Who saw GENERATION SEX on their UK dates? What did you think? King Rockers or Lazy Sods? Vive Le Rock's Guy Shankland headed to Wolverhampton to catch them in the company of two of our favourite new bands. Read on....
GENERATION SEX WITH BOB VYLAN & GRADE 2
The Halls Wolverhampton
Steve 'Lonely Boy' Jones is back playing on home soil, and that, for me, was worth a Monday night Black Country pilgrimage. After a late lunch/carb coma at the amazing Mad O’ Rourkes Pie Factory in Tipton, it’s off to Wolvo. By late afternoon the city centre pubs were bustling, and the atmosphere crackled and grew with every passing pint as the punk-fuelled throng congregated in huge and colourful numbers. Arriving at the venue, we were greeted with a theme park-esque queue to the recently refurbished The Halls, and it served as a timely reminder of just how vital and possibly rare these Generation Sex nights and gigs are.
Opening proceedings this evening is Grade 2, whose short but punchy set ticked all the boxes, and with cuts like the infectious ‘Murder Town’, their reputation and popularity continue to rightly rise. Punk's bright young things Bob Vylan are a crowd-splitting duo, with some in attendance loving them while others wince with disdain at there only being drums and a microphone on stage while the sound being projected is that of a full band. It’s Rap, Grime-Punk, Punk, whatever you want it or them to be. For their part, they deliberately prod and poke the mainly forty-plus male crowd, and maybe they should; it’s what being a young, confident and confrontational band is all about. However, for these middle-aged ears, the songs and between-song monologues all slowly morphed into one, and I was left feeling a little underwhelmed...and old.
Generation Sex is every Pistols and Gen X fan’s dream ticket, and on reflection, I don’t think Steve Jones realises just how loved and important he is to so many. The line-up of Cook, Jones, Idol and James is a truly mouth-watering one, and tonight they crushed it. As the iconic and shiver-inducing opening riff to ‘Pretty Vacant’ filled the air, I, like everyone else inside, was instantly locked in with the following ‘Ready Steady Go’ proving another crowd-pleasing nostalgic sing-a-long. ‘Wild Youth’ is blown out of the water by ‘Bodies’ before ‘Untouchables’ and the infamous Guns N’ Roses-covered ‘Black Leather’. The Gen X duo of ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ and ‘Dancing With Myself’ are gobbled up, but the biggest mid-set cheer is saved for a bawled-out ‘Silly Thing’.
Paul Cook and Tony James hold it all together, while Billy Idol, a man who usually plays venues three times in size, seems thrilled to be out there. However, the star player tonight is Steve Jones; we hang on to his every opening riff like a kid waiting impatiently for Christmas. ‘King Rocker’, ‘God Save The Queen’ and a bizarre ‘My Way’ send the band heading for a well-deserved breather. On returning, they crash, bang and wallop out a Pistols hat-rick of ‘Problems’, ‘Stepping Stone’ and a strangely emotive show-closing ‘The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle’. The exit drizzle that greeted the pub-bound masses was soaked up by an overwhelming feeling that we had just witnessed something very, very special.
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For our review of Generation Sex's Crystal Palace show with Iggy Pop and Blondie, pick up the new edition of Vive Le Rock - on sale this weekend!
Pics by David Todd (Billy Idol) and Jonny Scotland (Steve Jones).