Tuesday, 3 February 2015

King Tut's Wah Wah Hut - 25th anniversary

King Tut's Wah Wah Hut is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month with a series of shows from established acts like The Cribs, legendary maverick Julian Cope and up and coming acts like Vigo Thieves.

I've spent an incredible amount of time in this venue over the years since I first visited as an 18-year old back in 1994, especially through my 20's and into my early 30's before I 'settled down'. I worked across the road for Abbey National at 301 St Vincent Street for 7-years so I would be a regular at the bar downstairs as well as attending a number of gigs a month up the stairs.

I have fond memories of running across the road at 5pm to get a table with my mates for happy hour. They had £1 a bottle of Stella for several years - dangerous stuff! If it was sunny and you were especially sharp from work, you could get a table outside in the sunshine - glorious.

 The jukebox was (and is) brilliant and I have met some incredible people through going to King Tut's for beers and gigs.

Confession - I once devised a scheme (that I honestly only used twice) for getting into sold out shows. Back in the 90's you had to keep your ticket stub for getting out to the toilets downstairs. So I would go upstairs with mates, get the ticket stubs off them, then go back downstairs to sort out mates that didn't have tickets. I'm probably not the only person to ever have done that as health and safety wasn't quite as strict as it is now!

There are many reasons I love King Tut's; the size, vibe, sound, crowd and the opportunity to see live music in a great setting just make it perfect, for me and many, many others. Tut's regularly wins awards for being the best small venue in the UK. No wonder.

I've been looking through old ticket stubs and I've attempted to reminisce about 25 gigs at Tut's to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

1. Beck
Beck dropped Loser in 1994 and everything and everyone went crazy for him. He played Top of the Pops with a bunch of old guys backing him and then I caught him at King Tut's. I still have very fond memories of this gig. This was pre health and safety. My memory is of Tut's being absolutely rammed and sweat dripping off the roof. I was right down the front, squeezing in and dancing and pogo-ing with the crowd to ensure I didn't lose my place. Beck was electric, a clear star; playing material from his debut major album Mellow Gold but also lofi acoustic gems from One Foot In The Grave (also released in 1994)  One of my all-time favourite gigs, if a little hazy 20+years down the line.

2. Arthur Lee and Love
I caught Arthur Lee and the modern day Love (Baby Lemonade) at Tut's 3-times. The first time was not long after he had been released from prison. People wondered if his voice would be shot from years of drug abuse...it didn't take long for Arthur to prove he still had it in abundance. Playing with equipment borrowed from Belle and Sebastian, Arthur and his band charged through a set that had people in genuine awe, you could have heard a pin drop during You Set The Scene.

You look so lovely
You with that same old smile
Stay for a while

They returned to play a secret set one time under the guise of Baby Lemonade and then played another secret show during the Forever Changes tour and Arthur responded to my shout for You Set The Scene. Well they were playing the album in order!

Arthur was a one-off, he looked cool, he sounded like a God and his backing band were sensational.

3. The White Stripes
This was an electric performance. Meg's kit was to one side and Jack leapt between a couple of mics playing a guitar that looked like it had seen better days. Pretty Good Looking For A Girl was a punk pop romp and the spine tingling version of Jolene lives with me to this day. As does the call from the crowd between songs; 'I love you Meg' to which Meg and Jack smiled, before the heckler added 'I want to f**k you'. Causing Meg to flip the bird and Jack to scowl and launch into another song.

4. Ben Folds Five
This may well have been my drunkest moment in King Tut's and there have been a fair few! I met my mate Reddy after I finished work and he finished uni and we proceeded to drink non-stop. During the show we were jumping around, dancing and playing air piano along with Ben, causing the audience to form a bit of a circle around us!

A few years later we were in New York and Ben Folds was playing Central Park so we got tickets. We got exceedingly drunk again and I persuaded Reddy that we could get back stage by saying we were from King Tut's in Glasgow - we were hastily ejected from back stage after we climbed a fence - and promptly slept through most of the gig in a drunken stupor! Oh to be young again!

5. John Squire
I went to King Tut's a lot in my younger days! One Friday I was in after work for the £1 bottle of Stella happy hours (5-7pm) when the new Tut's flyers were being handed around. John Squire was playing!!! This was how it was being announced. I immediately went up to the bar and asked if tickets were available - they were so I got 4.

Squire was incredible, coming on to the stage to an almighty cheer looking effortlessly cool with a great jacket and mop top hair. He opened with the closing instrumental of I Am The Resurrection! The place went banana's and i ran down the front from my usual place by the sound desk to jump around like crazy. Squire followed that up with She Bangs The Drums and Waterfall! It was sensational to see one of my all-time hero's up close.

6. Teenage Fanclub
Teenage Fanclub decided to do a tour to promote their Mellow Doubt single - a tour of Glasgow venues! One of them was Tut's and I have fond memories of going with my brother who was maybe 16 at the time. The bouncer took one look at his fake ID and laughed and said 'on you go up son'. (bit stricter these days I am sure!)

