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flag Norway - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 29 - 03/02/99

The Tables / The Loch Ness Mouse /
The Bartlebees

Pigalle, Oslo, February 5th 1999

Let's pop, everybody let's pop!

The pop event of 1999 in Oslo is already history. Pigalle is an old night club marked by the wear and tear of time, and a perfect setting for the garage-pop-bands that was to enter the stage. German The Bartlebees was at the top of the bill, but I guess most people were there to witness the live-resurrection of the local lads and the evening's organizers in The Tables. It was their first gig in seven years. The entire Norwegian staff of Luna Kafé was gathered for the very first time. Knut Tore even flew in from Helsinki the same afternoon for the occasion (well, almost). We had a quick beer or two in the beer-hall (or whatever) downstairs, and were present when the doors of Pigalle opened at 9 O'clock. We grabbed a couple of tables (meaning tables and not the band) close to the stage. Pigalle has a round bar in the centre of the room, there were more beers, people tried to use the old telephones at some of the tables (meaning you know) and phone to the other tables ( ), the attraction of the premises. A lot of old friends and familiar faces showed up.

The Tables (the band, you know) was scheduled to start the show at 9.30 or 10. At 11 three of them were ready, but had to shout for Robert Birdeye, the drummer, who had hid away somewhere. But he turned up rather quickly. Organ (the instrument) is usually a vital part of The Tables' sound. The lack of an organ player meant they had to adjust their set, and we were in for a few surprises. Some of their most loved songs had to be skipped because of the sole drums, bass, electric guitar and vocals line-up. In fact there were no keyboards in sight all night. Anyway, they started off with Larry - a merry pop song from their debut album released way back at the very start of this decade. Larry is nice and demonstrated that The Tables hadn't lost any of the spirit or charm. They kept going with some more fuzz-laden and noisier songs than the average Tables tune [Bodysnatchers, Whiskey Dreams (from their Monsters of Doom period), and Baby I Got News For You, the latter by Big Boy Pete (Miller)]. But the pop elements were never far away. Dr. Wishbone Says and the old classic Diary included whistling, humming and some magic ocarina playing by vocalist Bartleby. Overall, the performance was tighter than could be expected from a rattling old pop band. And the real surprises? Well, Idle Race, Jeff Lynne's old Birmingham beaters, has always been a Tables' favourite, and I Like My Toys from Idle Race's debut album Birthday Party (1968) went down very well with even more ocarinas. Rubble Soul from The Tables' latest offering Holiday At Wobbledef Grunch is not the ideal song for live performances with lots of stops and starts and psychedelic middle parts. A brave move that went down very well. They finished with My Picasso Girlfriend, written by the little known Washington DC band The Dupont Circles a few years back. All in all it was a triumphant return to the stage despite the lack of keyboards, even better than the rehearsal some of us Luna contributors had witnessed a week earlier. And it seems The Tables' stage fright had vanished. If rumour serves us right, there'll be more Tables gigs later on, with a new organ-playing fifth member. Not so bad living in Oslo these winter days after all!

The Loch Ness Mouse also makes Oslo worth while now and again. They're a much younger pop band, in the same Table/perfect pop way (Perfect Pop is The Tables' record label). I guess they're the band I've seen live most often the last two or three years. I know several of their songs, but they've only released one EP many moons ago and I was not familiar with any of their song titles this evening apart from Julia and My Old Coat. The Mouse was a bit poppier and less noisy than The Tables in spite of two guitars, and a fine set they gave. As usual they also included a great version of The Fire's Treacle Toffee World, the flip of the English pop-sikers first single from 1968. LNM's debut album is scheduled for release very soon. Wait for it!

It was getting pretty late when the three boys of The Bartlebees entered the stage. Yes, they've unwittingly taken the name from the same source as Bartleby of The Tables, from a short story by American Herman Melville from the 19th century. Small world, isn't it? The Bees have released several albums, mostly on the German Little Teddy Bear label. They have rougher edges than The Loch Ness Mouse live, closer to The Tables' set this evening, and gave us at least She Loves Monsters and Never Found A Woman Worth To Die For from their latest offering, the mini album Urban Folk Legends (great name!). The beer had been flowing all evening and my memories of the Bartlebees' gig are a bit hazy . But I'm quite sure I heard I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend, the Ramones power-pop goodie in there somewhere. Another great performance and I hope and believe the three Germans will go north again some time in the future.

In the end, the Luna editor, co-workers and company stumbled out into the cold and snowy night. We had a lunar meeting at another bar, met an old artist who gave us some well-meant advice, if memory serves me well. Anyway, we'd had a wonderful evening, the next day was less so, but what the heck. Three cheers to the boys of The Tables who'd invited The Bartlebees to Norway, brought along the young and upcoming Loch Ness Mouse and also resurrected themselves as a live band! It was fun!

Copyright © 1999 JP e-mail address

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