants and My Bloody Valentine along with Matt from the Psycho Daisies later the bassist of Thatcher On Acid. Other notables that I was also introduced to were Chris from Acorn Records, Patc who is Josef Porta’s sister and Stephen Ives AKA Farmer Glitch. I was not introduced to Wilf’s old art teacher or the Mayor of Yeovil and his wife who were also in attendance.
After a couple of hours in the exhibition the Penguin’s of north London ducked out to seek out the bed and breakfast. Worryingly I noticed a club right next to the bed and breakfast. Happily it was advertising a gig that same Friday night by a band described as ‘ex members of Boomtown Rats’. I assumed that no one would show for that gig so I was satisfied that I would get a good nights kip after the Wilf memorial concert a mile or so around the corner and up a fair gradient.
The Quicksilver Mail music venue pub is on top of a hill and by seven in the evening it was already getting Mob like supporters lurking around in the public bar area. The band members themselves had completed their sound check by the time the Penguin family had arrived and were all tucking in to some free pub food courtesy of the management on one of the benches outside, relaxing underneath the still relatively clear skies.
The toddler Penguin was happy enough at the start of the evening to hang out on the next table as the band members were on but as time went on and sound checks from the other support bands got louder he started to get a little more restless. Cue; Mrs Penguin taking toddler Penguin out to somewhere quieter for the night. Back to the bed and breakfast in fact, for an evening meal and a nice bath for the toddler.
I managed to stay out later than eight thirty and for my reward I was to witness the bands that made up this special night in Yeovil.
Try Not To were first on the bill and made quite a nice sound. I know nothing of this band aside that Graham Fallows son plays the drums for them. The band managed to put in a decent performance even with a dodgy lead somewhere in the mix, to a small but appreciative crowd including Graham and Mark from The Mob. I thought the band had a slight mid to late 1980’s ‘shoegazing’ sound reminiscent of The Primitives or The Darling Buds mixing it up with the Manic Street Preachers, which is no bad thing. A decent start to the night.
Psycho Daisies were up next. Graham the guitarist of this band that had reformed specifically for this performance, was a main instigator of ‘The Grotty Hand Of Wilf’ exhibition along with Joanne that I had been to earlier in the day.
The hall lights were turned down for this performance to highlight the computer slideshow of Wilf’s artwork which along with sections of super 8 video film of Wilf in much younger days was displayed on a white sheet behind the performing band. Apart from some small technical hitches with the slideshow computer the Psycho Daisies set went well. It was also received well by the crowd which was growing in number by this stage.
A mainly instrumental band, Psycho Daisies featuring Matt Cornish before he played bass with Thatcher On Acid (or maybe he was in both bands simultaneously?) were a very pleasant surprise to my ears. I was expecting some kind of basic punk rock crash bang wallop, but got ‘backwards psychedelia’ instead. Each guitar, bass and drum backing track performed live was mixed up with prerecorded tape loops via a computer filled with assorted noises including birds, speeches, chimes and so forth. This computer was controlled by guitarist Graham Moore. I got a slight Durutti Column vibe from some of Psycho Daisies set.
Matt Cornish was instrumental with getting all the performances by all the bands recorded onto his hard drive via the mixing desk. He sat there patiently, headphones on, twiddling with his computer towards the back of the hall all night long (except when he was playing bass for the Psycho Daisies of course!). Matt sent the results of the recordings (that he also patiently remixed) to Penguin Towers. So if you thank anyone for these downloads, thank him!
Idiot Strength are a band that were well known in the Bristol and London squat scenes from the mid 1980’s. The band have gone through several line up changes since the bands inception, the only consistent member is Yeovilite Steve Corr. The longest standing Idiot Strength line up of Steve, Bob Butler and Andy Tuck who were two other young Yeovil based punks who followed The Mob back in that bands original life time is now no longer. Andy was sadly missed tonight as he had arranged a trip to Brazil before the exhibition and concert were advertised…
Idiot Strength were unveiling a new line up tonight. The band sounded tight but sadly the performance was marred by a fuzzy sounding bass and a bad guitar lead, a lead that was swapped quickly after the first track finished by ex Idiot Strength bassist Bob Butler who was in the audience. Back in the mid 1980’s I really rated Idiot Strength and went to as many of the bands London gigs as possible generally held in squatted venues. I still look forward to witnessing the band live. Steve is a first class lyricist and the music has a bouncy enjoyable feel to it. Tonight after the sound mix was smoothed out a little, the band were as good as they normally are. The last track was a cover of Red Lights ‘Never Wanna Leave The Sewer’ one of the Yeovil punk scenes favorite tracks from 1977. For this track Bob Butler was called up on stage to perform his old bass duties. This moment was the call for the still static (but appreciative) crowd to move down the front and a dozen or so folk danced manically for the first time on the night. This would not be the last time the crowd got up and danced, far from it.
