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Carter the Unstoppable Punk Machine - Abdoujaparov at Just Dropped In Records

Abdoujaparov - Photograph by Tara Court

Abdoujaparov supported by The Loaded – Just Dropped In records, 12 November 2023

Review by David Court.

There was the thought that crossed my mind as I wrote the review of Ben Folds’ performance at Birmingham Symphony Hall – when do we stop emphasising the successes of the past and concentrate on the new and fresh material? I imagine Ben Folds can’t go through a single interview/review without the mention of his old band ‘Ben Folds Five’ and I imagine ‘Abdoujaparov’ have a similar issue. Les Carter, founding member of the band performing at Fargo Village’s ‘Just Dropped In’ record store (rapidly becoming one of the best and most interesting venues in Coventry, much like ‘The Big Comfy Bookshop’ before it) was one of the two core members of ‘Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine’ (‘Carter USM’). This alternative/indie Rock Band were huge in the late eighties and early nineties, a unique and entertaining blend of heavy guitars, samples, and witty and acerbic songs. I, for one, was a huge fan.

And yes, I’m aware that I’m simply propagating the prominence on not letting go of the past by mentioning it here, but I never claimed to not be a hypocrite.

Upon splitting up in 1999, the two members both went their separate ways – Jim Bob would go on to write and perform new material under his own name, and Les Carter went on to form this new band, heavily inspired by his love for seventies punk rock. Les was always the member of Carter USM to be seen gigging wearing cycling shorts and one of those cycling hats with the tiny peaks, so it’ll come as no surprise to hear that his band are named after a famous cyclist, a subject clearly very dear to his heart. Djamolidine Abdoujaparov was an Olympian Uzbek cyclist in the late eighties, known for his erratic and unorthodox sprinting.

The evening is the brainchild of ‘Sink or Swim Promotions’, and hardworking Joe Colombi seems to be doing as much work as anybody to promote Coventry as a music venue now – and tonight’s festivities are just a small part of some of the wonderful music coming to our city over the coming months, some of which I hope to see and review here.

The Loaded - Photograph by David Court

Coventry’s own ‘The Loaded’ open the set, and their energetic alt-rock conjures away any memories that it’s dark, wet, and miserable outside, and that’s it’s also a school night. Frontman Paul Quinn is a stalwart of the Coventry music scene, and he’s the epitome of Rock ‘n Roll – all confident swagger, with a voice that makes that confidence justly earned. It’s an eclectic and varied set and even some minor guitar hiccups towards the end don’t detract from the strength of the opening. The room is warmed up and energised nicely by the time that Abdoujaparov come on stage, and we’ve ‘The Loaded’ to thank for that.

I’m a sucker for bands that have their own song – ‘They Might be Giants’ spring to mind – so the fact that they appropriately open with the Abdoujaparov Theme song sets the scene neatly for the hour or so of music to follow. It’s a neat indicator of what to expect from the evening – pounding and lively guitars and drums, and a keen eye for a sharp or funny lyric.

It’s a packed room and an equally bumper-filled set, and the band are faultless. They’re clearly having as much fun as the audience, and the highlights of the gig – amongst a collection of utter gems - are ‘There’s a Monster in my Garden’ (about the perils of drunken behaviour) and ‘Brixton Flippin’ Riots’.

Somewhat charmingly at one stage, Les is crestfallen at the idea he might have offended the only child in the room when he swears during one particular song and checks with their mother before he does it again. It’s a lovely – and somewhat amiable – reminder that punk rock doesn’t have to be about swearing, spitting, and screaming about social injustice; there’s a joy to be found in irreverence. Much of it is reminiscent of the older material of Leicestershire based band ‘The Young Knives’ (the second-best thing out of Ashby-de-la-Zouch after KP Peanuts) before they had a change of direction in favour of cacophonous noise – but as both bands started at roughly the same time, I’ll put that down to coincidence.

It’s clear that the band are thoroughly enjoying themselves – despite this being the third night in the row of a gruelling tour schedule – and their joy is infectious. I’ll be painfully honest in that I followed Jim-Bob's post ‘Carter USM’ career more closely than that of Les, and the entertainment this evening provides a clear indicator of how that was a mistake. It’s an evening of immense fun – with time even for a good old singalong – and the happy and smiling faces after the gig would easily make you forget the impending gloom of work the following Monday morning.

Me and Les - Photograph by David Court

More about ‘Abdoujaparov’ here, and ‘Just Dropped In’ records here. Details on ‘Sink or Swim’ can be found here.


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