OCTOBER LIVE REVIEWS
A rain-sodden night on a back street beneath a dank south London railway arch, the setting for tonight’s show could have come straight out of a Derek Raymond novel. For a band who over their twenty-year career have often appeared to have staggered off the pages of their own latter-day crime-pulp, these surroundings seem apt. Launching into ‘Dragging Along’, the ‘Drunk set their stall out, with sozzled dimestore-malevolence and fuzztoned grind to the fore. Hunkered over his distressed Fender Jaguar, head ’drunker James Johnston whips up an equally distressed twang with as much regard for fretting technique as a man with a mike in his left hand can possibly muster; be-shirted in retro-polyester and a heroic distance from his last encounter with shampoo, Johnston growls his blues between his guitar swipes. Terry Edwards meanwhile, a vision of spivvy cool in sharp dogtooth check, parps Funhousey free-jazz figures over the distorted throb. Dredging up the silt with recent single ‘Grand Union Canal’, and lurching through ‘Running Out Of Time’ and ‘Bad Servant’, Gallon Drunk steer their sozzled set towards its red-eyed climax, stirring up some neon-streaked London murk in the downbeat setting of the E & C.
DOWN AND OUTS, ATTACK! VIPERS!, CHILLERTON
London Brixton Windmill
One of the most exciting new bands on No Idea’s impressive roster supported by some of the finest bands in the UK punk and hardcore scene at the moment? Yes, tonight was sure to be good. The first of tonight’s pair of Pompey bands (the second being Attack! Vipers!), CHILLERTON impress with their raw and emotional melodic punk. Fans of Jawbreaker take note. The energetic and vicious ATTACK! VIPERS! savage the crowd with their Converge-meets-Mogwai hardcore assaults and vocalist Joe Watson gives it everything as always. Liverpool street/pop punk hybrid DOWN AND OUTS get everyone singing along to their infectious tunes before Gainesville, Florida’s YOUNG LIVERS blow the roof off the place with their anthemic and discordant blasts. With three gravel-vocalled singers and a relentless sense of urgency that sees the songs on their debut ‘The New Drop Era’ and their recent split with Attack! Vipers! come alive, this is the perfect end to a varied and thrilling night of punk rock.
LOVE AND A .45
London Camden Purple Turtle
The overly excited Monday night crowd at the Purple Turtle were out with good intentions, if not in droves. Most people were there to see the final night of the Luchagors’ UK tour and expectantly waiting to see if Amy Dumas, ex-WWE wrestler ‘Lita’ could put on a decent punk show. Support came first from Londoners LOVE AND A .45 who are currently tearing up the punk scene with catchy songs and gravely honesty – just don’t call them Paramore as one punter learnt the hard way!
The LUCHAGORS form a tight unit and are musically exactly what I wanted to hear – there are no weak links in this four piece from Georgia. Naming her band after a wrestling move, Dumas isn’t trying to shy away from her roots, but also doesn’t give out any attitude – she’s as happy playing to a Monday night punk crowd as anyone, no bodyguards and no bullshit. She also surprised me with her voice – I thought it might be all gimmick and no substance, not so. They finished on standout track ‘March Of The Luchagors’, a rallying cry to come on in and have a good time.
Blackpool Winter Gardens
August 7th – 10th
Three months after the two day extravaganza that was Spring Rebellion 2008 in Vienna, Blackpool yet again played host to this summer’s Rebellion UK, seen by some as the most important festival of the year. Winter Gardens opened its doors to sea of punks, skins, psychobillies and old school boot boys anxiously awaiting Darren Russell’s punk alternative to the UK festival music scene on Thursday 7th August for fours days of live punk, oi!, ska, drink, and Max Splodge’s infamous and humorous bingo. With the deafening sets of Section 5, Total Chaos, Short Bus Window Lickers and Dom Collins opening the weekend, it was the bands of Friday that really worked festival punters into a punk rock frenzy.
New Zealand trio THE RABBLE (3/5) kicked off Friday in the Empress Ballroom. Shaking off their fear, the boys played energetically to their biggest crowd to date with their electrifying mixture of punk and ska. After a well received set, The Rabble left the audience wanting more, but there was little time to dwell on the fact as soon after the Manchester ska sensation Sonic Boom Six took to the stage followed by Watford’s own Argy Bargy. Rising oi! menace ARGY BARGY (5/5) delivered an explosive set with songs including ‘Light Over London’ and ‘No Regrets’ from their new album ’The Likes Of Us’. Watford John’s powerful street vocals accompanied by rock and roll rhythms, coupled with excitement and stage charisma, the North London boys set the mayhem for the rest of the weekend. Deadline, Love and a .45, Moral Dilemma, Fire Exit and London are just a handful of bands that kept the relentless rebels entertained until the first main act of the evening took to the stage. After 21 years of silence, THE BOOMTOWN RATS (4/5) have reformed as a 4 piece (minus Geldof) to thrash out their crossover of punk rock and new wave tunes. The good sound and a tight set was well received by the diverse crowd who particularly enjoyed ‘20th Century Girl’ and the new improved version of ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’. Meanwhile, over on the acoustic stage in ‘Bizarre Bazaar’, south London cockney duo CHAS AND DAVE (4/5) got the modest crowd into a hoe down mood with boot stomping and hands clapping in Blackpool’s first knees up since the Queens Coronation. With classics such as ‘Gertcha’, ‘Rabbit’ and ‘London Girl’ it just goes to show how much variety Darren Russell puts into these shows, and just how diverse the punk rock scene actually is.
