This month folks I’m gonna take you back in time; eleven years to the month in fact. In 2008 the Teddy Boy band from Liverpool, Furious, came to Moscow to perform. They were the first Teddy Boy band in history to perform in Russia, so that made it even more significant. And what made it extra special for me was that I was the one who organised and sponsored the whole project. I regularly organise free rock’n’roll events in Russia and the Furious concert was the first time (and not the last) that I arranged for a foreign band to come to Russia. It was a real big event for Russian rock’n’roll. Using the notes I still have from eleven years ago, here is a review of that memorable concert.
Let’s start with a sub title I thought up for this article: “Teddy Boys succeeded where Hitler failed – Furious took Moscow by Storm!” (if that made you groan, I don’t care !). The venue for the concert was the XO Club in south west Moscow. There was great expectation amongst the Russian crowd present on the night. Some of them had worn their drapes at various times, during periods spanning the 1990s and up to the present time. When Furious came on stage, the reception was Great. And they didn’t disappoint. They were brilliant. The Russian audience did not realise just how wild their stage performance was, until they experienced it live.
From the first number “Bop a Lena” they had the audience with them (as well as the dancers). My particular favourites on the night were “ASBO Shuffle”, “Teddy Boy Boogie”, “My Bonnie” and “Please don’t touch”. When they did “Old Black Joe” the Russian rockers showed the group they knew exactly the English ritual to follow, including the obligatory handful of singers on stage !
Russian support bands the Coral Reefs (swing jump jive style), the Great Pretenders (rockabilly) and Stressor (best neo-rockabilly band on the planet) completed a memorable evening at the XO Club.
After the gig we took Furious back to our Moscow rock’n’roll “mecca”, the Rock’n’Roll Pub near Proletarskaya. Sadly the Rock’n’Roll Pub is no more, but I still remember many great rockin’ nights there. There we organised an after-gig party for them. Again they performed on stage for us, along with the support band the Alligators that we’d booked for the party. The result – more unforgettable Furious rock’n’roll.
Near the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow there’s a terrific café / restaurant named after an important youth culture festival which took place in Moscow in the 1950s. It’s called Stalovaya 57, after the year of the festival. We took Furious there a couple of times to eat during their stay here. It’s like walking back into the 1950s !
On a personal level, all of us who came into contact with Furious in Moscow, I’m talking here in particular about the brothers Andy and Mark Halligan, were impressed with them; genuinely nice blokes who went out of their way to make the whole event a success. We tried hard to organise everything for them to a high standard e.g. accommodation in Moscow, sight-seeing, etc. At every step they were appreciative, understanding and helpful. Also Thanks to my good friend Sergey Kuteynikov, without whose assistance I would not have been able to organise the whole event.
And here’s the sequel: I brought the band back to Moscow two years later, in December 2010, to do another concert for us. Let me tell you about it.In 2008 they had left behind many newly acquired fans, who were waiting for their return. I sponsored the whole project again for this second Event and with help from Russian friends (and special thanks again to Sergey), we organised a weekend to remember. On a personal note, it was a night to remember for me – I planned the event to coincide with my 60th birthday. Rock’n’Roll will never die, but not sure if this applies to aging Teds! A huge Thanks to all those Friends who made that night so special for me back then, with their words, presents, etc. It was Magic !
Furious arrived the day before the concert and we made sure they had a good time, not just at the concert. They had a tour of Moscow, hosted by 2 beautiful Russian female rock’n’roll friends of mine, Polina and Natasha (lucky Scousers).
There were just 2 of the band who came to Moscow this time. The brothers Mark (singer, bassist) and Andy (guitar) were not accompanied by Dave, their then new drummer. Dave’s Dad was rather unwell, so he was not able to make the trip. We got a very able Russian drummer to replace him, which meant a late afternoon rehearsal before the concert. The drummer performed admirably – well done Ivan !
The venue was Club Jimi in central Moscow. The crowd was even bigger than the audience who came to see them back in 2009. The two support bands on the bill were the Coral Reefs (that’s the nearest name they have in English – in Russian it’s Koralovy Reefy) and the Great Pretenders. The Reefs are the best swing band in Russia and it was a privilege to have them at the event. The Pretenders are one of the very best rockabilly groups in Russia. So there was a nice variation of music during the evening – neo-swing, rockabilly and Teddy Boy rock’n’roll. Plus both support groups are good friends of mine so it was a pleasure to have them perform on my birthday.
As usual I organised a free dance class during the evening. It was beginners’ rock’n’roll jive: One benefit of these classes is teaching non-dancers the basics, giving them the opportunity to try out what they’ve learned later in the evening (instead of sitting and watching and wishing they could get out on the dance floor and jive!). Plus we organised a dance competition. The winner is nearly always a beautiful Russian woman, so on this special night we made an exception, awarding it to a young Russian bloke in full Ted regalia, from his elephant trunk hair style, his drapes, right down to his one inch rubber sole creepers.
Also on display during the evening was a fantastic art exhibition, on the theme of “The Teddy Boy”. The paintings were the work of Alexander Chalovsky, the famous Russian artist, who spoke at the concert about his art project. He also presented Furious with an art collage titled “the Teds”, in recognition of their status as one of the World’s best Teddy Boy bands. Furious came on stage around 10:30. For an hour and half they gave us what we’d been waiting for; wild, raucous brilliant Teddy Boy rock’n’roll !
A lot of the numbers they played were from the CD they had recently released back then, “Wreck the Hoose Juice”. My 2 favourites were “We are the Teds” (a great anthem for all Teds, with great lyrics) and “Punk Bashin’ Boogie”: Aaah, takes me back to my youth in the 1970s and the animosity between Teds and Punks: “ What do you call a punk without a girlfriend? – Homeless.” “How many punks does it take to change a lightbulb? – None, punks can’t change a thing.
” Comparing their performance with their first gig in Moscow, my observations were that the band thankfully were not becoming more settled and polished as they got a little bit older. On the contrary, they sounded more raucous and on the wild side of rock’n’roll than ever. With the passage of time since those two great Moscow concerts, both the brothers are now married. But I hope that wild side is still with them!
We organised an “after-party” for Furious after this second concert, where they could let their hair down and get to spend more social time with Russian rock’n’rollers. They left the party after I did, which meant it was daylight and the milkmen were on their rounds by then! After a night of lots of fizzy drinks and lemonades; ahem.
The venue for this after-party was the Grease Club – an appropriate place. This was then the premier rock’n’roll club in Moscow, so we wanted Furious to come and see it while they were over here. The name of the club came from the rock’n’roll hair style. Like the Rock’n’Roll Pub mentioned above, it is no more. But don’t worry, we have new rock’n’roll venues in Moscow now for our great culture!
Like their last tour in Moscow, Mark and Andy made friends wherever they went. Whilst enjoying the rock’n’roll life-style to the full, they still behaved respectfully and courteously with the people they met. Their wild, raucous behaviour on stage was thankfully not replicated off stage!
Thanks Mark and Andy for two memorable concerts. Teddy Boys have played a part in Russian rock’n’roll history, which made the coming to Moscow of Furious especially significant. Thankyou Furious, for becoming a part of this History with your visits. And Hail the Teds – working class, politically incorrect and baaadd !!