I used to love going to The Astoria, walking down Charing Cross Road from Tottenham Court Road tube, usually to see a band on the way up before you’d have to travel to Brixton or Kilburn to see them. It was an amazing venue, and we used to go there all the time. It’s sad to think that it no longer exists, demolished ten years ago to make way for Crossrail.
On the 30th April 1992 I went to see the band EMF, who were supported by noisy Indie rock band Silverfish. Confession – the ticket stub above is one found on the internet, I still have mine in my ticket album but it’s in the garage and I’m too lazy to get it. EMF had just released the Unexplained EP, a stop gap between their breakthrough debut album, and their rather underwhelming follow up Stigma. At the time of this concert the new music had yet to drop, and they were still riding on a wave of success.
I remember the night vividly. We stayed upstairs for Silverfish, who I must confess I found rather alarming. Their singer Lesley Rankine was intimidating even from a distance, an angry, prowling figure on the stage as she spat her vocals into the microphone. They were also incredibly noisy, which is another reason why we chose to watch them from the safety of the upper floor.
My other main memory of the night was a free gift we were given at the door. We were passed a pair of EMF glasses, which were rather like the 3D glasses you used to get in the eighties when they experimented with it on television. They were bright yellow, with EMF printed on the side, like the glasses you buy in garden centres that make Christmas lights look magical and weird. I still have them, I think they’re in the garage along with the ticket stub, and I can find no trace online of anyone else recalling these.
Wearing these glasses made the light show like something out of 2001 A Space Odyssey. Everything took on a slightly trippy edge. As I say I kept them, and used to sometimes put them on when I watched a VHS tape I had by the band The Orb. I’ve never been a drug taker, so can’t vouch for their effectiveness, but I guess that was considered their general purpose, something to wear whilst in a chemically enhanced mood.
I’m can’t say EMF totally blew us away, but they were fun enough and a good time was had by all. And I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear what they did as an encore (clue above). They played a smattering of new songs, and they went down as well as they did when released to the general public that Autumn, judging by the queue at the bar. They never caught the public conciousness again after their first album, which remains an fun listen. Third album Cha Cha Cha sank without trace. I liked catchy lead single Perfect Day, but that was about it.
EMF though still exist, with three reunions under their belt. And why not, I’m sure its fun to get together and play and if you can make a few quid as well, then what’s the harm. I had a good night up at The Astoria, and got a nice free gift as well. I bought all three EMF albums, the EP, and a brace of singles. So I Believe about a hundred quid has changed hands. Not too bad in the grand scheme of things.