#101. The Half Moon, Putney. 26.9.19.

After nearly 20 years of trying, 2019 saw the band finally reach the milestone of 100 gigs (well, 101 as it turned out - but who's counting) and the iconic West London music venue, the Half Moon in Putney was the lucky venue chosen to mark this historic occasion. It’s the Phantoms ‘(Nearly) 20th Anniversary Charity Show’!

It was ten years ago that the band’s original guitarist, Brian, tragically took his own life so all the Phantoms were thrilled to announce that every penny raised from ticket sales would be in aid of The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), the leading movement against male suicide in the UK.

The Half Moon is one of London's longest running, and most respected live music venues, hosting live music every night of the week since 1963. Some of the biggest names in popular music have performed there including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Small Faces, Kasabian, Ralph McTell, The Yardbirds, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Ed Sheeran, as well as k.d. lang's first UK appearance, Kate Bush's first public performance & U2s first sell out UK concert. And now it was the turn of the Phantoms!

As if excitement wasn’t already at fever pitch, fantastic local artist Alban Low also agreed to sketch the Phantoms in action at this event. Also unbeknown to the band (until after the event), the venue’s resident artist, Stella Tooth, was also in the house. So the big question was, could either of them make the Phantom’s look any slimmer? Time will tell.

So, onto the action... First up, the great support band JB & The Wolfmen (featuring the bass exploits of original Phantom bass player John Skittles). With front man JB lured back over to the mainland just for this gig, JB & his loyal cohorts, The Wolfmen, duly delivered the expected maelstrom of blues & punk mayhem. As they like to say... JB & The Wolfmen, all killer, no filler.

Then, with their names finally up in lights, the Phantoms took to the stage and were instantly powering through the first of their two ‘greatest hits’ sets of the night. Crowd pleaser after crowd pleaser were pumped out to the appreciative masses. Well, I think they were appreciative! Being blinded by the stage lights it was actually quite difficult to see any of them. But we could certainly hear them & they sounded happy! So, after a less than slick rendition of Angelfield’s ‘Exhibit #1’ (how long does it take to tune a guitar Kev?) and a short but pleasing tribute to our old mate Brian from Phantom Al, Jase strapped on his acoustic & the boys unleased the closing couple of numbers. A punky version of the Kinks ‘Lola’ & a rousing rendition of cover band classic ‘Wonderwall’. Not convinced that the Oasis tribute band playing in the Half Moon the very next night could have done it better!

Time for a brief interval. Loving the rare opportunity to enjoy a green room, the Phantoms retired backstage to see if their outrageous rider demands had been met & to answer the long unanswered question, how many Phantoms can you fit in one shower? The answer is not many! And I'm afraid to say it wasn’t a pretty sight either!

Without further ado, the band were soon back in action chasing the clock till the house curfew kicked in at 11pm. I’d like to say that that was the reason we played a few of the songs a bit on the fast side (as usually so slick & well-rehearsed!) but to be honest I think we were just loving it so much & a got little over-excited!

Set 2 saw the boys joined by a couple of their good mates. Firstly Sam adding a sprinkling of keyboard wizardry to Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B Goode’ followed by Dave showing how ukulele can rock on ‘Kids in America’ by Kim Wilde (who knew)! Then, with the end of the set rapidly approaching (how time flies!), there was unfortunately only time left to play one of the 2 planned encore songs. So it was left to the punters to decide, ‘YMCA’ by the Village People or Duran Duran’s ‘Girls on Film’. Turned out to be a no brainer!

So huge thanks to the Half Moon for having us, as well as their fantastic staff (sound engineer Nia & doorman Phil) whose assistance was impeccable. Thanks to the Wolfmen for supporting us & most importantly, huge thanks to the massive crowd of 130 people in attendance who between them not only contributed to a fantastic night but most importantly managed to raise an impressive total of £795 from ticket sales & donations, every penny of which will be going to CALM. It was truly fantastic to see so many of the bands friends & family in the crowd. Words cannot express how much we appreciate your constant support. Not just on this occasion but at the previous 100 gigs too! Pleasing.

The Phantoms were: Mark Gibson (lead vocals & keys), Kevin Rogers (guitar), Jason Biggs (guitar & vocals), Jon Novice (bass & vocals), Alun Westoll (drums & vocals). With special guests Dave Harris (uke) & Sam Wansborough (keys).
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