RUTS DC – Psychic Attack

It’s not usual that I’d comment on a single song – well, never really – but this is a bit special. The Ruts are easily in my top 5 favourite bands and most of that is based on the bright incendiary flame they lit up until 1980. I’ve recently been impressed by Ruts DC live performances and now there is something new to get excited about. The first proper rocking track in decades – and it’s a corker. Channeling old Ruts with an updated sound, enlisting John Howard for the cover (the artist behind some of the bands early singles) it’s a real surprise and bodes well for the album ‘Music Must Destroy’.

 

 

THE LONDON POLICE / SCOTT LISTFIELD at Stolen Space

THE LONDON POLICE – ALL AT SEA, SCOTT LISTFIELD – AN AMERICAN ASTRONAUT IN LONDON (Stolen Space Gallery)

Stolen Space is currently displaying The London Police’s ‘All At Sea’ show. TLP raise the bar with every show they do and this is no exception. Exquisitely drawn with indelible ink on Brussels linen the work features both plain colour backgrounds and this time more detailed back scenes in acrylic than previously seen. On until 29th May at Stolen Space its one of those exhibitions that makes me think I should get a better paying job. Stunning work.

The London Police - All At Sea

The London Police ‘Sunnia And The Fisherman’s Orb’

The London Police - Limp Robot

The London Police – Limp Robot (Probably) Being Taken Out To Sea

TLP

The London Police ‘Tanksy Coming Home For Tea, Part 1’

Stolen Space Gallery

Three showstopping canvasses only just fit in the space – you’ll need a big home to display these centre pieces but they are utterly fantastic.

The London Police

The London Police ‘Minions Asking For Directions To Nearest Port’.

The London Police

The London Police ‘Walking A Lorse On A Beach’

Also on at Stolen Space at the same time is an exhibition by Scott Listfield. Entitled ‘An American Astronaut In London’ it feature photorealistic paintings of an astronaut placed in London scenes related to well known acts fro the 90’s ranging from Blur to the Spice Girls. It’s an interesting concept with populist appeal that’s produced some very eye catching art works.

Scott Listfield - Massive Attack

Scott Listfield – London Massive Attack

Scott Listfield - The Verve

Scott Listfield – London Verve

THE DAMNED – Royal Albert Hall

THE DAMNED 40th Annniversary, Friday 20th April 2016 at the Royal Albert Hall

Back in May ’77 The Damned’s manager Derek Block wrote to the Albert Hall to arrange gig for the band enclosing a copy of their recently released LP. The reply could have hardly been terser. The Secretary and Lettings manager refused the proposal as they were “not considered to be a suitable group”. Worse still they added “The record is here for your collection should you need it”. Ouch. Fast forward 39 years and it’s totally different story. Now in their 40th anniversary year the band have just about sold out the place and they and their fans (it was always the fans who were the real problem for the RHA to be fair) are very much welcome in this grandest of concert venues.

Channeling Phantom Of Opera, singer Dave enters not stage left but stage…above. He appears up on a balcony, swathed in a black cape and sporting a face mask and commandingly belts out the opening lines to ‘Nature’s Dark Passion’.

Dave Vanian, The Damned at the Royal Albert Hall

Dave Vanian makes a grand entrance at the Royal Albert Hall

The opening slew of songs give the game away, the band are working backwards from their newest material to their oldest and most famous. ‘Democracy’ from the bands 2001 album ‘Grave Disorder’ goes down very well but you get the feeling everyone is just pacing themselves just a little bit. There’s nearly three hours to go.

Captain Sensible, guitarist with The Damned

Captain Sensible in a sparkly jacket and his trademark red beret

Things really go up a notch by the time the tracks off ‘Phantasmagoria’ are reached. ‘Street Of Dreams’ has the crowd properly bouncing for the first time along with their surprise hit ‘Eloise’. Ending the first half of their set and only upping the ante higher are ‘Generals’ and the fittingly explosive ‘Ignite’ from Strawberries.

The Damned

The Damned

Returning after half an hour (to allow keyboard player Monty a ‘wee break’ according to the band’s Facebook update!) the rest of the set comprises a bunch of classics familiar to any Damned fan (Neat Neat Neat, Love Song, The History Of The World), some less well known (Limit Club once again dedicated to Malcom Owen of The Ruts) along with some real live rarities including ‘Life Goes On’. A storming rendition of their first single ‘New Rose’ ends their set and as the band walk off I can hear people around me asking ‘what’s left to play’?

