“Southend is the new Margate is the new Brighton”
Jokes Sam Duckworth during his homecoming gig on Southend Pier where he played his debut album in full. However, to see enthusiasm with which the brilliant charity Metal promoted the arts in Southend this past month, it’s hard not to be filled a sense of hope in these bleak political times.
Nostalgia is a funny thing to be a part of. At times, it’s a sad refusal to move on from the glory days (Liam Gallagher) but, when done properly, serves as a great juxtaposition of then and now (Primal Scream’s 2012 Screamadelica tour). This gig was certainly the latter.
For everyone on the pier, ‘Chronicles…’ is a classic, and thus, nerves are rife. What if it’s a bad gig, will it be tarnished? How apt that the gentle and warming ‘Once More With Feeling’ eases you in. Just one tender blast of the trumpets and everyone feels at home.
The hometown faithful react joyously to favourites ‘I-Spy’ and ‘War Of The Worlds’, a sight that many of us thought we would never see after that great send of in the Forum. These songs have that feel of Billy Bragg’s ‘A New England’ and ‘Greetings To A New Brunette’. No matter how much time passes, they remain great alternative pop classics which unite crowds.
It would be rude to say there was a standout song on an album the alternative community adores. However, ‘Call Me Ismael’ encapsulates everything great about Sam Duckworth. Great meaningful lyrics of everyday life and its struggles, which are enhanced by powerful brass section. Vocally, it strays from emotive to rebellious and when the punk via DnB breakdown comes in, well, it’s impossible not to feel optimistic about life.
Being from Essex, you’re supposed to work in the city, like garage music and be right wing. It’s not a bastion of compassion and alternative culture. Nevertheless, the teenagers tearing up the Pink Toothbrush and the older punks at The Railway provide a bedrock for it and it’s a privilege to come together for whatever guise Sam is operating under.