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Trade Mark Of Quality


Flush from the overwhelming success of their London U.L.U. show, and with the video of the gig constantly playing to remind them of 1,100 pairs of hands reaching for Hue's groin, The Pooh Sticks agreed to play a small, 150 capacity Labour Club in Southampton. That week anyone could have offered them a gig in a toilet and they were so vibed up they'd have done it - and probably for free. Unfortunately, it would mean another gig without Trudi, who was somewhere between Paris and Marseilles - cycling. At least Trudi's priorities were straight! Still, it made my job easier; at least I wouldn't have to contend with her assaulting boys at motorway services as well as with Stephanie's hunger strike.

Southampton looked like the end of the civilised world when we arrived just before teatime (chips and veggie-burgers for Paul and Stephanie, dead animal for Hue and me, a packet of Marlboro for the tall one) and it didn't get any better when we entered the sacred portals of the highly distinguished and well-appointed club - the stage was completely inadequate, not to say down-right dangerous; the P.A. was like a music centre; and the glasses were plastic. Still, fairly soon The Pooh Sticks were slugging Jack Daniels and entertaining ligging indiepoppers with autographs, lies and insults; a pirate radio station and set up all its gear to record the show for broadcast and we were all looking forward to another crowd-pleasing display of fake John's Children.

The set list read "Young People" / "Foxy Boy" / "Heroes and Villains" / "Dare True Kiss Promise" / "Dying For It" / "Sex Head" / "Heartbreak" / "Go Go girl" / "Force Fed By Love" / "Teenage High", but right from the word GO there seemed little chance of completing the lot. The stage, such as it was, bounced up and down with every movement of the band which can't have helped Paul and Keith who must have felt like they were playing guitar on a fairground ride. At least 50% of the audience insisted on grappling with Hue's mic lead and stroking Stephanie's thigh. But the band were enjoying it - even the constant hail of bananas being rained upon them from all angles didn't seem to faze them. I was having difficulty maintaining a foothold and I wasn't even on stage wading through what must have been inch-deep banana in almost total blackness, so the band did a fine job really. But something had to happen and eventually, after "Heartbreak", the front-rows crush and on-stage mania resulted in the guitar amps dying an unholy death of a dubious electrical nature and the group trooped off stage prematurely.

There were those present who thought that the twenty-minute show did not represent a value-for-money night out. Even with the vast gaps between songs the band were on and off in lightning time, despite Hue having gone missing in the blackness of the crowd during his "Dying For It" stage-diving, a victim of several girlie fans intent on "Orgasm" research. (This went on for so long we had to cut most of it out of the record). On the other hand, most people realised that The Pooh Sticks had just crammed into twenty minutes what most bands can but dream about - tunes, excitement, dancing, bananas and SEX, lots of SEX. No matter that the guitars were out of tune and the band were fucking up at regular intervals, the feeling was great and the majority felt honoured and priveleged to have been given an opportunity to see The Pooh Sticks in the flesh.

The Pooh Sticks played in Oxford and Cardiff that week, too. But it's this show, the one on this "Trade Mark Of Quality" bootleg, that will remain with us the longest because not only was it the last gig of that tour but it was also the last gig The Pooh Sticks would ever do.

Steve Gregory
October 1989





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