The fairytale of Newark

Outdoor music festivals tend to be a vast sprawling gargantuan gathering where tens of thousands of punters camp a mile or so from the main arena, drink £6 pints of luke-warm Carlsberg, wash with wet wipes and eat £15 pizzas. The modern-day festival can be, to be blunt, the exact cost of going for a long weekend in New York.

However, a few smaller independent festivals are changing the landscape and bucking the trend. Numerous bespoke and fairer-priced fests are now popping up all over the UK. For the non-Glastonbury goers, Bloodstock remains a heavy/death/thrash metal haven. In contrast, Call Of The Wild and Stone Valley serve the rock-meets-punk-meets-ska-meets-new-wave-and-anything-alternative market with eclectic line-ups plus a down-to-earth approach. The new STONEDEAD (formerly STONEDEAF) takes the traditional Monsters Of Rock Festival (or Donington), and just properly f*cking celebrates it. A one-day, two-night affair, held over the August bank holiday weekend, with camping and a Friday night pre-festival party. VIVE LE ROCK and FISTFUL OF METAL’s Guy Shankland travelled up to Newark-on-Trent to witness Britain’s fastest-growing rock festival, and we weren’t disappointed. Oh, and we also stumbled across an eye-catching Steampunk convention. 

A Vive Le Rock & Fistful Of Metal rough guide and live review of Stonedead 2021

Where is it held? Newark County Showground, Notts NG24 2NY

When? August Bank Holiday weekend. Friday night and all day Saturday.

Bands. Since 2019 the festival has hosted Skid Row, The Quireboys, Wolfsbane, Gun, Wayward Sons, Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons, Terrorvision, Massive Wagons, Glenn Hughes and Uriah Heep, amongst many others. The just-announced 2022 early conformations include The Wildhearts, The Michael Schenker Group and Thunder Mother.

How much does it cost? Two-night camping (including the Friday night party) pass is £60 per adult. A general admission one day ticket is £50 per adult. There are cheaper children and family tickets options available, and all orders are dispatched free of charge. Meaning no hidden fees and a proper physical ticket. See the Stonedead festival website for full ticket details, including camper van passes etc.

Off-site accommodation. For those who want to hotel, we salute you and the local Premier Inn, Travelodge, and bustling Newark town centre is a ten-minute drive or shuttle bus from the main site. Hotels are at a premium for the August Bank Holiday in Newark as the town also hosts a Steampunk gathering on the same weekend. That said, I’ve booked two nights in a one-bedroom apartment in central Newark for August 2022 for £120 (via booking.com ) with free cancellation and parking to boot. 

The Festival site. Newark County Showground is huge and perfect for an ever-expanding rockfest. It’s all on level ground with plenty of hard-standing, water and power. Both the campsites and day parking areas are no more than a two-minute walk to the main arena. You may come and go as you please once you’ve exchanged your ticket for a wristband. The arena itself was set up within usual horseshoe shape with the traders, vendors and toilet areas forming a natural ringed barrier. Speaking of the loos, the Stonedead sit or stand set up was as to be expected. The toilets were well stocked with both tissue paper and hand sanitiser and surprisingly clean. With a few thousand inside, you could walk from one side of the arena to the other in a few minutes, so there was no one p*ssing in bottles and lobbing it at the stage a la Reading and Donington in the early Eighties.

On top of the merch and food stalls, Stonedead also boasted a very impressive Monsters Of Rock exhibition with ticket stubs, t-shirts, photos, Kerrang! reports and festival posters on show. The official Merchandise stand was large, well-manned and also reasonably priced, and most Festival 2021 event shirts had sold out by Saturday tea-time. During non-Covid times, there is also a signing tent. Most three-and-a-half-thousand festival-goers bring camping chairs and blankets to sit on while a large area directly in front of the stage is kept seat-free for those wishing to stand and watch the bands.

Food and drink. One of the biggest gripes at concerts and festivals can be the cost of refreshments. At London’s O2 Docklands arena, you can pay upwards of £7 for a pint of Bud-Light or £6+ at most other large venues. A hot dog or burger will set you back between £7-10, whereas a can/bottle of pop is always £2.50 upwards. This summer, at many Festivals, I’ve paid £5.50+ for a can of Amstel or a pint of generic lager/bitter. The notable exceptions were Rebellion, Bloodstock and Stonedead, where the beers were mainly £5 and under, which is a fair enough price. At Stonedead, they’ve completely turned the refreshment regulations clock back, meaning each adult can bring in four cans of beer/shorts or wine to the main arena. Festival-goers can also take in their own food. This alcohol and pie amnesty offers a possible massive saving for those on a budget plus the relaxed attitude means you don’t have to go through the embarrassment of an evasive airport-style bag/chair search or pat-down. The on-site food options were also superb, with all tastes and dietary requirements well catered for. Vegan, veggie and gluten-free food options all sat alongside the summer staple of pulled pork, noodles, pittas, pizzas and questionable deep-fried offal with onions in a bun. There is also one extensive bar area serving a host of wines, spirits, beers, craft and real ales, with Motorhead’s Overkill Pilsner being a trendy beverage on Saturday. 

Covid requirements. At this year’s gathering, anyone entering the site had to prove a negative flow test/Covid pass or exemption letter with ID. Once inside, all bets and masks were off, and there were no restrictions, with everyone being reminded that face coverings and social distancing were a personal choice and to be respected.

The staff. There are festival staff, and then there is the Stonedead crew. I’ve been attending gigs and fests for well over thirty-five years, and this is by far the most helpful and happy bunch I’ve ever encountered. From the moment you enter the site, the staff are all smiling and keen to make the entrance and the whole day as hassle-free, enjoyable and relaxed as possible. Many are volunteers and the ‘we want and are pleased to be here’ attitude shines through and spreads to the attendees. 

Trouble. None.

The 2021 review. 

You wouldn’t have guessed from the overall chilled vibe that the festival’s headliner BLACK STAR RIDERS had pulled out only a week before due to Covid and travel issues. This was only just the start. Then the stage didn’t arrive at all, so a replacement and smaller stage was erected on Thursday and Friday morning before they then ran out of juice, had issues with the lighting rig and had another band drop out with a positive Covid test. URIAH HEEP took over headline duties, while ABSOLVA were last-minute replacements for confined to barracks Cambridge rockers THE TREATMENT. With all issues finally sorted and after a slight soundcheck delay, the first band took to the stage shortly after twelve. Stonedead openers, DEAD MAN’S WHISKEY put in a solid performance that ticked all the first on, boxes. The seven-song set was fast, loud and full of meaty riffs, with ‘Last Train’ and an emotive ‘Make You Proud’ standing out. The in-between band compere is the legendary KRUSHER whose stories and manner get bluer and more outrageous the longer the day and drinking goes on. Last-minute substitutes ABSOLVA grab their opportunity and win over a large percentage of the arena. Sometimes in life, you get offered a moment, be it timing, illness or luck, whatever twist of fate brought them here, they grab it, enjoy it, and it shows. Former SKIN fretmeister MYKE GRAY brings his own brand of full-throttle RNR to the early afternoon proceedings. The high musical quality is evident, and although some of the lyrics are a tad cliched, this is a rock festival, and those “Baby, lazy, crazy, maybe, notel motel” lines are all an endearing part of the rock genre. ‘Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘You Don’t Love Me’ and Skin fave ‘Shine A Light’ round off a blistering nine-song masterclass. The sun is now beating down, and with the blue skies above, a cold beer in hand and loud music coming from the stage, it quickly feels like the last eighteen months have been nothing more than a shitty and frustrating blur. One of the loudest cheers of the day is reserved for an emotive spitfire flyover, and again it simply feels beautifully refreshing to be out out and observing the other beaming festival-goers; you know they feel the same sense of relief mixed with an apprehensive joy. KRISS BARRAS brings his blues-rock resonance to the mainly seated throng. ‘Ignite’, ‘Dead Horses’ and ‘Hail Mary’ are all received, digested and appreciated. Sadly I missed former Iron Maiden and Wolfsbane vocalist BLAZE BAYLEY’S set as I was stuck in the press tent waiting to interview a running behind schedule (but well worth the wait) Gun. MASSIVE WAGONS have risen from festival starting pistols in 2019 to final lap baton carriers. There are more Wagons T-shirts than I can ever remember, and both band and crowd are bang up for it. They crash through a dozen modern metal anthems with a huge percentage of the seated now standing, singing and a fair few headbanging. ‘Billy Balloon Head’, ‘Nails’ and ‘Tokyo’ are greeted like headline hits and the baton is well and truly thrown down. GUN, much like the festival itself, has had to overcome a few last-minute hurdles. Firstly they had a last-minute line-up change with a young drummer drafted in at just twenty-four hours notice and a bassist who was unable to rehearse at all. Not a great way to play your first gig in twenty months. That said, Gun volley it in the net and then some. The band have a huge back catalogue, and it’s quite a moment hearing ‘Word Up’, ‘Money (Everybody Wants Her)’, ‘Taking On The World’ and a hip-swaying ‘Inside Out’. ‘Shame On You’ and the so apt it could have been written yesterday ‘Better Days’ are the sandwich to a bizarre yet celebratory cover of the Beastie Boys ‘Fight For Your Right’. Pure and simple Gun just smashed it, and the reception they garnered proved the love was mutual. TERRORVISON seized the crackling energy that’s been building all day and turned it into a mammoth sing-a-long, jump around, dad dancing celebration of chart-friendly and infectious Brit rock. ‘Alice, What’s The Matter’, ‘Pretend Best Friend’ and ‘Josephine’ are all devoured at the first note and spat back at the last. ‘My House’ and ‘American T.V.’ keep the early ‘vision fans sated before the stage lights abruptly fail during ‘Do You Wanna Go Faster’. In normal circumstances, this type of equipment malfunction would result in a band leaving the stage until sight order could be restored. Without breaking stride, Terrorvision frontman Tony Wright just grabs a roadie’s torch, and with a few thousand phone lights pointing at the stage, the song defiantly and victoriously continues. The grand finale of ‘Perservance’ (whales and dolphins, yeah) ‘Middleman’ and the bellowed back beaut ‘Oblivion’ see Terrorvision leave the stage to rapturous applause. They are, IMHO, the band of the festival. URIAH HEEP closes the most memorable of days with a bang-on set of classic rock tunes. ‘Gypsy’, ‘July Morning’ just delivered before the tour de force closing of ‘Sunrise’. Final cut ‘Easy Livin’ sends the weary punters scurrying for courtesy buses and cars while those sensible enough stay on-site just pack up and walk less than a minute to their tent or camper.

