We needn't have worried. Former Pilots Rob Hamilton (drums) and Richard Cook (additional keyboards) look, feel and sound as if they've been with the band from day one. The new songs are immediately recognisable as Famous Villains' gems and the guys had blown The Leopard roof off long before the storm had chance.
As for the power surges I spent most of the gig with my finger in a fuse box just 'to keep the engine running'. (When I wasn't eyeing up the tasty blonde at the bar). OK it meant people had to wait for beer but Famous Villains or alcohol? The Donny sextet will always be my drug of choice.
As always Famous Villains take to the stage looking, well, magnificent really. Tobin on keyboards looks like he should be selling Snake Oil in the 1880's Deep South. You'd buy it too. Jaz tucked in a corner effortlessly keeping the new Kirk/Hamilton rhythm section flowing. Cooky's hammond sound the perfect sidekick to the Snake Oil salesman, Ant energetic as always, a sweat soaked twirling acoustic guitar flying all over The Leopard stage and Neil, stage front, the epitome of cool. I swear this man never sweats.
So these new songs. A lot of bands would slip them into the middle of the set, surround them with old favourites, just to be safe. Sod that. Villains open with new number Beg And Steal and by the end the crowd are already word perfect. The band storm through the ten song set never once missing a beat despite my inability to reach the fuse box quickly every time.
I had Rob and Neil on the show the Wednesday before the gig and said I struggled to pick a favourite Famous Villains song. I'm just reading the set list now. Everyone is a belter from the staccato Changes With The Moon, to the singalong friendly Keep The Engine Running, Goodbye Life and 8 O' Clock Blues to Ready To Die and Burn This City when the boys rock out big time.
To soon the band are off stage. The crowd, baying for more, dripping with sweat. They would have been less wet standing in the storm. Back on stage and again they refuse to play safe by introducing the second new song of the night, Nobody Cares, as the first encore. Then it's into fan favourite Spies before the finale. The last few times I've seen Famous Villains Ant will ask permission for the band to join the crowd. As if they need permission! Normally a raucous acoustic Neil Young standard will follow with huge wall to wall smiles. Not tonight.
Tonight just Ant ventures into the crowd, asks for help with this last song as they only learnt it this week. Tobin slides into the intro of Lou Reed's Perfect Day. It's a little messy, it's a lot ad libbed, it's joyous and a very fitting tribute indeed.
FAMOUS VILLAINS SET LIST 02/11/13
Beg And Steal
Lying At The Side Of You
Changes With The Moon
Keep The Engine Running
Ready To Die
The 8 O' Clock Blues
Burn This City