Last month, we learnt of the passing of one of the South London’s most cherished musicians: Jack Medley. Medley was a fixture on the then fledgling, now nationally-celebrated scene, first through his band Filthy Pedro and subsequently through his sometimes chaotic but always unmissable Jack's Reggae Shack parties, which gave a platform to many of the movement's most important voices.
He left a mark on the DIY scene that was so profound, all the scene’s most regular faces - Fat White Family, Phobophobes, Sleaze – and too many to name – quickly arranged to give him a special send off at Brixton's Windmill, with proceeds going towards his funeral costs.
With shock and sadness still rife, shortly afterwards came the news that Alabama 3 founding member Jake Black had also passed away. Given it was just days before the fundraiser (22 May), the night invariably became a send-off for both gentlemen.
There to tell the tale of the night christened as Jack Medley’s Secure As Fuck Mega Rave In The Sky, was South Londoner Jerome Alexandre. Perhaps best known as the guitarist of Deadcuts, playing alongside Senseless Things’ Mark Keds. His current engagement, however, is playing with the debauched and murky, adrenaline-pumping post-punk band Sleaze, who were part of the line up for the fundraiser.
Though perhaps not the most famous of the South London bands, they are one of the most long standing in the area, with frontman Dave Sleaze having been in bands back when Phobophobes were just starting out and Fat White Family were divided into The Metros and The Saudis. All way before the likes of Goat Girl and Shame came along to cement this small corner of London's reputation as the world famous hub of alternative rock it is today.
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Sleaze’s recent acquisition of Jerome as a super sub guitarist with a pedigree that few can claim, has been brilliant for both parties. And it’s invigorated Alexandre, who's been keeping notes of his time with Sleaze in recent days. We’ve opted to share something he exclusively sent to Gigwise, as we enjoyed his last tour diary so much. Here he is on the emotional fundraiser, being part of Sleaze and sharing a stage with Fat White Family.
26 May: 6.00pm: Travelling to The Windmill
For six nights non-stop Sleaze have been playing, and I've been playing guitar for them whilst their guitarist Adam Brennan has been touring with Fat White Family. It’s a warm, crisp spring evening and as I lean out of the cab window trying to catch my breath, I imagine this must be how a marathon runner must feel when they're close to the finishing line. I only woke up a few hours ago, knackered from performing at a festival where Sleaze played on a boat and didn't return home until sunrise. The nerves that have been largely non-existent this week (a rarity), decide to resurface and dance the fandango around my heart.
Anxiety kicks in big time.
God is punishing me once again.
But enough of my whinging! After all, this gig is important: it's in honour of Mr Jack Medley and Jake Black aka Mr D Wayne Love of Alabama 3. Jake is someone I grew to know well and have great memories with and who co-wrote a track with Deadcuts titled ‘Summon The Witches’. In which Jake quoted a piece from the cccult 'tome 'The Goetia'. Suffice it to say both made their mark and touched hearts and two seismic legends that were integral to our community and culture deserve the best send-off we can give ’em.
7.45pm: Arriving at the venue
All day long, comrades are raising a glass to celebrate the memory of these two fine gentleman tonight at the Windmill. Misty Miller, Warmduscher, Meatraffle, Madonnatron, Fat White Family, Insecure Men, Filthy Pedro, Pit Ponies, Phobophobes, Scrappy Hood, Spinmaster Plant Pot and of course "GET READDDDDY! " MC Pat Lyons, Peckham's very own William Burroughs. It’s busy and very hot. I carry my equipment with me into the venue and head for the disabled toilet - tonight's dressing room and a place to store our equipment - where I spot Dave, the inimitable storyteller, singer/songwriter and ringleader of Sleaze. Psyching himself up for the gig, he gets his blood pumping and stretches, then has some eyeliner applied by a friend of ours named Ellie. A red head squeezes into the now doubly small disabled toilet and comes over to me and asks me about Deadcuts. "Are we together? Is the band in trouble? What's going on?" I have no definitive answer so I just shrug my shoulders. Oddly enough, she seems vaguely satisfied with the explanation.
Madonnatron at the merch table
Adam [Brennan] and I start setting up our guitars. He certainly has a long night ahead of him as not only is not only is he playing with us and the Fat Whites, he's also playing with Meatraffle. Considering our own Bede has already played with the Phobophobes he's not broken a sweat which is quite impressive.
I have to say the sound in The Windmill has improved by a massive amount since the last time I played here with Deadcuts. Dan [GB] jumps on the kit and Deniz [Bellender] walks as if he's in another dimension, looking very much like the son of Syd Barrett and Marty Rev had they both planted their seed in a petri dish. Al [Grumble] jumps onstage and hits his synth which lets out a ferocious bleep signal. We're ready, but where is Dave? Eventually Holly locates him in the toilets and helps him to the stage. He is missing both his shoes but this doesn't deter him one bit and we kick off with the song ‘Girls’, a raucous blend of The Fall, Birthday Party and PiL in one. The crowd are already in the zone and well up for a boogie. At the front I notice the one and only Lou Smith. For the last ten years, he has shot videos for the likes of Deadcuts, Fat Whites, Madonnatron, Warmduscher and filmed many live performances at Hank Dog's Easycome nights and The Windmill.