We’ve all seen the pictures of Leeds and Reading campsites on social media a day or two after the festival has finished and the carnage that was left behind. Tents, sleeping bags, empty cans, bottles and general rubbish. On Newark showground at 12 ‘o’clock on Sunday, the last camper had left, and the site was green and clean. The sun always seems to shine on Stonedead, and even when it looked like disaster was looming, the dedicated crew managed to pull it all around seamlessly. The first thousand or so 2022 early bird tickets sold out in less than a day, and tickets are now on general sale, with over two thousand sold in total already. These numbers were hit even before the 2022 lineup had even been announced. It has now with The Micheal Schenker, Group, The Wildhearts, Thunder Mother and The Treatment are all confirmed for 2022.

The fan-based and fan-focused Stonedead Festival has deliberately body-swerved the soulless corporate feel that many other modern-day festivals fall foul of. It is not designed just to remove as many pound notes as possible from your pocket, but it does respectfully ask those attending to use the traders, food stalls and bars located within the arena as well. The staff are genuinely excellent, polite, helpful, and fans of the very festival they work or volunteer for. Stonedead is to old school rock fans what Rebellion is to punks or Bloodstock is to metalheads, this is their (new) musical and affordable summer home. 2022 promises to be the most prominent and boldest Stonedead Festival yet. We shall return.

Guy Shankland

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SLADY BE GOOD!

Vive Le Rock’s Paul Gilman checks out the world’s number one SLADE tribute band!

When we heard that esteemed Slade tribute band Slady were playing at the Con Club in Lewes, to quote a song by our glam rock heroes, we were, “In like a shot…”.

Initially starting out as a 70s bootboy band Slade captured the time with their punchy tunes and singalong lyrics.

Formed in 2018 in Southend, Slady are an all-girl tribute band, they look and sound the part and are all highly accomplished musicians.

Slady take the stage and it’s an immediate throwback to the 1970s. A quick glance around the audience and it’s clear that many of them were there the first time around but probably a bit more worried about toilet access than they used to be.

Band members Gobby Holder, Jem Lea, Donna Powell and Davina Hill look a little nervous to start with, it can’t be easy after such a long enforced break and the anticipation in the room is high.

The band launch into one of the lesser-known numbers, ‘Hear Me Calling’ and it’s soon clear that this is a band who know what they are about and are just warming up. The songs flow thick and fast and the best is yet to come.

‘Get Down And Gget With It, ‘ Born To Be Wild’ and ‘Take Me Back ‘Ome’ bring joy to the room, it’s absolutely brilliant. Gobby Holder’s voice is the nearest I’ve heard to The Nod’s paintstripping vocals and the band capture the fun of the original. ‘Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me’ has the audience singing along; Slade
themselves didn’t like it so rarely played it.

A few numbers lesser-known to the non-diehards are well received and then it’s on to those monster hits, ‘Mama Weer All Crazy Now’ and a finale of, ‘Gudbye T’ Jane’; I remember it first time around on my
Woolworths Top Of The Pops album but this tribute band nail it, unlike the ‘Woollies Wallies’.

There was some talk of it being too early for ‘that Christmas song’ or was it too late ?

Vive Le Rock caught up with the band after the show…

VLR: How was the pandemic for you ?

Gobby: I spent most of in the toilet, I livestreamed to our fans as, ‘Gob on the bog!’

Davina: Truly a difficult year, I went from gigging every week to nothing, it was so hard for everyone and as a young person and a musician it was a shock when the music industry just stopped.

VLR: Favourite Slade song?

Davina: ‘How Does It Feel’. Pure genius.

Jem: ‘Nobody’s Fool ‘.

VLR: Dave Hill from Slade got run over by a pushbike last time he was in Brighton and broke his arm. Any broken bone stories ?

Jem: I broke my wrist playing hockey at school.

Donna: No broken bones but I’ve recently torn my ACL twice in my right knee due to kickboxing, thankfully I’m recovering well.

VLR: Any plans to write some of your own songs ?

Gobby: All of us are songwriters so, yes.

VLR: If you could have been in any other band who would it have been and why ?

Gobby: X-Ray Spex. Poly was an inspiration making herself known in the male-dominated punk scene.

VLR: You updated some of the sexist lyrics of ‘Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me’. Are you a feminist band?

Donna: One hundred per cent. I’ve been in male-dominated fields all my life and experienced sexism first hand. Sexism has no place in the 21st Century and we need to keep fighting it.

VLR: What’s the weirdest or funniest question you have ever been asked in an interview ?

Jem: We were once asked if we meet up and have pillow fights!

This Southend-based band are destined for bigger things and are soon to headline the annual Slade convention in Wolverhampton.

Slady on Facebook

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MORECAMBE PUNK FESTIVAL

Last month, punks brought sunshine to Morecambe. Vive Le Rock packed our buckets and spades.

Off we go to the seaside once again for three days and nights of fun at a proper DIY punk festival. Day One kicks off with PAUL CARTER bringing his own brand of humour to the proceedings and he goes down like a spoonful of honey. SINFUL MAGGIE played a stomping set that left me wanting more. Quality. PICTURE FRAME SEDUCTION had to have a stand-in bass-player but they did not suffer in any way and they delivered every song with confidence. Next up for me was PARANOID VISIONS. This was one of the highlights of the weekend and the place was packed with happy punters. Animated does not come close.

Saturday rolls around with an early start of 12 o’clock. A healthy crowd had already gathered in anticipation of the days proceedings. A band that I had never heard before was RED LONDON and I am so glad that I caught them live. Top energy and great tunes. SYSTEM OF HATE have been delivering quality gigs from day one but this one was a bit special as it was Dave Guilford’s last gig with the band. Good luck with the future Dave. FACE UP smashed it and Rox really has got stage craft nailed. GIMP FIST have always gone over my head but I think I have been converted. Highly enjoyable.

And then it’s Sunday. THE YALLA YALLAS woke the crowd up with some proper anthems. Top job. THE DELINQUENTS played to a full room and the joy as they played was infectious. Time for a bit of old school Goth with 1919. Another highlight for me. ANTI PASTI did what they do and as a three-piece they do it oh so well. Absolutely brilliant. The weekend was rounded off with the infectious EASTFIELD. They never fail to bring a smile to my face.

All in all a fantastic weekend that was run by a great team of volunteers. Take a bow people.

Gerry Underwood

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WISH YOU WERE HERE: ALICE COOPER LIVE IN LONDON!

