SLEAFORD MODS / CHAOS UK – Exchange, Bristol

SLEAFORD MODS / CHAOS UK Thursday 21st May 2015 at The Exchange Bristol

Some gigs just stick out a bit in the calendar. An ‘away’ trip to Bristol to see Chaos UK on their home ground meant that this one was always going to be a cut above your standard fare. Add in band of the moment Sleaford Mods who I’ve never seen before tonight and I’m all set for a top night out in the West Country.

I missed opening act Putrifier but I certainly felt their presence. Their colossal discordant electronic sounds shook the very timbers of the Exchange in Bristol. But ultimately this solo project is not really my cup of cider and so I headed into the hall as Chaos UK were setting up. Guitarist Gabba is here, along with the bassist and drummer that he also plays with in FUK – but there’s no sign of vocalist Mower. Gabba puts an appeal over the PA, something along the lines of “get out of the bog and get down here” and after a short delay Mower duly makes his way through the crowd and on to the stage. What follows is just what I wanted – 40 or so minutes of fast and furious relentless noise. I don’t think the drummer ever stopped, incredible stuff. So many classics from what is now a lengthy career. Kicking off with ‘Lawless Britain’ from 1984’s Short Sharp Shock LP they rage through choice cuts full of shout along choruses. Unlike the band the crowd take a little while getting going but by the time the unholy trinity of ‘Victimised’, ‘Kill Your Baby’ and ‘No Security’ close out the set arms are flailing everywhere down the front. They exit the stage with a customary “Fuck Off” leaving the half of the crowd that came to see them very satisfied and the rest maybe a little bit shellshocked.

Chaos UK

Gabba, Chaos UK

Andrew Fearn from Sleaford Mods (the master behind all their trademark beats and loops) sets up shop at the front of the stage in a casual manner. Small table – tick, extension lead – tick and a laptop with a line into the PA. He then presses play for about two seconds, hears that his beats are coming through the speakers and soundcheck completed he’s ready to go. Except that once again there’s no sign of the singer. Jason Williamson eventually turns up – a bit late surely as there’s an 11pm curfew but the band immediately hit their stride and the diverse crowd are up for this right from the start. Jason is angry, or should that read “fucking angry”. It’s hard to fake this kind of outrage. His observations on life are based firmly in the reality of mundane working class life and struggles, the little things people have to do to get by, the different rules and codes that they are forced to live their lives through and the regulations and processes that they come up against on a daily basis. It’s a bleak world that matches their existence. Sleaford Mods don’t sugar coat it at all and attack those responsible with venom, targeting management on songs like Fizzy – “sack the fucking manager, SACK THE FUCKING MANAGER” Jason screams. The rock establishment come in for special treatment on ‘Six Horsemen’, they’re routinely castigated for forgetting all about where they came from or ridiculed for discovering drugs and going up their own arses whilst trying to ‘find themselves’. “They’re so outrageous, oooh, they’ve been doing drugs for ages” Williamson mercilessly mocks. The bands moniker may seem a bit confusing, there’s very little in the way of Mod here tonight but the crowd are familiar with the songs and there’s even jostling and dancing down in the pit at the front. Sleaford Mods are punk in attitude and everything that a forward thinking band that have given up on rock’s cliches as a communication method should be. The sparse, live sounding drums and loops, the minimal stage theatrics (the encore sees them simply duck their heads under a curtain for 30 seconds before reappearing) and their obvious real passion and anger connect with the audience in a way that you’ll rarely see. Maybe it’ll all fizzle out in years to come with excessive demands for riders and dressing rooms but somehow I doubt it. This isn’t stadium cock rock, it’s raw, real and gritty and much more than little ditties.

Watch Fizzy and Six Horsemen from the gig.

Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods at the Exchange, Bristol

Jason Williamson, Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods – the complete stage set up. Left to right – Andrew, beer, laptop, Jason, microphone,water

 

VOIVOD / KROKODIL – Camden Underworld

VOIVOD / KROKODIL Wednesday 20th May at the Underworld, Camden, London

Second on the bill Krokodil are referred to as a “British Metal supergroup” on their Wikipedia page. Featuring members that have trodden the boards with a bunch of bands including Gallows, Bloodhound Gang, A, and Slipknot they know their craft well and kick off in fine style. Growled vocals, plenty of heavy, crunching riffing and speed licks they play a fine set and yet somehow fail to produce much that is more memorable than their work in other bands. Everything sounds great, its just not that immediate or essential on a first listen. Despite this I think they’re worth more than this appearance and resolve to check them out online after the show. You should too.

Krokodil

Krokodil

Walking on stage it’s obvious Canadian metallers Voivod feel at home in the UK. Three quarters of the band are wearing British band t-shirts featuring Doom, Broken Bones and the more obscure Cardiacs. Only the more recently added bassist Rocky sports clothing not in line with the others apparent homage. The venue is packed out now for the quartets only UK show on their current tour. The crowd here are a mixture of punk and metal and also those that have maybe moved on from seeing most bands but still have a soft spot for one metals most progressive pioneers.

Key themes tonight are a sense of fun, quality songs, dissonant chords and paying tribute to their influential guitarist Piggy a full ten years on after his untimely death. It’s maybe the fun that surprises me the most, the band are clearly enjoying themselves and its infectious. Singer Denis “Snake” Bélanger and guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain are positively beaming as they work through a set of their crowd pleasing favourites including Chaosmonger and The Prow. It’s the encore that really does it for me though, the early thrashy singalong Voivod followed by a truly stunning cover of Pink Floyd’s Astronomy Domine complete with a touching tribute to Piggy. Voivod don’t play in the UK that often. I’d put good money on at least 90% of this very satisfied crowd being in attendance again the next time they do.

Voivod

Voivod

POISON IDEA / THE RESTARTS / DEFCON ZERO Borderline, London

POISON IDEA / THE RESTARTS / DEFCON ZERO Thursday 6th May at the Borderline, London

I first saw Poison Idea back in the early nineties playing with the Hard Ons at ULU. What I remember was a short set that blew away everything in its path. Guitarist Pig Champion was in the band back then but has since been lost. He was pivotal to the band so hearing about this tour I had a couple of concerns. Were PI now going to be some kind of karaoke and would they actually turn up (they’ve got previous in not doing this)!

Defcon Zero have that weird slot on the bill on a night like this. No doubt amped to being playing with such hardcore legends but with a stage time of 7.10pm the reality is that there are bugger all people here to see them as they kick off. They play fast abrasive punk rock full of rage and swearing (they’re the only words I can make out) and by the time they finish the Borderline is filling up and they finally get a decent reception. Hang on a mo, is that Jerry A in the crowd watching? It sure is. I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that PI are in the house.

