Hollywood Brats - Nell's, London, 31/10/2019

  by Dastardly

published: 8 / 11 / 2019

Hollywood Brats - Nell's, London, 31/10/2019

Dastardly watches the first gig by proto-punkers Hollywood Brats for almost half a century.


'On Thursdays I'd head over to the Granada TV showroom' says Hollywood Brats lead singer Andrew Matheson in between songs, 'just so I could watch Top Of The Pops in the window and feel even more depressed'. This wasn't a casual visit either - Matheson is recalling the late 70s when he was sleeping rough on the streets of Watford after his band had crashed and burned while punk was still in the airport lounge. 'One particular Thursday I spotted a five-piece band with a tall lanky singer and a keyboard player in the line-up. This quite clearly should have been my gig...and it just so happens that that tall lanky singer has since become a good friend.. and he's here tonight!'. Cue Bob Geldof stage right sprouting a fine white mop as the two blister through a cover of The Kinks' 'I Need You'. The fact that the Hollywood Brats are playing live here tonight is a minor miracle. It's 45 years since their last gig, and for at least 40 of those there was never any inkling of them playing together again. In 2015 however Matheson decided it was time to put pen to paper and record the little-known story of his band. Again, this might not have amounted to much: the singer of a band from the 70s that didn't make it recalls the scuzzy London scene that didn't birth them. Hmm. However, Matheson revealed himself to be a gifted writer and his book 'Sick On You' has deservedly won fans far and wide. It's a Dickensian romp through the underbelly of a recession-bled London still trying to find the light switch after the hippy dream had gone out. It's the perennial story of the search for stardom and stardom seemingly arriving before vaporising again just as quickly. It's a 'Withnail' for the musos. As people have discovered the book there's been renewed interest in the 'Brats themselves and their particular brand of glammed up rock'n'roll. 'The greatest band I've ever seen,' said Keith Moon back in the day. Like their 'missing link' counterparts across the pond, The New York Dolls, the 'Brats were sniffing punk coming on the breeze. They had the itch but didn't know where to scratch so instead they looked back to the source, to the Chucks and Eddies who'd got it all going first time round. This is the sound of The Brats tonight. Fast, furious and sometimes getting all the way up to twelve bars. Matheson takes the stage in a long velvet jacket like he's just walked off the set of Poldark. It's glorious in its pomp and stupidity. To his right, guitarist Brady is keefing it perfectly and on keyboards Casino Steel looks just as cool as his name. You can't hear a note he plays all night. Then they play 'Sick On You' and somewhere in the universe Charles Darwin gives a knowing wink. It's still rock'n'roll but, like the wax stuck hard on a shopping trolley at the end of a power cut-blighted three-day week, it's got punk in its DNA. This one's theirs. It's the reason we're all here tonight. Talking to our host after the gig it turns out this might not be a Zep-style one-off reunion either as more gigs are on the cards. Sometimes you just have to wait a bit. That's all.

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Hollywood Brats - Nell's, London, 31/10/2019

Hollywood Brats - Nell's, London, 31/10/2019

Hollywood Brats - Nell's, London, 31/10/2019

Hollywood Brats - Nell's, London, 31/10/2019

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Sick On You (2016)
Extended re-release of the only album by the Hollywood Brats, the once-lost London glam-rock band that some argue was the UK’s first punk band and who have recently emerged from forty years of obscurity

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