This turned out to be my second visit to Bannermans after popping in for a couple of beers during the Fringe a couple of years ago. I’d forgotten the name of the place, but recognised it as soon as I arrived. You know that lie women tell men that size doesn’t matter? In this case it’s true. Bannermans is a very small venue, but it’s what they do with it that counts.
As ever, I was running late so I missed the first two supports (Beggarz Fixx and Indigo Down). Fortunately I made it in time to see Knock Out Kaine who did a good job of getting a few heads nodding and voices raised. Playing a similar style of rock to the headliners (dirty rock, sleaze rock – call it what you will), they received a warm welcome and a warmer farewell once they’d finished their thirty minute slot.
And on to Love/Hate. After a quick glance through my scrapbook, seriously, I find that the last time I saw them was at the Riverside in Newcastle (which is now offices or something else equally pointless) in March 1991. Bannermans pretty much matches this old venue for size, but doesn’t have pillars obstructing your view. And the floor’s not as sticky.
Bannermans also doesn’t have a backstage area, so the first sight of the band is as they walk through the crowd from the back of the hall with a roadie politely saying “excuse me” as they make their way to the front.
Twenty-two years doesn’t seem to have touched the band as they launched into a set running for a little over an hour. Although they started brightly and the crowd was just baying for songs, it seemed to take them about five songs to really settle in and seem fluid. Maybe I’m wrong, it’s just how it seemed to me.
Not that there was anything wrong with the music, though. Without a set list to hand, I reckon they went through pretty much every track on the first album, and a fair few off the second. The crowd sang along with every one and having the band – especially a set of legends like Love/Hate – so close you could reach out and touch them made the event that bit more special. As the night progressed, the crowd response – and the band’s reciprocation to it – became stronger and louder.
Of course the night finished with “Black Out In The Red Room” and the only thing that disappointed me was that they didn’t play “Don’t Fuck With Me”. I still remember them playing this in Newcastle, one of two or three tracks off the at-that-point unreleased second platter.
I’m gutted that another band I’ve not seen in even longer – Faster Pussycat, Newcastle City Hall, 8th December 1989 – had to reschedule their Bannermans appearance to the one Saturday in the entire year when I can’t go!
A great show by a great band with great songs and topped off by a great venue. Well worth the drive through to Edinburgh.