The Mob were setting up on the stage. The audience stayed forward. The Mob backdrops were placed back up as they had slipped down during the Idiot Strength set. The audience was a nice size, many many old Yeovil and other west country punks of yesteryear had shown up for this show, including Adie Petts and Mark Hedges (the bassist for Null And Void) who both lived with The Mob in Seend back in 1980. Another Adie, an ex drummer for Null And Void and The Mob was also in attendance. Chris from Acorn Records was there. Most of the people from the art exhibition earlier were there. Fod showed up, Jaz and Des from Virus, another Somerset band from the 1980’s were also there. Mark Mob’s elderly father showed up but preferred to listen to his son’s band in the safety (and lower volume) of the corridor by the entrance doors. Miles had shown up all the way from Denmark again to witness The Mob…
The gig all of a sudden was beginning to feel quite special. The Mob performing on home turf for the first time in over three decades. The band had some wide grins on their faces as they started off with ‘Youth’ followed quickly by ‘Crying Again’. Mark did not even remember most of the words for this song at the beginning of the night but after some jogged memories there were some words written out on the amplifier monitor in front of him and when the track started Mark and the band got through it perfectly with absolutely no mistakes. This was the first time the track was performed live. The band have not even got around to practicing this track privately yet!
The audience was getting ever more excited now and around twenty five to thirty folks were down the front jumping around all over the place, all night long. The other hundred and fifty punters were all attentive towards the stage. The band whizzed through classic after classic at a furious pace, not dropping a beat or missing a note. This gig was starting to feel even more special than the invite only performance in Hoxton in the summer where The Mob performance was an absolute cracker. That gig can be read about and heard HERE.
The Mob on this night in Yeovil were on the top of their game and the members seemed to be enjoying everything that was going on around them.
Cue; one lone long curly haired nutter slightly reminiscent of Martin Hannett, who had caught me at the bar during Psycho Daisies set and after staring at me manically for a minute or so repeating the mantra “You alright yeah?”, “You alright yeah?”,”You alright yeah?”. He went on to ‘discuss’ Discharge with me and also went into a much more interesting slice of conversation regarding the fact that with short hair he used to look like Nidge from Blitz.
He was well on his way at that point early on in the evening.
By the time The Mob stepped up and performed several tracks, said local nutter wobbled over to the stage and made himself busy by getting to the front and tried his hardest to annoy Curtis by trying to grab Curtis’s bass neck and whack the tuning heads… Curtis showed immense restraint, which he probably would not have done thirty years ago… I am sure Curtis would have decked the loon from the stage thirty years ago, and I was very pleased to see him keep his cool and carry on. The loon did put the bass out of tune once but that was sorted out before ‘Witch Hunt’ was performed. A good Samaritan bravely stood in front of the loon for the rest of the night’s performance to avoid said loon mucking things up again. Loon looked a bit sorry for himself after he realised he could not upset a band member and not knowing quite what to do, he slunked back to the bar for another twelve pints.
The gig was coming to an end now and The Mob continued to perform extremely well and finished off to a feeling of complete joy from band and audience.
I enjoyed a little chit chat after the gig with the band members and some of the crowd including someone who told me he was the brother of Taff who played bass for an early All The Madmen records band, The Review. Later on in the early 1980’s that same Taff joined the nihilistic Disorder in Bristol.
Nowt else to do now apart from waddle down this big hill while trying to keep myself vertical and not fall in the road with the amount of cider consumed throughout the night. I only had about five or six pints but that knocks me sideways nowadays. Light weight I know.
Half way down the hill my Angel Gabriel arrived in a battered white van. It was Mark from The Mob driving back to Bristol with some of his grown up children, some of his children’s friends and Leah.
“Alright Penguin’ where do you need to go?” he asks.
I slur “I dunno over there somewhere” pointing vaguely.
“Get in then mate” he offers.
Into the van I get and within a few minutes I am dropped off at the bed and breakfast place opposite the Globe And Crown pub.
“The Mob and all Yeovil punks used to go to that pub all the time back in the day” states Mark.
“Cool” I slur as I close the door to his van. “Goodnight all”.
I look at the club near the bed and breakfast with slightly blurred cider vision. No one is around, all is quiet just as I thought earlier on in the day. I will get some sleep tonight!
A band comprising of ex Boomtown Rats members may not have had the same successful night in Yeovil as the bands that performed at the Quicksilver Mail pub on this very special night in memory of Wilf. Best gig of the year so far.
Wilf one of the real genuine talents from Yeovil taken away from his family and friends at the young age of forty four almost ten years ago now.
It is good to know he is still remembered and loved by the community.
THIS WHOLE POST IS DEDICATED TO CURTIS FROM THE MOB WHO CELEBRATES HIS BIRTHDAY TODAY. MANY HAPPY RETURNS FROM ALL HERE AT KYPP.
All audio recordings courtesy of Matt Cornish, all photographs from Penguin’s collection.
Yeovil Live magazine review of the gig courtesy of Matt Cornish