Sunday 17th July 2016 – Big Cheese Big Send Off (Lagwagon, Sonic Boom Six, Jesse James) at O2 Forum Kentish Town

Big Cheese was a music magazine that ran for 20 years and 179 issues. When I started buying copies in 2003 it had a punk and ska focus, which was reflected in the line up for this farewell gig, though it did cover other genres under the broad ‘rock’ umbrella throughout it’s run.

The draw for Ed C and I to make the trip to London for this event wasn’t just nostalgia for the magazine, it was the opportunity to see Jesse James and King Prawn, two of our favourites from that early 2000’s era, for the first time in a decade.

I’d actually been in London the day before for Star Wars Celebration and did contemplate staying up there. Because the trains were running a promotion on cheap Summer tickets, I went home (which of course ended up being a clusterfuck of a journey) and back the next day with Ed.

Neither of us driving meant we could have some afternoon beers in Camden before heading up to Kentish Town. A few drinks in we ended up as trial audience for a BBQ that was taking place out the back of the infamous Monarch Pub. For reasons not entirely known to us, the chef just kept bringing out free food (we’ve since been back multiple times and never once seen them attempting to host a BBQ again). If it were Come Dine With Me, I probably would’ve scored a 7.

Once we finally made it to The Forum, fully satisfied with the good beer and free food in Camden Town, we were immediately disappointed by a notice on the venue door. King Prawn had pulled out.

It was a downer, but we still had Jesse James. King Prawn were due to play more shows and we were sure to catch them at some point (we eventually did two years later at Slam Dunk in Leeds), for Jesse James this was a one-off and unlikely they’d play again anytime soon, if ever. With the exception of Lagwagon and Sonic Boom Six, we weren’t fussed about the rest of the line up. As it happens the sound was pretty naff for Sonic Boom Six and Lagwagon played a Hoss album set, which I really can’t claim is a record of theirs I know particularly well.

So the whole event was a bit of a bust really. The Forum felt like it might be have been too big a venue for a Sunday night in the middle of Summer, but perhaps it was because it was a Sunday night in the middle of Summer that they were able to get the venue. It was worth the trip for Jesse James though. It was even a particularly long set, it was just great to see a band again that we’d originally seen 12 years earlier at the first ‘local’ gig we ever went to at Mister Smiths in Bournemouth.

As much as we, and the rest of the crowd were enjoying it, there was one guy who will go down in our gig attending history, that seemed to be having a better time than anyone I’ve seen at a gig, perhaps since 2004. During the small circle pit that erupted for Jesse James’ best known song Shoes, the chap emerged from the mosh, on his knees, and rocketed across the floor, simulating what I can only describe as oral sex with multiple non-existent partners (all men). The tenacity with which he performed really was quite something to see.

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