Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine at the Brixton Academy 2nd November 2007

The last ever gig for Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine was at London's Brixton Academy on 2nd November 2007. As a birthday prezzie, Dwain had bought me (and himself) tickets earlier in the year. Why have I left it nearly two months to write this up? To make a clear headed comment on the gig. But even now, it's not going to happen.

Many people have "The Band" that carried them through their teenage years. For me, it was Carter USM. At the age of 13, I was listening to Pop Will Eat Itself (borrowed Alex's records) and Alex pointed me at Sherrif Fatman, the second Carter single. I didn't like it at the time but soon grow to love the ablums 101 Damnations and 30 Something. We followed them round to any gig nearby, sometimes seeing them twice on a tour. It's difficult to be objective about music when every major event in your teenage life is linked inextricably with a band.

The first sign of the gig were Carter t-shirts on the tube. Carter T-shirts have been a regular fashion statement for years (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and to see them all over the tube started the excitement. The last time I saw Carter as Carter (rather than the spin off bands) must have been about 10 years ago, when they split in 1997. At that time, they had bloated to a large band and didn't play many of the classics. Tonight was going to be the original Carter USM, two men with guitars and a digital backing track.

Sultans of Ping FC were suppoting and they played all the big songs from Casual Sex in the Cineplex and a few others I didn't recognise. Dwain and I positioned ourselves at the front of the pit and you could tell that the expectation was massive. Old T-Shirt dotted around with newer ones, the crowd average age must have been mid to late 30s. Dwain was definitely one of the younger ones.

"I wonder if John Beast will come out?" I remember asking Dwain.

And he did. I can't describe Beast or the explosive start. Here's the video:

The crowd went mad throughout Surfin USM. It was as if years of pent up desire to see them again was grounded all at once in a single charge. The mosh pit was as violent as it ever had been. People went down on a regular basis but were soon helped up. The usual complement of crowd surfers launched into the depth. The gig didn't slow down for two hours. It just ploughed on, hit after hit. With each song, a period of my teenage years tore back into the conscience. Things I'd utterly forgotten were dredged up. I soon lost Dwain in the crowd.

About 3/4 of the way through, I was shattered. I just couldn't handle jumping up and down anymore so I tried heading back out of the pit but it just kept going. People were going mental far back from the stage, so I thought sod it and exhausted myself crushed and barged by sweaty people I'd never met nor meet again singing the songs word perfectly. Middle aged men turn backwards to crowd surf, tired smiles on faces betrayed the way everyone felt.

As GI Blues sounded the final notes of the night, the paired emotions of euphoria and despair washed over me. Dwain found me roughly where he'd left me. I was exhausted, elated and gutted. That was the last time I'd ever see Carter USM live. Like all good things, a good end is better than dragging out over the years but it all seemed wrong. There were hundreds of people there gorging on the 90s punk, why should it end? Was I really reliving the past glories or was this new, different? The songs mean more to me now. I am 30 Something now. I understand some of the lyrics better now than ever. How could I have possible appreciated 101 Damnations at the age of 14?

Was it the best gig ever? Perhaps. If not, it's in the top 10, along with all the other USM gigs I'd been to. It was monolithic.


Since we split in 1997 I personally always said no to ever getting Carter back together again. Claiming I'd rather eat my own legs, my testicles etc. Things change of course. Shit happens. It took the sad passing of Wiz from Mega City 4 to get us back on stage together again. And to remind me what a buzz it was to play those songs and in front of what really is the best gig audience ever.

Those four songs in Islington led to Brixton and a gig that sold out so quickly, totally blowing us away, that we felt compelled to go back on our 'one final gig' promise and add a second date. Until we'd actually played those two gigs I could never have imagined how amazing they'd turn out to be. If they'd been disappointing or we'd been rubbish it would have been a lot easier to simply move on. Instead they were two of the greatest nights of my life. The atmosphere was out of this world. I still haven't really got over it yet to be honest.

We'd got back in bed with Carter without realising just how comfortable that bed would be. Perfectly sprung with sumptuous upholstering, silk sheets, warm blankets and a chocolate on the pillow.

It would naturally also be a lot easier if I didn't keep making these statements about finality and about eating my own bollocks in preference to doing things that I enjoyed.

Thank you all for your help in guiding us towards whatever our decision is. It was not a foregone conclusion or a damage limitation PR exercise as the more cynical - and who can blame them - have suggested. I've always said that Carter live was as much about the audience as it was about the band. I still believe that, however soppy and boybandish it sounds.

Thank you.

Jim Bob.


Myself, I always thought that at the right time and place, it would be possible for Carter to play again. I always had it in the back of my mind that the 20th anniversary would be perfect, and indeed it was. I was never sure, though, that Jim would agree - he had always seemed so adamant that he didn't want to do it again. I'm glad he changed his mind.

There have been over 1,500 replies to our joint email and the overwhelming consensus seems to be that we should do another show or two. Some people (18 in all) were not in favour, saying that last year's gigs were so perfect and so special that we shouldn't spoil their memories. Others (referring to Mr Beast's announcements at the gigs) said that we should be true to our original intent and not do it again. Actually, I can see their point: some would feel cheated and I can understand that too. They want to be able to say for sure that they were there at the last ever Carter gig. It comes down to this I guess: what is more important, the shag or the notch on the bedpost?

A lot of people said we should reform properly and record a new album (that's not gonna happen I'm afraid, we are both fully committed to our post-Carter projects). Others said that we should do a big tour of smaller venues (that would end up costing us money to do properly, so that's out too).

For me, the biggest surprise was that many people who replied to our email (almost a 5th) couldn't come to the gigs last year, either through not being able to get tickets, not being able to make it (although they had tickets), or that the gigs were impossible for them to get to because they live in Japan, Australia, Outer Mongolia or ... Manchester :):)

Anyway, I'd like to thank you all for your replies, it has really helped us towards making a decision. We are not in the business of milking our audience; we love you all (even the person that wrote that I had an appalling voice), we might just do it one more time.
Cheers Fruity x

Dwain's picture

Seems like it maynot be the last ever Carter gig.

Dwain's picture