Captain Sensible, the Damned

Playing guitar with a beer can

Captain Sensible playing slide with a beer can

The answer comes in the form of just one song, the seventeen minute orchestral epic of ‘Curtain Call’. Dave Vanian is joined on stage  by his daughter Emily who plays the violin part. Both decked in black angel wings it’s an inspired choice of song, so fitting for the venue and the moment. Once completed the entire band receive the audiences rapturous applause before departing with of course the Captain showing off his Crystal Palace shirt prior to their appearance at the FA Cup Final.

So, after four decades the Damned have finally played the Royal Albert Hall and it’s been a triumph. Something tells me that had they played 39 years ago things might have been quite different and they may never have been invited back. Maybe the Secretary and Lettings Manager had a point after all….

The Damned - Curtain Call with wings

The Damned Curtain Call

The Damned at the Royal Albert Hall

The Damned at the Royal Albert Hall

UK SUBS – Ziezo Album Launch, Nuneaton

UK SUBS – ‘Ziezo’ Album launch gig, Monday 2nd May 2016 at Queens Hall, Nuneaton

Champagne at the door, commemorative badges for those who had bought their tickets on pledge and a bunch of die hard Subs fans from all over the place making the trip to Queens Hall in Nuneaton meant that this was never going to be a run of the mill gig. Billed as the launch party for Ziezo, the bands 26th and final release in their A-Z album offering there was plenty for all to celebrate and a whole evening set aside to do just that.

UK SUBS - Nuneaton Ziezo album launch

Taking to the stage for the first of three sets Charlie Harper started the evening off playing acoustic versions of UK Subs classics on his own.With a little time to reminisce about each song before playing it he shared with the crowd the story behind one of their most famous Top Of The pop moments – ‘Stranglehold’. Turns out it was about a thirteen year old girl called Bonita who was keen on Pete Davies, the Subs drummer on many of their top 40 singles. Charlie joked that she’s probably about fifty now – which would make her one of the younger ones attending this gig! Jamie Oliver came out to join in on a guitar and finally a uke for the remainder of the opening set, sitting on a resplendent custom made drum stool and really filling out the sound on the songs. The crowd played their part too, joining in with the singing, building up a great atmosphere with those on both sides of the stage barriers clearly enjoying themselves.
UK Subs acoustic set
Charlie and Jamie
When the full band arrive for the start of their set it’s the turn of the most stable line up in the bands history. Guitarist Jet and bassist Alvin Gibbs have both put in long stints in the group and along with Jamie have contributed fully on their recent output. Material from the last four albums makes up the whole of this really strong section with a dozen modern classics including ‘Hell Is Other People’, ‘Monkeys’, ‘Suicidal Girl’ and ‘Sick Velveteen’. Already a firm fan favourite ‘Banksy’ is so recent Charlie has to occasionally look down to remind himself of the lyrics. It’s got that classic UK Subs hook, the sort of simple guitar lead that makes ‘New York State Police’ such a staple of their gigs. A rather ambitious request from the crowd for a Prince cover meets with incredulity from the band. Charlie is un-phased though and says whilst he might like a couple of his songs (1999 and Little Red Corvette) he really liked the fact that Prince put his money where his mouth is in his Minneapolis home, ensuring there was not just a big venue for bands to play but a 200 capacity hall as well – frequented by many punk bands over the years.
Charlie Harper
Charlie Harper
Alvin Gibbs
Alvin Gibbs
UK Subs singalong
The crowd were on top form too!
Coming out for the final session the band ripped through tracks off the album that started it all – Another Kind Of Blues. ‘Young Criminals’, ‘Kicks’, ‘Rockers’ and ‘TV Blues’ rolled back the years and were followed by more classic album tracks (‘Endangered Species’, ‘Emotional Blackmail’) before it was the turn of the singles. You probably know the rest ‘ Warhead’ (Charlie thanked the crowd for one of the best sing alongs ever), ‘Stranglehold’, ‘Teenage’ – which led to some very broad smiles on the faces of the crowd as they sang along to every word, and ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’ all sounded fresh and energetic. Of course the band came back for an encore, Topped and tailed by ‘CID’ and ‘New York State Police’ the final section left everyone in the hall knowing they had witnessed something special. Not because they’d heard these songs live – they’d surely all seen them before. No, there was something else going on, a real celebration. It had taken nearly 40 years to get to this point and here we all were at what felt like the climax. Both the band and the crowd in mutual admiration – but of course it’s not the end at all. Just a milestone passed. The band will continue to play and even record more singles, EP’s whatever – but don’t expect them to start another alphabet series!
UK Subs
UK Subs - Nuneaton
Charlie Harper
UK Subs Ziezo Album

