There’s a curious atmosphere in the Bandroom tonight. You’d think The Living End’s only Australian gig this year would be a buzzing beehive of expectation, but instead the audience (a mix of die-hard fans and attendees for some tedious showbiz awards bash at the same venue) are simply happy to be here. Nothing wrong with that mind, but you’d expect more a tad more rock n’ roll spirit to infuse the proceedings. Still, once the band take to the stage, we’re reminded why we like them so much. Tonight’s gig is a mixture of old, new and somewhere in between as the boys dust off the studio cobwebs and get to business, and business is, mostly, good. Guitarist Chris Cheney is something of a shredmaster general and it’s nice to see a young man in such dapper clothes as the boys tear through their set. Only problem is, while the gig is definitely ‘good’, it rarely crosses the divide into ‘great’. A shame, as this outfit has honed their craft through years of playing toilets and you just know that, were circumstances in their favour, they would be electrifying. Still, we get some good rockin’ tonight (spoilt only by a questionable cover of Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ with vocals courtesy of that chimp from Jet) and everyone leaves happy. I’ve seen bands do more with less, but perhaps I’m just too cynical. The boys done good. James Gates
In 1977 a group of anarchists called themselves CRASS released an album called ‘The Feeding Of The 5000’. Soon after they were investigated by the CIA, MI5 and the KGB. During their seven years as a band they attempted to change the world. For the millions who listened to the message they articulated with such brutal precision – they did. While much had been made of Steve Ignorant’s decision to perform ‘The Feeding Of The 5000’ from the Guardian newspaper to punk messageboards, the electricity of the anticipation in the run-up to tonight soon gave way as the military drumbeat of ‘Do They Owe Us A Living’ cut away all concerns as nothing less than a political juggernaut burst through West London. With tracks such as ‘Banned From The Roxy’, ‘Punk Is Dead’ and ‘So What’ within the setlist, how could tonight ever have failed? As the brilliant punk masterpieces ‘Bloody Revolutions’ and ‘Big A Little A’ found themselves aired later on in the set they also found themselves with a backing choir of four thousand belligerent punks who, by the looks on their faces, could still not believe both their eyes or ears as the music of CRASS through Steve Ignorant once again filled the airwaves. Steve Ignorant achieved what many thought impossible tonight. A virtuoso delivery and performance found itself coupled alongside the unconditional love felt for the songs that channeled through to the faces in the crowd and somehow beyond. It was nothing less than perfect in every way. Billed as a night of love, music, film, performance and anger, tonight transcended all of those emotions and in an age where we have been accustomed to homogenized corporate punk charlatans became nothing less than magical. If there is no authority but Yourself, let’s hope Steve Ignorant performs again. It’s rare nights like these that do change people’s lives. Gig of the year. John Damon
So here we go again. Third time lucky? After the Pistols original reformation was a triumph at Finsbury Park, the next one at Crystal Palace was a sloppy, unrehearsed show. And so what about tonight at Brixton? Well from the moment a country squire attired John Lydon takes the stage it seems they haven’t really bothered putting a lot into this. Lydon’s vocals now exaggerate ‘Pretty Vacant’ to torture point and the once cool as fuck Steve Jones hunches his bulking frame over the guitar to spew out, at the best, mid paced pub rock. In fact, a voice close to Big Cheese reliably tells us they only bothered ‘rehearsing’ 4 songs before tonight. So yes, it is the Sex Pistols, but it is also a load of bollocks. Having seen the Ruts reform recently, they would have wiped the floor with these Pistols, even though one of their members was dying! No, tonight was a simple cash-in – and none of Lydon’s sarcasm can hide the fact that they were terribly average. Apparently they got better as their residency went on but if this is the future then England is Dreaming. At £45 a ticket, ever got the feeling you’ve been cheated? Oh, and why, oh why, did they get the Cribs to support them? John Damon