The band were in great form, totally at ease with the intimate crowd and in typically brilliant Fanclub humour as they played songs from the exquisite Grand Prix album and earlier faves. The cheer for Norman's whistling solo during Mellow Doubt was fantastic and happens to this day when the song is played live.

7. Ash
I drove me, my brother and at least 3-mates to this gig in my Mum's tiny Fiat Panda. I think it was 900cc or something! I think someone may have tried to crowd surf from the back of the care into the front on the way home while I was driving!

Catching Ash as they were breaking was quite something as they were the same age as us, if not younger. They charged through a pop punk set and just looked like they were having the time of their lives. Jack Names The Planets was a big tune in Carluke back in the day.

Photographed from behind a my framed ticket collage -hence the blur

8. Arab Strap
There was one month where I was at King Tut's at least once a week to see some incredible bands just as they were breaking. Arab Strap were riding high on the success of First Big Weekend and watching them live in Tut's was quite the experience. There was an air of mystery about the band and also one of tension in the venue. A girl was invited on stage to duet with Aiden and she gave a shout out to the Uddingston Young Team! The chemistry between Aidan and Malcolm was incredible - they were unique and earned a place in the hearts of many Scottish music fans and all around the world for their honesty, humour and take on life.

9. Embrace
Embrace played All You Good Good People second song in and I remember turning to my friend and saying 'that is as good as The Beatles!' This was before their album had been released and I had discovered them through their Fireworks EP. They had a bit of northern swagger and some beautiful ballads. They have played Tut's a number of times through the years and some very memorable shows at the Barrowland.

10. Menswear
The hype around Menswear was ridiculous; signed when they had one song on the strength of them looking good, drinking in the right pubs and clubs and their guitarist dealing to journalists - those were the days.

This was an outrageous show that I went to with my brother. They absolutely smashed it. The crowd went nuts. They more than lived up to the hype with brilliant songs like Daydreamer. My brother and I stood on the seats at the back and took it all in - a crazy show.

11. Money Mark
One of the coolest shows I have been to at Tut's. Money Mark entered through the crowd whilst beatboxing and proceeded to take the crowd on an eclectic journey, showcasing his outrageous musical and songwriting talent in style. His Push The Button was a favourite of mine for a number of years.

12. Tanya Donnelly with support by The Walkmen
My mate Reddy was working through in Edinburgh and it was chucking it. Something was up with transport and I couldn't get anyone else to go so I went on my own. The Walkmen were supporting and to this day I regret not offering my flat up to the band when the singer said 'Hi we're The Walkmen from New York City, we don't have anywhere to stay tonight, does anyone have a floor we could crash on?'

I did speak to the guitarist at the bar afterwards and told him that The Rat was better than anything The Strokes have. He seemed pretty pleased. I hope they found a place to crash!

Being on my own, I ended up quite pissed drinking pints and watching the gorgeous Tanya Donnelly and being delighted when she played a couple of Belly songs.

13. Bluetones and Supergrass
Not a bad double bill! The melodic gorgeous tunes of Bluetones and the pop punk charm of Supergrass. Both bands made splashes with their debut singles and had a real buzz about them. Mark Morriss and Gaz Coombes looked and sounded fantastic.

14. Cast
Cast released some brilliant singles back in the day which caused me to go and see them at Tut's. It must have been well before their album came out as I remember the venue being pretty empty but John Power was in charming form, eyes twinkling as he exchanged banter with the crowd in one of the most scouse accents I have ever heard. Fine Time was, and is still, a brilliant guitar pop song.

I vividly remember this show as my sister had fallen and cracked her skull that afternoon and I wasn't sure if I would go to the gig or not. There used to be a phone box across the road from Tut's and i remember phoning my Mum to see how she was. Thankfully she was OK.

15. Har Mar Superstar
I can't remember who he was supporting, he was first on a bill of 3, but Har Mar Superstar played like ....well a superstar to a pretty small audience, most people were still in the bar downstairs. He stripped to his underwear and had a ridiculously long mic lead to walk into the audience to generate a reaction. He wandered right up the stairs and past the sound desk to the spot I tend to stand if possible, and then I almost tripped him down the stairs - accidentally of course! His set was incredible -Prince style pop funk. Despite enjoying him live, I don't recall buying any of his albums.

16. Futuristic Retro Champions
My sisters first band played Tut's in the summer of 2007 - just ten days before my girlfriend (now wife) and I were due to head off travelling around the world for a year. Good timing! This was a great drunken night of pop with loads of friends and family in one of my favourite places in the world. I was very proud of my wee sister.

 Me and my sister in 2007

17. Mylo
Mylo's Destroy Rock n Roll went mental in Glasgow and then all over the world. He spray painted the title all over Glasgow and released some ltd edition singles on local Breastfed Records. The album went massive. I remember running out the door after this gig to get down to the Subclub for the aftershow. The show (and aftershow) were a real celebration. Songs from that album would be played in pubs, clubs, pre-club parties and house parties after the clubs shut. An incredible album.

