the red penguin

They Might Be Giants, Family Gotown – Bloomsbury Theatre, King’s Cross

No flyer but I found this picture of a T-shirt on Reddit, courtesy of u/Straytaoist

My first They Might Be Giants gig, a band I have been playing pretty solidly for the last couple of years, ever since Birdhouse In Your Soul grabbed my attention.

The main thing I remember about this gig was Jonathan Ross stage right heckling the band during the set. The heckling was pretty much “fucking wankers” and not much more advanced than that. Some of the music press picked up on it the next week.

I really liked Family Gotown. Their single Turtle is one of my very favourites from that era. I remember them coming on stage and blowing everyone away with their energy. They had one album – Fruity – which was never released, as Vertigo dropped them before it came out. I managed to get a copy off the internet some years ago – it’s an excellent piece of 90s powerpop.

In 2020 I found a Facebook group for Family Gotown and chatted about the gig. Two members of the band, Glynn Merriman and Brian Smith, replied to me about it:

Glynn: We did indeed support They Might Be Giants at the Bloomsbury, 2 nights there in fact. After the first night we shot across town and played at Islington Powerhaus for Andy Ross of Food Records’ birthday party. Much drunkenness ensued and on returning to Bloomsbury the next evening we realised we’d left behind some guitars!! It was the first tour we did after signing to Vertigo.

Brian: I do remember seeing Jonathan Ross there with Steve Nieve(?). That venue was mad – it was like The Muppet Show.

I think a reunion is unlikely as Brian lives in Japan now. But it was good to see people still keeping the flame alive for some of the great bands from – in my view – the best era of indie music.

This is the likely TMBG setlist. The actual setlist is lost to the mists of time but they were playing a very similar set throughout their UK tour.

  • She’s Actual Size
  • Ana Ng
  • Lucky Ball and Chain
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (The Four Lads cover)
  • We Want A Rock
  • Dig My Grave
  • Kiss Me, Son of God
  • Narrow Your Eyes
  • Purple Toupee
  • Whistling in the Dark
  • Mammal
  • Your Racist Friend
  • I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die
  • Cage and Aquarium
  • I Palindrome I
  • Chess Piece Face
  • The Statue Got Me High
  • Dead
  • Particle Man
  • Twisting
  • Road Movie To Berlin
  • Birdhouse In Your Soul
  • Don’t Let’s Start
  • Lie Still, Little Bottle
  • Someone Keeps Moving My Chair
  • Nothing’s Gonna Change My Clothes
  • Shoehorn With Teeth
  • (She Was A) Hotel Detective
Tuesday 4 February 1992, 323 views

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