A NIGHT OF 70’S PUNK IN A POST-PUNK SETTING
Acklam Village Market really does have it all on a plate for the weekend adventurist. Situated in a semi-underworld, below the rumbling roads of the Westway Flyover, a new world presents itself: a great variety of international street grub is served up from bright and friendly stalls, which snake from the entrance off the busy weekend Portobello Road Market. Your food can be eaten at high tables surrounded by urban art works sprayed and painted directly onto the massive concrete pillars and walls. You can also take your food into the Fuller’s bar and enjoy high quality live music on the hour. The live music bar, known as ‘The Den’, has recently had a makeover from design students of Chelsea College of Art and Design. The Art Students certainly know their stuff: cleverly harnessing an otherwise imposing space into a happy aesthetic of Day-Glo colours: the brightly painted wall and floor of the stage area fizzes with shocking pinks and blues in a twisted art nouveau vision of giant flowers. You’ll enjoy the wit of the ‘up-cycled’ interior: netting spans the roof through wooden hoops which float in the air like red blood cells, lamps stand encrusted with found plastic toys and trinkets, inventive seating is constructed from wooden palettes and packaging material, and coloured tape demarcates the floor like a trippy gymnasium. Painted pink flamingoes straddle a bank of cushioned seating facing the stage like a scene from the opening titles of ‘Miami Vice’ – it’s a funky, punky, trashy, comfortable and frivolous setting that raises a smile; an unusual, alternative space, happily flaunting a reassuring whiff of fashionable urban decay There is a big musical history emanating from this space, and the celebrities featured in a special exhibition called “The Wall of Fame at the The Den – Live Music Bar” are just some of the most famous rock and pop stars associated with North Kensington (Portobello, Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill and Kensal). There are many other contenders, who have lived, posed, played and died in this very area. Very aware of their roots; in an example of its one-off special events, tonight Acklam Village plays host to a punk revival gig.
I am here to photograph three bands: ‘Adverse Effect’, ‘Pink Cigar’ and the (in)famous ‘Chelsea’ who are all in attendance to treat us to a sonic reminder of the heady days of the late 70’s Punk/New Wave Explosion. The crowd – most of whom had come to see ‘Gene October’ strut his stuff with headline act ‘Chelsea’ – also thoroughly enjoyed emerging local band ‘Pink Cigar’, whose artful posing and clever songs reminded me of Iggy and the Stooges. Opening the evening, Adverse Effect’s lead singer snarled, clasped her hands together in mock prayer and flung herself prostrate on the floor as the band thundered through their powerful set.
Toward the end of the night ‘Gene October’ of ‘Chelsea’ with an energy belying his years, ripped through a repertoire of numbers with barely a breath. Prowling and bouncing across the stage he tightly gripped his microphone and hurled invective to the crowd who responded with gusto: jumping to the music and punching the air. It became a bit too much for this photographer, in search of a dynamic angle at the foot of the stage I was ‘Pogoed’ energetically by one overzealous punk and eventually booted onto the stage, bashing my kneecap and breaking my lens-hood – memo to self: ‘don’t crouch down in front of a punk appreciation society in full flow!’
I leave Acklam Villlage and ‘The Den’ with a smile on my face, ringing ears, a bruised knee and a sweet sense of nostalgia for the punky days of my youth.
Words and Photos – © Steve Mepsted
Acklam Village is open each weekend on both Saturday and Sunday from 11am till 7pm
See the Acklam Village website for news on one-off special events, food festivals and music evenings.
Acklam Village – http://acklamvillagemarket.com/
Chelsea – Band http://www.chelseapunkband.com/
Pink Cigar – Band http://www.pinkcigarmusic.com/
Words and Photos – © Steve Mepsted