JANUARY ISSUE LIVE REVIEWS
On a day when many experienced massive travel difficulties, arrived to catch the last thrashings of THE RABBLE (4/5), prior to a typically serene GOLDBLADE (4/5) performance; John Robb spending the entire set perched on a barstool, smiling demurely from behind his coiffed fringe. Oh, okay then, it was the usual full-throttle, bare-chested broadside from Blackpool’s favourite punk rock son. A lot of people have made a real effort to see THE SHAPES (5/5) reunite, and revisit those dole snoop-dodging pseudonyms of yesteryear (Seymour Bybuss is still an all-time favourite). That man stage left is Brian Helicopter, and he’s on vacation from the day job (champion skydiver). How cool to hear ‘Batman In The Launderette’ again… Won the sweepstake on how old Andy Ellison of the Radio Stars is (112 officially) but nobody seems to have told him, and he’s soon doing a Robbster, disrobing and taunting the audience with his man-sweat. Next up is the similarly ageless and ever-engaging TV SMITH (3/5). I’ve always preferred him in smaller venues, generally, but he’s never knowingly undersold any audience I’ve been part of. This is the best I’ve seen Charlie Harper and the UK SUBS (4/5) for a while; excellent energy, a thumping ‘Warhead’ that sees the venue really light up for the first time late afternoon, some of my all-time favourite B-sides, and a lot of smiles. YOBS (4/5), the Yule-tidey reincarnation of THE BOYS, were great too; wonderfully appropriate season’s fare if you like a dose of vulgarity with your roasting chestnuts. Had to laugh at one on-stage introduction: “This one’s called . . . ‘C**t’.” The real highlight, though, is catching PENETRATION (5/5) in fine form. They apologise self-consciously for peppering the set with new material from their current Damaged Goods release, but pretty much all of it sounded great. Pauline, Rob et al seem to be having a ball and it’s not too slouchy from where I’m standing, either. After years of under the radar cultdom, kitchen porter colossus JOHNNY MOPED (3/5) has been a practical tart of late; perhaps he’s getting better at giving wife Brenda the slip. When they finally sell him off to medical science and dissect that gladiatorial physique, they’ll find rock ‘n’ roll running through his spine like a stick of rock. Travel anxieties preclude a fuller report of THE DAMNED’s performance, sadly; though I’ll be catching up with them shortly anyway and the new album is as pleasing as everyone is saying.
THE LAST RESORT, JACSON UNITED
It’s been two years too long since the second wave’s biggest punk rock band graced our chilly shores, and on this, their third London show and the last of their sold out UK winter tour, hopes are that they’ll be going out with a bang.
With differing support acts for differing cities, tonight’s show opens with new Deck Cheese signers JACKSON UNITED (5/5). On the second night of their own UK tour, Chris Shiflett’s boys receive a warm welcome from the ravenous crowd, rocking their newly acquired faster-edged sound to its full potential. A set comprised predominantly of tracks from their recent ‘Harmony And Dissidence’ release, including the future classic single ‘21st Century Fight Song’ and solid moshing songs ‘White Flag Burning’ and ‘The Land Without Law’, Jackson United leave the audience pumped, but not panting, proving themselves as the perfect warm up band for the evening.
THE LAST RESORT (4/5) take the middle slot of the bill, joining other seminal punk legends GBH, The Exploited and the UK Subs who have filled it on various dates of the tour. True up-starters of the Oi! Movement, The Last Resort are old school through and through and their loud, proud hooligan anthems soon have fists flying en masse. Cropping up lyrically in ‘The Ballad Of Jimmy & Johnny’, a classic track from the headliner’s Let’s Go release, it’s hardly surprising these guys were asked to join the tour, but the raw and belligerent deliverance of tracks like ‘Working Class Heroes’ and ‘Held Hostage’ paints a clear picture of where the Hellcat punx themselves learned the ropes of punk rock.