Defcon Zero at the Borderline

The Restarts have the middle slot and get straight down to business. With an alternating two pronged vocal attack they’re a mixture of fury and an occasional skank. I’ve seen them play only recently and tonight sees a familiar set with the best tracks from their Sickness Of The Mind LP and older standards aired. ‘Mia’ is the standout for me, with its heartfelt personal lyrics about Mia Zapata, the vocalist from the Gits who was brutally raped and murdered after a night out in 1993. Added poignancy comes from the mainly young female crowd dancing down the front. Watch The Restarts play Frustration.

The Restarts at the Borderline

The Borderline is rammed by the time Poison idea hit the stage. Jerry A appears with a ragged handwritten set list clutched in one hand and a cider in the other. The rest of the band are unfamiliar (except for the return of Eric “The Vegetable” Olson) but oddly look the part. Part metal, part punk and all different sizes Poison Idea don’t really have a ‘look’, don’t actually do a huge amount on stage except one thing – play the most blistering, ferocious punk rock you’re likely to hear. All punctuated by Jerry A’s trademark growling bark. It’s a perfect punk rock voice that cuts through a wall of noise. He’s the main man tonight, directing the set from his list clutched in his hand which only seems to provide a rough guide. He virtually apologises for playing new songs but they go down a storm (the new album is great anyway) but its several of the classics that really get the crowd fired up. ‘Discontent‘ is dedicated to Nigel Farage with its refrain of ‘Listen Nazi, Never Again’ and results in the wildest thrashing of the night – beer flying everywhere and members of the crowd being passed around above head height. “Punish Me’ is another stand out as the band pummel through song after song. There is no walk off walk back on encore routine either. Jerry A checks with the sound man how long they’ve got instead and fills up the time accordingly choosing more songs off that ragged piece of paper. He even takes time out to gross out the crowd a bit by tipping his cider into an old boot someone had brought along and necks it there and then. “Tastes like a size 6″! They end with a raging cover of ‘Motorhead’ which has the crowd slamming into each other before leaving the stage in a wall of feedback. They’ll be back in London in August at the Pipeline – time to get a ticket?

Poison Idea at the Borderline (phone pic – left the good camera at home tonight)

Jerry A drinking cider out of an old boot. Class.

Charge 69 – Much More Than Music (Volume 1) Review

CHARGE 69 – MUCH MORE THAN MUSIC Volume 1 (Time and Matter T&M 020 CD and LP)

Hailing from Metz French punk band Charge 69 have been around since 1993 and have stuck to their guns since their inception. Over twenty years later they are releasing this ambitious project, a two volume album of re-recordings of their own songs but with a twist. They’ve rounded up a bunch of their favourite singers, the ones who have influenced  them the most over the years, to sing their best material but this time in English. Quite how they have done it when you look at the list is a little bit beyond me but I guess you can put it down to whats great about punk – a solidarity and a friendship between many bands that rarely exists elsewhere.

To make this all work the basics need to be spot on and so they are. A crystal clear, punchy and full production means that the guitar, bass and drums provide a solid backbone to the whole album. These are great tunes even without the vocals. You can study the back of the sleeve to see who sung what but really anyone familiar with punk won’t have too much trouble working out who’s on which track as the voices are so recognisable.

Colin from GBH perfectly handles the thrash out that is ‘The 80’s’ while TV Smith slots in neatly to the mid tempo ‘Phoney Paradise’. Greg from the Outcasts features on the reggae beats of ‘Johnny Good Boy’ and Mickey Fitz from the Business is instantly recognisable from the very first notes of ‘Time To Communicate’ giving it a real classic Oi feeling. Charlie Harper does a magnificent job on Birth Of A Century taking the song up through the gears with ease. This is a quality album throughout and with the prospect of Volume 2 to come later in the year it’s going to be an essential duo for many fans of both Charge 69 and their  borrowed vocalists.

Buy Charge 69 Much More Than Music from Time and Matter here.

Full line up: TV Smith (The Adverts), Matt Dangerfield (The Boys), Beki Bondage (Vice Squad), Colin (GBH), Greg (The Outcasts), Campino (Die Toten Hosen), Charlie Harper (UK Subs), Micky Fitz (The Business), Roger Miret (Agnostic Front), Arturo Bassick (The Lurkers).

Released May 2015,

 

 

THE DISINCLINED, The Cricketers, Kingston

THE DISINCLINED Friday 1st May at The Cricketers, Kingston

Arrived just in time to catch just the last band tonight, the Disinclined. I don’t recognise any of them save for Shea from Refuse/All (ex NMBD) who is on guitar duties and Matt (also ex NMBD) on bass. I only have a slightest idea of what to expect. So it’s pretty surprising that when they play their set their songs already seem a little familiar. Lets be clear – they are nothing like Refuse/All and nothing like 99% of other bands that begin with ‘Dis…’ either. Set opener ‘For The Good Of Us All’ is so catchy that you think you must have heard it before somewhere. Bass lines reminiscent of the Pixies drive things along nicely while guitars chop in and out before the chorus makes everything hang together perfectly. Mellow with a bite. Their entire set carries on in a similar vein, they remind me of some of the quirkiness of David Devant And His Spirit Wife. There are a couple of exceptions though, most notably ‘The Key And The Catch’ which sees the band at times go fairly near acoustic territory before ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Fantasy’ with its Wah Wah guitar frenzy bring things to a halt. The crowd want more but there isn’t any right now. They’re going to have to get back to work on satisfying that demand….

The Disinclined

The Disinclined

The Disinclined

THERAPY? / THIRTY SIX STRATEGIES, Sub89 Reading

THERAPY? / THIRTY SIX STRATEGIES, Tuesday 14th April 2015 at Sub89, Reading

It’s ten months since I last saw Thirty Six Strategies but that pails into insignificance compared to when I last saw Therapy? – that’s more like decades. Oddly its Thirty Six Strategies who have changed the most since the last time. Original drummer Mobs has been replaced behind the kit, original singer Kirsty’s spot is now taken by Marie Vockins and both of the guitarists have moved on too leaving just original bassist Ian Glasper. Except for tonight – original guitarist Neil Cox is back for just one show on a tour which seems them as the opening act for Northern Ireland’s alternative metal / punk / masters.

Something of a confession now. I’m busy taking pictures of Thirty Six Strategies tonight, so much so that I don’t really get to appreciate the band fully. Of course I have an ear out too and am pleased to catch a good number of the songs from their debut singles and album getting an airing tonight. They sound like a cohesive unit, DC influenced riffs, intelligent lyrics and well crafted catchy songs are the order of the day. New singer Marie has a strong voice and the band put on quite a show with everyone having their turn at the front of the stage. The assembling crowd seem to really appreciate their style  and based on tonight’s performance I’d say they’d won over some new fans. Therapy? certainly seemed to love them, mentioning them in their thanks during the last song of the evening. Maybe next time I’ll leave the camera at home for a change. In the meantime I suggest you check them out for yourself. Their debut album ‘Strategy Three’ is a great introduction and with another 33 stratagems to go they should be around for a while yet.