DOOM / EXTINCTION OF MANKIND / WARWOUND / CRESS (Boston Arms) and HELLO BASTARDS / DYSTERIA / HERIDA PROFUNDA (The Unicorn)

DOOM / EXTINCTION OF MANKIND / WARWOUND / CRESS – Saturday 30th April 2016 at the The Boston Arms London

HELLO BASTARDS / DYSTERIA / HERIDA PROFUNDA – early Sunday morning 1st May 2016 at the Unicorn, Camden

Shortly before tonight I heard the bad news that Deviated Instinct had to pull out (hope you recover soon Leggo) but there was still a fantastic line up in store – with absolutely no let up in the noise levels. South London Scum had put a whole weekend together, loads of great bands supporting both Love Sex Hate Sexism and the National Rape Crisis Helpline. Really good to see DIY punk ethics, supporting great causes with plenty of literature available on a bunch of stalls in amongst the distro offerings.

Cress were kicking off as I arrived. With a drum machine and a bunch of samples breaking up their sound they stood out as a band treading their own path despite many similarities with others on the bill in their guitar riffs.

Cress

Cress

Warwound are old and new all at once. Regulars singer Rat (Varukers, Discharge), bassist Ian Glasper (too many to mention) and guitarist Damian (Sacrilege) are joined by Kevin Frost (Anti System) behind the kit after a car incident earlier in the day robbed them of their drummer. He does a brilliant job too considering their first rehearsal was only at 5pm that afternoon.

more to follow

Warwound

Warwound

Extinction Of Mankind

Extinction Of Mankind

Doom punk band

Doom

Profunda Herida

Profunda Herida

Dysteria

Dysteria

Hello Bastards

Hello Bastards

UK Subs – Ziezo album review

UK SUBS – ‘Ziezo’ album (16 tracks, released April 2016)

Way back in 1979 the UK Subs released their first album ‘Another Kind Of Blues’. Followed up by ‘Brand New Age’ and ‘Crash Course’ by the time ‘Diminished Responsibility’ came around it was obvious even then to my teenage mind that the album titles were running in alphabetical order. At that time the group reaching the letter Z seemed like an impossible target. Band members joined and left with vocalist Charlie Harper being the only constant throughout. Some albums were more memorable than others but over the last few titles, as the band approached their target, a line up has emerged that really has hit their groove. Ziezo, the last full UK Subs album in the series, is a fitting finale. Full of precision hard hitting drumming, solid bass lines and choppy crunching guitar it delivers throughout. And then there is the voice of Charlie over the top, still with plenty to say and the means to deliver it. He makes a mockery of his advancing years once again on this outing.

UK Subs Ziezo

UK Subs – Ziezo

‘Polarisation’ opens the album bursting out of a background of discordant sounds, racing to its conclusion. The next three cuts, all around the two and half minute mark, follow on its heel, guitarist Jet really rocking out out on ‘Oligarchy’ before the chant along chorus of ‘Evil vs Evil’. ‘Proto Feminist Heroine’ is more experimental with its list of subjects referenced by the title followed by the bluesy ‘Disclosure’. Normal service then resumes (!) with a slew of great punk songs following one after another with subjects from the master race to enigmatic graffiti artist Banksy only broken up by the Jamie Oliver led thrash drumming of ‘This Machine’. ‘City of Dead’  provides a break with its ska riffing before ‘Maid of Orleans’ and z for ‘Zeitgeist’ close off proceedings in classic UK Subs style.

Thirty seven years after they kicked off with the letter A this album sees the UK Subs hitting harder and more consistently than pretty much anything they’ve done in the meantime, It’s up there with the best of them, 16 tracks of a band once again at the top of their game. I love seeing the Subs play their classics live, you see so many bands right now play their early albums in their entirety – but you know what? I’d love to see this band play this, their latest release, in full – it’s that good.

