Monday 5 December 2016

Bold Bandits get my rubber-stamp

Not since Mick Jagger whispered 'Shut up' has anyone else in the music business stood out, writes Antonia Leslie

Published 27/02/2011 | 05:00

I FELL in love with Mick Jagger when I was a child. He came to stay at Castle Leslie in 1968 and because I had very alternative bohemian parents, strange looking people in kaftans, crazy movie directors, supposed alien abductees, artists and writers were the normal company I would find myself keeping or sitting beside, in my high chair, at the large round table in a the dinning room on any given day.

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And because of this, I was not impressed with Mick Jagger straight away. On the night he arrived, Jagger sat beside me at dinner, and as I was whinging and whining about not liking my spinach, he whispered into my ear: "Shut Up!"; then winked, and that was it.

For a long time, I believed in my tiny heart there would never be another man for me as long as I lived. He used to take me for long walks and hold my hand and even though there was a huge age gap, say 20-odd years, it made no difference to me ... I still have a letter from him explaining why he couldn't marry me, as he was sadly engaged to someone else -- but it was addressed to Lady Antonia, who so graciously proposed! I was five.

I'm telling you this not to brag about who I knew or how lucky I was to have such an privileged background, but to emphasise that even after that, travelling far and wide and being friends with some very famous rock legends, not enough to call myself a groupie, or so I hope. All that has dramatically changed.

Yep, the groupie label I will proudly display now, and I'll tell you in a second just who and why. But the background stuff I give you here is to show you why I wouldn't be impressed too easily with every young musical or even comedy act that pops up on YouTube. But here's the truth of it: not since Mick Jagger has anyone else in the music business genuinely captured my heart, in such a way, not up until now ... no, none of them, not even half way measured up to my brand new music love of today. Which is, The Rubberbandits! All of them, the very concept of them, the very life blood of them, I've gone away dizzy and gushing!

Maybe it's the soft Limerick accents or maybe it's because I come from a musical, satirical background -- but this stuff is in my blood.

My grandfather was a Jewish-Hungarian emigrant during the Weimer Republic in Berlin and rose to fame as one of the biggest theatre producers and writers of pop music songs of the time there, back in the Twenties and Thirties. He co-wrote the famous musicale The Chocolate Soldier and ended up owning five of the biggest theatres in Berlin before the Nazis took them away.

But his early rise to fame was with his partner Karl Mienheart and together they were the Rubberbandits of their time. They were a musical, political and social commentating satirist duo, whose name in German translated as the Bad Boys.

It passed on down through my mother, who herself was a cabaret singer and political satirist. She sang Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill and other such like and had albums produced by Elvis Costello and Philip Chevron and teamed up with Gavin Friday and sang comical duets with Mark Almond. Tom Waits named her as his favourite recording artist way back in the Eighties in an interview in NME, so once again I'm telling this not to plug my late mother; no, I'm definitely plugging the Rubberbandits here but to show you that I've experienced a lot of alternative cool music and musical satire at its finest and so I am not easily impressed by this stuff unless it's good!

The Rubberbandits are not only brilliant and marvellous but necessary. What amazes me is the people who just don't get them. They don't get it that these guys are sending up the remnants of the Celtic Tiger and the over-promiscuous and drugged-up youth that became a product of these times -- but they send it up with a sort of bemusement and kindness and in a way that is non-judgmental.

Creativity and daring satire, during dire times of political disaster, financial catastrophe and the demoralisation of a country always gives birth to the best music and the best form of artistic expression.

I went to their gig in Tripod last Saturday night and was their guest so they really looked after me and my gang. I hadn't seen them live before and, musically, they kick ass. Once again, I wasn't expecting that. There is a third Bandit member, their DJ, Willy O'Deajay (Paul Webb), and all their music is original and composed by Blind Boy Boat Club and Mr Chrome.

They will go to the US and they will be a huge success and thank God the world will see that we are not a nation of half-wit, corrupt bankers and dopey politicians. Their next gig will be at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, on April 21.

Sunday Independent

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