Thirty Six Strategies

Marie Vockins from Thirty Six Strategies

Ian Glasper airborne, Thirty Six Strategies

Therapy? kick off in fine style with a classic that gets the crowd going from the off. Singer guitarist Andy Cairns is in great form and bassist Michael McKeegan is smiling like he’s having the time of his life. They keep the tempo up throughout their set only pausing at times for Andy to tell an anecdote. Like the time he was asked to help a friend choose the right university for his child with the choice being between Reading and Brighton. Brighton was chosen despite him referring to Reading as Reading On Sea and extolling the quality of its literary archive! Standout songs for me included a suitably manic version of ‘Knives’ which led to man in front of me to aggressively tap his own head when Cairns sings “Bad trip tattooed on my brain” plus a pretty head spinning version of Teethgrinder full of complicated rhythms and a relentless guitar. More accessible is Potato Junkie with its crowd friendly singalong line of “James Joyce Is Fucking My Sister”. ‘Trigger Inside’ gets such a rapturous reception from the crowd I start to wonder (more like worry) how many of the crowd identify with the lyrics. A quick break at the end of the set followed by a three song encore including a blistering set closer of ‘Going Nowhere’ and everything finishes perfectly on time, everybody seems very happy with the set list. Big smiles everywhere on the way out.Therapy? nailed it.

Andy Cairns, Therapy?

Therapy? at Reading Sub89

Not Just Bits Of Paper

NOT JUST BITS OF PAPER – Gregory Bull and Mickey Penguin (ISBN 978-1505703382 available from Situation Press / Amazon 

I used to have a great big box of paper. Full of music magazine cuttings, letter exchanges with bands, fanzines, flyers – it was all in there. But then one day during a house move it made its way to the tip. I miss it all to this day. Some others were not so careless as me. They kept all these bits of paper, knowing that they are things that unlock memories, that they changed minds that are still changed from the mainstream view even today. They provide the backbone of this new book in which Greg Bull and Mickey ‘Penguin’ collate these fragments and coupled with testimonies from the time create a view into the personal stories behind punk. What I love about punk is the way that you can be part of it all and this book perfectly demonstrates this. Put together by those who had these connections there are stories, pictures and thoughts that to others could seem trivial but to those involved were often life changing. The stories in here explain why. Pilgrimages to record labels such as All The Madmen, seeing a band like Antisect as your first gig, hand crafted flyers –  this book is full of fascinating personal insights that have previously gone unreported and were in danger of being lost. They provide little triggers in the mind about your own experiences – I even found an advert for a gig for my old band that I’d never seen before!. Eighties punk was always about much more than the bands themselves (all of which have been well documented elsewhere). In keeping with the times it’s a bargain too, “Pay No More Than Twelve Pounds” for over 220 pages. You can get it directly from Amazon and if it sells enough the authors promise more of the same.

MAID OF ACE / THE LIGAMENTS / ALTERCATION / UNDERCLASS UK / SLUTDROP – Camden Unicorn

Cool, a bunch of bands I haven’t seen before and one I love already. All for free on a Sunday night. What’s not to like? I arrived just too late to see much of Slutdrop. They were running through their last two songs as I entered the venue but seemed decent. Plenty about them as they kicked up a two guitar attack before heading off stage having earnt a decent reaction. So first up for me was Underclass UK. Right from the off they had a powerful no nonsense sound, something of a cross between Oi and hardcore with a bit of menace thrown in for good measure. Dirty, rough punk rock that doesn’t takes its boots off. Except for half way through when unexpectedly a man walks on stage and creates a fair degree of tension with a very direct spoken intro into ‘Somebody’. It works a treat and lets not spoil the effect here in case you catch it live yourself. Two bands in and its already shaping up to be a great evening.

Underclass UK

This guy introduced ‘Somebody’ for Underclass UK

One band definitely on my bucket list to catch this year is Healthy Junkies. They’ve had a slew of great singles, especially the ridiculously catchy ‘Resistance’ but I’ve failed to catch them live at any point in the last year. They play all the time as well which makes it all the more remarkable that singer Nina Coulson also fronts tonight’s third band Altercation. They deliver a confident performance, part rock, part experimental, building up, crashing down and delivering expertly through a varied and entertaining set. I need to track down a recording so I’ll be more familiar with their material next time.

Altercation

Altercation

Nearly time for headliners Maid Of Ace but just prior to that are The Ligaments. A three piece, they amble onto the stage with a double bass, a drummer and a guitarist. So far, so rockabilly. And then they play. Wow, just wow. Their drummer thrashes and crashes around the kit, her arms a blur as she really hammers out the beats driving the band forward. Not that they need encouraging at all as the guy on double bass is really giving it some. It doesn’t sound typical of that instrument at all – they sound proper hardcore, on guitar its blistering riff after blistering riff building up into a finale on ‘Back Room Wall‘. Got to say they blew me away and were well worthy of their slot on the bill. A fact not lost on tonight’s headliners who offered them their congratulations as well.

The Ligaments

Maid of Ace are, however, also well worthy of their headlining slot. They kick up an almighty, filthy punk rock sound right from the opener and crash relentlessly through blocks of four songs at a time with very little let up. Their set has got stronger over the last year – It’s now a formidable all-out assault on the ears full of passion, distortion and commitment. They’re a veritable force of nature. Go see ‘em while they’re like this, they’re nothing short of amazing right now. Right at the end though a disappointment – set closer ‘Rules and Regulations’, a cover of the Fuzzbox song has to be dropped due to a strict curfew. Oh well, I’m going to have go along and see them all over again now, what a shame!

Alson Cara Elliott, Maid Of Ace

Anna Coral Elliott, Maid of Ace

Abby Elliott, Maid Of Ace

PACO TRIBUTE – CONFLICT / ICONS OF FILTH / HAGAR THE WOMB / THE RESTARTS / POTENTIAL THREAT / LIBERTY

CONFLICT / ICONS OF FILTH / HAGAR THE WOMB / THE RESTARTS / POTENTIAL THREAT / LIBERTY / LOST CHERREES – Sunday April 5th 2015 at the 100 Club.

On the 20th February 2015 Francisco ‘Paco’ Carreno passed away. He was for many years the main man behind the drums for both Inner Terrestrials and Conflict. The latter band in particular had a profound affect on how I live my life, what I eat, what I think and how I treat others. They did this by coupling challenging lyrics with powerful music that has an intensity that has rarely been matched. An essential part of this was Paco’s drums, the way they thunderously roll in setting the scene on ‘Whichever Way You Want It’ or the breakneck blast through that is ‘Neither Is This’. Phenomenal. Conflict just would not have been the force they were without Paco driving it from the back and his loss hit Colin Jerwood, Conflicts singer, particularly hard. Both Colin and Paco go back a long way and with bonds deeper than just band members so it was no surprise that Colin would set about organising a memorial concert. Finding bands to play was no problem, Paco was a well loved and respected man and the seven chosen to play on Sunday 5th April all had direct connections.