SIOUXSIE Eiffel Tower Paris September 28th 4/5 Unveiling material from her long-anticipated solo album in the intimate (and frankly, breathtaking) setting of the first-level bar of le Tour Eiffel as part of the Coke Music Discovery sessions, you'd be hard-pushed to top Siouxsie for sheer sense of occasion; poised in the chilly Paris night several hundred feet over the city centre, tonights venue is so far removed from the humdrum dive-bar location of your usual rock-circuit bash, it's something of a masterstroke. As the intro-tape of Morricone's Ecstasy of Gold gives way to the insistent dance-punk groove of album opener 'Into A Swan', Siouxsie executes an immaculate grand entrance. Zippered into an outrageously slinky metallic catsuit affair, with her signature shock of black hair( that launched the look of a thousand Goth girls) and cats-eyes warpaint, Siouxie's unassailable stage presence is as captivating and startling as it ever was. High-kicking playfully over the heads of an adoring front-row, Siouxsie stakes a claim on the here-and-now without so much as a backwards glance to Banshees days and her influence on Gwen Stefani and even old' Madonna herself are obvious here tonight. Through a shimmering set of new material from this year's Mantaray CD, our girl undulates like a cobra to the album's eastern-tinged rhythms, working the stage with a winning blend of feisty assertiveness and spooky entrancement. Loveless rides out the darker currents of disintegrating romance, while 'If It Doesn't Kill You' smoulders with torchy regret; 'Sea Of Tranquility' glides on tropical currents, 'They Follow You' flows sinuously. Bowing out with a jazzed-out reprise of 'Swan' and an unexpected romp through the Doors 'Hello I Love You', Siouxsie and her new musical ensemble take their leave and we spill out onto the observation deck to contemplate Paris' grand night time vista. A landmark show in every sense, tonight was a fitting launch pad for the new solo Sioux and a unique event altogether.
X-RAY SPEX will reform on September 6th to play London’s Camden Roundhouse. The line-up will include original members Poly Styrene (vocals) and Paul Dean (bass). The gig is almost sold out so get your tickets quick!
Look out for a Vive Le Punk interview with Polly Styrene in coming months!
A new DVD of THE CLASH is out in April. ‘THE CLASH LIVE: REVOLUTION ROCK’ DVD is a tribute to the seminal band’s incredible live shows and follows the band as their gig develop, including footage from all stages of their career – from 1979 studio clips to gigs in cubs (London’s The Music Machine 1978), theatres (The Lyceum 1978, 1980) and climaxing with their legendary performance at New York’s Shea Stadium in 1982. It also includes rare footage of the band’s performance on various TV shows.
The US rockabilly legends THE STRAY CATS are bowing out with a huge European tour. They’re starting in Spain in August before heading to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Belgium before hitting the UK on 10th September. The UK dates are as follows:
September 10 – London Brixton Academy 11 – Manchester Academy 12 – Glasgow Academy 14 – Dublin Vicar Street
One of the most incredible gigs of recent years has to be THE RUTS playing a benefit gig for their guitarist Paul Fox last July (with huge fan Henry Rollins doing a fantastic job on vocals). Foxy even played with the band despite the fact that he would lose his battle with cancer towards the end of the year. In a fitting tribute to the great man and one hell of a punk band the whole gig, including interviews, was captured on video and is being released on DVD. Vive Le Punk has two copies to give away so just answer this easy question to be in with a chance of winning:
Q: WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE RUTS’ CLASSIC 1979 DEBUT ALBUM?
Send your answer, name and address to email@example.com.