Horror-glam legend Alice Cooper returned to London last month with Detroit pal Wayne Kramer’s MC50 and the UK’s own men in black, The Stranglers in tow. Vive LeRock‘s Paula Frost was there…

The O2 Arena was overrun by shock rock fans dressed in black head to toe with black eye makeup, celebrating the original glam goth Alice Cooper, ‘Ol’ Black Eyes’! And for the return of Cooper to the UK, rock royalty turned out including Bobbie Gillespie of Primal Scream and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, ready for their masterclass in mayhem.  Cooper was supported by a stellar line-up of MC50 and The Stranglers.

Proto punks MC50 opened the show, 50 years on from MC5’s debut album ‘Kick Out the Jams’ with the iconic guitarist Wayne Kramer, a close friend of Cooper’s who’s gigged with him since way back in Detroit in the ‘60s. The line-up also included Faith No More bassist Billy Gould, Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron of Soundgarden, Brendan Canty of Fugazi, Marcus Durant of Zen Guerrilla and Don Was from funk band Was (Not Was). The band opened with ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ and rolled out the hits including the essential ‘Kick Out The Jams’. They played with full on energy and brought spirit to their set which got the crowd going early. MC50 flaunted their 50th Anniversary black banner stating ‘1968 – 2018’.

Next, The Stranglers stepped up their banner game with a huge backdrop of a dirty crumbling sewer, we’re amongst the rats now. Original members JJ Burnel and keyboard/organist Dave Greenfield played their slick whirling riffs almost effortlessly. Opening with ‘Toiler On The Sea’, they gave the audience a hits set including the classic ‘Golden Brown’ and ‘Peaches’. Frontman Baz changed the words of ‘Peaches’ to “I can think of a lot worse places to be like in a room full of people with black eyes.” And jeered at an audience member “Did you paint your eyes on the way over here from work?”

Soon enough it was time for the main event. The room turned to black and as everyone began to cheer in anticipation of Cooper’s appearance, a snarling character vocal played out like the beginning of a horror movie. The opening sounds of ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ beam out of the stage and a curtain dropped to reveal a haunted castle reaching across the stage. Cooper’s five-piece band take charge and we’re in for the ride. A ten-foot-tall ghoul emerges from behind the castle tower and charges for Cooper, but two castle guards capture it and bring it back to its cage. Throughout the performance there’s a lot of horror theatrics including a giant baby covered in blood running around the stage, two girls being murdered and a zombie widow in a wedding dress dancing around.

Cooper goes from evil ringmaster to straight jacketed madman and is even decapitated onstage – which looks impressively real. Stand out songs of the night are ‘I’m Eighteen’, ‘Dead Babies’ and the finale ‘Schools Out’. At the end of the show hundreds of giant purple balloons drop from the ceiling onto the audience below and make for an incredible wow moment. You’ll never see another show like it.

Paula Frost

Pic © Dod Morrison

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UP WITH THE ROOSTER!

Now in its fifth year, the Red Rooster Festival has shaped up from humble beginnings to be THE go-to weekend for rock’n’roll, blues and roots music . Vive Le Rock donned its dungarees to check it out….

RED ROOSTER FESTIVAL
EUSTON HALL, SUFFOLK

With a track record of good weather, Red Rooster is something of a rarity in the UK calendar. Better not jinx it! It’s also one of the easiest on the eye, when it comes to locations, situated in the grounds of Euston Hall on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, by wood and river. Moreover, it’s compactness means you don’t waste time and energy slogging everywhere, can easily find your mates and are generally in with a good chance of making it back to your tent before passing out.

Kicking off on the Thursday evening, just as most people are arriving, the mainstage offers a low-key bill of mellow country rock, headlined by Philadelphia’s Low Cut Connie, trading in a weird concoction of garage rock through a Queen filter.

The following morning, though, the fest sets off in earnest with London’s long-serving Cajun aces Joli Blon, who do an amazing job of shaking the masses out of their torpor. The day takes shape approvingly via the many-headed Cash-style country-punk of The Johnsons, ZZ Top-channelling newcomer Sam Morrow and Texan golden boy Jarrod Dickinson, who takes time to salute homestate legend Doug Sahm with a terrific cover of ‘I’m Glad For Your Sake’.

After a Prosecco-and-veggie-burrito break, Vive Le Rock returns to the mainstage for another of Texas’s finest sons, Dale Watson. Single-handedly saving country music one truckin’ song at a time, Dale’s on fine form, the crowd quickly getting into singalong mode on ‘I Lie When I Drink’ (“…and I drink a lot!”). Ever the consummate pro, Dale takes some beating, although Nick Lowe gives it a good go. Since teaming up with LA’s masked instrumental surf band Los Straightjackets, the Godfather of Pub has been reinvigorated: delivering an elementary ‘greatest hits’ set, rockin’ recent single ‘Tokyo Bay’ is as good as anything the great man’s ever done.

By Saturday both stages – and the sun’s rays – are getting into their stride, so we slap on the lotion to enjoy sets on the Little Red Rooster acoustic stage from fast-rising skateboarder-cum-country-blues-picker, Yorkshire’s own Serious Sam Barrett – drawing one of the biggest crowds of the weekend – and the country’n’rockabilly of The Haystingers, unphased by a mid-set power failure.

Over on the mainstage, it’s Euro-tastic with youthful French rockabillies Howlin’ Jaws delivering a blistering set, closely followed by Switzerland’s Powersolo and the homegrown Oh! Gunquit, featuring the finest hula-hooping, trumpet-blowing frontwoman of the festival.

East Londoner Errol Linton has been a reliable draw on the London scene for many years, so it’s great to watch him deliver a crowd-pleasing mid-afternoon set of his reggae-infused blues. He’s definitely deserving of bigger things. So too, Cedric Burnside: grandson of the legendary R.L. who kickstarted the noughties punk-blues scene, he delivered a blistering set, backed only by a hard-hitting drummer with an infectious beat. The two even swapped places at one point!

For the final act of the weekend, Vive was in a bit of a quandary, but sorely tempted by the soul-inspired space-rock of The Budos Band, we opted for the tried’n’tested Legendary Shackshakers on the Little Red Rooster stage. One of the most dynamic acts of the festival, it’s a shame they’re relegated to the smaller stage, but their fiery gothic-country-punk has zero airs and graces, quickly creating the atmosphere of the moshpit, frontman J.D. Wilkes risking life and limb (his, the band’s, the crowd’s) with his cavalier mic-stand antics. A brilliant punk-rock frontman, and quite possibly the only one armed with a banjo, Wilkes is a force of nature who deserves much wider fame.

The party kept rockin’ well into the night over on the Howlin’ Woods DJ stage, but totally spent from the Shackshakers, Vive (dis)gracefully retired. Out first Red Rooster successfully completed, we’ll definitely be back next year.

Red Rooster on Facebook


Pics by Ken Taylor

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LITTLE STEVEN ROCKS THE HARD ROCK CAFE!

Vive Le Rock recently hung out at London’s Hard Rock Cafe for Stevie Van Zandt’s live DJ set and radio broadcast of his Underground Garage Dance Party. The long-time member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and actor famous for The Sopranos series brought along his wife Maureen Van Zandt, who also plays his wife in The Sopranos.

A crowd of fans hoping to get their Van Zandt CDs and records signed gathered under the stage at the entrance of the Hard Rock. Van Zandt pulled up in a blacked-out 4×4 and entered through a side door to huge applause before grabbing the mic and opening his radio show with The Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations’.

The appearance comes off the back of the new album Summer Of Sorcery from Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul, Little Steven’s first album of new material in 20 years. The band recently kicked off their live tour in May.

The show lasted two hours and featured Van Zandt’s usual mix of old school rock’n’roll embellished by his own stories as a fan and a performer. He took a break to meet everyone in the audience and spent a lot of time having pictures with fans.

Paula Frost

Pics © Hard Rock Café London

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY STUPIDO RECORDS!

Vive Le Rock visited Stupido Records 30th Anniversary party at Tavastia Club, Helsinki in late April to find out what makes this great Finnish record label tick.

Stupido Records was founded in 1988, and since then their empire has grown to include a record shop, a mail order service and a publishing company. They’ve signed 37 legendary Finnish  bands including Pelle Miljoona (pictured), Waltari, Tumppi Varonen (from Problems and Pelle Miljoona) and Villu Tamme / J.M.K.E.

This event was over two days and various Stupido Records artists performed, including  Finnish punk rock legends like Pelle Miljoona (Pelle Miljoona – singing and drums,  Tumppi Varonen, Veli-Pekka ‘Puka’ Oinonen – guitar). Pelle Miljoona is a pioneer in the Finnish punk rock scene. He recorded his first album in 1977 and the band line-up has changed over the years, hence most recognised names who played for the band over the years are Hanoi Rocks legends Andy McCoy on guitar and Sam Yaffa on bass.

