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Godfathers - Picture House, Edinburgh, 1/3/2013

  by John Clarkson

published: 23 / 2 / 2013

Godfathers - Picture House, Edinburgh, 1/3/2013


At a support date to the Stranglers at the Edinburgh Picture House on the first night of a three week tour, John Clarkson sees the reformed Godfathers, back on the road to promote their first album in seventeen years, play a fantastic set

"Good news for you!” sneers vocalist Peter Coyne, shortly before the end of his band the Godfathers’ forty-five minute set. “We are only going to do two more songs.” The Godfathers are the support act tonight to the Stranglers on the first date of a three week UK tour. Coyne knows that the bulk of the packed audience in Edinburgh’s splendid 1,800 capacity Picture House are not there to see him or the band that he formed with his younger brother, bass-player Chris, in their native South London nearly thirty years ago. Peter Coyne has always traded in on-stage dark sarcasm. The Godfathers have certainly gone through bad times since their late 1980’s heyday and critically acclaimed, near breakthrough first three albums, 'Hit by Hit', Birth School Work Death' and 'More Songs about Love and Hate', and again also since they first reformed five years ago after a seven-year absence. There have been line-up changes aplenty, internal rows and they have struggled to find a record deal. The truth is, however, that things tonight are going well. With an excellent new album, ‘Jukebox Fury’, which is out later in the month to promote - their first in seventeen years – and a now stable line-up which also consists of guitarist Del Bartle and drummer Dave Twigg, the Godfathers have everything again to play for. They are enthusiastically received by the audience in what is their first Edinburgh show, and in fact only second gig over the border in twenty-one years. There are loud rattles of applause at the end of each number from the largely older audience, some of whom anyway will remember the Godfathers from first time around, and the front rows of the crowd throw themselves around enthusiastically to their anthemic, punchy tunes. The Godfathers have always specialised in brisk, vitriolic songs, rarely extending beyond the three or three-and-a-half minute mark, and they pack fourteen of them into tonight’s set. Love rarely ends well for the Godfathers, and, as songs such as ‘This Damn Nation’ prove (which is about the suicide of a friend of a friend who was unable to pay his bills), the world is essentially an uncaring place. The odd reference to Margaret Thatcher aside such as on set closer and anthem to the monotony of existence ‘Birth School Work Death’, Peter Coyne’s abrasive, spat-out lyrics are as relevant today as they were twenty-five years ago when they were first written. It is great to hear these songs and other near hits from that era such as ‘Cause I Said So’, ‘Love is Dead’, ‘I Want You’ and rockabilly crowd favourite ‘Walking Talking Johnny Cash Blues’ live again. Chris Coyne and Del Bartle’s ringing chords give them a weight and authority, and Dave Twigg, who joined the band last October, is an enthusiastic addition to the band. Then there are the three new songs from ‘Jukebox Fury’ that they throw into the set. which are equally powerful. The Ramones-esque ‘I Can’t Sleep Tonight’, dedicated to Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee, nails the awful paranoia that comes with lack of sleep and insomnia. ‘Back into the Future’, another anthem with its chanted sing-along chorus, captures the fact that things never really change or improve politically, just stay the same. The blackly hilarious ‘Primitive Man’, a swaggering glam rock number, meanwhile pinpoints the steady rise of Neanderthal behaviour that has come with the dumbing down of society. In a brief chat with Pennyblackmusic at the end of the Stranglers’ set, Peter Coyne says that he is happy with the way the Godfathers’ set went, but thinks that other nights on the tour will get better still as he and band get back into the routine of touring. It is probably true. Tonight’s show has, however, been a triumphant comeback for a band which has been too stuck for too long in the musical badlands.

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Godfathers - Picture House, Edinburgh, 1/3/2013

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