Setting the MOD scene: Sat 28 August 2021 – Black Rabbit Productions present at Chalk, Brighton.
Who’s Who and The Small Fakers.
Now, it was a Saturday evening, a Saturday after the Pandemic / Covid restrictions had been lifted. It was a bank Holiday weekend, the August bank Holiday Weekend. Mod weekend. Brighton comes alive with scooters and Mods who head down for the yearly visit. The city was packed and Scooters lined the streets with chrome and mirrors glistening in the sunshine. I arrived outside Chalk and saw a few people outside milling about in their Mod finery, as they do, pre-gig drink and chat. Inside the venue it was pretty busy I have to say, and the constant stream of arrivals ensured tonight was going to be rather special. Black Rabbit Productions had lined up a MOD Weekender, but we were here on the Saturday Night for two tasty tribute acts, Who’s Who and The Small Fakers. Also two highly entertaining DJs spinning up some authentic vinyl.
The Small Fakers:
Small Fakers are the UK’s No.1 tribute to the Small Faces. Formed in 2007, the Small Fakers are the UK’s only tribute to mod legends the sensational Small Faces. Hits galore at every show including All Or Nothing, Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday and many more mixed in with B-sides and fan favourites from the Small Faces’ back catalogue. A visual and musical feast for all Small Faces fans. I had missed this band on previous visits to Brighton, so was keen to see what all the fuss was about. The show tonight was a sell out. Chalk was packed! The atmosphere was crackling with anticipation and excitement.
The Small Fakers: The band
Matt – Guitar and vocals as Steve Marriott
Neil – Bass and vocals as Ronnie Lane
Jon – Organ, piano and vocals as Ian MacLagan
Dan – Drums and vocals as Kenney Jones
(details from website)
The band literally bounced onto the stage at Chalk to a huge appreciative roar from the crowd, which had been warmed up by Who’s Who. I have to say Matt wins the most tricky person to photo of the year award – he didn’t keep still from the get go. His joy and exuberance from being on that stage propelled him for the entire night! He seriously didn’t stop for a second! Fabulous front man, and a great job.
A massive set of keyboards filled a section of the stage and the sound created was beautiful and authentic. A true delight to hear and again the sound desk did a great job in making the sound shine through. Now I never saw The Small Faces live, but I am guessing some of those in the audience did. And I guess it doesn’t matter how old you are, there will no doubt be a band that you listen to regularly through the many outlets available, that you may never get the chance to see play live, through choice or location.
But there are bands you will never get the chance to see live, The Beatles, the original line up of The Who or The Rolling Stones. The small faces was a band I just didn’t go see. Why? Not sure, but I knew of their music and all of the members of the band. I was maybe a little bit too young!
There are some good tribute bands out there and tonight I was going for a full on introduction to The Small Fakers. They took to the stage to huge applause from a crowd of people who had come to Brighton to take part in the MOD weekend, but I think many had also come to enjoy and immerse themselves in this band that really helped to shape and make the mod culture and music of the era cool.
The Small Fakers: The Set
Now to opening this special Saturday Night of the MOD weekend was Whatcha Gonna Do About It from the 1966 debut album The Small Faces. The vocals and sound was superb and authentic and by choosing a couple of well known tracks to start, The Small Fakers band immediately put the crowd in a good place and shut down any worries about how they may sound out of the audiences mind. I had been previously advised that Matt had a look of Steve Marriott, he did and yes he definitely had the sound. Sha La La La Lee was next. This was delivered with a great sound and now, two songs in, the audience were in the zone, with much dancing and singing!
I had done some pre gig study work and oh yes, they sounded like the real deal. This was going to be special as other top hits and crowd favourites followed: Hey Girl, Grow Your Own and All or Nothing. What made the set more targetted for the Brighton crowd were the mentions from the band to folk in the crowd , birthdays and engagements! I understand that Glen Matlock, Sex Pistols, had even joined The Fakers onstage at an IOW festival to perform that last track I mentioned All Or Nothing. Many fans still think that it could be the Small Faces’ ultimate track that they released. And this track was only the fifth track in!