On the night Pelle Miljoona played his hits like ‘Moottoritie On Kuuma’ (‘The Freeway Is Hot’), ‘Tahdon Rakastella Sinua’ (‘I Want To Make Love To You’).

Tumppi Varonen & Problems (Tumppi Varonen – singing, Heikki Hiekkasalmi – bass, Saska Ketonen – drums, Petri Peevo – guitar). Tumppi Vuorinen is a musician, writer and former municipal politician. Varonen made his first recording for Problems in the late 1970s.  Since then, he has been playing  on and off with Problems and Pelle Miljona’s bands. Tumppi Varonen &  Problems played ‘Katupoikia’ (‘Street Boys’), ‘Tiina On Punkkari’ (‘Tina Is Punk’) and the new single ‘Ihan Sama’ (‘What Ever’).

Tumppi Varonen & Problems

Pää Kii is a punk band founded in 2012. Soundi and Rumba magazines chose the band’s first album to be their 2012 album of the year. Pää Kii has also has been awarded in the Femma and Emma Gala. (Teemu Bergman – singing and guitar, Antti Leppäniemi – guitar, Vekku Vartiainen – bass, Heikki Laaksomies – drums) They played ‘Paskahousun Paluu’ (‘Return Of The Shitpants’), ‘Apinoiden Planeetalla’ (‘Planet Of Apes’) and ‘Sweet Home Kouvola’.


Pää Kii

All bands were really energetic and Stupido records can be proud of their long success in the music business as a independent record label.

For more information visit www.stupido.fi

Photos by Jari Flinck https://www.instagram.com/jariflinck.photography/

Text by Kati Brugnoli  www.katibrugnoli.com

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BEDLAM BREAKOUT Northampton Roadmender

Friday 15th March

With five great bands covering the whole spectrum of psychobilly, Friday evening at Bedlam is a cool way for the curious to check things out. Local band GOGO LOCO open proceedings and they’re an extremely likeable duo. Guitarist and vocalist Joe is like Chuck Berry with restless leg syndrome, pacing the stage like a student from The Ministry of Silly Walks. Original tunes like ‘Maraca GoGo’ and ‘GoGo Loco Twist’ capture the energy of the British R&B boom only cranked up to 11. Their energetic performance is well received and throws down the gauntlet for the whole weekend.

Rising to the challenge are THE X-MEN. They immediately evince a strong garage-rock influence: imagine The Stooges jamming with Them while imbibing hallucinogens. A superb swirling psychedelic sound hypnotises the audience as The X-Men pull out a cover of The Syndicate Of Sound’s ‘Little Girl’ along with their own classic ‘She’s A Witch’. Closing with a rendition of The 13th Floor Elevators ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ only endears them to the crowd further.

The aptly titled FRANTIC VERMIN are a pleasing amalgamation of of styles as rock’n’roll meets ska with a country twang. It’s no mean feat to blend different genres but Frantic Vermin pull it off effortlessly by underpinning their sound with a strong song sensibility. A trio who make a big noise they turn in a crowd pleasing set.

The ultimately silky voice from the coolest cat in town COLBERT HAMILTON brings his band to entertain Bedlam. Risqué without being rude, ‘Dirty Dog’ kicks his set off in fine style with Colbert working the stage like a pro and by the time we reach ‘Daddy Rolling Stone’ he has the crowd in the palm of his hand. Ably backed by his band the BAD BREED, ‘Rock Party’ turns the whole venue into a… rock party, and they bring a nice flavour to the evening.

Providing the missing link between rockabilly and psychobilly, RESTLESS hit the stage and immediately set the venue alight. ‘After Midnight’ is a definite highlight along with a high voltage version of Golden Earring’s ‘Radar Love’, a song they’ve now made their own. ‘Mercury Blues’ is performed with great abandon theirs is a nice set that ebbs and flows and ticks all the right boxes and provides a fitting culmination to the opening day.

Saturday 16th March

Opening Saturday are a late replacement on the bill: the GARBAGE BAGS. With a sound guaranteed to blast away any hangovers they remind me a little of The Cramps… only more hyped and amped. Drummer and vocalist swap slots for one song which, along with some neat changes in tempo, keeps things interesting. With a wall of distorted guitar and a hyperactive frontman it’s an entertaining start to the day.

ATI EDGE AND THE SHADOWBIRDS arrive from Hungary armed with an adrenaline charged brand of rock’n’roll. With songs about cars, girls and cannibals they can’t really go wrong. They plough through a crowdpleasing set of which ‘Rockabilly Boogie’ is a definite highlight.

Putting the psycho in psychobilly are Japan’s GIGANTIX who prove the scene is truly global. They turn in a fun-fuelled set and the crowd soon warms to their surf-tinged sound. A manic cover of The Animals’ ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ raises the level of insanity and they win the first encore of the day: ‘Space Song’.

THE ROCKETZ hit the stage like a well- oiled machine and treat the throng to a bawdy ‘I Want U Dead’ and an atmospheric ‘Before The Night’. Spawned from the fertile Los Angeles scene, they are part of the vanguard (along with NY’s Screamin’ Rebel Angels) who are taking rockabilly to a new audience. ‘Killing’ is a set highlight and the band should be on your radar.

The SURFIN’ WOMBATZ are always guaranteed to raise more than a smile and, like their South London counterparts The Gonads, they keep their tongue firmly in cheek. With a thirty-year history they’ve built up an impressive discography and they deliver a career spanning, best of set. ‘Bald Billy Boogie’ really rocks and the band relive their Klub Foot days with tracks from their debut album. They have a sound that incorporates different styles (like the ska-infused ‘Peter Cushing’) and they’ve finally written a surf song but in their own inimitable style: ‘Surfin’ South London’. ‘Lack of Beer’ initiates a huge sing-a-long before a raucous rendition of Bo Diddley’s ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover’ brings the afternoon to a fitting finale.

Berlin’s DAMAGE DONE BY WORMS are out of the trap like a greyhound chasing a hare and by second track ‘Beer’ they’ve won over any doubters and pulled the slackers in from the bar. ‘Tommyknockers’ from their debut album follows; each track is delivered with passion but ‘Butcher Of The Night’ is a definite highlight. They use catchy guitar lines to snare the listener as evidenced by a fiery ‘Gasoline’ and their cover of The Buzzcocks ‘Ever Fallen In Love?’ is a fitting tribute to Pete Shelley.

THE HANGMEN turn in a solid set but fail to really capture the crowd’s full attention. Thankfully, a period of recording inactivity has been broken and the new tracks debuted point to a bright future.

Now making their fourth appearance at Bedlam, the MILWAUKEE WILDMEN hit the stage and provide a master class in stagecraft. ‘March’ stomps like an army and ‘Get In The Pit’ is suitably raucous. Their sound really swings like a pendulum especially on ‘Die Alone’ while a rocked up cover of Dead Or Alive’s ‘(You Spin Me) Right Round (Like a Record)’ wins the crowd’s approval. They close their set with another cover, this time a warlike version of Stan Ridgeway’s ‘Camouflage’ which is segued with Matchbox’s ‘Midnight Dynamos’. Genius.

THE RICOCHETS are welcomed to the stage like old friends and a cover of ‘Brand New Cadillac’ only increases their standing as scene legends. ‘Paranoia’ follows along with the insanely catchy ‘I’m a Loser’. With no signs of slowing down, they hit us with an excellent version of Generation X’s ‘King Rocker’ and a fine rendition of ‘Woolly Bully’. ‘Black Magic Woman’ follows as the band turn in a well received set. ‘In Hell’ is a precursor to two well deserved encores which includes a delirious ‘Psycho’.

A tangible tension builds as we await NEKROMANTIX which is finally released when the band hit the stage. By second track ‘Night Nurse’, the entire venue is under their spell and the band turn in a set that proves why they’re undisputed headliners. Bathed in blood red light and with his trademark coffin-shaped double bass, vocalist Kim looks like a demented preacher and delivers a sermon in the shape of ‘Alice In Psycholand’ and ‘Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend’. ‘The Blood Cure’ raises the temperature and initiates some serious wrecking in the pit and there’s a real chemistry in the band and they perform with an obvious joy. In the live environment the band become infinitely heavier and they wouldn’t seem out of place at a metal festival. Waves of affection radiate between crowd and audience and Nekromantix are the perfect band at the witching hour. Miss them at your peril.

