Concert Review: J.C Carroll

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By Shane Hollands

Artist: J.C Carroll

Date / Venue: Friday October 19th, 2018 - The Thirsty Dog, Auckland

It's hard to get excited to see a 62 year old English guy on a small stage with just a guitar but I am, just like the rest of the middle aged people gathering at The Thirsty Dog's intimate bar.

The reason for this excitement is J.C. Carroll, legendary front-man of iconic punk band The Members and co-writer of such hits as 'Solitary Confinement’ (the 7 inch original pressing of which is considered one of the most collectable records in punk) and their hit The Sound Of The Suburbs' which has featured on hundreds of punk compilations.

The Members formed in 1976 by Nicky Tesco (Nick Lightowlers) in Camberley UK, Carroll joined the band that year.

The song-writing collaboration between Tesco and Carroll drove the band until Tesco's departure in 2009, since then JC has been at the helm writing and singing. They were well known for the punk pop chanted anthems and are still performing on the English circuit to the tune of 50 odd shows a year.

"41 years; you'd get less for murder," he jokes, he's recorded with Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and New York Doll Johnny Thunder and played accordion for Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp in the film 'Don Juan DeMarco.' In fact he says that experience got him into writing scores and recording music for soundtracks for film which he does a lot of.

Still, standing alone on the stage with his guitar it's amazing to see how completely he brings the ethos, style and attitude of the songs alive for his audience. For 'Working Class Girl' he has some of the crowd enthusiastically dancing and often singing along with him, before playing 'The Sound of the Suburbs' he tells of the inspiration for the song, how as an early fan of punk he and his friends couldn't afford to live in London and wear the expensive Vivian Westwood and designer punk gear and would have to train in on the tube to go to shows. Another reason why The Member's never touted the punk fashions in their videos. This 'suburbs' mind-set may explain why these songs did so well in places like Australia and New Zealand. On the night, he's clever , funny and extremely likeable and talented enough to pull off doing the songs as a solo show with the bravado of a self-confessed 'risk taker.' I still chuckle at cheek of 'Solitary Confinement's lyrics "all alone, by yourself, buy yourself, this record!"