Club Anemone – South Coast underground

September 7th, 2009

Where do underground club nights come from?  From a single mind, an idea which is followed through due to conviction, an external confirmation or the simple lack of a barrier?

I haven’t asked Pual Hardsparrow his motivation for starting and maintaining Club Anemone, but assume rightly or wrongly that they involve one or all of the options above.  To run a night in a provincial, seaside town two hours from London – and probably anywhere in the world – you will almost definitely need some blind optimism and self motivation.  I think/hope that Hardsparrow’s motivations involve a desire to show a cultural backwater, ravaged by Lowest Common Denominator, “kiss me quick”-type establishments, what culture, talent, creativity and originality is “out there” and also that a good deal of it exists or originates from the place itself.

Little Boat @ Club Anemone

Over its time, Club Anemone has pitched its caravan up at a pub/venue in the neighbouring town, at the local railway worker’s club, and the last “old school” small live venue in town (now a megachain “fun pub”) and most recently in the basement of a “down on its uppers” bar of the future…a venue which it feels oddly at home.  Or at least seems to allow the music and performances to do the talking without distracting.

The desire to liken one “thing” to another or series of others is only too easy to succumb to when discussing music but Club Anemone defies such logic.  Very often Hardsparrow will begin the evening with his very own brand of anti-folk, neo-ironic, folky and non-ironic tunes – “Jim’ll Fix It”, “Eugene Landy” and one I call “Mr Mushroom Head” which is in no way called that – among them.  With a self-depreciating smile or grimace – mood-dependent – he will finish his acoustic ramblings with news of a raffle, competition or some manner of savoury confection (last time: cherry bakewells).

To follow may often be a local band of troubadours – The Powdered Cows, Language, Timothy!, Little Boat and Yaard among others – angular, challenging, talented, funny and most definitely original.  As the evening progresses the “bijou” audience of loyal and enthusiastic music-lovers are treated to out of town or country performers  – often from the Fence Collective – such as The Pictish Trail – Fence records head honcho, Bristol’s Rozi Plain, Ichi – the stilt-walking Japanese trumpeter and Viking Moses from the US.

Club Anemone Flyer, July 2009

We paying punters stand reverentially and most often smiling with simple joy at the initimate performance unfolding on stage – like a private showing, or like peeking through the curtain at a final rehearsal which is, in fact, the performance itself.  Hyperbole maybe, but this is surely the region’s best-kept secret and most original live music night, hidden away as it is, in a basement like all good underground movements should be.


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