Nancy and The Dolls
100 Club, London
23 November 2019
Another day, another basement gig
The 100 Club on Oxford Street is one of the last great independent music venues in London. The closure of Soho's Borderline Club earlier this year, shortly after my first visit there
, came as a shock and it paints a picture of a bleak future.
Despite a near-closure in 2010, the 100 Club is still going strong. It has an immense musical history, dating all the way back to 1942. The Rolling Stones played there twice in the 1980s and it was a key venue for the early gigs of the punk bands, including the Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Stranglers and The Clash.
There is now a great diversity in their gigs, but my inaugural visit to this famous basement was strongly connected to the glory punk days, as it featured the incredible Nancy and The Dolls (their new name).
Their playful individual names emphasise the fun factor: Nancy Doll, Jilly Idol, May Hem, Anna Key and Kitty Vacant all have fairly obvious punning connections to the punk greats.
I was unsure what to expect from the gig. The 100 Club definitely shows its punk-era roots; the toilets don't seem to have been updated since the late 1970s, the graffiti is covered only by more graffiti and the taps take turns in working. The basement stage is not raised very far off the floor and the room looks like it couldn't hold more than 200 people. There are a couple of tables and a few chairs on either side of the stage. I sat for the support act, which was Split Squad, featuring none other than Blondie's Clem Burke on drums.
Split Squad rocked out in fine style but it was only when Nancy and The Dolls took to the stage that the evening really blasted off - with everything 'turned up to eleven.' There was no longer any point remaining seated as people immediately crowded the stage. I made sure I was as close as possible to savour the experience; 'get up close and stay there.'
Led on by Jilly Idol and a famous bass riff, they took up their stage positions and launched into Psycho Killer, playing for a short time before Nancy Doll exploded onto the stage. We were then treated to a blistering, no-holds-barred set, running through the punk card and beyond.
Sheena is a Punk Rocker/Blitzkrieg Bop
Hanging on the Telephone
Shitty Old Town
Swords of a Thousand Men
Holiday in Cambodia
Holidays in the Sun
California Über Alles
Hurry Up Harry
Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't Have)
Smells Like Teen Spirit
(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)
Rock and Roll
God Save the Queen
Times Like These
She Sells Sanctuary
There was no drop in the evening's uncompromising tempo and the audience was surprisingly friendly, which isn't to stand they weren't rocking out in full enjoyment of the gig. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and very impressive evening - even better than I thought it was going to be - and it brought to an end my punk experiences for 2019. I do, however, intend returning to the 100 Club before the year is out...