The gig started later than advertised on Sunday afternoon but no one gave a toss. This was a DIY affair, if you want things to run on time and someone to complain to when they don’t then I suggest you go and see some dinosaur rock band in Hyde Park. This gig was the bands doing it for Paco and his family, no fucking pretensions or egos on show just a determination to stage a fitting memorial.

Lost Cherrrees kicked off the night with a strong set of recent material with a smattering of songs from their Mortarhate career. Like some of the other bands on the night I remember them playing often with Conflict back in the day, particularly at the Surbiton Assemby Rooms riot. Of course now there’s only one member left from that time but the connection still runs deep.  They have a harder sound nowadays especially on songs like ‘Who’s Fucking Who” and plenty of venom in their lyrics.

Lost Cherrees

Lost Cherrees

Liberty were up next. Another stalwart from the eighties scene they played more from their earlier years, “Diluted Rebellion” a real favourite and with their dual singers and twin guitar attack they put out a pretty fearsome sound stopping to dedicate their set to “Paco and all of our fallen brothers”. As did Potential Threat, announcing “The Hunt Is On” with a heartfelt “You Bastards”! Time hasn’t dimmed their anger nor any of the other bands on the bill on the night. It was the first time I’d seen them since they reformed and its great to have so many of these bands back playing, especially on a night like this.

Liberty

Liberty

Potential Threat

Potential Threat

The Restarts are a band I love, more recent maybe but they’ve actually been going a very long time now. They have some real classics in their set from the relatively early bass driven ‘Frustration’ to the more recent “Independentzia” and “Drone Attack” from their “A Sickness Of The Mind” LP they did a great job of injecting life and urgency into the evening. Everything seemed to get a little bit darker and more hectic from this point onwards. Well except for Hagar the Womb who were up next with their pretty joyous take on punk rock. Sure they get angry too bit there’s real humour, a sense of the co-ordinated chaos about their set. Their songs like “Idolisation” sound better now than they ever did and having a few recent gigs under their belt has improved their consistency in delivering fun and thought provoking songs. This gig needed a bit of Hagar!

Restarts

Restarts

Hagar The Womb

Hagar The Womb

Conflict recently played in Wales for the 10 year anniversary concert marking the death of Icons Of Filth singer Stig. So it was poignant that Icons of Filth that were so soon in London to be doing the same thing in honouring Paco. Adding to the emotional charge was the fact that Stig’s son Calvin (now in Grand Collapse) was on vocals for most of the night. He did a great job. He made the point that his father would have loved to have paid his tribute in person and that singing his fathers words was hard. Brave words and very well received. As the Icons excellent set full of early material drew to a close they were joined on vocals by Ben, drummer Aitch’s son, Ed on bass switched to drums and the bassist from Grand Collapse came on, the singer from the Phucks also sang and so did Colin from Conflict on “Enough Is Enough”. The songs from Nostradamnedus sounded superb alongside all the Mortarhate songs. A very impressive set and like all the bands a real reminder of what Paco meant to everyone here and a reminder of others we have lost too.

Icons of Filth

Icons Of Filth

Icons Of Filth

Finally it was Conflict‘s turn to take to the stage. Right now they’re back to their best. Stripped down to a four piece they steamroller through a set full of classics with very little let up. Talking to Colin earlier in the evening this seems like a deliberate plan and it works brilliantly. They’re a real sonic assault full of passion, drive and anger – just as they should be and with very few distractions everything really hits home hard. Drummer Spike has a tough job on his hands taking on the job of replicating Paco’s rhythms but carries everything off superbly and heads to the centre stage to make his own personal tribute during the set. Colin also dedicates the Ungovernable Force to Paco with the words “This is for my boy, I love you Pax” but its set closer ‘Whichever Way You Want It” that really has everyone on stage joining in a fitting tribute to the man himself. An amazing end to a tribute to an amazing man. So many warm words, so much heartfelt emotion. Paco. rest in peace.

Colin Jerwood, Conflict

Conflict

Conflict

PACO RIP

16408502779_cff9d75cab_k

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, The Forum, London

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS Thursday 26th March 2015 at the Forum, London

I arrived late at the Forum after the support acts had finished but still in time to catch Stiff Little Fingers’s famous warm up tune before they came out blinking into the bright lights and the simple stage set of North London’s Forum venue. They weren’t messing around either, launching directly into a crowd pleasing ‘Nobody’s Heroes’ followed up by another couple of early classics. More recent songs are heralded with the arrival of the menacing ‘Full Steam Backwards’ from the bands recent No Going Back album. It’s a brilliant song about how life can all fall apart when during the financial crisis others flitted in and out of your life, took your money and left you “out on your fucking ear”. That line is delivered with such unexpected venom it takes you aback a little. Also aired from the new album is ‘My Dark Places’, a searingly honest and personal look at singer Jake Burn’s long battle with depression. Setting the scene prior to starting the song he extolled the crowd to talk to people, to get help if they ever found themselves in a similar situation. It was heartening to see a warm reception for his words, maybe it struck a chord with many in the admittedly predominantly early fifty something audience. Also getting a decent reception was ‘Bits oF Kids’. Burns first talked about the ‘Now Then’ album that spawned it as dividing opinion with a mixture of great and not very good songs. He jokingly happily took credit for the good ones but claims he wasn’t there for the others!

Of course there were a great deal of classic SLF songs to run through too, a quite frankly thunderous start to ‘Tin Soldiers’ and a very lively ‘Suspect Device’ gets the crowd jumping up and down at the front while a mellower cover of the Specials “Doesn’t Make It Alright’ gives everyone a breather. Jake’s voice is on fine form, a great deal less raspy than it was on those early singles but now carrying the lyrics effortlessly. ‘Wasted Life’ sounds superb, building up from its opening plea into a raging tirade. Coming back for one last time at the end ‘Alternative Ulster’ sends the crowd home happy on a high and gets me spending the next day spinning all those old essential 7″‘s. So many great songs to choose from, all delivered with that SLF grit that has been there right from the start and that still persists to this day.

Jake Burns – on fine form at the Forum

SLF at the Forum

SLF at the Forum

Stiff Little Fingers at the Forum, London

The Truth Of Revolution, Brother

‘The Truth Of Revolution, Brother’ by Lisa Sofianos, Robin Ryde and Charlie Waterhouse  (Situation Press ISBN 978-0-9930190-0-5)

MacKaye_grande

Billed as “An exploration of punk philosophy” it might be useful to point out what this book covers and what it doesn’t right from the start. If you’re looking for the musings of The Exploited’s Wattie Buchan on Scottish Independence or what Bill Stevenson from the Descendents has to say about the ethics of coffee drinking you’re in the wrong place. This is a predominantly UK centric book with a relatively small international dimension, a bias towards Crass and anarcho punk and a fairly narrow time frame. That said, it is without a shadow of doubt, an excellent read.