Sunday 17th March

Suited and booted, there’s a touch of The Meteors in THE MIGHTY INTERCEPTORS’ performance. Their set is a short, sharp shock and there’s no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon. New track ‘Danger In Every Curve’ points to a bright future.

The SPACE WASTERS deliver a fine slab of garage thrash which shows a definite Stooges influence. Opening shot ‘Action’ doesn’t take prisoners and neither does ‘I Don’t Like You’ and ‘Leave Me Alone’. They cap an enjoyable set with a rocket like X-Men cover.

Norfolk’s FAT’N’FURIOUS certainly know how to please a crowd which they do by covering ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ and ‘Monkey Man’. However they’ve got some cool original tunes like the mighty ‘King Of The Asylum’ which sits easily next to a rendition of The Meteors’ ‘I’m Insane’ (which they fuse with the Pistols’ ‘Pretty Vacant’). Closing with ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ means they won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

A late and welcome addition to the bill are Bedford-based HENRY & THE BLEEDERS. With a set largely debuting new material, ‘The Beast’ in particular stands out with its catchy guitar motif and signposts a majestic new record. Led by the hyperactive and effervescent Henry, the band deliver a turbocharged set and close with perennial favourite ‘(I Gotta) Rock On (For You)’ sees them bow out in style.

Fun with a capital F, the DEATH VALLEY SURFERS are a six-piece with a big sound. Plenty of brass and even some violin add a touch of brevity to their set but underneath the madness they’ve some great tunes like ‘She’s Not Home’. A cover of ‘Tequila’ evinces a real surf influence and their set is a riotous cornucopia of sight and sound. J.B. From the Space Wasters joins them for a frantic set closer ‘Johnny B. Goode’.

THE GRISWALDS open Sunday evening in suitably loopy fashion with a set that doesn’t waste a second. ‘Spasms’ really grooves as ‘Hooker’ and ‘Fright Night’ follow in quick succession. New track ‘Psychobilly Love Affair’ is set to the sound of Bad Manners’ ‘Skinhead Love Affair’ while ‘Crazy Jim’ brings a ska influence. A faithful cover of The Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks’ is well received before an encore of The Housemartins ‘Happy Hour’ brings thing to a conclusion in an appropriately surreal fashion.

With their heavy ska sound PADDLE CELL are something of a revelation. With a sound that’s heavily laden with brass they soon get the whole venue skanking. As you’d expect, ‘Waiting’ and ‘Montego Bay’ set the venue alight and Paddle Cell are rewarded with the biggest cheer of the evening.

After some tour tribulations and shenanigans, THE SURF RATS perform with a new drummer who only had 24 hours to learn a set – but you’d never guess. ‘Vampire Lover’ really rocks as does ‘Evil Girl’ and The Rats put their unique stamp on rock’n’roll. The adrenaline-infused ska of ‘Smash it Up’ adds some variety to their set and new track ‘It’s The End’ shows some real development. A well-deserved encore follows in the shape of ‘Welcome to Killafornia’.

BATMOBILE are worthy headliners and, as the first non-British band to perform at The Klub Foot they have a special relationship with the UK. Hitting the stage the band are like whirling dervishes and it’s obvious why they’ve stayed at the top of the game for 35 years and many would argue that new record ‘Brand New Blisters’ is a career highlight. Affection radiates between band and audience as they plough through a greatest hits set and with their back catalogue they can’t go wrong. Running close to curfew the band still manage to cram in all their well known tunes plus a few fan favourites ensuring nobody leaves disappointed.

Peter Dennis.

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POPLAR CONSENT!

Rising London street-punks EAST END BADOES launched their new album A Punk Rock Sound With An East End Beat last month – with a full supporting cast! – at London’s 100 Club. Vive Le Rock‘s Tony Ghirardi was there…

EAST END BADOES
The 100 Club, London
The 100 Club was the evening’s destination for Human Punk’s four band offering of East End Badoes, The Violators, Knock Off and Geoffrey OiCott, and there was the added attraction of it being the Badoes album release gig.
The evening kicked off with Yorkshire Cricket based Oi band, Geoffrey OiCott. Dressed in their obligatory cricket whites, they warmed up the 100 Club with their tongue-in-cheek renditions ‘Dawn Of The Dickie Birds’, ‘Robin Hood Was A Yorkshire Man’ and ‘Glory Glory Garry Thompson’, which was changed to ‘Glory Glory Eric Bristow’ in recognition of the darts player’s recent death.

Knock Off (left) were next up, a three piece from Watford with a couple of cracking albums and singles under their belts. They are an ultra-hardworking band and it really shows with their tight professional set which included crowd favourites ‘Are You Offended’, ‘Jack The Ripper’ and their terrace chant, ‘Football, Beer And Punk Rock’ which always goes down a storm.

UK82 returned to the 100 Club in the shape of The Violators (below). Having been back together since last year’s appearance at Rebellion, great things were expected of them. After overcoming some initial bass amp problems, they put in a blinding set of old favourites, with ‘Summer Of ‘81’ and ‘Gangland’ being the highlights. 

The stage was now set for the East End Badoes to make their first ever album launch. There was a large following for them, most of whom piled down the front of the stage to join in the fun. The majority of tracks, as expected, were from the new album, like ‘Poplar Boys’ and ‘Trouble On The Streets’, all were very well received by those in attendance. The band played at full tilt and at one point Mark’s snare drum broke; until a new one was found, a member of the audience offered his prosthetic leg to use! A great, fun evening which ended with a few of the crowd on stage adding vocals for ‘Trouble On The Streets’ and their cover of The Professionals ‘1-2-3’.
Tony Ghirardi

 

 

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VIVE LE JOCK!

Last weekend, Vive Le Rock went north of the border to co-promote a show at Broadcast in Glasgow featuring three of Scotland’s finest up’n’coming punk bands. Neil Hodge was there to review the proceedings….

Take a Saturday night in Glasgow, a NYC record label, add three of Scotland’s premier punk bands, an intimate venue full of enthusiastic punters and you have the recipe for a superb night out. This was a hotly anticipated sold-out gig, with people travelling some distances to attend (Dublin, England, North of Scotland). They were most definitely not disappointed.

Tarbeach Records label-mates ReAction, Heavy Drapes and The Zips came together to provide a high octane, hundred-mile-an-hour punk rock romp. The running order had been kept under wraps beforehand to ensure maximum attendance for all bands and the ploy worked. The venue was rammed and the atmosphere was palpable as Airdrie’s peerless ReAction kicked things off in vigorous style with a selection of tracks from their debut album and recent EP. Opening up with ‘Dead Boy Racer’ the pace started at break-neck speed and didn’t let up throughout the set. The now familiar songs in the set were bolstered by some raucous new material including ‘Kamikaze Baby’, a song about Debbie Juvenile from the original Bromley Contingent, and closed with audience choice, their energetic version of External Menace’s ‘Someday’. By the time they left the stage packed-out venue was now a veritable sweatbox.

HD Kiss 3

There was no time wasted between bands and shortly after ReAction exited stage left it was the turn of Edinburgh’s Heavy Drapes. The band took to the stage with frontman De Liberate making his now familiar declaration “We’re Heavy Drapes and we are punk rock,” before launching into their musical manifesto with ‘Number 1’. Fresh from a triumphant gig on Rebellion’s main stage, this was the first gig for ex-Scars guitarist, Paul Research. He has certainly brought a new vibrancy to the band who were on blistering form. It was a colossal assault on the senses from start to finish. The set included all the now standard Drapes tracks – ‘Into the Blue’, ‘Janie’ – with the crowd in great voice too, especially on tracks like ‘Let’s Free The Working Class’ and set closer ‘(I Wanna Be) Maladjusted’, every song going down a storm with the partisan crowd.

Zips 3

It was down to seminal Glasgow punk legends The Zips to close proceedings. We were treated to a career-spanning set starting with the topical ‘Hear, Hear’ and ‘Thin Blue Line’ from the latest album. The tempo of the evening was kept up with the likes of the high-spirited celebration of ’40 Years of Punk Rock’ and the first live outing for older song ‘Take Me Down’, which features on Gary Crowley’s upcoming punk and new wave compilation, through to set closer, early single ‘Don’t Get Pushed Around’, The Zips jolted the already exuberant crowd into another level of euphoria, the resultant jubilation saw the night ending with a stage invasion.

With new songs, imminent albums and forthcoming gigs a-plenty from all three bands, the future looks dazzling for Scottish punk. If you haven’t already done so, seek them all out – or stay at home staring at your navel, the choice is yours.

Neil Hodge

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LIVE REVIEWS EXTRA!

