North London is a dismal place on the best of nights, and a chilly Thursday just before Christmas is hardly the best of nights to be out on the bleak end of the Holloway Road. But duty calls: it's the Zatopeks, come back to London for one night only.
Ever since three of the Zatopeks upped sticks and moved to Berlin, there's been a big hole in what was already a minuscule London pop-punk scene. And considering that the band has played only a handful of shows this past year, most of them over there in Old Europe, and practised even fewer times than that, I wasn't expecting much out of tonight's gig. In fact, I very nearly blew it off, but I wanted at least to stop by and say hello.
I was glad I did. It was by far the best Zatopeks gig I'd ever seen. Maybe some of it was down to the quality sound mixing, as well as the band's exuberance at being back in Britain and playing a low-key but thoroughly fun holiday show, but even leaving out those factors, the Zatopeks have somehow broken through to a whole new level, and are now rivalling, perhaps even surpassing the Apers as the best punk rock band in Europe.
How do you get that good when you seldom play or even see each other? It's a mystery to me, but whatever the Zatopeks are doing, it's working. Catch these guys whenever or wherever you get a chance.