The Small Fakers have gigs all over the country now that the Covid restrictions have been lifted, and they were proving to be a great night out, not just for MOD fans but also general music lovers, or Small Faces fans.
It was kind of cool to be there!
The excitement in Chalk tonight was electric. You could almost feel it as the band progressed through their set. There is no other Small Faces tribute band out there as far as I know. This may be partly due to the fact that the original band were unique and special. The Small Faces also had that ace up their sleeve, Steve Marriott, he was a vocalist of astonishing power, tone and quality. Could this outfit, The Small Fakers come close to copying that unique sound and even the look of the Small Faces? I can confirm yes they can! Its just wonderful to be there and get caught up in the cool vibe and atmosphere these guys generate.
My Mind’s Eye, Almost Grown and You Better Believe It were up next. Stunning renditions were most definitely the order of the day. The Small Fakers were on fire as Matt, a pure living dynamo of performing energy bounced around the stage. It was so nice to bump into Brett Buddy Ascott in the crowd, Brett of course the drummer from another top outfit, from the original Chords. The Chords were tightly associated with the 1970s mod revival, they had several hits back in the day. Nice to see you Brett! You see, I told you this was a special night!
The Small Fakers were doing everything right, I think everyone was enjoying these timeless songs and without doubt being played totally on point, and given the respect they deserve. Shake, I think done by Sam Cooke, You Need Loving and I Can’t Make It were played for us next. The band have also performed with original Small Face Jimmy Winston, who claimed the Fakers were ‘much better live than the Small Faces were.’ and original drummer Kenney Jones – praised the Small Fakers as being ‘Really great, absolutely spot on.’ ‘For those who never saw The Small Faces live, The Fakers are as close as you’re gonna get.’
Get Yourself Together, Here Comes the Nice and Happy Boys Happy were next in the set. The Small Fakers are labelled as a tribute act but actually they are so much more. This band are loved by Small Faces fans, they are clearly loved by the audience tonight and I think it may be due to their love and dedication to the original Mod band.
The crowd just went for it as the opening sounds of Itchycoo Park started up. The guys really raised the bar now as the crowd made a deafening row as everyone joined in. At the bar, outside and from the toilets you could hear the 800 voices. I guess we all thought the set was finished and that was the closing number. What a song, it really is a classic masterpiece. The Small Fakers belted this one out, looking a bit taken aback from the audience reaction and participation. It was truly a wonderful few minutes of nostalgia and enjoyment.
Was that the end? No way!! Some nine songs were to follow. I am not going to list them all, you will have to go see the guys live, but I have included a much sought after set list from the gig. Thanks to The Small Fakers for that.
The last section of the set included Tin Soldier (brilliantly performed!), Lazy Sunday Afternoon – ahh, and finally Afterglow. The audience absorbed it all. It was an astonishing performance.
The excited audience lapped up the set tonight, for anyone who never saw The Small Faces live, The Small Fakers are as close as it can get. I, along with 800 attendees can confirm that, and no doubt we will all go see them again! SMALL FAKERS…..Well, what can we say about this incredible band? Just go see them!
Support: Who’s Who
“From The Railway Hotel, Harrow, West London, 1996; to The Hammersmith Apollo, in 2016 and onwards; Who’s Who, the longest established Who Band in the UK, have received incredible reactions across Europe and beyond for their exciting live performances. Pete Townshend’s leaping and Roger Daltrey’s microphone whirling antics have all but transformed the standard of tribute shows and set a benchmark within the genre for others to follow.
Widely recognised and respected by their musical peers and acknowledged by members of The Who and those close to the band, as the group that most interprets the songs of Pete Townshend and the legendary live performances of The Who with honesty and integrity.”
Who’s Who: The Band
Gary – Vocals / Harmonica
Pete – Guitar / Vocals
Terry – Bass / vocals
Paul – Drums
Who’s Who: The Set
Brilliant! A good audience was lined up for these guys which was great to see. The band came on, a quick hello and we were off into a set spanning most of the biggest hits from the musical career of The Who.