Because Vive Le Rock mag is crowded with great live reviews, we sometimes can’t get them all in!

So here’s a couple of extra reviews for yer…..

LAST GREAT DREAMERS
THE WHEATSHEAF, OXFORD

The LAST GREAT DREAMERS arrive in Oxford at the arse end of a nationwide tour in support of their latest release, the aurally agreeable pledge music, fan-funded ‘Transmissions From Oblivion’. Although struggling with man-flu the band deliver an energetic, heel kicking, Beechams assisted full throttle performance. Dressed in an array of hats, scarves, spotty shirts with obligatory black waistcoats, the band are Dickensian visual vagabonds and if ever a group sounded like they looked it’s the LGD. Set and album opener ‘Oblivion Kids’ initially suffers from streaky vocals due to said illness but front man Valentine digs deep and delivers a performance which grows in stature the longer he continues. Single ‘Glitterball Apocalypse’ avoids turning into the Euro 96 anthem ‘Three Lions’ by a goalpost and ‘Ashtray Eyes’ sees lead guitarist Slyder take over the singing duties. A finale of ‘Last Great Dreamers’ and the smash and grab closer ‘Dope School’ complete a spirited sixty minutes of Snot, Rattle and Roll.
Guy Shankland

FROM THE JAM
SUB 89 READING

FROM THE JAM open with a top ten treble of ‘Modern World’, ‘Strange Town’ and ‘Beat Surrender’ it’s a win win scenario that opens the nostalgic vocal floodgates. A rousing ‘Butterfly Collector’, ‘Down In a Tube Station’ and ‘That’s Entertainment’ are all given early set-list outings. Bruce Foxton confidently handles singing duties on ‘David Watts’, ‘Smithers Jones’ and ‘News Of The World’. ‘Going Underground’, ‘A Town Called Malice’ and ‘Start’ simply demonstrate the pure unadulterated song writing genius of a youthful Paul Weller. FTJ deliver these songs with energy, passion and breathe life into this timeless body of work. The songs all remain vital and provide an incisive snapshot of Thatcher’s Britain in the early eighties through the eyes of a young disaffected suburban male. A double finale of ’In The City’ and ’Eton Riffles’ puts the final cherry on a celebratory, Jam packed night. Twenty songs in ninety sing-a-long minutes, most sung word for word by the sold out, smiling, Sub89 crowd. That’s entertainment.
Guy Shankland

 

 

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RADIO BIRDMAN, THE WAREHOUSE, FALKIRK

Legendary Australian proto-punks Radio Birdman finally arrived in Scotland, almost forty years after their last thwarted attempt.

Support act The Fuckin’ Godoys kicked things off with an explosive set that demonstrated their love of 70s Brit-punk. Art and Steve have backed Birdman guitarist Deniz Tek on various tours and releases, but even as a stripped-down duo of drums and guitar, the twins generated enough energy to power the national grid.

The headliners opened with the atmospheric ‘Crying Sun’ before barrelling into ‘Smith & Wesson Blues’, guitarist Dave Kettley locking in seamlessly with bass legend Jim Dickson and the propulsive drumming of Nik Rieth.

Frontman Rob Younger was in fine voice and good humour, joking with the audience before the band tipped into a molten ‘Descent into the Maelstrom’.  The dapper Pip Hoyle showcased his keyboard skills on a rapturously received ‘Man with Golden Helmet’, while Deniz Tek gave us a masterclass in his influential guitar style.  The guitarist’s wife, photographer Anne Tek, kindly supplied the live shot for this review.

We got a slew of classics- ‘What Gives’, ‘i-94’, ‘Do the Pop’, ‘Aloha, Steve and Danno’, ‘More Fun’ and ‘New Race’, plus a surprise cover of Magazine’s ‘Shot by Both Sides’. ‘Anglo Girl Desire’ and ‘Alone in the Endzone’ were particular highlights, while an incandescent ‘Hand of Law’ included a snippet of The Chantays’ ‘Pipeline’.

This was an inspired performance by Australia’s finest- fingers crossed we won’t have to wait another forty years for a return visit.

Gus Ironside

Pic by Anne Tek

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ALTERNATIVE FESTIVALS EXTRA!

Planning on going to any festivals this summer? JC Carroll of THE MEMBERS gives his views on some of the alternatives…..

 

THE BEST FESTIVALS IN ENGLAND (that you have never heard of)

SOMETHING ELSE, BLANK GENERATION and GLASTONWICK

I have just played three of the best festivals in England. And most of you will not have heard of them. There was no blanket coverage on BBC about them, there was not be articles in the national press about them. Later on in the year I should be heading off to play Rebellion in Blackpool and later still the great British Alternative Festival in Skegness

Skegness, Blackpool – smug southerners amongst you may chuckle. Sticks of rock, fish and chips, caravans, northerners on holiday, Butlins, how quaint.

Coldplay will not be playing or Kanye West or Adele or Jack Garrett or Sam Smith or Busted. You will not get an NME tent that comprises of people performing on a laptop.

You will get The Stranglers, Buzzcocks, The Damned, The Members and scores of younger bands like Knock Off, alt-rock, reggae, rockabilly, pirate shanties, folk music and every form of authentic music indigenous to these isles. People will travel from Australia, America, Berlin to attend because these are the biggest celebrations of alternative culture in the world.

These events will be largely ignored by the media and will sell out. The clue is in the name of the last festival, the word ‘alternative’.

In the 70s, the festival at Worthy Farm was alternative. It had David Bowie, Gong, Hawkind freaky hippie bands. Before punk we didn’t want pop, we wanted alternative music. John Peel championed it and punk grew out of it.

Three weeks ago we played at SOMETHING ELSE in Duns Tew, a completely solar powered festival in a field in idyllic Oxfordshire, organised by the legendary Gail Something Else. Gail is a Queen of the Alt scene, a scarlet-haired Tattooed Bodicea in a van. Her festival in Oxfordshire is totally off the grid: water from a well, solar-powered with wood fire pizza. It has travellers, punks, lawyers, doctors, civil servants and plenty of disabled people. Veterans of the Battle of the Beanfield, young punks, dreadlocked pirates – they are all there and they love my band The Members.

A week later we were celebrating 40 years of punk in a squatted building in Tottenham with a massive line up of punk bands old and new. Veterans of the 77 scene and younger acts. Audience age from 16 to 60. A squatted building, vegetarian food… Was this some sort of retro 70s themed party? No, this was BLANK GENERATION, London in 2016 where punk is not a retrospective token programme on Radio 2 or an exhibition at the photographers gallery. Where punk is a viable alternative to the soup of talent show cannon-fodder and landfill castrati-electronica pumped out of BBC and the commercial stations. Where punk is the antithesis of the commercial pouting narcissists that inhabit the front page of iTunes and the Google-owned Internet like a massive Westfield shopping centre in the sky hovering forever in our periphery vision

There’s that word again, the nemesis of alternative, ‘commercial’.

The third festival took place in a farm in a hollow in the South Downs, a more politicised bunch, double-decker buses ferrying people from Shoreham, Worthing and Brighton, men and women, taking their children to their first festival. Eighty different types of independent ales, ciders and perrys. No queues for overloaded chemical toilets here, it is largely run by a gentleman poet called Attila the Stockbroker with his hands firmly on the artistic tiller and the cheque book he promptly paid me with. A guest of mine and the veteran of many Readings and Bestivals cheerfully messaged me and said it was the best festival she had ever been to.

Many people only go to one festival a year and choose one with the most acts because it represents value for money. They try and make the best of the Syrian refugee camp accommodation and toilet conditions these large events with their corporate sponsors and the illusion of overpriced glamping offer. What they get is an official beer, more acts than they could consume in a month and hours of massive dehumanising queues in and out of the premises – a sort of Dystopian Babylon, a Hell on Earth, The Somme with Borough Market Vietnamese street food, Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran.

In Blackpool everybody stays in B & B and shits in a proper toilet. In Skegness you get a holiday apartment thrown in with cable TVs. There are no wellies, mud, chemical loos. Fish and chips, steaks and beer in a glass. Oh, and a roof.

Oh, and the other thing about alt festivals is they feed the band give you tons of beer tokens and pay you!

Bring it on !

With the exception of John Giddings’ Isle of Wight, the main festivals are punk-free zones preferring 80s and 90s revival acts to the cultural authenticity and grit of our generation .

Something Else, Blank Generation and Glastonwick are independent festivals run by brave people who champion the alternative, Vive Le Rock, Vive le Difference!

JC

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THE DAMNED: ACADEMY IS THE LIFE FOR ME!

