It’s not easy to get to Hackney but the prospect of a new 23 Million venue and the Fun Lovin’ Criminals certainly had the potential to drag us there. We are about to be rewarded for our efforts by one and badly let down by the other.
Standing outside the Ocean, the first impression is of the sort of club that might be better off in Leicester Square. Unfortunately the queue for the cloakroom is a bit of a joke and the bar staff have been to the Marcel Marceau School of mime and do a brilliant display of “drinks service in slow motion”. However later the excellent acoustics and sound system of the venue will take our breath away and we will be lovin’ the Ocean.
Tonight the cabaret begins with the Criminals favourite New York busker. Big Bad Brad stumbles on with a beat box and some tapes, he mumbles something about how Huey saved him from crack addiction before launching into popular crowd pleasers. Ocean warms to his shambolic style and surprisingly strong voice, he ends his karaoke with a mass sing along of Tom Jones‘ Delilah and then he saunters off!
Doors open behind the stage billowing white light and dry ice, silhouettes emerge, the sound system is cranked up. Stick ’em up punk it’s the Fun Lovin’ Criminals. The main event is on stage and initially all goes well, their lazy beats and smooth tunes ignite the crowd. The mellow mosh pit is up and running and the balcony is crammed with swaying female admirers of the singer/guitarist. But then several songs in, just when everyone is having fun, it all goes wrong! Huey makes an appalling, embarrassingly cringe worthy attempt at stand up comedy and then “dies on stage” in a re-enactment of the climactic lightsabre scene from Star Wars with Huey playing Darth Vader as Robert De Niro.
At first the stunned crowd watch this twaddle in disbelief but soon “get on with it!” becomes a rising chant. We are then treated to the titties of one of Huey’s female fans from the balcony. Strangely, the lead singer isn’t pleased: “They have come here to see me not those,” he tells her, but apparently not – the crowd have gotten fed up with his antics and bray for more breasts! Several members of the audience get threatened with playground level insults as we descend beyond farce into just plain sad.
The FLCs eventually attempt to get it going again, but with a combination of country and western and lounge act tunes it’s always going to be a little like trying to start an ancient Morris Traveller in the rain. I suppose the Miller ads and the latest album, Loco, should have warned us off. By now even the normally rousing Scooby Snacks does not restore the previous atmosphere, large sections of the crowd have had enough and have no interest in the encore. Next time we brave the Hackney trek we don’t really want to see a band disappearing up it’s own anus!