Chas and Dave. The name says it all. Even before hearing them, you know what you’re going to get. To some the duo are a dirty words. But is that view based on musical preference or merely peer pressure?
Others, like us, would say Chas and Dave’s music is full of an effervescence for life. Honest songs, sung in a jovial atmosphere. If you play them on a good day, they make you feel a million times better, listen to them on a bad day they’ll pick you up.
Tonight’s gig at Concorde2 was a case in point. By the time they took to the stage for the first of their two sets, the venue was rammed. At times we were unsure if that groaning noise was the howling wind outside or the venue’s walls being stretched to fit in yet more people keen to see their heroes again.
What makes their gigs such events is the cross section of society that attends them. It’s nigh on impossible to pigeonhole their fans. Pensioners are mixing with metallers. Football boys are rubbing shoulders with teachers. Parents and their children look relaxed and at ease. It is a perfect microcosm of society – and of how everyone should interact without prejudice or distinction. And they’d come out in droves, braving the rain and gale force winds to see Chas and Dave run through their enviable back catalogue.
The first set was dubbed “Chas and Dave in the 70s” and the second “Chas and Dave in the 80s” as these were the periods of their career when they were undoubtedly at the peak of their popularity. After a riotous applause they got underway playing long lost songs like ‘Railroad Bill’, the first song Chas ever wrote and recorded, and re-vamped covers like ‘Dem Bones’. They got the crowd into a seething lather and kept them like that until the end of the set when they played the ‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You But I Do’ and ending with fan favourite ‘Gertcha’.
After a twenty minute break they were back with the songs the crowd had been waiting for. They ran through classics like ‘Wallop’, ‘Margate’, ‘London Girls’, ‘Snooker Loopy’, ‘Punchinello’, ‘My Brother-in-Law’, ‘The Diddlum Song’ and the theme to In Sickness And In Health as a touching tribute to Warren Mitchell who died a few weeks earlier. The final three songs were by far the best of the evening consisting of ‘Rabbit’, ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You’ and finally ‘The Sideboard Song’ which sent everyone on their way home with a jig in their step and smile on their face.
What marks Chas and Dave apart from their peers isn’t just their musicality, or the ethos that the music is for everyone and no one is excluded, but their ability to read the crowd and pre-empt what they want to hear next. The gig was a series of well-crafted peaks and valleys. Just when you thought you knew what the next song would be, they pulled out a different classic from the past.
And it was Chas’ birthday. What else could you want from a night out?
Concorde2, Monday 28th December 2015
Words by Nick Roseblade