The Men They Couldn't Hang - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
In recent years acts with long standing fan bases have turned to crowd funding to help record and release their latest albums. Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks and The Men They Couldn’t Hang are all recent converts, with “The Men” planning to release an album to coincide with their 30th anniversary.
The group have managed to reach 166% of their goal via Pledge Music, partly due to offering some great incentives, including a couple of guitars, a curry with the band, the chance to sing backing vocals on the album and the opportunity to perform with them at their Shepherd’s Bush gig.
I first became aware of the original five piece during some sleepy late night listening on Radio One. John Peel was an early champion of the London lads (and lass), with the group sharing the airwaves with acts they were roped in with, like The Pogues, Terry And Gerry and the Boothill Foot Tappers, with their cover of Eric Bogle’s ‘The Green Field Of France’ getting to number three in the broadcaster’s “Festive 50” of 1984.
By the time they’d released their debut album Night Of A Thousand Candles the band had really found their own identity, with their rabble rousing folk rock gaining them fans around the world.
Although they’ve had a few breaks over the years “The Men” have continued to play live and release albums in the decades that have followed, with many original fans continuing to champion them, several showing up all from all corners of the globe to help celebrate their anniversary at Shepherd’s Bush.
It may not have been a night of a thousand candles but it was certainly an evening of several guest stars, as vocalists Stefan Cush and Philip "Swill" Odgers and the rest of the band were joined by several past members, including original bass player Shanne Bradley. Punk personality Tenpole Tudor also took to the stage for an encore rendition of his top ten single 'Swords Of A Thousand Men'.
"The Men"'s set was pulled from their thirty year history, including new tracks that made the forthcoming collection a promising affair indeed. It has to be said though, The Fix was far more au fait with the group's 80's material than later work, so embraced tracks like first song in the set 'The Ghost Of Cable Street' (whose acappella opening was sung by the majority of the audience, with many continuing to sing along, especially the missing horn section!), 'Ironmasters' and 'Shirt Of Blue'.
It was a terrific gig as a whole, even with the band missing out a few fan faves (well they can't play everything!). I'm sure by the time the final song of the evening came round everyone thought they'd had value for money. There were certainly two people on stage who must have felt they'd got a bargain, as the two lucky pledgers joined the band for a rip roaring rendition of 'Walkin' Talkin'', with the pair grinning and strumming away, leaving them with 'a night to remember' for a long, long time.
Here's to another thirty chaps!
If you feel you've missed a great gig the band recorded and filmed the show so I'm sure you'll be able to pick up a DVD or CD from their website.