Mike Dunphy and and William Potter have departed the stage, leaving drummer Gogs Byrn to back vocalist Carl Puttnam at the end of a blistering version of “No Smoking”. Cud have just performed their 1992 masterpiece, Asquarius, in full from beginning to end with an energy that would put a quartet of teenagers to shame. It has been an immense performance of the album that, had the fates been kinder, would have seen Cud established as the iconic British guitar act of the 90s. Sweat is dripping from the ceiling, plastic pint glasses have been crushed under the feet of an emotionally spent and physically exhausted audience who have spent the whole of the gig dancing and bouncing in such a frenzy that I have stopped trying to take a decent photo and have just given in and enjoyed the show. Puttnam tells us they’ll be back in five minutes. We’re only half way through.
Utterly refreshed Cud return to the stage to play a rare version of “Hey!Wire”, that leads us into a whistle-stop tour through a hand-picked selection of their greatest tunes. “Hey Boots”, “I’ve Had It With Blondes”, “Purple Love Balloon” and (of course) “Only (A Prawn In Whitby)” tumble forth into a moist crowd of Cud devotees and you can only marvel at how such an uproarious racket could be made by just four blokes.
There are rare acts whose connection with their audience is automatic and effortless and Cud have that. Maybe it’s because they’ve retained their playfulness and style down the years (Carl’s skinny trousers a subtle reminder that Cud could never really be classed as baggy). Maybe it’s because their music hasn’t been over-played on the radio and television soundtracks down the years, so it isn’t dulled by over-familiarity. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because once you become a Space Cudet, you remain a Space Cudet.
It was almost impossible to pick highlights from the earlier Asquarius set, as it was uniformly splendid, so I can only say that this Cud fan had waited eighteen years to see them live and hear them play songs like “Easy”, “Magic Alex” and “Through the Roof”, and they utterly exceeded even my most optimistic expectations.
Following a closing “Push And Shove” which saw the audience members on stage outnumber the band by at least five to one, we spill out back into the chilly street to seek taxis and busses. It’s only while waiting for public transport heading in the direction of home that I realise that not one song from Cud’s splendid album Showbiz had been played that night. More to the point, it had been such a phenomenal gig that I didn’t mind either. Maybe they’ll play them next time.