3rd July 2018. London. The Blockheads filmed for Free Seed Films’ documentary, BEYOND THE CALL OF DURY, recorded straight to vinyl and were live streamed for Soho Radio, followed by an on air interview.
A LOT to pack into one day. I took on the role of runner by osmosis. In flip flops. My old stage fighting and Charleston injuries had flared up. So I couldn’t run and I couldn’t lift. No walkie-talkies between two venues and me with only a seventeen year old Samsung phone. Not ideal support for the Free Seed mob on a very busy and hot, hot day of shooting and recording live.
I did however don a Blockheads t-shirt. The one with the Barney Bubbles logo. I settled a titfer on my nut and really tried to look alert and enthusiastic.
The city was catatonic in the unusually dry heat. The sun shining so hard it bleached all that garish colour out of a heaving Shaftesbury Avenue. Plastic flags adorning all the cafes, bars and pubs for the World Cup, looked on the point of melting.
The day started in the Members’ Bar at Picturehouse Central where the band were interviewed by Ben Gallagher. (Free Seed on Soho Radio “Culture Channel” host and BEYOND THE CALL OF DURY director and co-producer).
The band were packed behind a heavily curtained off, quiet nook. The freakishly tall technical team, led by Free Seed’s Steve Harcourt, had their tuches jutting out from behind the red velvet. Us shorties were left guarding all the bags and gins. With minutes to spare until the sound check in Soho Radio’s Great Windmill Street studio, the shoot had to be packed up and everyone had to hoof it down the road. Stopping only for a very quick wee and water break.
As the sound check started Blockhead fans began gathering on the narrow pavements out-side the studio. In the distance we could see John Kelly arriving. He of Graeae‘s brilliant REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL and a dedicated Blockheads fan. The “Oi, Oi!” shout went out.The session kicked off. Really kicked off. I haven’t heard The Blockheads play for a while and was unprepared for the light headedness triggered by close proximity to this tight, tight band. Each member an absolute master, grooving effortlessly in the sauna like heat of the tiny, street side radio station. Even with me limp, I had to shake ma thang with total commitment.
More punters gathered, faces already breaking into smiles, asking “Is that really The Blockheads?!!” Fans who had just stumbled across the happening by chance looked over the moon to hear HEAD ABOVE WATER and the new single HOLD UP both from the new album BEYOND THE CALL OF DURY.
The resultant, highly collectible and unique, live vinyl versions will be available for auction for the Honourary Blockheads to bid on by the end of August.
An impromptu last minute treat was John Kelly being invited to join The Blockheads in recording a version of HIT ME! As the studio was already full to bursting, John had to sing from his wheelchair, in the street.Everyone went mental. Rubbernecking taxi drivers were forced almost to a halt as the fans spilled into the road to dance. But not one moan. I know. Not one taxi driver moaned.
Following the interview the band and many of the fans decamped to the Lyric pub for a sorely earned pint. Already riding high on a Blockheads energy wave, the England win on penalties knocked us all into an unaccustomed stratosphere of apoplectic joy. My face hurt from happiness.
With unerring inevitability some heavy bloke (but hey, he was SOOO happy) walloped down on my right foot and broke my flip flop.
So I had to flip, flip home. Almost a perfect day.
Lil Warren is a writer, director and filmmaker and one of the co-hosts on Free Seed on Soho Radio’s CULTURE CHANNEL