I will be blogging about the album later in the year as it celebrates it's 10th anniversary. Mylo hasn't released any new material since.

18. Vigo Thieves
I was managing Vigo Thieves when they became the first unsigned band to play 2-nights back-to-back at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut. It was a very exciting time for the band as they went from playing to their mates to playing shows in their hometown (well pretty close to Wishaw) where they didn't know who was in the audience. They upped their game and slated Tut's both nights. Hearing songs like Heartbeats being sung back by the audience was a spine tingling

19. Tim Burgess
I am a huge fan of The Charlatans and when lead singer announced he was playing Tuts to tour his debut solo album I had to be there. It was a brilliant gig, Tim had a stunning backing band and he was in great form, playing to the audience as he romped through the pop soul of I Believe.

20. The Magic Numbers
Their eponymous debut album was utterly gorgeous. Melodic, stunning harmonies, catchy choruses, brilliant breakdowns and a beautiful mix of male and female vocals. I first caught them in the old Barfly down by the Clyde, by the time they played Tuts the word was out. That debut album was a beauty and the live shows surrounding it were full of love, the band developed a special relationship with Glasgow and I always remember this show and one they played at the Barrowland when they were just blown away by the crowd singing the album back to them.

21. Gomez
Looking back through ticket stubs, I caught Gomez, Money Mark and Arab Strap within 2-weeks of each other at King Tuts back in 1998. Three very different bands, three utterly incredible gigs. That is the beauty of the venue, they embrace every kind of music, try things out and many times the acts they put on will go on to play bigger venues and have long careers making music.

Gomez sounded sensational. They didn't look that good though! We saw them huddled together over beers in the downstairs bar and they seemed impressed by the DJ playing McLemore Avenue by Booker T and the MGs - a should instrumental version of Abbey Road by The Beatles. (strange I remember that so well!).

They were brilliant on stage, a real wild mix of styles and influences; soul, country, a bit of a dance vibe at times - just like nothing else and that is what made them so good. Ben Ottewell's voice was deep and soulful and it really caught me by surprise.

22. Astral
Astral were a local band that my mate Mark Falconer was in - playing bass. There was a real buzz about them, they sold out Sleazys and played a totally triumphant set - coming on late when everyone was drunk and whipped up by a great pre gig playlist/DJ. They got played on the Evening Session and seemed set to get signed; Steve Lamaq was a huge fan of debut single Come and Go and the instrumental b-side Caribou remains a favourite of mine.

They got a support slot at Tuts and word was that scouts were coming to see them. It all went wrong though, they didn't get a proper soundcheck, the lead guitar wasn't being heard through the speakers at all.

I remember being really worried for them and between songs I went up to the stage to tell Mark that we couldn't hear the lead guitar. He said they couldn't hear much on stage.

I don't remember much else, but it is a King Tuts memory that always stands out - things don't always go to plan. Astral gave it a good shot but broke up before an album was released. I can't remember if they recorded one or not.

23. Hot Chip
I went mad for Hot Chip. Lynn and I stumbled across them in a tent at Benicassim when we went over in 2005. Their album The Warning was coming out and they had loads of hit singles on it. Tuts was sold out but I went along to try and buy a ticket. This was one show I didn't want to miss out on.

As luck would have it, my friend Mark (mentioned above) was there with a writer from Clash Magazine. Their photographer hadn't shown up so they had a spare guest pass so I got in.

Hot Chip played a blinder and remain one of my favourite bands to this day. And I Was A Boy From School was absolutely class, Joe and Alexis' voices blended superbly, Colours was sublime and Over and Over a riot.

24. The Pastels
April 1994, pre-internet, pre-mobiles (unless you were a stockbroker). Rumours always happened at gigs and festivals but this one seemed to be sadly true by the way people were talking. Kurt Cobain had taken his own life. I had queued for ages one day at the old Virgin in Union Street to buy tickets for Nirvana at the SECC, I couldn't believe it.

It was true, The Pastels came on stage and dedicated the show to Kurt before playing a brilliant guitar pop punk set including one of my favourite songs of all time Thank You For Being You.

I had driven in with my friend Grant and we ran outside afterwards to turn on to the John Peel show. Only Peel wasn't on, it was just Nirvana Peel Session tracks and the odd announcement to say that the show was cancelled in memory of Kurt and they were playing his music.

18-years old - we were a little heartbroken. One of the strangest car journeys i have ever taken.

25. Rae and Christian
Rae and Christian were Mark Rae and Steve Christian, 2 producers from Manchester with impeccable taste, style and talent. Their Sleepwalking album from 2001 was a big favourite of mine - guests included the late great Bobby Womack and hip hop act The Pharcyde. The closing track Salvation is absolutely stunning

Their live show superb, a big bank of electric equipment and a sh*t hot band and vocalists. I also remember the support act Fingathing, also from Manchester and based around the talents of a guy called Peter Parker. It was one of those great nights at Tut's where the music sounded incredible and the talent on stage was unique and just totally on it.

No comments: