"We're going to play some songs you know, some you don't know and some we don't know…"
…announces Mick Jones with a now trademark dry, sarf Lahndan drawl, an infectious smile and the raising of a plastic pint-glass of lager. He is the new George Formby, except armed not with a ukulele but a book of dissident Russian poetry from the Stalinist era called Red Cats with which he engagingly tires to enrapture the audience after the first song. "Rather like living in England now" he joked. Some booed but most accepted it in the same spirit that they accepted the artist completing her canvas at the side of the hall. And in the same spirit that the audience accepted the singer/songwriter that Jones had literally "discovered" in a Portobello Road pub whilst supping a pint that afternoon.
The anti-war poetry, of course, feeds straight into Carbon/Silicon's two-chord modern anthem Why do men Fight? Their entire set consists of these deceptively simple riff songs of undoubted melody. Earlier the now urbane punk had been waving a finger like a cheesy comedian whilst effortlessly breezing through Should I stay or should I go, backed by the first support group of 13 year olds.
The self-styled "biggest breaking band around" - Greensmith (ex Reef), Leo "Ezykill" Williams (ex BAD and Dreadzone) and Tony James (GenX and Sigue Sigue Sputnik) - formed following a long hiatus in Jones' music career. This followed his own near-death experience (when Joe Strummer's other half made him visit Jones in hospital for a last goodbye), the break up of BAD and, of course, the tragic demise of Strummer himself. Carbon/Silicon now meatily embraced the literate, smiling, guitar driven songs, verging on just the right side of Peace and Love without dripping into hippy maudlin:
take all the money and all of the waste
And shoot the whole lot into outer space
And try to make a humanitarian case
For dropping some love on the human race"
The Inn on the Green at Ladbroke Grove is a far and refreshing cry from the pompous, self-obsessed and overblown rawk antics of the corporate and self indulgent red-top hogging musos. The 150 strong audience embraced the intimacy and informality of a band completely devoid of an ego in need of the starstruck. In fact, a couple of years ago when touring the delights of small town provincial Britain, Jones would even pop round for a coffee before a gig if you invited him. They made all their music available free online years back in 2004 - well before Prince and Radiohead jumped on this business model. And the £10 entry fee probably didn't even cover their expenses.
Urban, urbane, London, literate, charismatic, unpretentious and still punk:
don't buy that dumbing-down style section
Build 'em up & knock 'em down
Beautify & watch 'em drown
Human life as info-tainment, I think for myself"
Though at times the night appeared to turn into an art-school common room, Jones' unintentional Formby impressions - albeit he did intentionally sample Formby on BAD's Phoenix Rising in genuine homage - poetry recitals and urbanely epic driven rock/blues anthems for the modern age - made this undoubtedly the best local pub to be in London that night. Carbon/Silicon are the best band in London. Which of course means, as we all know, that they are the best band in the world. 9/10