27 October 2018 (gig)
02 November 2018
Tom Robinson, be he an inspirational DJ, a disciple of John Peel forever promoting new bands and new music and helping make BBC6 radio great, a former gay rights activist who found real love with a member of the opposite sex and indeed a now happily married man with kids just showing how love is the common thread among all living creatures and embracing diversity is essential to a common ground, for me however, he will forever be the founder of TRB and responsible for 1978’s best album, “Power In The Darkness”.
40 years on it seems many people feel the same way as we gather to celebrate TRB and the album in the delightful O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire with mainly people here who were young like me at the time though there are some additions to the flock, lucky enough to have had the vinyl passed down maybe.
“Freedom to choose what to do with your body, freedom to believe what you like, freedom for brothers to love one another, freedom for black and white. Freedom from harassment and intimidation, freedom for the mother and wife. Freedom from Big Brother’s interrogation, freedom to live your own life.”
These lyrics from the track ‘Power in the Darkness’ still feed my soul as they did back then, and the album is littered with inspirational phrases.
Luckily lyrics like this were wrapped around music which thanks to a simply devasting band played or rather attacked every song in a manner more punk like than anything on ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ for me at least. Even in the gentler songs like ‘Too Good to Be True’ the atmosphere seemed electric not placid, vivid rather than tame. The sum of the parts made the whole album something that stands out today. The original members were Dolphin Taylor, a cracking drummer who later played with Stiff Little Fingers and Spear Of Destiny, Mark Ambler a musical wizard who mastered the ‘Hammond organ’ and used it to such effect and finally the fans favourite son with a guitar sound that remains absolutely cracking to this day thanks to stunning inventiveness with hooks and melodies second to none, all belonging to our star, guitarist Danny Kustow.
Tom rightfully announces tonight that even he didn’t realise till years later, after having followed and been involved in the birth and growth of many many bands over the years, what a lucky chap he was and how outrageously amazing these guys were.
The young band members tonight, Tom suggests, are up to the challenge of finding the magic of the songs, the aim being high because of this previously high level attained, and indeed its Tom himself who goes a long way to making everything special with his great anecdotes, his enthusiasm for the event and despite his 68 years, the energy he throws into his bass playing on stage.
They play the album in its entirety, rigorously keeping to the original track listing as on the vinyl, coming back for encores with two songs off the 12” EP that was part of the gate fold original album ( at least my original copy has this), though they were also in the 7” ‘Rising Free EP’ that had ‘Don’t Take No For An Answer’ as it’s lead, (for vinyl buffs, sorry)!
The first, ‘Martin’ is such a wonderful sing along song that it can’t but help you feel good inside. It’s like the best xmas song ever without mentioning xmas, just with that spirit of goodwill gushing through your veins.
‘Glad To Be Gay’ of course is just about the greatest sing along song ever. To think he released this song in February 1978, 5.04 minutes long, banned by the BBC (although John Peel played it) but it still made it to n° 18 in the UK singles charts thanks to the resilience and persistence of the great British youth at the time that really did fight for “Freedom” believe me.
The show closes with ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’ and ‘War Babies’, Tom’s biggest hits.Its been a great night thanks to him mainly, a good sound system tonight at the Empire and the real pleasure of living and re-living life’s special moments. Past became present and vice versa and for an artistic piece of work with 40 years of age on the clock, especially as we are talking about rock music, that is some feat.
Brothers and sisters, “Power in the darkness, Stand up and fight for your rights!”
It still feels good to say it and above all hear it!
Up Against the Wall
Too Good To Be True
Ain’t Gonna Take It
Long Hot Summer
The Winter of 79
Man You Never Saw
Better Decide Which Side Your On
You Gotta Survive
Power in the Darkness.
Glad To Be Gay