The Pre New @ The Lexington
The Pre New
Islington Lexington. 03jul10.
In April 1998, I went to see Earl Brutus at the University of London Union. We had travelled up from Portsmouth for it, got lost for two hours trying to find the venue, then our headlining heroes did just 30 chaotic minutes and cleared off, with no encores. All killer, no filler and no feeling of being short-changed; in short, it was one of the greatest gigs I’ve ever seen.
At this point they had made two albums and had built up a decent cult audience. However no more records were to follow and gigs slowly trickled to a halt in 2004. Four years later, singer Nick Sanderson succumbed to terminal illness, having spent his final years driving trains on the London to Brighton line.
Those of us still holding out for one more great show naturally believed that this sad turn of events would draw a line under it for good. However while Earl Brutus, quite rightly, cannot exist without their front man, Shinya Hayashida, Gordon King and Jim Fry from the group have come together once more as The Pre New to be both a tribute to the fallen, as well as a creative force in their own right.
As such Earl Brutus songs such as East, Navyhead and The S.A.S. & The Glam That Goes With It appear alongside a good mini-album’s worth of new material as well as a version of Sons Of The Stage by World of Twist, another of Sanderson’s former groups.
During their performance of Brutus’ Universal Plan, the changing of the line “I get up/go to work/eat my lunch/come home/cure cancer” to end “wish I’d cured cancer” is a subtle, and poignant, reminder of the “absent friends” mentioned by way of dedication earlier in the set.
However this was not an evening for melancholy as The Pre New more than capture the unruly, bundling spirit of their previous incarnation. Jim Fry, looking like a terrace bruiser in their court suit, does an admirable job of filling shoes and channelling some of the anarchic spirit, spiking his band mates with the mic stand, frequently dropping his burly frame into press-ups and straddling the drum set mid-song as his tubsman Gordon Phillips repeatedly tells him to “fuck off”.
The Pre New are to all intents and purposes an art-school glam band, but one that is piloted by a combination of boilermakers, dockworkers and granite-faced shop stewards, in a dance hall where the glitter balls are lined with asbestos.
“I like our band” says Jim Fry, as one song draws to a close. He’s right to do so.