The Cavern in Raynes Park in South London is a rock and roll pub.

Its walls are covered every few inches with rock memorabilia - old tour posters for and framed pictures of mainly 60’s groups, The Who, The Kinks, and in particular The Rolling Stones and The Beatles - and five nights a week from Wednesday to Sunday it puts bands on its tiny stage. Entrance is free to these gigs, but one is expected to buy a drink or face the wrath of the massive-in-size landlord, who dresses down in expletive-laden language more than one customer who has neglected to go to the bar. A bucket is passed around also to help the bands with their expenses. “I have only got my credit card,” says one punter, waving it as scant proof in front of him, as the girl who is carrying the bucket gives him a withering, heard-that-one-a-thousand-times-before roll of the eyes.

It is appropriate that this tribute to Adrian Borland to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of his death is taking place here. The Sound frontman and solo artist used to drink in The Cavern regularly, and was raised and spent most of his life living in Raynes Park. He also died nearby on the morning of the 26th April 1999 at Wimbledon Station, the next station up the line. He had suffered from a schizoid-affective disorder for a decade and a half, in which he would sometimes hear voices and become suicidal, and was killed instantly when he threw himself in front of a train.

There will be a trip the next day organised by his friends Audrey Eade, Robert Eade and Elliot Wheeler, to the cemetery three and a half miles away in which he is buried. Despite the terrible circumstances in which Adrian Borland died, the mood in The Cavern, however, is one of celebration of the memory of an exceptional talent and a much-loved friend.

People have travelled far and widely for this gig. The charming Jean-Paul van Mierlo, the producer of the 2016 Borland documentary ‘Walking in the Opposite Direction’ which is still touring film festivals, has come over from Holland for it, where The Sound and Borland attracted their biggest audiences. Italian writer Giuseppe Basile, who wrote the 2016 biography ‘Adrian Borland and The Sound: Touching on a Distant Victory’, is also present. Copies of the book, which Basile is signing, are on sale. Although it is yet to be translated from the Italian in which it was written, it proves to be worth the £20 asking price, as it features many previously unseen photographs of Borland and the lyrics in English of every track of his six studio albums with The Sound and also his six solo LPs. Equally significant and also available on vinyl is the just released ‘Lovefield’, the first in a proposed series of previously unavailable Adrian Borland recordings, this one from 1993, which van Mierlo is compiling.

As old friends, some of whom have not seen each other in twenty or thirty years, greet each other warmly, the acts on tonight’s bill take to the stage one after another. Each act has a personal connection to Borland. Pat Rowles, who played bass for and was involved with him in the last stages of his career, plays a short, poignant, acoustic set of songs mainly drawn from ‘Harmony and Destruction’, the 2001-released posthumous album that Adrian Borland had nearly finished at the time of his death. Simon Breed, who had been a friend of Borland since they were teenagers and who is backed by bassist Martijn Prins and former Sound drummer Mike Dudley, blasts his way on lead vocals and electric guitar through a whiplash collection of mainly Sound classics, concluding with a stunning version of ‘New Dark Age’, the closing song from their 1981 second album, ‘From the Lion’s Mouth’. Dudley then stays on stage with the final act of the night, Leicester-based singer-songwriter and one-time Factory Records signing Kevin Hewick, who recorded an EP ‘This Cover Keeps Reality Unreal’ with The Sound in 1983.

Before this, and opening the evening, is Moon Under Water.

Moon Under Water was formed at a previous tribute to Adrian Borland at The Cavern in December 2017 to commemorate what would have been his sixtieth birthday.

Only guitarist Elliot Wheeler, who plays in the Gothic group The Society and industrial act BFG, has been in bands in recent years, but the three other members, as much as the other acts on the bill, have a strong connection musically as well as personally with Adrian Borland. Close friend and vocalist Audrey Eade trained as a mezzo soprano as a teenager, and, while she has not fronted a band before, provided backing vocals after The Sound ended on Borland’s 1989 debut solo album, ‘Alexandria’. Her husband and bassist Robert - another good friend of Borland - has played in various groups in the past, but has not been in a band for thirty years. Drummer Adrian Janes meanwhile was in The Outsiders, Borland’s teenage punk band.

The Outsiders, a trio which featured as well as Janes on drums Borland on vocals and guitar and Bob Lawrence on bass, were regulars on the London circuit, playing once a gig at the legendary punk club The Roxy in which they were infamously joined on stage by Iggy Pop for a rendition of ‘Raw Power’. They also self-released - being one of the first acts to do so - on Borland’s late parents’ record label Raw Edge Records two albums, 1977’s ‘Calling on Youth’ and 1979’s ‘Close Up’, before first of all Lawrence and then Janes left the group to go to university and Borland formed The Sound.