With little delay, RANCID (5/5), the guys we’re all here to see, take to the stage and if the years have taken their toll on these punk rock megastars, it sure ain’t showing. All members, including new boy Brandon Steineckert, are on top form and judging by the mash of crowd and size of the circle pit, their fans haven’t grown tired of the tunes either. A generous set featuring a nice mix of tracks that span their discography, from no-brainers ‘Radio’, ‘Old Friend’ and ‘Roots Radicals’ and ‘Ruby Soho’ to more obscure, often forgotten Life Won’t Wait tracks like ‘Hoover Street’, ‘There’s Something In The World Tonight’ and ‘Who Would’ve Thought’. As per usual Matt Freeman outperforms any pre-recorded effort and as his fingers fly in the ‘Maxwell Murder’ solo, nobody watching can deny Lars when he declares him as ‘the greatest fucking bassist in the world!’ Although no new material is let loose from next years anticipated release, nobody is left disappointed by a set full of sing-alongs. Rancid is one live band that cannot be faulted and if this performance is anything to go by, then the upcoming stuff is going to be one hell of a riot.
BIG CHEESE SPONSORED
ARGY BARGY, THE GRAVEYARD JOHNNYS, THE RABBLE
London Camden Dingwalls
A real eclectic mix of stuff to warm up a Sunday night started off with an excellent set by New Zealand’s THE RABBLE (3/5) who blasted their way through a set encompassing their relatively short career. They did in a manner that made the look and sound like old professionals with attitude as they didn’t let a sparse Sunday opening band crowd bother them, but rather gave it to them with both barrels. Those that missed it lost out big style. THE GRAVEYARD JOHNNYS (3/5) were buoyed up and ready to go after their recent airplay on Mike Davies’s Radio One Punk Show and didn’t let the crowd, that had been swelling by the minute, down. Their ‘no quiffs’ attitude on their take on psychobilly had led to some recent online banter about ‘Emo Cowboys’ so they took this opportunity to let their doubters have it right between the ears in the manner of a fairly short sharp rocking shock as stinging as bassist Joe’s fingers appeared to be in a full-on psychobilly for the noughties assault. ARGY BARGY (4/5) are pretty much the best street punk/Oi! band around and they blasted the crowd with an enjoyable set made up from songs from their very fine new album ‘The Likes Of Us’ before getting Cocksparrers’ Colin onstage to end with an encore of their signature tune ‘Argy Bargy’. GOLDBLADE (4/5) had a fair bit to follow but if anyone can rise to a challenge it’s John Robb, and there is barely a better sight in rock ‘n’ roll than him going absolutely apeshit onstage. Stripped to that waist and in full piledriver mode, he fronted Goldblade through a crowd-pummelling set of all-time favourites mixed in with the best off the new album ‘Mutiny’, which left those at the front not knowing what hit them.
Simon Nott/Eugene VLP
EASTPAK ANTIDOTE TOUR
As smoke and coloured lights burst in the sky over London this November 5th, fans can be guaranteed that tonight’s Eastpak Antidote Tour is jam packed with enough fireworks to satisfy the most destructive punk rock pyromaniac’s appetites. High spirits are all round following the morning’s election results and as Hellcat punx TIME AGAIN (3/5) open the display, the beers are already flowing fast and frequent. Tales of ugly shoes accompany other true stories from both their namesake debut and this year’s ‘Darker Days’ release and although the crowd is small, a fast and thunderous effort in tracks like ‘Day Like This’ and ‘Cold Concrete’ soon have them spinning in circles. The set may be short, but it’s still nice to see Dan Dare and his crew again before their upcoming hiatus.
The ‘Star Spangled Banner’ blasts in the background as their label mates STREET DOGS (4/5) take the stage and it’s clear from the sweat in the air and the swell of the crowd that is going to be a rowdy performance. A ‘Not Without A Purpose’ opener receives a meaty response and immediately fists are pummelling the air. Rambunctious jigging soon ensues and after more props to Obama and a quick lesson in pogo dancing, Mike McColgan finishes with a solo spoken version of U2’s ‘MLK’, the ex-fire fighter’s own personal dedication to the new president elect.
