This was certainly the first time I have arrived at a gig to see Chelsea FC loading the first team's coach outside. But then, this is also the first gig venue under a Premier League football ground. Chelsea have opened a 500 capacity club, a welcome addition for inexplicably gig-starved West London.
There was a time when this area smelled of punk rock. But, the King's Road isn't a haven for punk rockers any more, while Chelsea's fanbase is primarily made up of accountants and PR executives.

Watching rock gigs isn't the endurance sport it used to be either. At Under the Bridge, swivel chairs are arranged in a semi circle around the edge of the dance floor, and the tiles don't appear to have had a single pint of cider spilled on them (later on, a man actually goes round with a mop while we are waiting for the encores). The air conditioning actually seems to be in working order.

Dodgy decided to promote tonight's show as a Halloween Party (well, it was 31 October), and opted to shun a support group in favour of enlisting Andy Lewis (bassist for Paul Weller and a songwriter in his own right) to spin Mod approved anthems for two hours before they took to the stage. It was all very dancefloor friendly, and Pennyblackmusic was delighted to hear Papernut Cambridge blaring out of the speakers, but nobody has ever danced at a reformed Britpop band's gig before, and we weren't about to start tonight. Those swivel chairs were far too comfortable.

So, Dodgy do not take to the stage in front of the amped-up Friday night revellers they were perhaps hoping for. But we were not even one song into the set before a circle had formed of enthusiastic dancers down the front. Dodgy may not have the critical acclaim some of their Britpop peers fall back, but on tonight's evidence, they do have a fanbase who think they can do no wrong.

It has been twenty years since Dodgy released their second album, 'Homegrown', which contains the song they are best known for – 'Staying Out for Tte Summer'. To mark that, Dodgy pluck a number of songs from this album out of their memory bank, and it is these that get the front rows jumping and singing along. Indeed, by the second half of the show, only a handful of the swivel chairs are still being occupied.

Dodgy were rather awkwardly shoehorned into Britpop. In fact, their principle influences seem to be from the US West Coast, but in their earlier incarnation, they often failed to get this across. At their best (particularly 'Melodies Haunt You', which is a highlight tonight and does exactly what it says on the tin), they were infectiously catchy. Too often,
they fell back on predictable power chords.

But, they had some big hits, and even two decades on, each of them is met with a singalong. Yet, I am here to hear the songs from 'Stand Upright in a Crowded Place', their 2012 comeback album, which was one of the unexpected treats of recent years. On stage, it is those songs that really come to life – the harmonies, the guitar breaks, the dexterous drumming and Nigel Clark's songs. They no longer have to try hard to make their songs memorable – they just are. Where once they competed with Menswear, now their true peers are Wilco.

Clark – who left the band before they released their fourth album – has switched from playing bass to just rhythm guitar. One of the night's highpoints is when he performs 'Is It Me?', a genuine obscurity that was the B-side to a charity single by Paul Weller and never on an official Dodgy release. He wrote that song when he was working in a factory, dreaming of a better life.

Meanwhile, guitarist Andy Miller prefers to keep a low profile. But he is Dodgy's secret weapon, capable of elevating even workaday songs with a deft guitar line. You wonder how much better the earlier albums would have been if he'd broken away from the chugging Mod riff orthodoxy of Britpop a little earlier.

Dodgy were one of those bands who didn't survive the critical about turn that followed in Britpop's wake. They would probably have a much better reputation if they hadn't had those summer radio hits. It was almost as if we were watching two different gigs back to back, such is the superior quality of their post-comeback material. With a brand new album due in 2015, you rather hope Dodgy will concentrate on that when they next tour.

Nevertheless, it was hard to blame them for singing the songs people wanted to hear. One thing is for certain, the audience had an excellent Friday night out – and there wasn't a Halloween costume in sight.











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Commenting On: Under the Bridge, London, 31/10/2014 - Dodgy








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