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Small Faces Convention 2003
21st September 2003, Ruskin Arms, East London.
The best-ever Small Faces Convention? Now in its seventh year, the 2003 Convention was, in my opinion, the best yet. As ever, the Ruskin Arms in East ham was packed with standing room only, actually there is only standing room. First on stage was Graham Bell who, despite being dragged kicking and screaming to the stage, put in an excellent acoustic performance of songs that are played less often at the Convention. His choice of songs from the Immediate era fitted with the acoustic guitar and he got many of the crowd singing along. The highlights were Donkey Rides A Penny A Glass and a dog-free The Universal.
The second act and making their Convention debut was Boss. To many an unknown quantity but, opening up with a powerful Sha La La la Lee, they immediately won over the Ruskin Arms. A special guest during Boss' set was the young Stevie, nephew of Steve Marriott, who put in an excellent vocal performance on Happydaystoytown. The highlight of their set was Hey Girl.
Afterglow are becoming Convention favourites having now appeared a few times. They played a strong set and were joined by former 17 Black guitarist Andy Ruff, the ever-present Dean Rees on keyboards and the excellent Steve Ellis who sang My Way of Giving, Song of a Baker and Afterglow.
Small World have also appeared at the Convention before. They had the crowd singing along.
17 Black put in their usual excellent set. Midway through they were joined by former Sex Pistol and renown Small Faces fan Glen Matlock who delivered a solo acoustic version of Ronnie lane's Debris from Faces days before switching to bass guitar for All or Nothing and What'Cha Gonna Do About It (which the Sex Pistols covered) where he was joined by former Ruskin Arms resident and original Small Faces Jimmy Winston on vocals and Graham Bell returned on guitar. Mollie Marriott joined on vocals along with her cousin little Stevie and his sister Lucy.
A surprise guest making his first appearance at the Small Faces Convention was Spooky Tooth and Humble Pie bassist Greg Ridley who put together a band in a short time period, although you would not have known it. He started with the regular Pie opener Four Day Creep and finished with Natural Born Bugie. Ridley promised to return to the Ruskin Arms. the final act was a shortened set from Dan's People.
So the Convention goes from strength to strength. Maybe the Ruskin Arms is too small for the number of tickets that could be sold and is not the most pleasant place to spend an evening but it remains the "home" of the Small Faces and so a move appears unlikely. It is well supported by the Marriott family with both Kays (Steve's mother and sister) singing and dancing all the way through. We heard the same songs again and again but nobody minded this at all. it would be nice, however, if the bands co-ordinated their sets more so we have a wider representation of the Small Faces' catalogue as there were plenty that were not played at all. Let us start looking forward to next year now.
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