TV Smith Reviewed by Chris Marling

In the lead up to this gig, the phrase ‘living legend’ was bandied around a little too often for my liking.

Way back in the day, when punk was first rearing its snotty little head, TV Smith’s then band, The Adverts, did indeed graze the charts with Gary Gilmore’s Eyes – a song which has been kept alive thanks to the lower echelons of cheap punk compilations ever since. But living legend? I think not.

That’s not to say he’s not worthy of a great deal of praise though. Indeed, not only does he seem to be a genuinely nice bloke, he also possesses that rarest of gifts in this money and media-driven world – honesty. Sprinkle with a fair degree of song writing talent, a warm stage presence and bucket-loads of angst, you have one hell of a performer as well.

If everyone were a bit more like TV Smith in the politics department, it’s safe to say the world would be a nicer place. TV preaches pretty much the flip-side of what your plug-in version at home does – his set is half homage to a wish for equality, understanding and generosity and half a lament at the selfishness, greed and prejudice that we get - which pretty much ads up to the opposite.

And that’s what really does it for me – that sage-like understanding of what would make the world alright mixed with a healthy dose of cynicism in understanding that, well, its just not going to happen, so you may as well just get used to keeping your chin above the shit and surviving life with your pride and dignity intact.

Blah blah blah

So there he stands, skinny as fuck and almost as old, strumming away like his life depends on it – which it probably does. Each tune is introduced by its message, delivered with passion and finished with a smile. He’s banging his head against a brick wall, and he knows it, but at least it’s making a good noise.

I’m reminded of the classic (but not legendary) Levellers line “there’s only one way of life, and that’s your own” – a line that loses its potency when sung by thousands of drunken beer boys in night clubs after they’ve learnt the words parrot-fashion from Radio 1 without ever thinking for a second about their meaning. TV’s set is summed up for me in those words, just that this time only a half full pub back room is listening. Shame.

So, while arrogant, po-faced wankers like Johnny Rotten swan through life swearing and snearing and surviving on the back of one album and a big mouth, genuine blokes like TV Smith live hand-to-mouth by playing every toilet venue in the world on a daily basis. Makes you sick, doesn’t it? No? Well it bloody-well should do.

And while on the subject of pretend punks, it would seem inappropriate to end this little note without mentioning that not one single old-school ‘punk’ bothered showing up to this gig. You know, the ones that wander around with tipex on their battered leather jackets being a pain in the arse? I guess, much like the Rotten they so love and adore, they’re just in it for the fashion and kudos as well. Or maybe they went to see Suede…

Chris Marling