"I'm not a young man anymore," says Chris Constantintou. "Who wants to be fucking young? I don't."

Constantintou is introducing a cover by his band the Wolfmen of a forty years lost song by the Velvet Underground. Since its rediscovery in 2008, ‘I’m Not a Young Man Anymore’ has been seized upon and covered by several artists including Paul Weller and Dean & Britta. The Wolfmen's version is, however, different than most in that, rather being a straightforward copy of the Velvets' cavernous-sounding garage number, they have merged it with trance-like dance beats. It has also won the official Lou Reed seal of approval in the process.

Constantintou has a point. He has been playing in bands since 1977, and is not young. Nor for that matter are much of his audience, who several of whom, in a nod to his and Wolfmen’s co-founder Marco Pirroni’s former career as members of Adam Ant’s backing band, are squeezed into over-tight tour T-shirts from three decades ago. Pirroni is both conspicuous and absent tonight. He retired from live work a while ago, and contents himself by floating around the audience, having his photo taken and signing records and CDs for some of the collectors who are in the crowd, while Constantitou and his band, which consists largely of guest musicians, are on stage.

Tonight’s show, which is sponsored by the punk/alt. rock magazine ‘Vive Le Rock’, is a launch gig for the Wolfmen’s second album, ‘Married to the Eiffel Tower’, which is due for release in August. Constantintou is obviously concerned about kicking proceedings off with a bang, and there are another eight musicians with him, including as well as a guitarist, bassist and drummer, three percussionists, a violinist and Kate Jackson, the former singer with the Long Blondes, on backing vocals.

What the Wolfmen do best, as ‘I’m Not a Young Man Anymore’ indicates, is to take their influences - glam rock, rockabilly, old school punk and ‘Screamadelica’-style dance rock - and then mesh them up.

Constantintou has struck that balance between rehearsing and over-rehearsing his group, allowing them the flexibility which can only come from knowing the numbers well, and avoiding the stiltedness which often arrives when songs have been run through too many times. The Wolfmen create a glorious maelstrom of noise, which, within moments of them coming on stage, has this older audience throwing themselves around often clumsily but ecstatically.

One of the percussionists the perpetually-grinning Hari, who joins the band from their second number ‘Love is a Dog’, has flown over especially from Sri Lanka for the occasion. Jackson is meanwhile a revelation. Dressed in a sensible blouse, skirt and specs more befitting of that of a secretary and wearing a long red wig, she sashays about on the stage on high heels with tongue-in-cheek provocativeness, smacking hips with Constantitou and blowing through pouting lips kisses at the audience. Much credit must also go, however, to Constantitou himself. Out of his comfort zone and away from his regular instrument of the bass guitar, Constantitou as well as singing, also plays a six-string acoustic guitar and even for two of the numbers, ‘Cat Green Eyes’ and ‘Cecilie’, the flute with haunting effect.

There is sometimes a tendency even at launch gigs to do anything but play the new material, and, while the Wolfmen play a lot of old songs, including a fiery version of their single, ‘Wak This Bass’, they balance this out with a selection of some of the key tracks from ‘Married to the Eiffel Tower’. ‘I’m Not a Young Man Anymore’ and ‘Cat Green Eyes’, which despite the interjection of the flute is a stomping glam rock number, are two of the highlights of the night. Recent single, ‘Jackie, Is it My Birthday?, featured Sinead O’ Connor on co-vocals with Constanintou, but Jackson with her snappy delivery proves a superb replacement.

The Wolfmen’s ten song set concludes at the end of an hour with the second cover of the evening, a version of the Tin Machine’s ‘Bus Stop’. Eugene Butcher, the editor of ‘Vive Le Rock’, appears on stage to try and chide the band to play some more numbers. The Wolfmen, however, do not reappear, and there is no encore. They, however, have finished as groups should, leaving their audience wanting for more. The Wolfmen’s gigs gave always been few and far between but, even at this late stage in his career, Chris Constantintou has shown himself still prepared to take risks.


SET LIST:

Better Days
Love is a Dog
Cat Green Eyes
Young Man
Future City
Cecilie
Jackie Says
Wak This Bass
Jackie. Is It My Birthday?
Bus Stop













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