Eddie and the Hot Rods are one of the most quintessential British rock n’ roll bands of the 70s. Their music has stood the test of time and multiple lineup changes, landing them squarely in legendary musician status. First formed in Canvey Island, Essex in 1975, they quickly exploded onto the early pub rock and punk music scenes. On Saturday April 13, we saw the celebration of their accomplishments as they embark on their final year of touring.
If you’re familiar with the band’s discography, you know they have endless options to play from just from their first two albums alone. But this time around they looked back on every incarnation of the band throughout the decades and touched down on tracks throughout their entire catalogue.
There were no opening acts, but they weren’t really necessary. This was a night about celebrating Eddie and the Hot Rods and their career in its entirety. When you combined the sentiment of the night with the revolving door of influential punk and rock n’ roll musicians that joined them on stage, it wasn’t really necessary to tack anything else onto that.
Our night started off with the Heatwave crew running behind, as per usual. We ran from Angel Station to the venue and made it into the packed room just in time to catch the last few seconds of the video introduction, which opened the night. Seconds later, the current live lineup of the band, featuring Barrie Masters, Simon Bowley, Dipster and Richard Holgarth, kicked off the set with the opening track from the band’s debut album, ‘Get Across to You.’
They played different video segments throughout the night, breaking up the space between songs with documentary-style background info and quotes about the band, which helped set the atmosphere and flow the performance through the history of the band.
The song instantly brought back memories of the first time I brought that record home and blasted it in my bedroom. The band sounded as powerful as they ever did, and it made me think, “Surely this can’t be it!”
We meandered through the sea of bobbing heads and managed to grab a beer, as we got closer to the front just in time for ‘Teenage Depression.’ ‘Teenage Depression’ was the first song of theirs I ever heard, thanks to the movie, Rock n’ Roll High School, and it’s remained a solid favourite of mine over the years. Judging by the crowd’s reaction to the song, I’d say it’s still a heavy fan favourite for most who were in attendance as well.
They were then joined on stage by the first of many guests that night, Leigh Heggarty of The Ruts. With Leigh they kicked off into more staples, ‘I Might Be Lying’ and ‘Ignore Them.’
As soon as Leigh left the stage, another familiar face joined the band. This time it was Chris Taylor, who helped the band usher in some of the songs from their newer albums.
One of my favourite moments of the night was when Duncan Reid, of The Boys, joined the band onstage. Duncan has remained incredibly enigmatic and energetic over the years, and of the many all stars to join the Hot Rods on stage that night, Duncan’s the only one I still regularly see out at gigs in London.
With Duncan they performed ‘The Kids Are Alright,’ another of my personal favourites. I couldn’t think of a better person to bring out for that particular number, given how influential the British Invasion was for bands like The Boys.
The performance was broken up into two segments, allowing for an intermission and a bit of a break for the band between sets. The first set ended with Dennis and Mark joining the band for ‘Wooly Bully.’
The intermission didn’t seem particularly long, but I suppose it served as enough of a break for the band. Personally, I probably could have done with a bit longer of an intermission. Because it was so crowded it was impossible to do anything like visit the bathroom between sets or song.
There were probably some people that preferred the shorter intermission, but if you were drinking and wanted to watch the show from the front, boy you’d better be able to really hold it.
The second half of the night started with the full surviving original lineup walking onset to perform ‘Life on the Line,’ ‘Telephone Girl’ and ‘Quit this Town.’ This was one of those moments I heard most Hot Rods fans speaking enthusiastically about, especially younger members of the crowd, like myself.
Eddie and the Hot Rods have gone through many incarnations over the years, but this is the first opportunity many of us have ever had to see them in their original state, with the exception of late guitar player, Dave Higgs, who passed away a few years ago.
After another brief video segment, they carried on with other classic hits like ‘The Power and the Glory’ and ‘Circles,’ before Barrie handed the mic over to JC, of The Members, to give himself a bit of a singing break. JC performed ‘Double Checking Woman,’ and then handed the stage back over to Barrie and Lew Lewis, who then performed ‘Hard Drivin’ Man.’
Next up to the stage was one of my favourite punk icons on vocals – Captain Sensible of The Damned. I saw him walk up to the side stage before his turn, with a lyric sheet in hand. He performed ‘Writing on the Wall,’ and it felt like he was just having fun with his friends. I’d later overhear him mulling over his performance backstage, but I personally really enjoyed it.
As Captain Sensible exit the stage and the second act began to come to a close, they showed a tribute to Dave Higgs on the screen, followed by the final performance of the second half. With Barrie back on stage, they closed out the second set, aptly, with ‘The Beginning of the End.’
Of course, given this was a night completely about the Hot Rods, they weren’t about to end their performance without a crowd-pleasing encore. The original lineup took the stage once again and performed ‘Get Out of Denver.’ After that, they swapped out and the current lineup took over for ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do.’
Finally, the ultimate encore began. All members of the band, past and present and all of the night’s performers were invited to get up on stage for ‘Gloria.’ It was nice seeing them all get onstage together and have fun with it. It really emphasized the celebratory atmosphere, while showcasing the camaraderie of the band.
I’ve seen Eddie and the Hot Rods before in smaller venues, but this was much better, which is pretty high praise from me. I’m the type of person that generally doesn’t enjoy shows at larger venues. However, this time around, the band had much more energy and the atmosphere in the sold out venue was completely positive and enthusiastic.
This was a really long set, clocking in somewhere around two hours. Surprisingly, I didn’t really get tired of listening to the band, even though the set was so long. Often times when bands play lengthy sets, I tend to get bored and wander off for a bit to chat to someone. I felt pretty engaged throughout the entire night, so that’s quite a feat, especially for a band I’ve seen before.
The show in its entirety was live streamed on the Hot Rods’ Facebook page. You can’t see the band or the performers up close – granted, if you were at the back of the crowd, you couldn’t really do that anyway, but the sound quality on the video footage is pretty good and it’s a good lineup of songs, so why not check it out?
-Linsey McFadden and Adrian Alfonso