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign the authors have travelled extensively to interview the more cerebral ‘names’ in punk, those well known to have something to say. It expands its horizons beyond the usual list of band members to thankfully include others who make the punk ethic of DIY work beyond the process of making music. Consequently we hear the views of Tony Drayton (Kill Your Pet Puppy zine) on squatting and Graham Burnett’s love of permaculture amongst the thoughts of scene luminaries such as Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Steve Ignorant (Crass), Ian McKaye (Minor Threat and Fugazi)  and Dick Lucas (Subhumans). There are insights aplenty from individuals who have had the time to experience and reflect on what punk has enabled them to achieve. It seems that regardless of the music punk has had a profound affect on each contributors life, expanding their horizons. A do it yourself attitude coupled with a desire to test and break through the barriers of normality abound. Forty years on the philosophy of punk is still enabling people to challenge their situations and to work to improve the lives of others. Reading this book will make sense of some things you have learnt along the way, show you some the mistakes that have been made but ultimately inspire you. Previously ordinary people can do extraordinary things once they realise they can. It’s got some very nice pictures too!

 

UNDERCOVER FESTIVAL – have a look at this line up!

The third Undercover festival which is held over three days in Woking, Surrey between 18th – 20th September 2015 has announced its full line up and a corker it is too. Featuring a mix of punk and post punk, dub, ska and reggae its grown in size and features an impressive array of talent. The Damned, UK Subs, Peter and the Test Tube Babies and Penetration are headlining but each day has some real gems in support. Click here to see the the Undercover Festival listings for 2015 and buy tickets here.

THE STRANGLERS, THE REZILLOS, G Live, Guildford

THE STRANGLERS, THE REZILLOS Thursday 5th March 2015 at G Live Guildford

I caught the Stranglers on their Ruby tour at Reading’s Sub89 and I’ve got to say that was a very special gig. An intimate venue, with a crystal clear sound and a set list I could have written myself that was one great night. So no pressure tonight then!

A long time ago Guildford was home territory to the Stranglers. The affluent home county town seems a long way from a punk rock homeland but the cavernous hall of the G-Live venue is already filling up as the Rezillo’s hit the stage. I’ve never seen them before but love their presence right from the start. As expected from their song titles such as “Flying Saucer Attack” they are a little bit zany both in dress sense and musically. I’m surprised at how many I knew – not only their big hit “Top Of The Pops” but “Destination Venus” sounds fresh too with a fuller, more driven sound than on the record. Enjoyable and fun they have more than enough to headline themselves but they just don’t have the fan base right now for a venue as big as this.

The Rezillos don’t take themselves too seriously

The Stranglers come out oozing with confidence. They have a vast back catalogue to plunder from and most of my favourites are the more upbeat numbers. And while they played a few of these for me there were some real omissions here. Maybe its because the crowd at Guildford seem very mellow and the Stranglers have played here before they’ve chosen a more sedate set (there are people here in blazers and navy blue jumpers with shirts on underneath)! There’s no ‘Tank’, no ‘5 Minutes’ and no ‘Norfolk Coast’ but we do get Golden Brown which with a few other numbers sees the welcome return of Jet Black behind the kit. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a great gig but something was missing tonight. The audience only really started moving when ‘Duchess’ was played and only looked threatened by the band when the bass during ‘Lost Control’ reached the level where you could feel your clothes vibrating. I’ll definitely be going to see the Stranglers again but maybe next time I’ll be choosing the venue more carefully. A point summed up neatly by the person next to me in the car park ticket machine queue on the way out. “Last time I saw this lot I bunked the train to get to the venue, tonight I’ve nearly been knocked down by a fan in a Jag”….

 The current Stranglers line up

MDC / SUBHUMANS / ANTI SYSTEM / HAGAR THE WOMB – AWOD 2015

Work, bad planning and just stuff meant that I could only make one night of the Another Winter of Discontent festival this year. It was going to be Sunday chiefly because I haven’t seen OI POLLOI in years but in the end Saturday was the only option available. Even then I only arrived during Hagar The Womb’s set and was immediately surprised how well they came across on a big stage and with a decent full sound. Seriously loved them, mildly chaotic singing, animal print outfits and so much energy they filled the hall easily with songs from their Mortarhate / Abstract years along with more recent offerings. I want to see them again, their catalogue of songs live is much stronger than I’d ever given them credit for.

Hagar The Womb, AWOD 2015

Sick On The Bus started up just as I was about to head downstairs for Anti System. That’s the trouble with these multi hall gigs, there’s decisions to be made. Armed with a dose of “We Are Sick On The Bus” I had to leave to see Anti System ‘cos I’d never seen them before. With a new singer they came over as urgent and essential and immediately got the crowd going, a lot of people had been looking forward to this and down the front was rammed. They really delivered, a fast set punctuated by a couple of problems but all in that eighties punk / metal / crust vein, so good but it all ended so soon with the classic ‘Animal Welfare’.

Sick On The Bus, AWOD 2015

Anti System, AWOD 2015

Back upstairs the Subhumans were getting ready and when they started they sounded phenomenal. I’d love to get a recording of this gig, the band were on such top form. Bruce on guitar was hammering away, adding little touches here and there to songs that have stood the test of over 30 years. Three decades on the Subhumans make them sound like they were written yesterday about things that concern them today. Dick, always with something to say about current events, takes care of the vocal communication with the crowd as usual but this is a band where all four components are at the top of their game. Classic after classic is aired, “Subvert City’, ‘Mickey Mouse Is Dead’. ‘Fade Away’ is dedicated to Paco and the whole set is ended with the inevitable and welcome playing of ‘Religious Wars’. Good luck to MDC following that….

Subhumans, AWOD 2015

Except that they don’t, not straight away anyway. The Restarts are surprise guests and take to the stage to rip through three songs ending with crazy workout that is ‘Independentzia” from their A Sickness Of the Mind album. The Restarts claim they are there to warm the crowd up for the incoming MDC but just like at the Clarendon in whatever year it was in the 80’s that I last saw the Texas band all that is lost in a lengthy wait while they get things ready.

Restarts, AWOD 2015

MDC, AWOD 2015

When they start the bass is so loud the guitarist could have sat the first few songs out. The drums and vocals are there but it needs that cutting attack for it to all make sense. To be honest I’m feeling a bit cheated. I want this to be great but it takes until Chicken Squawk twenty or so minutes in for things to start coming right. ‘John Wayne Was a Nazi’ sounded like it should but I’ll be honest here they’re not my favourite band on the bill on the night, much like last time then.