The first thing that hits you is the authenticity of the sound these guys create. It really is a case of close your eyes! I had seen this band at Concorde 2 back in December 2019 and they nailed a full two hour show. Tonight they were opening for The Small Fakers so the run time was slightly reduced.
The Set opened with I Cant Explain and then the guitar played by Pete took us straight into Substitute. What a cracking start! Then it was two of my favourites Baba O’Riley and then Squeeze Box. The crowd by now had grown even more, and everyone jostled forward. The sound mix for these guys was super – great job and a shout to the sound desk guys at Chalk. These two songs were delivered totally on point and sparked up the audience for the the next 30 minutes of dancing and participation.
Now, I have to make comment on Pete. His guitar playing was off the chart. He produced some of the most authentic Who sounding guitar work I have heard. He also pulled off some fine Townsend moves which cannot have been easy in that boiler suit. He made his SG sing, howl and produce some damn fine sounds, superb stuff indeed.
From Soho down to Brighton:
Gary explained “It’s been a weekend of firsts, for us this weekend. First time we’ve played together in 18 months; first time we’ve played with a new drummer in over 20 years; and the first time we’ve played the Brighton Scooter Rally over the BH weekend.” This was met with a warm cheer from the crowd.
Next on the set we had Who Are You and then it was on the train/scooter to Brighton for a shot at the pinball machines tables for the mega Pinball Wizard. This one naturally drew a huge cheer from the crowd, it always seems to go down well with a Brighton crowd!
The sound of Drums…
A shout to Paul on drums, boy did he have a pair of shows to follow. The previous drummer “Mooney” had quit from the band for personal reasons and family life. Paul fired it up all night. He definitely had the style and expressions. He must have spent hours watching Keith play. He lived up to both the real Keith and his previous incumbent by providing an authentic sound and look.
Back to the set which was firing along I’m Free and See Me Feel Me. Who’s Who were creating a brilliant atmosphere with their class performance married with a top set listing. Chatting to some of the attendees, this was the first time out for nearly two years and they were out for a good night!
The man on Bass Guitar tonight was Terry. He provided an authentic sound from his bass giving some real gut shaking patterns and fills. He and his bass playing prowess complete the wonderful sounds we were being treated to tonight!
Gary is a true showman, and whilst delivering a strong vocal performance also managed to pull off the Daltrey mic swing! Perfectly done! The time was racing past and the Who’s Who outfit kept it going with Behind Blue Eyes, with Gary leading the crowd to join in.
The band fired up with a Medley of songs placed between My Generation. This had the crowd gleefully joining in with the “why don’t you…” section. Well done Brighton, you never disappoint! I reckon they heard you on Brighton Pier!
OK, we had time for one more…. What track would it be? It had to be Wont Get Fooled Again! What a showstopper!
Well, I have to admit, I enjoyed that! Who’s Who once again created a brilliant atmosphere with their class performance married with a top set listing. The time just flew by! There was no encore as time was tight. The only thing missing was the smashing up of instruments or equipment! But apart from that this was a solid show and I would recommend seeing these guys anytime.
There wasn’t a lull or stop in the music. Two DJ’s kept the sounds coming with a truly jaw dropping selection of music. We had some really rare 7″ vinyl played for us along side some rare tunes and well known classics
The Dj’s were Steve Bowden and Mark Foxon. No laptops or memory sticks tonight, this was all genuine. Turntables and boxes of precious vinyl goodness. What a rich choice of music and sounds they put out for the crowd. A true delight to hear some of those tunes tonight! I had last seen them at the MOD weekender before Covid at Pryzm in Brighton.
Steve and Mark have a page on Facebook here.
Well done to the team at Black Rabbit Productions. A great night and will always give you, bang for buck, a great night out!
Black Rabbit Productions hosted the evening. They work hard promoting live music on the south coast. They are a promotion company with years of experience putting on music shows. Tonight was superb. They have some great gigs lined up and a promise of Absolute Bowie – back in Brighton soon! You can find Black Rabbit Productions on the WWW
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