The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
It's a shame it's not a Friday night. A Noisettes performance is a high-octane, feel-good, get-up-and-dance kind of occasion that's not really suited to the mentality of a week night.
Yet this gig proved to be a remedy not a symptom for the mid week blues and, like most of their sets, should be a real converter for the uninitiated, particularly because most of their stuff sounds even better live than on record.
Appearing in a flirtatious lampshade skirt, singer and heart and soul of the band Shingai Shoniwa (pictured right) is a dominant stage presence as she performs cartwheels and other antics in the middle of a circle of musicians, even though Noisettes are officially a two-piece completed by her long-time friend and collaborator Dan Smith on guitar.
Their latest recently released album Contact has all the hit-laden potential of their chart-topping previous effort Wild Young Hearts particularly the single That Girl but also I Want You Back, Winner, Let The Music Play, Ragtop Blues, Never Enough and Star, all performed here.
For some reason, they seem designed for a live setting and Ragtop Blues with its refrain of "Two souls together, sitting in a red top car. I believe we're bound for glory, everybody knows the same old story, keep the rain behind you and the sun straight up ahead," sounds like a hit from yesteryear.
And the group pay homage to similar fusion bands of old too, suddenly breaking into a cover of Earth, Wind and Fire's Fantasy which on the night makes so much sense.
Yet there's a modern, poppier edge to Noisettes helped in no small part by Shoniwa's distinctive and powerful voice and the fact that she quick-changes costumes as fast as Madonna.
Their best-known hit Don't Upset The Rhythm is rapturously delivered and a memorable encore sees Shoniwa singing while perched precariously on one of the balcony boxes of the former theatre.
Some time ago, Noisettes performed a rock-out fundraising Live To Air gig, complete with Animal-style drummer Jamie Morrison, at London's Conway Hall for arts radio station ResonanceFM and tonight's outing appears to be a far cry from those rockier roots.
It seems Noisaettes have come into their own as purveyors of upbeat soul and disco-tinged pop.