Bede slams into the bassline for ‘Push Tuck’, and Dan kicks off the groove, complete with the Manzarek-esque keys of Deniz and Al's space machine sounds echoing that of producer Joe Meek. Adam's Keith Levene type tones, meanwhile, mix with my ethereal John McGeoch-esque modulation. Everything fits like a glove. "I wanna be examined," Dave bellows. "My brain feels like smoked salmon.... I wanna be examined." Watching Dave leap about like a cross between Bruce Lee, Arthur Brown and Iggy Pop just adds to my ability to totally let go and let the demons out, or perhaps....in?
Sleaze in full force. Jerome Alexandre is the black haired guitarist.
Our final song of the night is the legendary ‘Saturday Matinee’, a track that has a glam stomp worthy of T Rex whilst adding the aggression of The Stooges. The audience join in with the chorus - "I am not a monster / I'm not a noncer / It was the sixties and she was sixteen!" - before we kick the shit out of it and feedback, sweat and chaos ensue. Then I slump off the stage and collapse in the corner whilst Holly and a few others help me to my feet and feed me water.
Live footage by Holly Smith
Hank Dog, Holly and I chat in the Windmill garden about how some of the greatest caners have been country musicians. Then all of a sudden, I get the extreme fear! In front of me is a very evil looking rabbit made out of stone! Holly is trying to calm me down telling me it's just a statue. But I begin to kick it and scream at it. She eventually drags the thing around the corner keeping it out of sight. Indeed, the heat has made me feel a little trippy but not half as trippy as the quiz section of the night, which we'll get to later.
Back inside, Meatraffle are playing a blinder. They open with the haunting trumpet on ‘Oppenheimer’ and the legendary ‘Horseshoe’. Chris O.C. – the handsome devil he is – moves with his snake hips, hitting the keys with haunting precision. I head out to the garden where air seems to be returning in abundance, which is nice. Lias [Saoudi] and I begin to discuss how important it is to not let a stage persona take over; how it requires an almost orderly semi schizophrenic discipline in order to keep both separate. Lias then tells me of an Iggy Pop quote, which I wish I could get right, but goes something along the lines of: "It’s important not to let the character onstage you play eat you." I tell him about Rasputin's almost Zen-like way of separating his holy and evil deeds by purging them after feeding his carnal desires in Russian bath houses.
And then the Fat Whites hit the stage.
Tonight they sound fucking great.
"Hell hath no fury like a failed artist or a successful communist" sings Lias, as he flails his skinny limbs like a stick insect on speed. "Is it raining in your mouth?"
Then they march into ‘Touch the Leather’. Saul pulls a sinister grin underneath his cap, which reads ‘Make Peckham Shit Again’. It's impossible not to dance. It strikes me that the Windmill is our very own CBGB's and I know that might sound a bit pretentious but I fucking love this place and I can't think of anywhere better to hold such a great party.
Fat White Family live
9pm: Question Time
Next up is the quiz: - questions about Jack Medley. I'm sitting in 'The Cave' outside, talking to Alex White – the saxophonist/keyboard player in Fat Whites, who has a striking resemblance to that of Willy Deville with his quiff, suit and spatz – when out of nowhere two terrifying images appear. Now, I'm not hallucinating, and the reason why I know I'm not, is because Holly has photographs of the petrifying sight of what I soon learn is Bede and Dave dressed in tight pink bodysuits and Mr. Blobby masks. Dave has donned a policeman’s helmet and Bede an army lieutenant's hat. Joan of Madonnatron asks everyone to come to join the quiz in which Dave and Bede will read out the questions onstage. This should be fairly straightforward; but something's definitely happened to the boys: they're both sat on stools, leaning into the microphones, and just as you think a question is about to be asked Dave just starts going in a spaced out deep voice: "Ahhhhhhhhh" in a meditative prayer-like way. It’s a mantra. Eventually Bede is passed the mic and follows in a similar manner: "Buzzzzzzzz…" After ten minutes of this, everybody just pisses themselves laughing.
So I ask if I can try and bring some sense of order to the proceedings. I take the mic and read something that goes along the line of, “how much did Jack's nose cost to get fixed? a) £140 b) £358 or c) £1000?” Everybody yells "a”, and before I go into the next question somebody decides to blast Crass through the P.A.
I head back to the garden.
01:00am: The lock in
It's now the afterhours and most people have gone home. The guitar is passed around. Lias, Hank, Saul and I sing songs in front of a massive mural of Jack Medley. We play cuts such as: Warren Zevon's ‘Carmelita’; Charles Manson's ‘Look At Your Game Girl’ and 'Scratching Peace Symbols In Your Tombstone’, Lee Hazelwood's ‘I'd Rather Be Your Enemy (the Boyd Rice version)’; Nancy Sinatra's ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking"; and Fat White Family's ‘Borderline’. I have a strong urge to play ‘You Don't Dance To Techno Anymore' by Alabama 3 but I'm not able to quite do it yet.
I say my goodbyes and Holly and I drag my guitars, amp, and pedals into the back of an Uber and head home. It dawns on me just how fortunate I am to have great talented friends. And how unfortunate that it is that one never knows when they're time is nigh. Luckily, we have the music and the memories, and hopefully they'll be the things that will remain eternal.
Jerome Alexandre and Holly Smith
The Windmill shed with a newly painted mural of the late Jack Medley