Mike Joyce in Worthing: Middle-Aged Dreams And Teenage Kicks
HOW SIM SCOTT’S HOMETOWN NIGHT OUT WITH AN INDIE HERO-LED HER TO CREATE A BEST-SELLING TV SERIES. PROBABLY.
So, the night of reckoning was here, and the crucifix-bedecked stage of Worthing’s St Paul’s Arts Centre was set for Mike Joyce’s visit to spin his best ‘alternative 80s’ and celebrate thirty years since the release of the Queen is Dead.
Buzzing with excitement following the previous week’s interview, I checked in with Mike Joyce in Worthing to grab a few words before the gig. His foreboding of the car park that is the M25 on a Friday afternoon had got the better of him and so an early morning departure from the North West left plenty of time to take in the sights of Worthing. A beautiful sunny afternoon it was too – perfect conditions for following in the footsteps of the Charlatans with a stroll along the pier, relaxing with a coffee at the cool Coast café; stopping by to snap up those snazzy Velcro-fastening soft shoes from the pensioners’ outfitter in the Lido…
A Night out with Mike Joyce in Worthing
But no! We were off for tea (that’s ‘dinner’ to anyone south of the M42). It felt rather surreal, heading out for tea with The-Drummer-from-the-Smiths. On one hand, it was like a crazy teenage dream and on the other like going to meet an old school mate. Both fun propositions… unless the school mate was Richard Bremner, who I imagine would still want to start proceedings with a Heimlich manoeuvre or a headlock. No thanks. I strolled down to our seafront meeting spot with my wandering mind pitching Partridge-esque television show ideas. ‘Supper with the Smiths’. Nah, too limited. ‘Dinners with Drummers’. Back of the net!
First stop was St Paul’s for a sound check with the support DJ and sound engineer. Cue pensive expressions and muttered technical questions from the engineer. I had to stifle a giggle at Mike’s response of ‘I’m no Skrillex’. This was going to be good.
Next stop was ‘tea’ and an opportunity to find out a little more about Mike. Nice and light, though; the only grilling going on here was the charred halloumi. Good old Northern banter over falafel and wine, starting with our shared exasperation at ‘gig gobshites’ as I call them. You know the sort, like those at Ocean Colour Scene’s October visit to Worthing Pavilion, who spent most of the (acoustic!) gig shouting at each other. Thankfully, singer Simon Fowler nipped it in the bud with an ‘excuse me, could you shut the fuck up at the back please’. Firm, but polite. Job done.
These brilliant posters, designed by Robbie Porter, were used as part of Independent Venue Week’s #TunesNotChat campaign and enthusiastically promoted by Tim Burgess. Can we have these up at all gig venues, please?
Mike shared his anecdote of a recent Cherry Ghost gig where fellow gig-goers talked over the support act. Keen to put a stop to this Mike took his place at the front, sagely nodding along in a show of solidarity. That was until a quieter instrumental section where his phone rang loudly. Ah, bugger!
We shared book recommendations with mine the brilliant 2011 ‘Do It For Your Mum’ – touching memoirs from (fellow Rough Traders) British Sea Power. Written by Roy Wilkinson, the band’s former manager, brother of band members Jan and Hamilton, and ex-NME journalist. This class read tells the story of the band’s history and family lives. Definitely worth looking up.
Mike’s reciprocal recommendation was a Peter Cook biography which I’ll take a look at next. Since looking it up, I’m still trying to get my head round the fact that Cook passed away in 1995. Where did that time go?!
We spoke more about Mike’s post-Smiths’ ventures and how he played on and produced Suede’s first single. He almost joined the band but decided against it on the basis that it might be perceived as ‘doing more of the same’. An opportunity missed or a lucky escape? Depends on your musical taste I suppose.
I asked about unusual venues he’s played in (another nod to British Sea Power, who would occasionally pop up on the South Downs to meet groups of dedicated followers for nature walks-cum-intimate boozy gigs). A New York library was trumped by a seemingly never-ending descent to a DJ box in a Bratislava nuclear bunker. That’ll take some beating.
Pre-gig carb-loading done and we waddled back to St Paul’s as stuffed as the pittas we’d demolished. The place was pretty busy by the time we arrived, and it was a pleasure as always to see organiser Ant from Atom proudly overseeing yet another successful gig. I was a little surprised to see Day-Glo leg warmer-clad writhing on the dance floor (local girls, not Ant), as I hadn’t expected that type of eighties’ party. Mike conceded it might be a rather more mainstream set than anticipated and my thoughts of an evening filled with A Certain Ratio B-sides was dashed.
The set kicked off with The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ and something else apparently kicked off as the dancefloor cleared, lights turned up and mops brandished. Awkward. I half expected my old school caretaker to emerge in his brown overcoat with a metal bucket full of sawdust and thought they’d taken the eighties theme too far. Thankfully, spillages were soon sorted, and the show continued.
Mike’s bemusement quickly gave way to head nodding that was reciprocated across the dancefloor to Fergal Sharkey’s gorgeous vocals in the Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks’. It’s fair to say there was a decent amount of not-so-teenage kicking going on. Certainly on my right where DBTH gaffer Dan was Dad-dancing as though his life depended on it (F”cking cheek! Dan).
Of course, a few Smiths’ numbers came up to a rapturous response with ‘This Charming Man’ going down particularly well.
Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ led me on my path of unusual moves, where, for a while, I thought I was Ian Curtis. Dan later said I was more like Tony Curtis. How rude.
The decade moved on and given the Indie-Manchester theme it was time for some obligatory Stone Roses and Happy Mondays stuff. I must say, however, that there is something rather disconcerting about watching a group of middle-aged teachers doing wide-eyed Bez dancing. Don’t ask how I knew they were teachers…I could just tell.
Looking on at the enthusiastic dancefloor an emotional (if a little sweaty) Dan talked of it being as though the last twenty years had been forgotten about just for one night, and I had to admit he was right. The difference being, for me at least, a lift home in a sensible family hatchback, house keys still in my pocket (and not mislaid for the seventh time that month), and a t-shirt free of mysterious hot rock shrapnel. There are some things I really don’t miss about those days.
Back home from hanging out with Mike Joyce in Worthing and with ringing ears I continued formulating the plan for my forthcoming hit ‘Dinners with Drummers’ television show. By the time I reached my pit, I had series one nailed. I won’t spoil the surprise, but let’s just say that I’m going big. Really big…
Episode one. ‘Ringo Starr in Harry Ramsden’s’. So where do I sign?
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