The security guard on the door to backstage did this drawing of a woman's face with a red ballpoint pen

PVC trousers and A Night for Ukraine at Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Or #Putinmustbestopped

There was a time in my life when I was considering buying PVC trousers.

‘Considering’ until I was talked out of it by friends, on the grounds that I would look rubbish.

In a few paragraphs you will read me describe Alexandra Haddow as a rockstar crossed with a comedian. This picture shows you why (Picture is from Chloe Lorentzen’s Twitter account)
Marijne Van der Vlugt was rocking the PVC trousers in this 1994 gig

But it isn’t until you see someone looking good in the aforementioned material that you realise what a mistake it would have been for me to try.

(By mistake I mean it was in 1995/6 and if I’d bought them I’d still be serving time thanks to a sentence passed down by the fashion police.)

They are tricky to pull off (in more ways than one) with the first person to truly be able to rock the look being Marijne Van der Vlugt from Salad back in 1994.

The second person is comedian Alexandra Haddow just a few days ago (aka Friday) at the A Night for Ukraine benefit gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Hopefully in the next few days I’ll ask everyone for permission to use their pictures so I won’t have to just have embedded tweets

Looking like a rockstar crossed with a comedian all she needed was a Fender Stratocaster and we would have all bowed down to the power of the axe.

Instead she had jokes, a lot of very funny jokes.

I’m not going to repeat any of them here because it’s awful when a review destroys a gag by putting it in print.

By a lot I mean all the jokes she could fit into (roughly) 15 minutes because the benefit gig was packed full of bands and comedians so time was short for all of them.

My other favourite act from the night was obviously Salad with Marijne and the boys on absolute top form squeezing as many of their classics into their all-too short set.

Marijine proved she still had the rockstar keyboard skills

Jumping up and down to every track it made me feel 15 again – especially because I’m still not sure what life is about (although now I have finished my GCSEs).

Salad were the reason I started a fanzine back in the 90s and also with a lot of Facebook Lives during the pandemic gave me something to look forward to after days and days of working from home.

Both of their sets made me regret having not seen them for absolutely ages.

I hadn’t seen Salad since before I started at my current job and I hadn’t seen Alexandra do jokes since before the pandemic.

Hopefully this will be rectified soon though if I make it to a Salad gig in Colchester and a couple of comedy shows at Dulwich Hamlet football club and thereabouts.

(Imagine these next few italicised sentences as a dream sequence or an internal monologue in this ‘episode’ of Fiskal Policy.

The security guard ensuring people like me didn’t get in to the backstage area drew this face using red ballpoint pen and I think it’s incredible. I wanted to ask if I could buy it from him but someone had nicked it before I got the chance so it is thanks to Salad that the picture exists.

Salad - pix from Security Guard backstage
The security guard on the door to backstage did this with a red ballpoint pen (Picture is from Salad’s Facebook page)
The Shakes weren’t on for a long time but they made sure they had a really good time

The blend of comedy and music isn’t usual (apart from at festivals in the summer) so as James Acaster pointed out it was weird for the stand up comedians that most of the audience was also standing up.

But as a benefit for Ukraine Martin Rossiter (formerly of Gene) and Star Shaped had done a great job of getting all the bands together with Michael Legge ensuring the comedy section was packed with great names.

Musically there was The Shakes (special mention to them for being first on but playing with all the swagger of a band chosen to headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury) and Edie Bens then with the 90s indie lineup my friend Katie would have loved including Dodgy, Martin Rossiter from Gene, James Walsh from Starsailor, Andy Bell and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly.

Mr Legge had talents such as Mark Steel, the aforementioned Mr Acaster, Angelos Epithemiou, Felicity Ward, Shappi Khorsandi, Mark Watson, Milton Jones and Paddy Young during the comedy section.

Before Putin invaded Ukraine, Antytila were best known for playing massive venues in front of thousands of fans
But now they are fighting for their country’s freedom

The most poignant part of the evening, a video from Antytila (a different video one from those above) reminded the audience, the musicians and the comics why they were at the gig.

Antytila used to play stadiums full of thousands of adoring fans but now they are dressed in army fatigues having to defend their country against Putin.

It’s a fight that we all need to join – not necessarily by taking up arms but by supporting charities where the money will get to the people who need it and by donating supplies to be sent to the refugees.

To do this there is the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal but also smaller ones like the CWUHA Ukraine Appeal and Klub Orła Białego.

Stay safe for another week!