I always thought that it was unfair to expect old musicians to pack it all up just because they had passed 30, or 40, or 50 or whatever age seemed a long way away from the age I was at at the time I was thinking it. After all, you wouldn't expect a plumber to just pack it in after 10 years of having his head under the sink. Surely being a rock musician is a trade just like any other.
So the fact that bands like the Rolling Stones have never stopped and bands like the Police have restarted is fine by me. The Stones, at least, still sound better than 90% of the younger bands that have come after them. And the Police still sound as bad, certainly no worse, than they always have which kind of proves my point.
The problem I have is when the bands come back, begrudgingly, thinking that they can foist some new kind of rubbish on their old fans. It's a little like a plumber coming around and expecting you to pay not only for his work but also upfront for all his tools, his van and his overalls. And then deciding he doesn't want to be a plumber at all, he quite fancies being a carpenter even though he has no skills or experience in that department.
Jimmy Pursey, was once an unspectacular but adequate plumber. If The Kids are United, Hurry Up Harry and Hersham Boys the panto-punk equivalent of bleeding the radiator in the spare room. A simple job, easily done, no fuss, no flair required. These days Jimmy Pursey has been ousted by his old band Sham 69 and has formed a new band, Day 21. They were the surprise act at the Camden Crawl festival on Friday night. And they were woeful.
With a band that consisted mainly of a Donny Tourette-less Towers of London, Pursey pouted and preened and played a short set of awful new material with perfunctory run-throughs of Borstal Breakout and If The Kids... Jimmy doesn't do the old stuff I was told. That's why the old Sham kicked him out. He won't do nostalgia shows. And then he plays a pointless cover of White Riot.
By the end of the set, when he chose to repeat a new song that he'd already played to virtually no interest there were perhaps 50 people left watching. It was a dismal night.
As a plumber Pursey was never the most reliable or trustworthy. As a carpenter he is just incompetent.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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