Whitehouse - Live Action 86, 13th October 2000 Red Rose, London, UK.

A word of warning to anyone planning a first time visit to the Red Rose - don't sing in the bar area. Narrowly avoiding being chucked out for yelling a few Irish rebel songs with the regular locals, we had to scarper into the backroom, where Ilse Ko...er, Gaya Donadio was overseeing the removal of banknotes and the systematic stamping of hands. New Britain, we love it! The support group gave 'art wank' a bad name, but the drinks in the Rose are ultra-cheap - just a shame some of the pensioners in the bar weren't allowed in for free.

'Tit Pulp' kicked off at 10.30pm, Phil Best hollering and chain smoking, William Bennett grinning in the background, Peter Sotos gobbing beer onto the front two metres of audience and some geezer (possibly Glen Michael Wallis?) standing erect, lips pursed, by the edge of the stage, like a pervy old schoolteacher. The sound was more than impressive, though not the eardrum-cauterising barrage I was expecting. Just one PA criticism - Whitehouse should have tried to do more with the actual microphone, as at times the vocals came out a little flat and dull compared with the electronic showers spitting venomously from the main amps. But even that couldn't negate the pleasure of seeing Bennett snatch the mic from Best as the sonic tornado bled into 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' and 'Rock and Roll' (still sounding like a nuclear powerplant on meltdown) and you realise just how sweet life could be if all gigs in London had this much black humour and passion.

A short porn story followed, read out over a crackling chunk of pink noise, 'Mindphaser' style, before Bennett and Sotos stomped off, leaving Best to torture his effects box for ten minutes or so. As for the finale, 'Just Like A Cunt' saw Sotos really getting into the beer-slinging, Bennett and Best fighting over the microphone, and Bennett eventually flashing his bare chest and joining in the aerial lager attack mission. Thank Christ Best and Sotos kept their shirts on! Some genuinely imbecilic abortion down the front row with a videocam took the song as his cue to start shoving people around, including some Asian chick. Luckily this specimen got his comeuppance later, when he made the seriously ill-considered mistake of parking his arse on the front of the stage, only for Sotos to boot him soundly to the now beer and phlegm-drenched floor! Nice one, Pete.

So what can we conclude from this live action? It was a great homecoming, and well worth entering 'arsenal f.c' scumbag territory for. It was also extremely funny at times, the mood and expressions of the group verging on the completely bemused and absurd. And while musicologists can all wax on about the 'implications' of the lyrics, the value of this night out has to be measured in the sheer ecstasy of laughing like a demented hound in the faces of Victoria Line passengers, splattered in Becks, tearing back down to Kings Cross on the tube and wondering why techno clubs were never this much fun. Happy 20th, lads.

Martin Conway.


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