THE DAMNED celebrated the festive season with low-key show at the O2 Academy, Islington in London on 20 December. Our man Andy Zel was there….

THE DAMNED
THE FEATHERZ
O2 Academy Islington

The Featherz warm us up nicely with their punky glam fare comprising the melodic buzzsaw guitar, crunchy riffage and spirited vocals of frontwoman Danie Cox. In addition to catchy originals such as ‘When Was The Last Time You Had Sex’ and ‘Takes One To Know One’ we’re treated to covers of T Rex’s ’20th Century Boy’ and Penetration’s ‘Don’t Dictate’ which go down very nicely and more or less sum up where this lot are coming from musically.

About to enter their 40th year, The Damned’s vigour seems to increase with age. Launching straight into ‘Wait For The Blackout’, they proceed to wire us up with an electrifying set, drawn largely from their classic trio of late 70s/early 80s albums – ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, ‘The Black Album’ and ‘Strawberries’. Aside from the inevitable (and essential) ‘New Rose’ and ‘Neat Neat Neat’, only ‘Fan Club’ survives from the first album, but there are nods to the more commercial mid 80s era in the form of ‘Grimly Fiendish’ as well as ‘Eloise’ and a particularly exquisite version of ‘Alone Again Or’ – dedicated to Arthur Lee.

Standouts tonight include ‘History Of The World (Part 1)’, ‘Love Song’, ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, ‘Smash It Up’ and the aforementioned ‘New Rose’. With it being the festive season we also get ‘There Ain’t No Sanity Clause’ and ‘Turkey Song’, the latter featuring guest appearances from fellow travellers Charlie Harper and Gaye Advert.

The Captain thanks us “for putting up with us for the last 39 years”. It’s been our pleasure sir. Here’s looking forward to the Albert Hall in May for the 40th!

Andy Zel

 

Photo by Dod Morrison

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MANICS’ BIBLICAL RETURN IN EDINBURGH

MANIC STREET PREACHERS opened their The Holy Bible 20th Anniversary tour in Edinburgh last Saturday. Vive Le Rock’s Andrew Welsh was on the scene…

MANIC STREET PREACHERS / Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Few bands have enjoyed a relevance over the past quarter century like Manic Street Preachers.
Plenty have been around for at least as long and similarly prolific, like Killing Joke and Therapy?, but have long since ceased to puncture the public consciousness beyond a fervent, if limited, fanbase despite producing consistently excellent material. Then there are your Blue Nile types, those who pop up fleetingly with a new album every seven or eight years, take the critical plaudits and vanish again.

With 12 studio albums and the equivalent of at least another half dozen in assorted B-sides and rareties behind them since 1990, Manic Street Preachers have never been afraid of failure. Last year’s Futurology was a bold step into the realm of Krautrock, but surely their biggest gamble was 1994’s dark masterpiece The Holy Bible, a searing diatribe that covered subject matter such as anorexia, prostitution, the Holocaust, capital punishment and suicide with brutal honesty. Its principal lyric architect Richey Edwards went into meltdown post-Holy Bible and disappeared aged 27 in 1995, with his fate still unknown.

It is precisely because his childhood friends James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore subsequently went on to greater success that seeing them reconnect with Edwards’ uncompromising youthful lyrics in their mid-40s has an emotional significance for the band’s fans. The industrial rock opener ‘Yes’ set the tone at the Usher Hall, with the bouncing massed ranks firing back every word to the Welsh trio in their forces-style garb, the stage similarly bedecked in camouflage netting a la the band’s original Holy Bible tour 21 years ago.

Shafts of humour amid a set made up of such compellingly bleak material were inevitably few, but the chorus of pantomime boos that greeted mention of Margaret Thatcher in the haunting sample that pressaged the militaristic stomp of ‘Ifwhiteamerica…’ raised a smile from Bradfield. The rugged frontman clearly relishes the challenge of reproducing his astonishing guitar-and-vocals performance on the album, and in a century-old venue noted for faithful recitals the intricacies of such visceral tracks as ‘Archives Of Pain’, ‘Mausoleum’ and ‘Faster’ rightly came across as the technical achievements that they are.

The second half of the show was an enjoyable selection from the Manics’ bulky back catalogue. Bradfield went solo on a heartfelt acoustic rendition of ‘The Everlasting’, “something a little more touchy-feely” as he understatedly put it following the first hour’s confrontational content. By contrast, the Guns’n’Roses-like anthem ‘Condemned To Rock’n’Roll’ was a flashback to the original Generation Terrorists, all slogans and spraypaint, with Wire saying the song had never been played live by the four-piece because he and Edwards had been unable to learn it.

Futurology‘s ‘Walk Me To The Bridge’ stood up well beside MSP classics ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ and ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’, while the leviathans ‘If You Tolerate This’ and ‘A Design For Life’ were delivered with feeling and intensity.

As the 20th anniversary of 1996’s Everything Must Go album approaches, speculation is rife that they might be about to embark on another themed tour next year. With the throng at Usher Hall made up of feather boa and mascara-wearing veterans and 20-somethings alike, all keen to grab a slice of thrilling ’90s celebration, there appears to be no shortage of demand. Certainly, if the trio handle their commercial breakthrough LP with the same reverence and total commitment as they showed to The Holy Bible then a must-see experience lies in prospect.

Andrew Welsh

http://www.manicstreetpreachers.com/

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MICHAEL MONROE

Michael Monroe
02/12/11
Electric Ballroom

The former Hanoi Rocks front man has been slotted in between the modern day Misfits known better as Wednesday 13 and Swedish glam rockers Crashdiet. The recent change in his band has been the addition of Dregen from Backyard Babies and Hellacopters replacing Ginger of the Wildhearts fame and it quickly becomes apparent that there wouldn’t be anyone more suitable axe man to accompany mister Monroe. While Andy McCoy’s soulful playing was central to Hanoi Rocks’ sound Dregen is a great onstage companion to Monroe and a perfect match for the punk influenced in your face, split stretching rock and roll of his solo output. Also former Hanoi Rocks bassist Sami Yaffa is present pumping his groovy bass lines to the packed venue while his New York Dolls band mate Steve Conte adds depth with new guitar lead parts to old Demolition 23 songs like “Nothing’s Alright”. Due to the newer generation headliners the young audience might not be too familiar with the music in question, but they are definitely are receptive to it!

Mike dedicates the whole set to his former best friend and original Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle, whose birthday it also happens to be. While a big chunk of the material comes from the bands recent award winning studio album “Sensory Overdrive” Mike does still treat the audience to a fair trip down to Hanoi with “Mystery City”, “Motorvatin’”, “Malibu Beach Nightmare” while climaxing with “Taxi Driver” and the brilliant guitar solo tradeoffs. Backed by his best backing band to date, it’s a full on energetic 50 minutes of sheer rock and roll brilliance from Dregen’s duckwalks to Monroe’s wild onstage antics from climbing to the stage’s framework to his spellbinding saxophone solos. Forget about vodka or Nokia’s mobile phones (not to mention the rubber boots that predated them!) Mister Michael Monroe is the greatest export Finland has to offer!

Jyrki “Spider” Hamalainen

 

 

 

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SHAM 69 / STIFF LITTLE FINGERS

SHAM 69
29/10/11
London Brixton The Electric

This is the opening night at the newly refurbished … Electric in Brixton (The old Fridge ) the first that hits you is the smell of fresh paint, as expecting the Queen to come.
Well tonight it is the King’s of Uk Punk, the Original (except the Drummer) line up of Sham 69 for a "one -off" show ….

The Skets were the 1st band on and reminded me of The Blaggers ITA with punk duel singers … with subliminal ska – punk tunes – something Beastie Boy esqe about them too.

Control (ex Beerzone / Intensive Care, Scottish group) were next up, delivering a Passionate blast of Punk Rock, not breaking out of the mould , yet the Real Deal!

This much anticipated reunion Sham gig, part of a mini Punk weekend / SLF playing the following night (that’s another story!) has brought all the old Punx , Skins and Herbets out of the woodwork to a sold out venue.

When Sham come on to a whole String of old song’s ….the crowd take a while to gear up, more in awe that Jimmy is back on stage; thankfully with his Ballet period, well behind.
From the first song in, "What have we Got" to the more better know "Angel with Dirty Faces" where Jimmy misses the timing and passes it off, professionally. The band themselves look all relatively good for over 35 years of "Rock n Roll" (albeit with a short hiatus thrown in.)