Since forming at the end of 2017 at which stage they still did not have a name, Moon Under Water have released several self-written tunes of dark, brooding alternative rock as well as two Borland covers on YouTube. They played their first gig under their own name in February in Leicester, where the Eades are now based, in support of Kevin Hewick, and tonight is their official London debut gig.

They open with one of their own compositions, ‘Lifetime’. With its swirling, sombre guitars, Janes’ driving drums, Audrey’s sultry, slowly drawling vocals and its lyrics about absent friends and loved ones, it is a totally fitting opening to the evening. “Share your love while you live/Show your love while you live/Best to have nothing to regret or to forgive/Give your love while you live,” sings Audrey, capturing in the lyrics which are penned by Janes how we should all try to live out our lives, as much of the busy bar in recognition of this falls silent.

Much of tonight is about reunion, and, as Robert Eade magnanimously leaves the stage, Bob Lawrence, who now lives in Yorkshire and has been rehearsing with Moon Under Water in Leicester in recent weeks, steps up onto it. It is the first time that Janes and Lawrence have shared a stage since the summer of 1978 and in over forty years. It is done without drama or fanfare, but most of the audience is aware of the significance of the occasion.

The next six songs are all Outsiders numbers, three tracks - ‘Break Free’, ‘Start Over’ and the title song- taken from ‘Calling On Youth’, two tracks - ‘Vital Hours’ and ‘Touch and Go’ - from ‘Close Up’ and one additional one - ‘Freeway’ - from
their 1977 only EP, ‘One to Infinity’.

‘Vital Hours’, with its brash, stop-start guitars, and chant-a-long lyrics (“What I want to do is spend some vital hours with you”), kicks the Outsiders’ partial reformation off to a furious pace. Wheeler, who is on the left hand side of the small stage, occasionally knocks against and shakes a large display board, which has been set up behind him and has a black-and-white head shot of Borland on it and the lyrics to ‘In Passing’, a song from his 1994 third solo album, ‘Beautiful Ammunition’, beneath it. Both Janes and Lawrence maintain a breakneck speed throughout, and Audrey Eade, singing from a lectern, gives it all the gusto it needs.

The exuberance of much of the Outsiders’ material needed a lot of energy when Janes and Lawrence last played these numbers when they were aged nineteen, let alone four decades later now that they are in middle age. The balladic next number break-up anthem ‘Break Free’, with its cod-reggae rhythm, slows the tempo, setting up the tone of what is to follow with a fast number being followed by a gentler one. With the sudden, sharp spite of its lyric “I saw you as a princess/Now I know you as a slut,” which Audrey drops in at its mid-point with deadpan saccharinity, ‘Break Free’ still has as much of the power to shock as it did first time around all those years ago.

“It is like 1977 all over again,” Audrey quips at its end, before the band launches into its next number, the grinding ‘Touch and Go’. The Krautrock-influenced ‘Freeway’ is particularly impressive, with Janes making strong use of his drum kit’s cymbals, Lawrence and Wheeler developing a reverberating, hypnotic rhythm and Audrey’s vocals sounding as sinister and surreal as when Borland first sung them forty years before (“Freeway, free my dead end life”).

The Outsiders’ part of the set is closed in a blitz of squalling guitars with the fiery call-for-arms of ‘Calling on Youth’. Janes, who provided the bulk of the Outsiders’ lyrics, wrote the words for it when he was fifteen, but it has much of the largely 50+ audience bellowing along to its chorus (“I’m calling on youth to fight for the truth”).

Adrian Janes and Bob Lawrence then leave the stage with the same lack of fuss that Lawrence came on, and Elliot Wheeler and Audrey Eade bring Moon under Water’s set to a finish in as appropriate a fashion as they started with a superb, stripped-down version of The Sound’s ‘Winning’. The anthemic opening track from ‘From the Lion’s Mouth’, it is possibly the most life-affirming of all Adrian Borland’s songs (“I was going to drown/Then I started swimming/I was going down/Then I started winning”).

Moon Under Water have played a set of huge and immense proportions. They have paid tribute to a lost friend, reunited his and Adrian Janes’ old band for the first time in many years, and launched their career convincingly with this debut on their native South London home ground. At this evening at The Cavern, they have paid homage to their own and much of their audience’s youths, but they have also provided so much more.


Set List:

Lifetime
Vital Hours
Break Free
Touch and Go
Freeway
Start Over
Calling on Youth
Winning


Photographs by Alan Bell

















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