I remember particularly going out to see Bjorn Again, Abba impersonators, years ago. And what you’re struck with when you see an Abba tribute is just how incredibly good the songs are when played live. Even Fernando, a sickly sweet ballad when it comes on the radio, becomes a wonderfully thumpy anthem amplified up loud.
And so it was with “Cars and Girls”, a tribute band formed for a sort of launch of a new book about Prefab Sprout by John Birch. The launch won’t quite happen yet due to publishing problems, but the launch is still taking place on Saturday 16th August, rebranded as a “Prefab Day Out” with all manner of tours, sideshows and other attractions, including a charity auction selling a Candle “Lions”. Anyway the band played a warm-up at the Half Moon in Putney and I went along to support it, not expecting wonders.
But wonderful it was. Right from the very first minutes when the deliciously gauche “Wendy” turned up with exactly the right air of detached amusement and reserved distance – and had nothing much to do during the Golden Calf. I suspect this was natural shyness, as was the case with Wendy in all probability, but it was utterly charming and really set the eccentric tone to exactly Sprout level.
And what if the “Paddy” forgot some of the words, well lots of the words? Exactly what the real one did. The band did absolute justice to a very varied set, spanning most of the classics but also fitting in Billy and Jewel Thief from Crimson/Red. Nancy got an airing, deliciously, too. Bits of the set were a little ramshackle perhaps, but it was entrancing, and the reprise of Faron Young played as an encore was just perfectly thunderous, sending everyone out buzzing.
What strikes you of course is just how good the songs are when played live. Astonishingly good. It’s a real shame this band is only playing one further gig at the Prefab Day Out, so try to see them there. Simply could not be more fun.