(This was originally published exactly 10 years after the events it describes, on 26th April 2010)
The Rock Garden, Covent Garden, 26th April 2000. I was the bassist in a band who couldn’t decide on a name. The week before this one we’d played our first gig to literally 3 people at the Camden Falcon under the name Aeronaut, and I think this next gig was my turn to name the band. I selected my favourite potential moniker, ‘Silvery’, and hence today marks 10 years since I first stepped on stage under that name. We’d been rehearsing for a few months – me on bass, Howard on guitar, Murray on drums and Dom on vocals – and were taking our first wobbly steps out onto the stage (kind of a Silvery Erectus – had mastered using tools, now learning to create and travel). I’m not sure ‘amateurish’ would do it justice, but we were green. Hence playing a dive like that.
London in 2000 was a world away from London 2010, and musically too my band of 2000 was a totally different beast to that which was signed to Blow Up in 2007. I couldn’t even tell you what I was into musically at that time, although I think we were trying to be like the Elastica of ‘Line Up’ (as witnessed on ‘Engines’) or The Knack (‘Hold Me Like Him’) but it was fed through a very fey studenty filter thanks to the singing, the spiky musical arrangements taking pride of place to any sense of melody other than the chorus hook. I think we were probably mid-metamorphosis even that early on thanks to the recent arrival of Murray of drums. Although we still very much old ‘indie’ pop, we mixed it with some more adventurous sounds like the clockwork waltz of ‘Single’ and even our version of the bog standard live set ‘noise’ intro had a theremin driving it (bought on a whim from Blue in Islington to impress the girls from Kenickie who were browsing effects pedals – true story). We were literally progressing at every rehearsal (at The Joint, Old Street – don’t look for it, it’s not there anymore) as shown by the recordings I’ve kept. As good as we were getting, that turned out to be the last gig by that particular group, sensing that perhaps the singer wasn’t quite up to the job.
A year later after some intensive mucking about at Panic in Acton and Backstreet on Holloway Road (don’t look for it, it’s not there anymore) the three instrumentalists re-emerged (slightly reshuffled) onto the stage at the Kentish Town Bull & Gate with a new set of songs and adding a new bassist. I’d ended up as the singer after some disastrous auditions for a new singer. I had point blank refused to be a singing bassist so I picked up my guitar again for the first time since school. We’d become a good band with quite a muscular take on where we were heading with the first incarnation, even featuring a keyboard on some songs with the very recognisable fairground setting. Confusingly, we decided to stick with the name Silvery. This new line up would, there or thereabouts, last until 2003 when most of the songs that eventually made it onto ‘Thunderer & Excelsior’ were in place ready to hand the baton on to the steady influx of new chaps who would form the foundations of what was to come.
So I suppose more accurately it will be 15th May 2011 that will really mark the 10th birthday of Silvery as we know it, being the anniversary of that first Bull & Gate gig with me singing. Without rendering this whole exercise redundant I’d go so far as to say modern Silvery ‘proper’ (Silvery Sapien) didn’t really get going until mid 2005, but it’s that gig on 26th April 2000 at The Rock Garden, Covent Garden that the name ‘Silvery’ first appeared on tickets and posters and that’s what counts. On the eve of the release of the second album, I look back on those early adventures very fondly. Was it worth it? I don’t know. But it was the start of a very complicated family tree of line ups, messing about, long spells dormant and amusing shopping trips – a very interesting thing to do. The only constant tying together a decade of music being me and the name which had just enough kudos to stick.
Setlist: ‘Instrument / Theremin’, ‘Hold Me Like Him’, ‘Engines’, ‘Single’, ‘Lance Bolder’, ‘New One’ AKA ‘Neon’, ‘For My Fall’.
STOP PRESS: I just remembered I wrote a very flowery imaginary review for this gig (who else would write about our music?) but I can’t find it. I’ll have a look. I have some photos too. But you’re not seeing them.