On a dull, damp but otherwise warmish night we made our way from East to West across the Midlands, and the journey’s end brought us just down the road from an old music mecca in Cannock. In the 1960s the Danilo Cinema was host to acts such as Cliff Richard and Status Quo. and I am also told the Beatles played there too. Tonight, however, we are at the Prince of Wales Theatre. So what's the importance of the Danilo then, I hear you ask? Well, it so happens that the organisers of tonight's gig are taking heed from that era, and are keen to get the town back on the music map and hosting big acts again. When you look at the hall as it is, you can see why. It has a 420 person capacity already. There is a view to extend on this, and with over £4,000 having been spent recently on new lighting for it this could be one of the main venues in the Midlands if given half the chance.

I'm here on two counts tonight. The first is that Dodgy are making an appearance as the headline act. You remember Dodgy? 'Good Enough' and all that? Well, if you didn't know them, they are a superb bunch of musicians, who having reformed in their original line-up in 2007 after nine years apart, released a comeback album in 2012, ‘Stand Upright in a Cool Place'. Dodgy were in fact a dedicated touring band (in one 12-month period over 1994/1995 they played almost 250 shows). It was the dying wish of close friend and crew member Andy Moore that brought them back together. They all agreed that life was too short. And anyway they had forgotten why they split up in the first place.

The second reason I am here tonight is that a band I bumped into last year at a local festival is playing on the same bill. How good is that? Cal22 are local lads from Cannock itself. They blew me away when I first saw them with their confident yet raw live performance. They were a trio then too and auditioned for the same festival again this year, but due to certain - let’s say - politics didn't make it. Now I have the chance to see a newer version of Cal22. The original three of Ben Phillips on guitar and lead vocals, Mitch Dodd on bass and backing vocals and Christian Chalmers on drums are still there, but they've added a new dimension with Alex Jones on guitar and backing vocals now.

Spouting influences such as the Who, Frank Turner, the Gaslight Anthem, the Clash, Alkaline Trio and Hot Water Music, Cal22, who are all just sixteen, are a time bomb waiting to explode. All they need is the time to get their school stuff done properly and someone to spot them, and that will be it. Such was the lead’s strength and swagger, backed up by super confident Mitch and the little lad blistering away on drums, that they turned a few heads in their direction at the festival, but now, jeepers, they are even better still. That extra dimension has turned them up a few decibels, and Ben is developing a unique voice of his own to match. There are echoes of a young Weller or Daltrey, dare I say? “Yeah! Yeah!” I hear you mumble, but don't take it from me! Take it from the large following that is starting to build up behind them.

I hadn’t realised how dryly funny Dodgy actually are until they come on stage. We all wait for the big numbers to come, but because they playing the gig in two sets they don’t come in a hurry. After around four or five tracks from the new album and some newer stuff, guitarist Andy Miller looks into the crowd with a slight smile and exclaims, 'Yeah, look at you! I bet you all came expecting to hear ‘Good Enough’ or fucking ‘In a Room’, weren't you?”

The banter is well received, and it carries on this way most of the night. The lads themselves comprise of Andy (guitar/vocals), Nigel Clark(bass/vocals) and Mathew Priest (drums/vocals). The new material is slightly calmer and more tempered than it used to be, but not to their detriment at all. This new-ish Dodgy is quite a grown up affair really. They may all looking a tad older, but what's important is the fact that they are sounding just as strong if not even better than they used to. The new stuff consists of all the material from the 'Stand Up' album, while they return to the old days in the second set playing their 1993 debut abum 'The Dodgy Album' in its entirety. It is a long night for the Dodgy boys, but it is one that is well received and one that will be remembered for a long time.

There are several reasons to be looking on the bright side here it seems. We have just witnessed an old favourite band on stage again with more new material to come play a gig in a venue that with a little support and a few more bodies through the door could well become the old Danilo. We have already heard whispers that the Levellers and the Beautiful South as well as various other name acts are on their way.

As for the support act, it wouldn't surprise me if the organisers of the festival that snubbed these boys this time round will be kicking themselves by the end of May. They will be missing one hell of a live act, and will go down in history as the festival that ignored one of the best British bands to come out of the Midlands for years. You mark my words.


After the gig, I was able to staple Ben Phillips to the chair long enough to get him to have a chat. As he writes his own material, I asked him to talk his way through the set list for the night

1. ‘The Revolution Song’ – “It's about a few things really. It is mainly focused on a song called 'Revolution' by a band who I won't name as it would be very unfair on them. Their song just seems to repeat an idea on starting a revolution, but never actually tells anyone what's going on…So, really, it's about song writers who talk rubbish.”

2. ‘Bobby D’ – “This one's about influential song writers. It mentions the last of the greats, which to me iare Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer, Frank Turner, Bruce Springsteen etc. And it is about how songs should mean something, and not just be crappy pop lyrics about going to clubs and parties or whatever else pop singers get written for them.”

3. ‘Sympathetic Punk Show’ – “It is a song about being knackered and tired and saying you're going to drop everything or anyone that's making you feel that way, but really you know you won't.”

4. ‘Better Things’ – “In short, it's a song about chavs, and just leaving them to it, ignoring them. There are better things to do with your time than moan about them constantly.”

5.’ Broken Strings and Shattered Dreams‘ - “This one’s about seeing people who have so much talent in what they do but have never got the break they deserve. “

6. ‘Give Me Reason’ – “This is about a few things really. The first verse talks about bands in empty rooms struggling to get anyone to pay any attention to the songs they write because no-one wants to hear guitar music anymore apparently. It also talks about bars that don't get anyone through the door and eventually have to close down. And then there are bands that sing songs that have no meaning who get all the attention that should be applied to all the bands out there mentioned in the first verse.”

7. ‘Something About Leverage’ – “It's about feeling down and how music has a way of bringing you around (which sounds very cheesy when you read it back), but, like most of our songs, for some reason it seems to go off on a tangent and talks about other things while still being linked to the overall meaning of the song.”

















Related Links:

http://www.dodgyology.com/
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