It’s rare to go into a gig without some idea of what to expect from the headline band, especially in this internet age – but that’s exactly what I did tonight when I popped into The Duchess to see The Durutti Column. All I really knew about this apparently legendary post-punk band is that they’ve been around for over 30 years and released about as many albums. At first glance, there’s something about the band that is endearingly shambolic. Before even playing a single note, guitarist and frontman Vini Reilly warns us that he “can’t play for shit” due to a minor stroke he suffered last year. The band’s first song features bassist Keir Stuart’s 7-year old daughter on sampler duty, and later on the band play a new song that Reilly “can’t remember anything about” apart from a vague recollection of the title. Drummer Bruce Mitchell even wanders off stage at one point, prompting Vini to protest “you’re on this one, come back… pretty please?”
Wonderfully, however, the music is anything but shambolic. Despite his earlier protestations, Reilly’s guitar playing is intricate and interesting, and Mitchell is simply as cool as fuck – despite being old enough to be my granddad, he’s still rocking the ‘sunglasses at night’ look, and his complex jazz drumming seems effortless. While their music fits into the post-punk category, it also has an air of post-rock about it as well due to the band’s tendency to play lengthy instrumentals – though in this case, lengthy certainly doesn’t equate to ‘boring’. So it’s genuinely sad when Reilly admits to not feeling well (having not slept properly for 3 days) and is forced to leave us with a final, brief solo guitar piece. Of course, some bellend has to ruin it by bellowing loudly for more and then calling the crowd a bunch of ‘miserable cunts’ when we refuse to do the same – apparently showing a little respect is beyond some people. Regardless of that, and despite not knowing at all what to expect going in, I can safely say that I’m glad I managed to see this band before I die.