Tribal drum pounds guide Newport’s SKINDRED (5/5) onstage, an innovative choice for the tour, but definitively a popular one with the teeming audience, who are caught under Benji Webbe’s spell within seconds. Unleashing a brutal performance that sees limbs and bodies hurled in all directions to the ragga metal riddim’, Skindred are truly the definition of raw energy. Tracks from both their ‘Babylon’ debut and new album ‘Roots Rock Riot’ are served up in generous portions, including volatile tracks ‘Pressure’, ‘Trouble’ and a ‘Nobody’ ending that leaves the crowd infected with a furious primal rage.
It’s doubtful if FLOGGING MOLLY (4/5) could ever put on a poor performance and tonight’s effort does nothing to dampen their spotless reputation. As violins, banjos and squeezeboxes arrive onstage, the crowd begins to chant, still pumped from the hectic former performance and as the seven-piece take stage, the thrall begins. With everyone’s favourite redhead Dave King delivering Celtic charm in excess, the dancefloor soon becomes a full-blown Irish céilí. A boisterous set of the best paddy punk money can buy, songs like ‘Swagger’, ‘Drunken Lullabies’ and ‘Devil’s Dance Floor’ prove that Flogging Molly really are one of the liveliest and most fun live acts out there. Signing off with ‘What’s Left Of The Flag’ and ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ this has possibly been the most explosive Guy Fawkes night since 1605.
The Middle East
THE BRONX started soundcheck just as the Red Sox were rallying back in the ninth inning in an elimination playoff game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles-based band, they were playing in Bean Town and they’d have to wait a good twenty minutes before the audience could tear their attention away from the bar’s small television.
As soon as the Sox won the game, The Bronx hit the stage to the clanking of beer bottles and uproarious celebration. Wasting no time, the band treated the crowd—who by now had been accustomed to the plodding experimental rock stylings of openers CLOUDS and DOOMRIDERS – to their brand of fast, gritty punk. Then came the first chords of fan-favourite ‘Heart Attack American’ accompanied by vocalist Matt Caughthran’s signature opening scream and all hell broke loose. Fuelled by a set list that included ‘Knifeman’, ‘Shitty Future’ and ‘History’s Stranglers’, the previously tame Cambridge crowd whipped itself into a frenzy as Caughthran bounced around onstage like a madman, constantly in danger of hitting his head on the East’s exposed ceiling pipes. The band debuted an untitled song off their upcoming ‘Bronx III’ release and it fit right at home with the controlled chaos playing out in front of the small stage. A couple of songs later it was all over. Few bands do this genre justice live anymore, and The Bronx are definitely one of them.
CRO MAGS JAM
The Nike Theatre
Los Angeles, California
Original Cro Mags vocalist John Joseph made his long awaited West Coast appearance with his all-star CRO MAGS JAM band at the ‘Radio Silence: A Selected Visual History Of American Hardcore’ book release show. A packed room eagerly awaited the appearance of the tattooed frontman to throw down the old school hardcore jams, and he, along with the band, definitely did. The band, featuring guitarist A.J. Novello (Leeway), drummer Mackie Jayson (Bad Brains, Hazen Street, Madball, Cro-Mags), and bassist Craig Away (Sick Of It All) delivered the goods, punching away at all of the classic tunes and keeping the crowd moving throughout their set. Joseph introduced many of their long-time friends in the crowd, including Lord Ezec (Skarhead/Danny Diablo) and Toby Morse (H20), dedicating songs to them and speaking about the positive message behind hardcore. They played many favourites including ‘We Gotta Know,’ ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ and ‘Hard Times’, with Morse and friends joining in the fun. Showing that despite the drama behind some of the members’ relations, the Cro Mags were definitely a huge part of shaping hardcore and heavy music in today’s scene, nobody should ignore this.