THE WHITE STRIPES ICKY THUMP (XL) Back to the future for Jack and Meg… 4½/5 Returning with their sixth album the original odd couple of Jack and Meg White have pushed their sound forward with an ambitious and creative record, whilst still including the infectious elements of their earlier work. Taking their basic drum, guitar and vocal dynamic on straight-forward songs such as ‘Bone Broke’, the heavy ‘Little Cream Soda’ and the raw, energetic ‘Catch Hell Blues’. There’s plenty of experimentation on ‘Icky Thump’ too, with the two-piece incorporating bagpipes, horns and synthesiser into songs, such as the angular but destined to be a hit title track and the excellent use of horns in ‘Conquest’. There’s even country (‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’, ‘Effect and Cause’), folk (‘Prickly Thorn’), psychedelic (‘St. Andrew’) and humorous spoken word (‘Rag & Bone’) parts, making it their most diverse and rewarding album to date. This is why they’re the world’s biggest garage rockers right now. John Damon
KILLING JOKE THE UNPERVERTED PANTOMIME5/5 NO WAY OUT BUT FORWARD 5/5 (KJ)
With no sign of the Killing Joke killing machine slowing down on the back of their cracking new album and world tour, now we get two reissues of early and live material that fans and casual listeners alike will want to pick up. ‘The Unperverted Pantomime’ pulls together early singles like ‘Nervous Systems’ and ‘Wardance’ with Capital Radio sessions and live recordings. It’s surprising how fresh it all still sounds, and it’s not hard to see why KJ have influenced everyone from the Foo Fighters to Ministry. ‘No Way Out…’ is from a live show from 1985 and contains their top 10 chart hit ‘Love Like Blood’ and songs from the ‘Night Time’ album. With seldom heard studio tracks included, any member of Killing Jokes ‘Gatherers’ will want both of these for their record collections. El Prez
NEW YORK DOLLS ONE DAY IT WILL PLEASE US TO REMEMBER EVEN THIS (Roadrunner) Reconstituted punk/glam icons pick it up again after 30 years. 3½/5 Even when all the original participants still drew breath, a third album from the New York Dolls was always going to be a tall order. Whittled down to just two old-time members through drugs, drink and bad luck, the 21st century Dolls no longer pack the careening trash-rock edge afforded by Messrs Thunders, Kane and Nolan; but with Sylvain Sylvain’s trebly 1950s twang and David Johansen’s growling wit still sparking, the boys have something in their corner and have pulled a more than half-decent album out the bag here. While the hired help play it too much like a straight-up rawk act – surely never the point with this band – the record is pretty respectable, and in fact damn good on some of the cuts; ‘Dance Like A Monkey’ is pure Diddley-daddy jungle-beat, and ‘Fishnets And Cigarettes’ is prime hook-heavy rock ‘n’ roll swagger, fully in key with the ‘Dolls of old. Doubters might sniff, but overall, it‚s worthy of the name. The fuchsia-pink sleeve-art should swing it for most fans in any case. Hugh Gadjit
THE STRANGLERS SUITE XVI (Liberty) Old punks in ‘Still cutting it’ shock! 4/5 Thirty years on and the Men In Black, ’76 UK punks The Stranglers still release good albums shock! Following on from the ‘Norfolk Coast’ album that hit the charts, The Stranglers are still on a major label, and sound fresh, contemporary and relevant. Opener ‘Unbroken’ almost sounds like a heavier Panic! At The Disco, with trademark keyboards and their dark gothic touches rubbing shoulders with groovy pop on ‘See Me Coming’, The Stranglers sound anything but the bunch of old codgers you would expect them to. Surprisingly bloody good! El Prez
THE ONLY ONES ANOTHER GIRL, ANOTHER PLANET: THE BEST OF (Sony) Another girl, another cash-in. Hold out for the box-set, kids. 3½/5 The languid decadence of Peter Perrett‘s 1970s band made for some of British rock music‘s headiest moments, not least this compilation’s title track. Arguably the greatest hit record that never was, ’Another Girl…’ was a consummate three-minute cardiac rush that still brings up the hairs on the back of the neck to this day. That said, we’ve already seen a perfectly fine Only Ones ’Best Of’ in ‘The Immortal Story’, which offered a superior track selection and showed a whole lot more effort with regard to the band’s rarities than this set. Don’t get me wrong, I shouldn’t complain about 21 Only Ones tracks in any shape or form, but there’s a strong whiff of ‘Let’s capitalise on that mobile ad/tenuous Shamblin’ Pete associations’ here, which hardly does the band justice and raises the hackles somewhat. It’s also worth pointing out that you can pick up the complete CBS recordings for around a tenner without looking too hard. Nice try. Hugh Gadjit
