The 100 club is a charmer of a gig venue. Wider than it is long, pillars positioned awkwardly in front of the stage, covered with aging posters and large red ’100s’, it instantly feels like somewhere a bit special, a venue to see memorable gigs, once in a lifetime performances.
It also looks as if it could be a bit of a pain in the arse to play. Remi Nicole certainly seemed to find it so. First up in front of a still sparse crowd, clustered on tables to her left and right, she had the difficult task of playing to people she couldn’t really see. An otherwise extremely likeable acoustic set suffered as a result, but with such pleasant, unassuming songs and a clear, powerful voice she is bound to find herself further up a the bill soon.
Super Nashwan were next up, crowding onto a stage overflowing with music. A souped up, soul charged White Stripes, perhaps, they made a huge amount of rockabilly noise and enjoyed themselves almost more than we did, Johnny Nashwan’s steel guitar a crunchy counterpoint to the smooth harmonies of his backing vocalists. Nashwan didn’t quite take off the way a few people tipped them in 2006, still short of a label, but hopefully 2007 will be their year.
They certainly whipped the 100 into a frenzy; and no-one enjoys a frenzy more than Pop Levi. Strutting onto stage in his tiny, skinny outfit, wearing a bewildering faux stained-glass top, he doesn’t so much sing as exude music. He opened with a titanic, 10 minute version of Sugar Assault Me now, and before even the first words had been sang sweat was fountaining off his face.
Pop Levi seem to have grabbed a slightly cross generational audience, almost more Blackberrys than Marlboros, but everyone was there with the same idea: dance like it was going out of fashion. What had been bare an hour ago was now packed to the rafters, and the club began to live up to expectations, a performance of sheer energy that held onto my eardrums and demanded satisfaction.
As the closing bars of an enormous, extended, upgraded version of Dollar Bill Rock slammed across the room lightning bolts sprayed out of Pop Levi’s guitar and blew the roof off the hapless 100 Club. His twisting heels exploded into a huge ball of white hot guitar noise, destroying most of Oxford street. Thousands of lives were lost, I imagine. But it was worth it. And very memorable.