I don't remember exactly how many times I saw The Triffids live, around fifteen I'd guess, but I do know that the first was in a sparsely populated, subterranean, Romford night-club in 1984. Also in attendance that night was early champion John Peel. By 1989 I'd seen them headline prestigious London venues such as The ICA, The Town & Country Club and both The Shaw and Dominion Theatres. The world, it seemed, was their oyster, but despite critical praise and a devoted fanbase, the mass sales, required by major label Island, never materialised and the band drifted back to their native Australia and then drifted apart. The Triffids left behind a marvellous body of work, but, for my money, an enduring masterpiece still lay ahead of them, just out of reach.
In May 1994 David McComb returned to the UK to play a handful of shows in support of his only solo album, 'Love of Will'. I
caught McComb, accompanied by his band The Red Ponies (named after a Triffids song), in a cramped and sweaty Borderline,
where they played a blistering set, comprising tracks from the new album, classic Triffids material and well chosen covers.
While in the country, McComb and the band stopped in at the BBC to record a couple of tunes for Jools Holland, from where
this thrilling clip is taken. Note a pre-Bad Seeds Warren Ellis on the psychedelic fiddle.
It's almost too heartbreaking for me to dwell on David McComb's fate for too long. After undergoing a heart transplant at the age
of 33, his final three years were spent plagued by ill health and personal demons. He recorded more music, but much of this remains unreleased. David died 15 years ago today, two
weeks short of his 37th birthday.
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