VARIOUS ARTISTS THE BIG STIFF BOX SET (Salvo) Essential punk and new wave box set. 4/5 Stiff Records will go down in history as the most important UK independent label ever. During its thirty years the Stiff staff have released some of the most legendary punk and new wave records of all time. Started by Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera in 1976 on the back of the then-booming pub rock scene, Stiff’s early releases were pretty standard R&B, like Nick Lowe and Lew Lewis, but it was the birth of punk that blew them into orbit. They released The Damned’s ‘New Rose’, the first-ever punk single, following it with hits from the likes of Ian Dury, The Adverts, The Members, Lene Lovich and US whackos Devo. Embracing new wave, they launched the careers of Elvis Costello, Tenpole Tudor (and the excellent Swords Of A Thousand Men), Theatre Of Hate, The Belle Stars, Plasmatics and Any Trouble before moving into ska with Madness’s ‘One Step Beyond’ and giving us the folk punk of the first Pogues records. Along with the ska/soul of America’s The Untouchables, mod sounds like Makin’ Time and The Prisoners, Stiff covered every cool musical revolution first – and with style. Recently reactivated with their latest signings The Tranzmitors and The Producers (included here), this is a hundred track slice of punk and new wave history, complete with 68 page book. Their motto was “If it ain’t Stiff it ain’t worth a fuck’. Long may they remain Stiff! El Prez
ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE THE ROAD TO RAMPTON (Nowhere) The League’s first album on their own label. 3/5 Of course Tunbridge Wells’ wildest export (not much competition, surely?) have been knocking around since the UK82 boom, and cut a swathe through lesser mortals of the time with a mixture of biker/punk garb, pumping delivery and uncompromising attitude, particularly on ‘So What’, replete with a diatribe of filthy lyrics that backed their fine cover of Ralph MacTells’ ‘Streets Of London’ that made the UK chart in 1982 and would have risen higher if the Obscene Publications Squad hadn’t stepped in. To cut a long story short, the League continued, eventually moving into rather bad metal territory, but eventually saw the error of their ways, and these days purvey a decent enough mixture of rock-tinged punk. Or is that punk-tinged rock? Yes, I think so. And that’s just what you get on ‘The Road To Rampton’, the League’s first album on their own label, and if you pick up the limited edition you can also cop a second DVD disc with a rather swish video for ‘Mother…You’re A Liar’. Shane Baldwin
THE BUSINESS THE TRUTH THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (Captain Oi!) Second comeback album from oi! originals 4/5 Strange to think that an album by the Business can be a decade old but still considered among their ‘new’ material, but that’s what happens when bands split and reform. After calling it a day in 1988, the band got back on the recording trail with the fine ‘Keep The Faith’ album in 1994, and built on it, taking deserved advantage of the respect shown by fans and new street punk outfits like Rancid, and even Blink 182. They apparently met up with the latter, and got on well, but understandably had more in common with the former, so it came as no surprise when it was revealed that Lars Frederiksen was to produce the 1997 Business album ‘TTTWTANBTT’ for Burning Heart in Europe and Taang! in the US. It was recorded at former Vibrators bassist Pat Collier’s studio, and the combination proved a winner, giving us a feisty album that stayed true to the band’s oi! and old school punk roots, but upped the pace a little. Shane Baldwin
DESPERATE MEASURES BROKEN BOTTLES (Failsafe) Classic punk from Down Under. 4/5 New Zealand isn’t really know for its musical output of recent years, other than Crowded House and more recent acts like Die Die Die and Shihad. But back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s it had a thriving punk and new wave scene. Desperate Measures hailed from Christchurch in NZ’s south Island and played a mix of Killing Joke style post-punk and full on three chord thrash. This combines their 1984 EP (the title track could have easily have been an early ‘80s UK band) plus a live in-studio set, where they tackle subjects like bootboys’ mindless violence and police oppression in catchy and feisty fashion. An interesting insight into life Down Under in the early ‘80s and the worldwide spread of punk. John Damon