Sang Morrissey 20 years ago on his second solo single 'Everyday is like Sunday'. Potentially it could have been about any antiquated resort by the sea, but as the whole video was shot in Southend, I got the hint. And you know what? I think ol Mozza may have had a point.
This post was going to be a review of 'local lad done good' Jake Shillingford’s live return to Southend after over 20 years… but after attending the show last night and witnessing the shocking turn out (I counted 32), I'm up for a moan on the continual apathy of music fans in South East Essex instead…
Strangely enough, this part of the world has a pretty good record for producing local talent. In the 70’s it was the Southend\Canvey Island Pub Rock scene that discovered the likes of Dr Feelgood, Wilko Johnson, Eddie and the Hot Rods and the Kursaal Flyers. In the 80’s Basildon spawned Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Alison Moyet. Recent successes from Southend have been These New Puritans, The Horrors and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly. However, like Jake, I imagine that in order to find success, they all learned one important lesson -- get out of town!
I can't speak for the 70s, but I've been going to live shows in the area for about 25 years. There has been the odd rammed show from time to time, but on the whole I’d have to say attendance has often been on the quiet side – no matter who the artist. A friend of mine was the promoter for a local club in the late 80s and brought some of the cream (at that time) of the indie scene to the venue. And whilst these same bands were selling out around the rest of the country, my friend lost money on just about every show (incidentally, he too had to leave Southend in order to become a successful promoter!).
20/25 years ago Southend had some great little clubs and live venues, today there is almost nothing -- and that's despite it now being a university town, flooded with students. However it's not difficult to understand why so many of these venues have disappeared over the years, as for almost 3 decades the occupants of the town have not supported live music in great enough numbers. I'm not saying people should be frog-marched into the nearest live show, but if people want live music on their doorstep, then there's only one way to ensure it keeps coming.
Just three months ago Jake (with his band My Life Story) was playing to 1500 people at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, tonight (31st March) he continues his solo tour in Portsmouth and it's already sold out, so how come the return to his roots was so poorly attended? On this occasion it may not entirely be the fault of the locals. The advertising for this show was shocking! I live here, and had it not been for MySpace, I doubt I'd have known it was on either. Not a single poster anywhere in town, and it was even missing from the venues leaflet of upcoming shows.
Armed with a 12 string guitar and Toni Krause on keyboards, Jake gave those who did turn up at night to remember. He performed stripped down versions of songs right through his 20+ year career. All three My Life Story albums were touched upon, as was material from his electronic project Exile Inside. There was also plenty of new material from his debut solo album. A great night out, and a chance to catch up with a few old faces… but I won’t hold my breath for his next return to Southend!
You can watch Jake and Toni performing at an earlier date on this acoustic tour here, with the My Life Story song 'If You Can't Live Without Me Then Why Aren't You Dead Yet?'