TV Smith & The Bored Teenagers
When TV Smith played Cambridge a year or two back, and stayed on the hallowed R*E*P*E*A*T sofa, the phrase ‘living legend’ was bandied around a little too often for my liking.
Way back in the day, when punk was first rearing its snotty little head, TV Smith’s then band, The Adverts, did indeed graze the charts with Gary Gilmore’s Eyes, a song which has been kept alive thanks to the lower echelons of cheap punk compilations ever since. But living legend? I think not.
That’s not to say he’s not worthy of a great deal of praise though. Indeed, not only does he seem to be a genuinely nice bloke, he also possesses that rarest of gifts in this money and media-driven world – honesty. Sprinkle with a fair degree of song writing talent, a warm stage presence and bucket-loads of angst, you have one hell of a performer as well.
If everyone were a bit more like TV Smith in the politics department, it’s safe to say the world would be a nicer place. TV preaches pretty much the flip-side of what your plug-in version at home does – his set is half homage to a wish for equality, understanding and generosity and half a lament at the selfishness, greed and prejudice that we get - which pretty much ads up to the opposite.
And that’s what really does it for me that sage-like understanding of what would make the world alright mixed with a healthy dose of cynicism in understanding that, well, its just not going to happen, so you may as well just get used to keeping your chin above the shit and surviving life with your pride and dignity intact.
So there he stands, on the DVD as at that gig, skinny as fuck and almost as old, strumming away like his life depends on it, which it probably does. Each tune is introduced by its message, delivered with passion and finished with a smile. He's banging his head against a brick wall, and he knows it, but at least it's making a good noise.
This DVD, recorded in the Hundred Club in April 2007, commemorates the 30th anniversary of the influential (if not legendary) single One Chord Wonders. Backed by Spanish punks Los Quattros, renamed The Bored Teenagers for the night, the set is delivered with remarkable energy, passion and authenticity, sounding what you'd imagine The Adverts sounding like if they were still going in 2008.
AS TV Smith says, "This is not a copy, this is the real thing"
I’m reminded of the classic (but not legendary) Levellers line 'there’s only one way of life, and that’s your own', a line that loses its potency when sung by thousands of drunken beer boys in night clubs after they’ve learnt the words parrot-fashion from Radio 1 without ever thinking for a second about their meaning. TV's set is summed up for me in those words, just that in Cambridge (unlike at the Hundred Club) only a half full pub back room is listening. Shame.
So, while arrogant, po-faced wankers like Johnny Rotten swan through life swearing and snearing and surviving on the back of one album and a big mouth, genuine blokes like TV Smith live hand-to-mouth by playing every toilet venue in the world on a daily basis. Makes you sick, doesn’t it? No? Well it bloody-well should do.
And while on the subject of pretend punks, it would seem inappropriate to end this little note without mentioning that not one single old-school ‘punk’ bothered showing up to TV's Cambridge gig. You know, the ones that wander around with tipex on their battered leather jackets being a pain in the arse? I guess, much like the Rotten they so love and adore, they’re just in it for the fashion and kudos as well. Or maybe they went to see Suede, who were playing too that night.
And maybe they should be force fed this DVD?
Chris Marling, updated by Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T