Dan Sartain and his band amble laconically on stage to the sound of Living in America by James Brown, the only decent record that horrible old asshole ever made. (And it was really the work of Dan Hartman of Instant Replay fame.)
The 100 Club is an odd venue insofar as it's a small subterranean room but with a reasonably spacious stage. Sartain comes from a small venue indie scene, this is the first time he's toured England with his own choice of musicians, and this is a pretty big gig for him. Being filmed for, I hope, eventual DVD release. On record he has made the most exciting music I've heard by a new act the last five years, running the gamut of superior influences all the way from the Gun Club to rockabilly to perverse art rock. Live he explores that most straightforward and elegant of tableaux, the grungy cowpunk of Creedence or Roky Erickson. This is no-frills rock'n'roll at its most potent or poignant. The musicians are outstandingly good players, masters of their respective crafts.
The audience was dominated by dreadful people, the very sort of thirty-something indie/rockabilly fashionistas or wannabe suburbanites that can drag an act down because they're treacherous bourgeoisie at heart, going through a phase which happens to be this artist or this brand of music. Come a few babies or a job promotion and they'll drop out of circulation faster than the blink of an eye. Sartain is the real thing who needs, and deserves, fans who are music lifers, those who'll be purchasing the product and going out to the shows when it is no longer convenient or cool.
He is a small little guy with a cute face and the cutest eyelashes. He has an easy but exciting stage presence and a brace of powerful songs which put him sitting at the big table along with the likes of Lou Reed, Dylan, and Shane McGowan. I hope he runs before they make him walk.
Joe Ambrose has written 14 books, including Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and The Fenian Reader. Joe is currently working on his next book, Look at Us Now - The Life and Death of Muammar Ghadaffi, which is an expanded version of a story first published in the anthology CUT UP! Visit Joe's website for all the latest info: JoeAmbrose.co.uk.