Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Shepherds Bush Empire
Stourbridge's Neds Atomic Dustbin formed in 1987 and by 1991 had earned themselves a large following due to extensive touring, both headlining and in support to their Stourbridge "big brothers" The Wonder Stuff. After two successful EP's the Grebo rockers finally released their debut album God Fodder that year to much acclaim from both fans and press, with the collection earning a well deserved place in the NME top albums list for 1991.
The band called it a day in 1995, reforming again with a truncated line up at the turn of the century for a Christmas gig, a tradition they've kept up ever since, alongside a handful of other dates around the UK in the years that followed, with the full original line up reuniting for their 2008 performance at London's Astoria.
The Ned's have recently released a CD / DVD package Reunited featuring their show at Wolverhampton's Wulfren Hall earlier this year and decided to end the decade in style with a run through of God Fodder at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire.
I'm sure my first Ned's live shows were Stuffies supports. I know I watched them on a couple of Kill Your Television tour dates and took in several God Fodder gigs so a few fond memories were brought back when I heard the tour's Wonder Woman intro music while standing in the photo pit waiting for the band to come on.
I had caught a glimpse of the band's set list earlier in the proceedings so I knew that the album was to be played in order and had a sneaky feeling that chaos would ensue the moment the intro to album opener and big single "Kill Your Television" kicked in! Within seconds a pint was lobbed onstage, causing one the band's two bass players - Alex to take a tumble. This was followed by a wave of crowd surfers appearing in the photo pit as they were led safely over the barrier by security to head to the back and do it again! The show's lighting was hideous for photography with lots of flashing lights and dark settings so I was struggling to get any decent shots, especially while keeping an eye out for stray flying people in my vicinity, with the SBE pit fairly narrow for the evening's performance. That being said I was enjoying my time in the pit and the band were sounding on great form and far tighter than I expected for part timers! Lead singer Jonn Penny has managed to retain the energy of his Fodder-era self and spent the opening three song salvo bouncing up and down, almost head banging and posturing with his foot the on the monitor.
My favourite Neds track is "Gray Cell Green" so I had been looking forward to hearing it live again. It didn't take me long to realise that this wasn't going to happen as my three song allocation in the photo pit ended just as fourth song on the album - "Gray Cell Green" was wheeled out! Normally if you have a review ticket for the venue you check your camera in at the stage door then head back straight away to take in the gig in the ground floor standing section. Unfortunately I had a level one ticket meaning I had to check in my camera, leave by the stage door exit, leg it round to the main entrance and head up the stairs to the seated section. I made it just as the song was drawing to a close. Damn!
I bought a pint to drown my sorrows and grabbed a seat to take in the rest of the gig with "Cut Up" and "Throwing Things" coming next. From my upstairs vantage point I was able to see the fun had below, with the lower section filled to capacity with waves of moshing Ned's fans reliving their youth, leading one of the band members to tell them they deserved a medal! The action may have been happening down in the mosh pit but there were still plenty people enjoying themselves upstairs, with several running around and dancing about, especially to the album's singles "Until you find out" and the Neds biggest hit "Happy".
After set and album closer "What Gives My son" the band returned to the stage to play a short selection of additional tracks, songs that would have appeared in the band's set around the time of the God Fodder tour, with the band's other bass player Matt mentioning "Some of you may have been there, I think I was, I've seen the photos!".
I had forgotten some of the older tracks even existed, particularly enjoying "Terminally Groovy" as I've always liked the ending and "Aim" with Jonn breathing a sigh of relief when the crowd bellowed out the "Ice ice baby" refrain, saving him from the embarrassment of having to sing it himself!
I had a lot of fun watching the gig and I'm glad I attended as it gave me a chance to reevaluate the album again as in all honesty I hadn't listened to it for a number of years. There's certainly a few tracks that will remain lodged on my ipod for the foreseeable future anyway.
Neds Atomic Dustbin Gallery