 

New Banksy work in Gaza

Banksy.co.uk was updated earlier today with a host of new images from Gaza along with an accompanying ‘tourist guide’ video which explains the plight of its inhabitants. Surrounded on all sides with walls and a heavily patrolled sea Gaza is continuing to suffer outside much of the worlds view. Last years  operation Protective Edge was responsible for the obliteration of over 18,000 homes – but rebuilding is hampered by restrictions which mean cement cannot be imported.  Banksy appears to access what is to all intents and purposes a prison via an underground tunnel  and paints several pieces utilising the devastation around him. See more of the images below and the video on Banksy.co.uk.

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Bomb damage, Gaza City (image banksy.co.uk)

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Everyone on the Internet likes looking at kittens…. (image banksy.co.uk)

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Watchtower Carousel (Image: banksy.co.uk)

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“If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful – we don’t remain neutral” (image banksy.co.uk)

DRAN’s Public execution

DRAN’s Public Execution for Pictures On Walls, Soho, London

Dran has previously had a well received show with Pictures On Walls as part of a seasonal pop up in London’s Soho. This time Toulouse’s most famous draughtsman was back in the same area with an unusual concept. Starting off with a gallery full of blank spaces he has over the past couple of weeks created an entire show by working odd hours to fill the frames in time for its closing today. A wander around the final pieces brings many a wry smile to your face with plenty of clever imagery on show. Here’s some of my highlights taken on the show’s penultimate day.

Work was still in progress on the day before closing

Dran: No Rule Games

 

RIP PACO

Rest in Peace Paco, a vital part of a band that changed everything about me. What I think, what I wear, what I eat, how I treat others. So sad to hear the news today. To live on in hearts is never to die. I hear there will be a memorial gig. I hope I can attend this and Colin, if you’re reading this I offer my condolences and my services as a photographer on the night for free.

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – No Going Back Album

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – No Going Back Album Review (Mondo Recordings)

So this review is getting on for a year late and oddly is only happening because I’ve read other reviews. Stiff Little Fingers live album Hanx was the first album I ever bought with my own money and I got all the early singles and the first few albums after that too. Then as they went more melodic and quieter I went faster and louder.  I remained aware of what they did and even saw them a few times but I felt they’d lost their spark a bit. Then in 2013 I saw them at Reading’s Sub89 and they were simply brilliant but somehow I never quite go around to buying this, their latest and crowd funded album. I kept reading rave reviews and assumed they were from die hard fans blowing on the embers but last week after seeing the album for 5.99 in HMV I decided to bite the bullet. I should have got this ages ago….

As soon as the first song snakes out of the speakers you realise it’s all there – great guitar hooks,Jake Burn’s voice all so familiar. The songs don’t sound like reheated versions of the old ones. Instead they sound like the band held back some of their best songs from years ago to release at a later date. The lyrics give the game away that time has passed. Songs about depression (My Dark Places) and a spot of banker bashing (Full Steam Backwards) are about Jake’s experiences and views on modern crises. The venoms still there along with the melodies. Moving in a heartbeat from a tuneful chorus to a momentary break in the music to snarl “you’re out on your fucking ear” there’s real passion in his delivery.

Like I say I’m a bit late to review this – there’s already plenty of good reviews already out there. If you ever, ever liked Stiff Little Fingers do yourself a favour and get this. So…oddly enough an album entitled ‘No Going Back’ turns out to be a return to form. And then some.

UK SUBS – Yellow Leader album

UK SUBS – Yellow Leader album review (Captain Oi)

Anyone who has witnessed the UK Subs live in the last few years knows just what a formidable line up they have these days. Forged out of constant gigging a stable quartet of  Charlie Harper (natch), returning early eighties bassist Alvin Gibbs, drummer Jamie Oliver and guitarist Jet deliver high octane precise punk rock night after night. Their set consists of a great number of classics from their early period but what of their recent output?

On a mission to produce an album for every letter of the alphabet from to A to Z they are currently at the penultimate letter Y. Yellow Leader is the chosen title and follows on from 2013’s excellent XXIV. Being so close to the end now it would be the simplest thing in the world just to knock out a couple of ropey albums to get the job done but that would be to underestimate them. Yellow Leader is a lavish production. From a Roy Lichtenstein inspired gatefold sleeve with the lyrics reproduced in full to the fact that there are 18 songs included this is a quality product and not a rushed job in any way. All good, but what about the music?

‘Sick Velveteen’ kicks things off with bass and drums and choppy guitar before launching into a fast paced tight punk rock workout. Everything sounds fresh, punchy and up to date. There’s even keyboards overlaid on the top just like the opener of XXIV. ‘Artifical’ continues at a slower tempo but the guitar chug is just so familiar, so…UK Subs. Two songs in and this sounds worth your money already. ‘Bordeaux Red’ is up next, the title maybe not so surprising as some of the band like a glass of red, the feeling of this one is more mellow before ‘Chemical’ comes in with its harder lyrics and spaced out chorus. Track after track lands in a plethora of styles. ‘Deconstruct’ is classic Subs, a live favourite for sure. ‘Heathens’ really sees the band going at full pelt at times, ‘Prime Evil’ has some real rock guitars in amongst a little thrashing. Rebellion takes things down an acoustic route before ‘Sin City Blues’ lives up to its name. ‘Suicidal Girl’ really gets things rocking and shows off Jet’s guitar work nicely and the whole thing ends with a pretty crazy instrumental ‘611’. There’s so much great stuff here if the Subs were a lazier band they could quite easily have chucked another half dozen songs into the recording can and released two separate 12 track albums to complete the A-Z right here, right now in 2015. Yellow Leader defies this attitude, it’s a fantastic album by a band on the top of their game. Roll on letter Z!

CONTROL / NEWTOWN NEUROTICS / THE ANGRY AGENDA, 100 Club, London

CONTROL / NEWTOWN NEUROTICS / THE ANGRY AGENDA Friday 6th February 2015 at the 100 Club, London

Back in the eighties I was very familiar with the Newtown Neurotics, one of the more cerebral and left wing bands of that era. I saw them play a number of shows, each time often memorable for something that happened (Putney – closed by the Police during the Miners Strike, Leighton Buzzard – where music occasionally interrupted the fighting, the Greyhound – last show and not forgetting New Malden – a long walk home ‘cos the last bus had gone)! I’d not seen them since though so when promoter Human Punk announced that he’d booked them I had no hesitation in getting a ticket even though I didn’t really know the other bands on the bill.

It’s a pain getting from work to central London and so I missed Skurvi but arrived for the start of The Angry Agenda. Up for it from the off with maybe already a few beers under their belts they went through a strong set of what is known now as street punk anthems but would of at one time been called Oi or boot boy anthems. The singer cajoled the crowd into a response with songs about boots and braces and smacking people in. I’ve got to say they were catchy, rowdy and enjoyable but lyrically just about the opposite of the stance taken by the Newtown Neurotics. I’ll be honest here – I started to wonder how that band would fare with this crowd when they took to the stage after The Angry Agenda finished their last song with a load of their mates on stage having gone down a storm.