The cover art is killer too – such a great nod back to Another Kind of Blues.

UK Subs Ziezo album

UK Subs Ziezo – rear cover art

Charlie Harper

Charlie Harper, still rocking out after 26 UK Subs albums (not to mention countless other releases)!

Dozen new Invader pieces in London for 2016

12 New Invader Pieces in London for 2016

French self styled ‘Unidentified Free Artist’ Invader has been in London recently putting up his pixelated tile versions of characters from the classic video game. All twelve new pieces have been identified and here they all are. Context is key so this picture heavy post not only features the work itself but its location in the environment too.

Where known Invader’s numbers have been added and their scores – you can download his Flash Invaders game from app stores.

Invader tile art

Invader in Hoxton

Invader in Hoxton

Invader Shoreditch

Invader Shoreditch

Invader in Shoreditch – LDN 147 (30 pts)

Invader Finsbury Park

Invader Finsbury Park

Invader on the Arts Building, Finsbury Park – LDN 142 (30 Pts)

Invader Holloway Road

Invader in Holloway Road

Invader in Holloway Road

Invader Prince Charles Cinema

Invader Prince Charles Cinema

Invader on the Prince Charles cinema

Invader in Hornsey Road

Invader in Hornsey Road

Invader in Hornsey Road – LDN 146 (30 pts)

Invader in Walthamstow

Invader in Walthamstow

Invader in Walthamstow

Invader with beer

Invader in Walthamstow

Invader in Walthamstow – LDN 149 (100 pts)

Invader on the South Bank

Invader on the South Bank

Invader on the South Bank – LDN 144 (50 pts)

Invader in Camden

Invader in Camden

Invader in Camden – LDN 139 (100 pts)

Invader in the London Museum

Invader in the London Museum

Invader in a museum, two figures here so this counts as two Invaders completing the twelve.

Bits and pieces round up

A few old and new pieces photographed recently on my travels:

I’d heard somewhere that Stik’s seven storey high mural in West London was going to disappear sometime soon as the area was going to be redeveloped. It’s a massive piece visible from the Piccadilly tube line going into London from Heathrow. I’ve never seen it up close though and when I got there it turns out it has a little surprise at the bottom in the form of an in part identical image repeated at a fraction of the scale.

Stik in Ealing

Stik Acton Mural

Stik art on a tower block in Ealing, West London

Elsewhere I had a crafty look at a very nice piece bemoaning late running trains behind some shops in South West London. No idea who the artist is so if you know drop in a comment.

Damn trains late again

Damn Trains – Late Again graffiti

Always nice to stumble on a Clet Abraham modified ‘No Entry’ sign – this time in Shoreditch.

Clet Abraham Key

Clet Abraham – key

Finally on a hunt for recent work by Invader I bumped into this rather fine piece by Mr Cenz in Walthamstow. Who knew Walthamstow could look this good in the sunshine?

Mr Cenz in E17

Mr Cenz in E17

WOLF ALICE / PRETTY VICIOUS / ABATTOIR BLUES, The Forum, London

WOLF ALICE / PRETTY VICIOUS / ABATTOIR BLUES, Monday 28th March 2016 at The Forum, London

It’s been a long time coming but when Wolf Alice announced they were playing on home territory again in North London a night at The Forum seemed like a big deal. It sold out straight away, another night was added, then another before the final tally was taken up to four. They could have done more. They seemed genuinely shocked but promised us a glittering night out.

With different supports each night my ticket got me Abattoir Blues and Pretty Vicious. Hailing from Brighton and seemingly named after a Nick Cave Album Abattoir Blues kick up a thunderous grungy juggernaut of sound occasionally bursting into full on rocking out mode for a few seconds at a time. Only trouble is when they stop I can’t understand a word the singer says as he fails to engage eye contact with the crowd or  speak directly into the microphone.

Abattoir Blues

Abattoir Blues

No such issues for Pretty Vicious. Confident and determined in equal measure they arrive on stage with a swagger, all rock n roll and skinny jeans. They know how to kick up a storm and immediately get right down to a bunch of upbeat, sometimes thrashy, always rocky numbers. A look down the front of the Forum show they have bought their own fans along too and there’s a decent amount of lively dancing right in front of the stage. Expect to hear more from this outfit.

