‘A NIGHT For Danny Kustow.’ Oh what a night it was in memory of Danny Kustow at the Scala in London, an evening that will stay long in the minds of those insightful (or lucky) enough to buy a £27.50 ticket.
Kustow, an integral part of the Tom Robinson Band that burst onto the music scene in the late 1970s with a flourish of biting anti-establishment songs, died in March this year following a short illness, aged 63. He spent his last days being cared for by the dedicated staff of the Critical Care Unit at Royal United Hospitals in Bath.
On Monday (July 29), the effervescent and irrepressible Tom Robinson paid tribute to the great guitarist by organising a superb night of music and plenty more besides at the Scala in London’s King Cross. There were performances from TRB bands original and new, guest appearances from musicians, video footage of Kustow in his pomp (both on and off stage), and moving tributes paid by those who looked after him in hospital (Doctor Steve Laver) as well as family – and of course the great loveable Tom Robinson.
‘Danny gave us all a love of music,’ said Robinson, quoting from a tribute he had received from a stranger soon after Kustow’s death – and which he then included in the tribute he gave at the guitarist’s funeral in March in Bushey, Hertfordshire.
He also talked about Kustow’s ‘incendiary guitar solos and extraordinary stage presence’.
It was a night to reminisce, an evening to shed a tear or three, and for many an opportunity to go back in time (momentarily at least) and revisit their reckless youths spent dancing furiously to the likes of 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Up Against The Wall and of course Glad To Be Gay.
It was also a night to marvel at the guitar playing of Adam Phillips (Danny would have been mightily impressed), the splendid drumming of Brian ‘Dolphin’ Taylor, the magical percussive fingers of Mark Ambler and the rasping vocals of the ageless Robinson.
The night was split into two musical halves. First came TRB 2019 – Phillips on guitar, Robinson on vocals and bass, Andy Treacey on drums (a bundle of relentless energy) and Jim Simmons on keyboards.
The TRB songs of the 1970s and early 1980s came in waves – Long Hot Summer, Better Decide Which Side You’re On, Bully For You, Ain’t Gonna Take It (with references to Boris Johnson), a tender War Baby (with accompanying soulful vocals from Lee Forsyth Griffiths) and a rousing Don’t Take No For An Answer.
The set was completed with two songs from TV Smith (The Adverts) – Lion And The Lamb and Thin Green Line (Smith furiously kicking his right leg in the air as if he were back in the 1970s).
After the moving tributes and video clips, Robinson came back with original TRB band members Dolphin and Ambler – and Phillips. Everything went up a gear as they launched into The Winter Of 1979, the whimsical Grey Cortina and Too Good To Be True (Danny’s song, said Robinson).
More rousing delights followed including the amusing and quirky Martin (Dolphin stepping in to play the role of brother Martin that Kustow had made his very own), Glad To Be Gay, Up Against The Wall (a song that Kustow made his own) and a scintillating 2-4-6-8 Motorway.
After TV Smith and Forsyth Griffiths came back on to join in a thumping Power In The Darkness, the finale was a cover of Bob Dylan’s classic I Shall Be Released.
‘Gone but not forgotten,’ said an emotional Robinson of his great friend Kustow whom he had first met as a teenager at Finchden Manor in Kent, a ‘school’ founded by educationalist George Lyward to help troubled boys deal with the trauma in their lives.
What a night in memory of the talented Kustow. I hope he was listening. I bet he was – with guitar in hand.
The Critical Care Unit at Royal United Hospitals Bath does marvellous work looking after those with life threatening conditions. Last year it received 850 admissions with 87 per cent of patients subsequently discharged to appropriate wards for continuing care.
If you would like to make a donation in memory of the brilliant Kustow, please visit: https://www.foreverfriendsappeal.co.uk/causes/critical-care