Sham really did come from the place they were singing about…. and formed way back in 1976, the original working class .. so when Jimmy has a costume change, and treat the crowd to "Hersham Boys" ..the crowd chant a long to the classic lines "Hersham Boys …laced up boots and corduroys’" a feeling of unity is already forming in the crowd.

Along side "Tell us the Truth" and "questions and Answers" this ending up quite a spectacular night; when they begin the unmistakable power chords to my personal Favourite "Borstal Breakout" the whole crowd pogo, until puffed out….. 3 and half minutes later .

Sham 69 …go off and knowing they would be lynched if they didn’t play their All time Anthem, come back on and blast, "If the kids are United" …really Jimmy’s lyrics are nothing less than genius and such a simple message for all Ears the world over …covered by many bands, including Rancid.

This was an early show, with the usual "crap" club after …so as much as Sham were welcomed back by their loyal fans… the light went on…so unfortunately, no "Sunday Morning Nightmare" – never mind …lets just pray that this is not going to be a "one-off" and the original band can carry on … for "012 and beyond"

Indeed the Cockney Kids are innocent"

Nicola Hull

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS
Tues 18th Oct.,
Southend

Stiff Little Fingers, formed way back in 1978, and were and Still are The Best Punk Rock Band in the world ….. tonight they play Southend as about 300 eager Fan’s pack Chinnery’s out!
SLF are just back from a USA tour, where I heard ; the powerhouse of a drummer, Steve Grantly was not too well yet still managed, somehow, to do the whole Tour, proving how much of a true Warrior he is….

They take the stage to the usual instrumental "Go For It" and it’s a "1234" straight into "Wasted Life," the B side to their very first single (D.I.Y. Rigid Digits label)
First 3 songs all hammered out, like rapid machine gun fire – only slowing down so, the audience can have a little breather to the Motown inspired.." Silver Lining" albeit the opportunity to have a dance too.

An unrecorded "Liar’s Club" is a taster of what’s to come from a New forthcoming Album, in the pipeline. There is some really nice Surprise songs in this "All of The Best" set list tonight, enough to put a grin on the most avid fans face. One such tune is the amazing "Back to Front " an Anti Racist track with the very apt line’s … "Buckets and spades to make your day with …he’s not like us he must be done." Another classic single from ..back in the day, enter "Straw Dogs" the bands first 7" single for Chrysalis (The contract they almost wrote themselves) this is a real gruff, punky number; with Jakes voice still holding the Passion of 1000 street protesters. As if this is not enough for the ardent fan’s, they then treat us to another old tune called "Wait and See," dedicated to their prestigious life time achievement award from the City of Belfast. I personally have not heard this tune live for at least 20 years.

Now this in all fairness, may just be the most biased live review ever … as this is my all time Favourite band, when I heard "Johnny Was" coming from my Big brothers bedroom; aged 6, my lifelong affair started there. First seeing them live in 1983 (Last ever show, Sun 6th Feb) then when they reformed in 1987, I hitched – hiked too see them at every single show in the Uk, losing count at roughly 200 times, give or take!

So when I say this is one of the best time’s I have ever seen them, I really do mean it. There is 3 cover versions thrown into this mix, including "The Specials -Doesn’t make it Alright," a version that Roddy Radiation prefers to his own bands original. Another two reggae tune’s called "Love of the Common people" and "Roots Radicals and Rockers," proving the band ‘s love of Jamaican music and giving the very happy audience a chance to Skank along.

A newly revamped expression of "Tin Soldiers" is soaked up with the real life story of a young and naive, Scottish Soldier who indeed "Swapped boy scout hat for army cap, he thought he’d be prepared". Then the band have a minute respite, before a (silly) Encore, "Schools out for Summer" Alice Cooper, which seems to go over a lot of the young one’s heads…. mostly son’s and daughters of first timers.

The cherry on the cake comes with, the bands two most revered classic’s played back to back, "Suspect Device" and "Alternative Ulster" (This really could be an National Anthem !!)

Well what a night, an amazing set by an amazing bandand the truly amazing thing is next year will be SLF’s 35th year and they are still Burning…… glad I will be seeing them in London the following week. If for any reason you do not know this great band, this please go and check them on their next Tour dates… April / March in 2012 – for a "Punky, Reggae party, one you will never forget. Hanx !

Nicola Hull

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KING BLUES / SWINGIN’ UTTERS


THE KING BLUES
Chinnerys, Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Friday 26th August 2011

As a warm up gig for Reading and Leeds, The King Blues come on stage to a crowd who can’t quite believe their eyes, yet welcome them with all ears in a venue ready to burst. Opening the night with the track ‘The Last of the Dreamers’, The King Blues show their commitment to putting on a blinding show from the minute they get on stage, with haunting vocals drawing the crowd in from their pints then like a thunderbolt Itch crashes through with his spoken, searing lyrics followed sharply by ‘We Are Fucking Angry’. The ferocity of the deliverance leaves no one questioning just how fucking angry they are.

Southend really gets to see how well this tight, well-oiled unit can play, ploughing neatly through tunes from all 3 albums, such as ‘Mr Music Man’, ‘Under The Fog’, ‘My Boulder’ and ‘Lets Hangs the Landlord’, to name but a few. A heaving, jumping audience sing almost word for word, song after song, from the just over 14 year olds to the just under 60 years olds. This band have crossed the ages with a success rarely ever seen. Even when a technical fault with the bass threatens to dampen an already sweaty night, with pure professionalism Itch strikes up a solo Ukele trio of tunes including the much loved ‘Out of Luck’ to the delight of the swaying crowd. A short break in the proceedings and Jamie takes the chance to talk to the audience as he does like an old friend, although this is the first time The King Blues have played Southend, and maybe the first time some fans have seen them.

By the time the thunderous ‘The Streets Are Ours’ is played the crowd are bouncing up and down like a hoard of protesters around a samba band. It may have been said before but the music and energy that The King Blues creates every time conjures up the perfect soundtrack for the revolution, and so with the new Clash-stylee, drum and bass version of ‘Power to the People’ blazing through, The King Blues show just how their roots are still very much in Punk Rock.

Andi C

SWINGIN’ UTTERS
London Camden Underworld
Sun 4th September 2011

Quite Early doors on this Sun 4th Sep; with a fairly big line -up. Catching a bit of The Exposed, it’s good straight forward Punk Rock that leaves the crowd suitably impressed. I also catch Moral Dilemma, who are one of London’s hardworking, hardcore Punk Rock bands, with good tunes with a fast delivery, they deserve to be much bigger. The members of this band seem to not only tour a lot, but also turn up to other bands’ shows and support the scene.

The Underworld (or mini world tonight) is only 3/4 full, yet more than enough people to welcome back the Utters. With an outstanding brand new album on Fat Wreck, the Utters are back after a long hiatus, except for a comeback Barfly show last year. They’ve still got what it takes even though, like the name of the new release suggest, they do look like they are here ‘Under Protest’. All Utters songs are like mini Ramones tunes, in a sense, not lasting for more than 2 and a half or 3 minutes.

Swingin’ Utters formed in the late 1980’s, originally from Santa Cruz, they were first known as Johnny Peabucks (A story in its self…) and Swingin’ Utters’ debut was called ‘Scared’. They moved to San Fran, where they recorded the ‘Streets of San Francisco’, produced by Lars Frederiksen of Rancid.

With loads of new songs to air tonight, it is great when a few of the old classics from their past are aired – ‘A Juvenile Product of The Working Class’ and ‘Wind Spitting Punk’ are blasted out with pure passion. The Swingin’ Utters have always been one of the best Punk bands from California’s late 80’s / 90’s scene, first coming to these shores as Rancids support band, so they have still got a very loyal following from then. With intelligent and very clever lyrics, often with a McGowan / Stummer-esque poetic vein, they’re pretty special. The other new tunes that stand out are ‘Brand New Lungs’, ‘Bent Collector of 1000 Limbs’ and ‘Give it All to The Man’.

They also air some classics, like the punk anthem ‘Catastrophe’ and some great tunes from their ‘5 Lessons Learned’ album, yet classics like ‘No Eager Man’ from ‘The Streets…’ album, really gets the eager crowd going, After a frantic hour set and a much happier looking Johnny Pee Buck singing (thanks too the amazing crowd and the band’s musicianship) the group blast out one off their all time greats ‘Next in Line’ with lyrics … like, "Out the back door and to the corner store – all I want is a drink and nothing more" – this comeback looks like it’s here to stay. Swingin’ Utters are a kind of Stiff Little Fingers / Clash meets The Pogues on the High Seas , for the 21st Century, with all the energy and passion to boot.. Looking forward to seeing them come back to these shores next year.

Andi C

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