The Angry Agenda (photo: Steve Cotton)

The Angry Agenda (photo: Steve Cotton)

Luckily Newtown Neurotics had a big build up from the promoter who explained why they were such a brilliant band and linked it all back to a time when he put on Running Riot at the 100 Club and witnessed vocalist Colin from the band singing along to every word when the DJ played Kick Out The Tories. Colin sadly died just a few days later and had said the Newtown Neurotics were his favourite band so Human Punk had resolved to get them to play the same stage. The band themselves hadn’t played there since the 80’s and commented that no video or photos exist of that gig. Something we could all put right tonight!

Newtown Neurotics at the 100 Club in 2015 (photo: Steve Cotton)

Just as I remembered them the band kicked off with the high pitch guitar of the intro to Wake Up, building up and going through the gears until it all comes crashing in with the great opening line “It all begins at school when they tell you you’re stupid and the jobs you get offered make the matter conclusive”. They hit their stride and the crowd come to the front; a quick look around shows a lot of the audience know every word and are enjoying singing along. The band have a new bassist – god he must have been young if even born when the band started and behind the kit I’m pleased to see first time around drummer Simon returning the band to two thirds of its original members. In the crowd tonight is BBC Radio 6 DJ Steve Lamacq clearly loving it all – it’s good to see someone from a mainstream channel liking this stuff because back in the day asides from John Peel it was hard for bands to get any other airplay.

Steve Drewett from the Newtown Neurotics

Original drummer Simon back behind the kit

Newtown Neurotics

The set list reveals a raft of classics including ‘Hypocrite’, ‘Newtown People’, ‘The Mess’ and, of course, ‘Living With Unemployment’ and ‘Kick Out The Tories’. Oddly missing is ‘Mindless Violence’ a song maybe more familiar than most to a section of the crowd as a version was included on the ‘Son Of Oi’ album. This turns out to be just an oversight and its duly played. A very short speech from Steve Drewett precedes their final song essentially saying that politics can be full of complications and compromises but that he can make it simple for us before immediately launching into their most famous lyric with an impassioned plea of “Let’s kick out the Tories, the rulers of this land”. Even when this is done the crowd want more and the band duly oblige with a brave (because its unrehearsed) run through of ‘No Respect’. They were really enjoying it and so were the crowd, its great to have them back and I hope to see them again soon.

It’s heading to 11.00 now and a last train home but I want to at least see some of headliners Control. They started off just great but a fair amount of the crowd was having to go by this stage, it was noticeably thinner by the time I left about five songs in. They seemed a very decent street punk band with singer Iain adept at rabble rousing and with every song seemingly having a particular point rather than just a run through of punk rock cliches. I really liked opener ‘ Punk Rock Ruined my Life’ – one to see another time!

 

Control Punk Band

Iain from Control

Control punk band at the 100 Club

DIRT BOX DISCO / MORGELLONS at the Fighting Cocks, Kingston

DIRT BOX DISCO / MORGELLONS, Saturday 31st January, Fighting Cocks, Kingston

Slow Faction had already played by the time I walked through the door of the Fighting Cocks on a cold and windy night. I wasn’t expecting much of a crowd – the last time I was here Steve Ignorant barely pulled 50 but its already busy. Morgellons look pleased as they take to the stage and launch into ‘Stay’ – a real crowd pleaser with some confident lead work and one of their best. They follow this up with a pretty diverse set ranging from slow burners to upbeat numbers. With singer Vincent putting real visceral emotion into every line they come across as authentic and intelligent and tread their own path.

Morgellons (photo: Steve Cotton)

Morgellons (photo: Steve Cotton)

 Dirt Box Disco on the other hand are all about the obvious. Full of catchy hooks, sing along choruses and a good smattering of humour they also have a rather unusual collection of attire – they look as if a torch has been shone in a corner of a den of unusual sexual practices. Spandex, one eyed balaclavas, army helmets, flowing robes – you get the idea. They’re all about having a good time, extolling us to “get fucking wasted”, getting us to join in singing “we are Dirt Box, we are bastards and we love it”. The place is absolutely jumping with both the band and the crowd loving every second even if we’re singing “My life is shit, nothing good will ever come of it” at the top of our voices. A huge cathartic experience, the perfect Saturday night after a tough week Dirt Box Disco are just about the best good time punk rock shout your head off and chuck inflatable cocks in the air (I kid ye not) band that there is.

Dirt Box Disco (photo: Steve Cotton)

Dirt Box Disco (photo: Steve Cotton)

Dirt Box Disco (photo: Steve Cotton)

Dirt Box Disco (photo: Steve Cotton)

PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES / THE VILE / CRETIN 77 / ARCH RIVALS at The Flag, Watford

PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES / THE VILE / CRETIN 77 / ARCH RIVALS Friday 23rd January 2015 at The Flag, Watford

The Watford Punk Collective have been steadily putting on punk gigs at the Flag for a while now but this was only my first foray into the town North West of London for a show. The journey round the M25 was surprisingly easy for a Friday night and I arrived in time to catch opener Arch Rivals. With a definite Oi feel their set consisted of strong hooks and stronger choruses. There was even a little bit of ska thrown in there too. The singer has a decent amount of stage presence, not least because he was sporting a flat cap and a big bushy beard for good measure. A bit Peaky Blinders and quite a good look – a fact not wasted on a section of the crowd who mid song donned fake beards and turned up en masse in front of the singer. I’ve since discovered that this was Arch Rivals first gig – a very impressive debut.

Next up were Cretin 77, a band I first saw in Milton Keynes over a year ago. It’s hard at times for ‘new’ punk bands to make a name for themselves but that’s exactly what they are doing right now. Singer Joe has a real Jello Biafra tinge to his voice and a captivating style, all stares, hand gestures and stop start motion. The band provide a solid punk rock base, part GBH, part Dead Kennedy’s and even referencing Joy Division (although sadly their stunning cover of Transmission didn’t make the set tonight).They have a wealth of strong mid tempo songs – standouts for me were ‘Sleep In Your Car’, ‘Satellite Smile’ and the more recent ‘Killer Kane’. If they play your town go see ’em. They win more people over every time they hit the stage and got a great reaction from the rapidly assembling crowd tonight.

Joe from Cretin 77 (photo: Steve Cotton)

Andy, Cretin 77 (photo: Steve Cotton)

One thing you can’t do with The Vile is ignore them. They arrive and start as they mean to go on, relentless punk rock thrash. Fronted up by Rat (Varukers, Discharge etc) they take no prisoners. I have to say last time I saw them I wasn’t much of a fan but tonight the sound man ensures they get a decent mix and some songs start to really stand out. Set highlight for me was “It Is What It Is” from their 2014 Fear Of the Truth 7″ EP. I really should have bought this on the night – I’m going to have to track it down now.

