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Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Half Moon, Putney

Aeons ago, I reluctantly schlepped down the District Line to witness an obscure new Country & Western act play a scruffy old Putney alehouse. In its small barn-like live music lounge, a high cheek-boned 1950s be-quiffed creature presently ambled out to total silence. Picked out by the beam of a solitary spotlight, in kick-ass cowboy boots, canary yellow yee-haw waistcoat and garish petrol blue dirndl skirt accessorised with plastic farm animals, was this Oklahoma's answer to Morrissey in drag, I wondered? Falling to the floor, laying flat on her back, and without any instrumental backing, the curious vision proceeded to out-Patsy Patsy Cline with a sublime pitch-perfect rendition of Willie Nelson's Crazy - the most-played song of all time on US jukeboxes, should the question ever come up in a pub quiz. From that hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck-raising moment on, I have admired K D Lang and retained a soft spot for a boozer that, since launching in 1963, has hosted everyone from The Stones and The Who to Kate Bush, Elvis Costello and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Its future was under threat, but thanks to new backers, Geronimo Inns, the venue should now even outlast the career of one set of previous Half Moon minstrels. Fronted by the smug Irish git in the tinted glasses, I'm talking about that unfathomably popular band that unites all people of good taste - as in 'Hurrah! U2 can't stand them?' Fast forward to 2011, the atmospheric live gig room's bijou stage hosts an eclectic mix of Joe strummers, nightly. But if you're a prog rock or psych folk avoider, the saloon bar functions as a separate space, so no need to ask for ear plugs with your pint of local microbrewer Sambrook’s finest. The fading boozer has been subjected to Geronimo's signature scalping. The group's Slightly overstuffed, quirky vision of trad pub nouveau - with a gallery of signed portraits of familiar faces that have played Putney - will chime with the area’s Cath Kidston classes for whom, back-to-basics comfort food: cured meats and pickles, eggs and bacon, fish and chips and apple pie and custard at high street prices. In terms of rock'n'roll attitude, the new Half Moon may be more Mick Hucknall now than Mick Jagger then, but at least the old place hasn't been converted into fancy flats.
93 Lower Richmond Road SW15 1EU 8780 9383 www.halfmoon.co.uk