Pretty Vicious

Pretty Vicious

The slow but steady ‘Your Loves Whore’ has the whole crowd singing along with Wolf Alice right from the start. Over on the right the familiar sight of blonde topped bassist Theo Ellis is missing due to illness. Genghar’s John Victor steps into his shoes and delivers an admirable performance. In fact at several times I find myself transfixed by his rocking on his heels dance moves as he traverse’s the stage like he’s alway been in the band. Behind them lights twinkle like the embers from falling fireworks whilst the band work through song after song off their debut album ‘My Love is Cool’- and that’s another amazing thing – the band have only released one album to get this far. It’s an incredible piece of work containing the Radioheadesque ‘You’re A Germ’, the sparkly ‘Bros’ and tonights momentous set closer ‘Giant Peach’. Kicking off with it’s side stepping dance routine involving a member of the audience plucked out to appear on the stage and climaxing with an explosion of glitter blasted out all over the venue at the end the band left the stage looking pleased but relaxed. One more night left to go their fan base continues to build. But please, no stadium tours, not just yet. Lets enjoy this while we can.

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice

Ellie, Wolf Alice

Ellie, Wolf Alice

John Victor playing for Wolf Alice

John Victor stepping into the the shoes of Theo Eliis for Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice, The Forum

A glittering end

 

THE STRANGLERS / THE ALARM at the Hexagon, Reading

THE STRANGLERS / THE ALARM Tuesday 15th March 2016 at the Hexagon, Reading

Welsh rockers The Alarm inspire pure devotion from their fans but for others, myself included, they remain just another U2’ish reasonably successful act from the mid eighties. So without their addition to the bill tonight it’s very unlikely I’d be seeing them as for me they are very much on my list of ‘also rans’. That’s a bit unfair on them though, they had some real standout songs that display a great sense of craft, grit and harmony. The only original member, singer and guitarist Mike Peters is funny, engaging and humble. His impassioned speech for his charity Love Hope Strength Foundation  borne out of his personal experiences perfectly hits the spot as do his recollections of seeing the Stranglers in Wales ‘back in the day’. Tracks on offer alternate between acoustic and hard(ish) rock with the most anthemic songs in the form of ’68 Guns’ and the ‘The Spirit of 76’ really connecting with the crowd.

The Alarm

The Alarm

Mike Peters, The Alarm

Mike Peters, The Alarm

Originally released in 1978 ‘Black and White’ is the Stranglers choice of album to play in full on this tour. Their third, it met with a varied and at times lacklustre reception when it came out. To me though it’s probably my favourite. With it’s monochrome image of the four members striking poses on the cover and it’s decidedly more experimental style it was the most eclectic of the early trio of work. Tonight the band and their entire back line appear in stark black and white themselves. Their amps are white, singer Baz Warne’s shoes are white, even the microphone leads are blindingly white. The band, the aforementioned Baz, original bassist JJ Burnel and keyboard player Dave Greenfield along with a sadly necessary replacement for Jet Black on drums are, of course, dressed almost entirely in black.

‘Tank’ is a great opener, instantly getting the sprung floor at the Hexagon bouncing with rather pleased fifty somethings enjoying the chance to watch songs they are word perfect with appear all in order. It’s an incredibly solid album with only a couple of awkward numbers (the rather plodding ‘Outside Tokyo’ and the distinctly odd ‘Threatened’). That’s being picky though with a menace laden ‘In The Shadows’, the swirling intro to ‘Toiler On The Sea’, the end of days broadcast like qualities of ‘Curfew’…I could go on but suffice to say everything is played with an energy that defies their years.

The Stranglers Black and White tour

The Stranglers Black and White tour

Once ‘Black and White’ is done there’s enough time for a few more recent offerings. ‘Norfolk Coast’ sounds amazing, a truly great Stranglers song in any era and one that proved they can still produce material that’s up there with their best. The floor really gets bouncing again when they up the malice with ‘5 Minutes’, a few more later and with a opening shout of ‘Boogie’ they finally leave the stage for the night with ‘Go Buddy Go’ and ‘No More Heroes’.   Those fifty somethings (and some a lot younger!) leave the venue looking rather pleased. The Stranglers are on fine form, long may it continue.

JJ Burnel

JJ Burnel, The Stranglers

Baz Warne

Baz Warne, The Stranglers