Rat from The Vile (photo: Steve Cotton)

The Vile at the Flag, Watford (photo: Steve Cotton)

I’ve seen headliners Peter And The test Tube Babies countless times over the years and they never disappoint. Launching into crowd favourite ‘Moped Lads’ they played a set full of early classics (‘Run Like Hell’, ‘The Jinx’, ‘Banned From The Pubs’ et al) and a smattering of more recent offerings. There’s a bit of an atmosphere in a section of the crowd which sadly and somewhat inevitably boils over into a few punches being thrown but things settle down quickly and whilst the threat never quite goes away the rest of the gig passes off without serious incident. The Test Tubes come back to complete an encore of ‘Elvis Is Dead’ and a blistering version of ‘September’ giving the crowd just what they wanted. It’s the second time they’ve played the Flag and judging by the size of the crowd here and the reception they got it won’t be the last either.

Peter Test Tube (photo: Steve Cotton)

 All the classics – Test Tube Babies set list from the night.

UK SUBS / LOUISE DISTRAS at the 100 Club, London

UK SUBS / LOUISE DISTRAS Friday 9th January 2015 at the 100 Club, London

The Resolution Festival at the 100 Club entered its penultimate day with what for me was the best night – Wakefield’s singer songwriter Louise Distras and the ever fantastic UK Subs. Louise had also promised via Facebook that something huge was going to happen on the night so I was curious to see what that might be. She took to the stage in her characteristic style – 100% from the off. It always takes me back a little bit when she starts because it’s just so instantly full on but boy does it gets the crowds attention! She’s over halfway through her set having played anthems such as ‘The Hand You Hold’ when she announces her surprise welcoming Jamie Oliver (UK Subs) on drums and Chema (Cellbound, Skeptix etc) on bass. Louise Distras has a band!

Louise Distras debuts her new band at the 100 Club (photo: Steve Cotton)

She’s really enjoying herself as the 100 Club bears witness to the very first performance of what will be a new unit that will tour the UK later in the year. I recorded ‘Bullets’ on video and after the show bassist Chema hooks this video up with another by Tutek and with a bit of wizardry all of a sudden we have a new official video for the band. You can watch it here. Great start to the evening!

Louise Distras (photo: Steve Cotton)

The UK Subs took to the stage and I was surprised at just how packed the 100 Club was by this time. Five nights of consecutive punk gigs hadn’t reduced the crowd at all. There were other options on in London tonight too so it was great to see so many there. The Subs delivered a fantastic set as ever, Charlie orchestrating from the front with Alvin, Jet and Jamie all putting in great performances. This band are on top form right now and its been like this for a while. With new album Yellow Leader due out imminently the end is now in sight for them to complete their A-Z album list and they play a couple of new songs from it tonight with Jet’s composition ‘Suicidal Girl’ being the stand out. They also gave ‘Keep On Running’ an airing for the first time in a while, it went a little awry to be honest but it was great to hear it live again – hopefully it’ll stay in the set from now on. All the favourites were there – a blistering ‘Emotional Blackmail’, a heavier ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’, a singalong ‘Warhead’ and taking it right back to the beginning ‘CID’. Stand out for me, as ever, was “New York State Police’. ‘Til the next time!

Charlie Harper, UK Subs (photo: Steve Cotton)

Jet from UK Subs (photo:Steve Cotton)

Alvin Gibbs from UK Subs with roadie Chris (photo: Steve Cotton)

 

 

HARD SKIN / PKN / GOOD THROB / INTERROBANG?! at the Lexington

Typical of me I’d adopted a “I’ll do that later” approach to getting my tickets for Hard Skin’s Christmas bash and only really took proper notice once they’d sold out. Luckily for me my old friend James Sherry came up with the goods at the last minute and so thankfully I made my way to Kings Cross on Saturday night with another old gigging partner – Jake from UK Resist.

Inside the venue at 8pm the crowd is building up nicely when a man in a suit appears at the back of the hall shouting into a megaphone. He clambers up on the stage still making his point and then the rest of Interrobang?! (a guitarist and drummer but no bassist) join in. That vocal style is immediatley familiar even if the musics not – Harry and Dunstan from Chumbawamba make up two thirds of the outfit. They fill the sound out nicely with guitar loops and are blessed with a spot on mix from the sound desk. Subjects are largely familiar (their view of social change with the benefit of decades of real life experience) with the exception of a brave song about the death of a parent. Their first gig was only back in October but already they have confidence and a wealth of material and receive a warm reaction form the audience.

Changing tack somewhat with a heavily distorted sound Good Throb arrive on stage and start out blasting tribal drum based simple but effective tirades. These three ladies and one man really go for it throughout their performance. Quite why the singer wears marigold gloves throughout is something I never worked out (maybe I should have asked !) but I loved their attitude and the way their music hits home at a really basic level. Looking forward to tracking down some recordings so if you know of any….

Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (PKN for short) are a Finnish punk band who have achieved a level of fame through being the subject of a documentary ‘The Punk Syndrome’. Each member has learning difficulties and the film covers their lives inside and outside of the band. After tonights show I can’t wait to see it, they were just excellent and received a fantastic response from the crowd. Each member of the band expresses real character with drummer Toni being a particular favourite of mine. Bands should entertain and they certainly did that, in fact as they walked off stage after a great set I happened to be  standing next to Johnny Takeaway of Hard Skin who was staring incredulously and I overheard him say “How the fuck do we follow that”?! (see what I did there – I had to get an Interrobang (?!) in this review somewhere)!

The answer to that is of course is simply to play their very effective brand of street anthems, indulge in some very amusing in between song banter and get the crowd joining in by calling themselves wankers. Hard Skin’s songs owe a great deal to the Cockney Rejects and that basic Oi sound. In fact they out Oi many Oi bands and that’s why despite having their tongue firmly in their cheeks their love for the genre has resulted in some truly memorable classics. With so many crowd pleasers including “We Are the Wankers”, “Sausage Man” and “Boys In Blue” they go down a storm and a short but consistently on the money set meant that everyone left happy with their favourite Hard Skin song lodged firmly in their head. All together now “You what. You what…”

Watch videos from the gig:

Hard Skin playing Boys In Blue live at the Lexington / PKN live 

Good Throb live at the Lexington

Interrobang?! playing Are You Ready People live at the Lexington

Interrobang?! (photo: Steve Cotton)

Good Throb (photo: Steve Cotton)

Good Throb (photo: Steve Cotton)

Good Throb (photo: Steve Cotton)

PKN (photo: Steve Cotton)

PKN (photo: Steve Cotton)

Hard Skin’s Johnny Takeaway (photo: Steve Cotton)