Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Cramps in Cardiff

It was sad to hear of the recent death of Lux Interior, lead singer and founder member of The Cramps. In the musical universe of my youth they were the band. They seemed to transcend all the alternative youth sub-cultures of the day. Punks liked them because they had been on the periphery of the NY punk scene; flat-tops adored them because they had invented psychobilly; and Goths couldn’t get enough of their schlock-horror theatricality.

Songs like Human Fly, Garbageman and Can Your Pussy do the Dog? were dancefloor fillers at Welsh underground venues like Nero’s and the Square Club. On Saturday afternoons you could spy their logo scrawled on the back of many a leather jacket in such haunts as Spillers Records or the Lexington.

When the band did finally slither into Wales for a gig in the mid-'80s it was a really big deal. They played the Top Rank (or the Ritzy as it had by then become) on Queen Street, Cardiff. The venue was rammed with alternative types from all over south Wales and beyond. The band line-up, if I remember correctly, was Lux Interior, Poison Ivy, Nick Knox and Fur.

The highlight of the gig for me was sitting on somebody’s shoulders during, I think, Human Fly. Suddenly I found myself borne aloft on a sea of hands as I crowd-surfed in various directions. Much to my horror, with a sudden violent rush, I was propelled forward and went hurtling head-first over the crash barrier at the front, landing at the feet of Lux Interior himself. He was wearing a pair of snake-skin boots. I can remember looking up and seeing him crooning away in that unsettling, lascivious way of his.

Before I could convey my total adoration for the man I felt the brutal grip of the Top Rank bouncers dragging my already battered and bruised body off to the side of the stage. I managed to dissuade the goons from chucking me out of the venue altogether, and had to spend the remainder of the gig watching The Cramps from the relative safety of the balcony. And it was one of the very best gigs I ever saw. RIP Lux Interior.