With an early start Saturday, the best hangover cure since the headache tablet, Max Splodge’s Bingo had the bands fresh from their morning sound checks in fits of laughter. Constantly repeating numbers, and giving out prices pinched from hotel rooms, the unlikely bingo caller put everyone in the right mood for another day of live bands and weak beer. PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES (4/5) packed out ‘The Arena’, with more trying to squeeze in, all anxious to see a glimpse of the no nonsense punk rock band that has been going for 30 years. The boys put on a good show but after a while, the sped up tracks all blended into one and making them hard to distinguish one from the other. However classics like ‘Band From The Pubs’ and ‘Run Like Hell’ got fists pumping, feet stomping and beer flying.
Lloyd Grossman’s 1970’s reformed new wave punk band JET BRONX AND THE FORBIDDEN (2/5) preformed a very easy going set, with Grossman playing some funky bass, accompanied by the vocal of ‘Valentine Guinness’ they were dishing up their own recipe of rock ‘n’ roll. However lack of enthusiasm on stage didn’t engage many punters but considering this was the band’s first festival since reforming, they did their best!
Edinburgh’s punk rockers THE REZILLOS (3/5) delivered a classic set covering all their best hits such as ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight!’, ‘Getting Me Down’ and ‘Flying Saucer Attack’, with a glitzy glam punk rocking image and powerful struts on stage, accompanied by thumping guitars, but on the other hand were let down by a distorted echoey sound, but fans remained content. STIFF LITTLE FINGERS (5/5) followed on from The Rezillos to a crowd of thousands, all anxious to catch a glimpse of Jake Burns and his crew smashing out their catchy punk tunes. From the moment the band took to the stage the audience went mental, and from here on in the set just got better and better. Each band member putting in the energy of a new band playing for the first time, with bassist Ali McMordie especially taking over every available piece of stage he could, running and jumping around. ‘Strummerville’ made an early appearance in the set, along with ‘Barbed Wire Love’, but unlike most bands, the set order made little difference to the feel of the gig. ‘Alternative Ulster’ was the song to close the show leaving everyone in on a high ready for the band that everyone had flocked to Blackpool to see. Cock Sparrer. In 1972 four mates from an East London school started a band. 36 years, after a few line up changes over the years, COCK SPARRER (5/5) are one of the most influential, iconic and genre breaking bands on the punk scene. Mixing political punk lyrics with catchy lead guitars and heavy bass lines, and the occassional love song thrown in for good messure. Another packed room in the venues biggest arena, Cock Sparrer, as always, fulfil all expections everyone had of them. Playing tight and professionally (not a word you hear a lot in punk circles) while still having a laugh on stage. From Colin’s jokes to his re-entrance to the stage for their first encore wearing a police helmet ready for ‘Riot Squad’, without a doubt Cock Sparrer was the band to really made Rebellion the weekend it was, the one band everyone wanted to see, and the one band who after 1am finish and another 5 hours of drinking could be up at 11am looking for a fish and chips with a Guinness to wash it down. And to top it all off, on Sunday morning, Colin and Micky joined Middle Finger Salute on stage to replay ‘Because You’re Young’.
The escapade of Rebellion 2008 was dawning to a close end upon Blackpool’s punk rockers, and kick starting the day was Blackburn’s punk rocking quartet MIDDLE FINGER SALUTE (4/5). Over the past year MFS have gone from strength to strength. Their original punk rock sound is tuneful yet aggressive and even though they were on early Sunday afternoon, enough people had made it out of bed to make it all worth while. Lead vocalist Calum really knows how to work his audience, cracking jokes between songs and digging into his guitar to make the whole sound experience one to remember. MFS are set to climb the punk rock social ladder over the next few years, starting with a support slot with Rancid this November! The four piece punk band STRAWBERRY BLONDES (3/5) rocked the pavillion with spitting attitude and a booming thrashy sound, as they hit the stage frantically with a fast paced rhythm, Strawberry Blondes will be touring with the likes of Millencolin and Neville Staples later this year so catch them near you! Andy Scott’s own reformation of THE SWEET (5/5) gave an outstanding performance bringing back the original days of true glam rock. Accompanied by high pitched vocals, outlandish lighting, roaring guitars, and glitz glam fashion, the Rebellion punters couldn’t resist a good old sing a long. Soaring through infamous hits such as ‘Teenage Rampage’, ‘Wig Wam Bam’ and ‘Ballroom Blitz’, the hall of the Empress Ballroom had an eccentric atmosphere as crowds among crowds couldn’t help but sing to one another, chanting to every word in awe of true honest glam rock. The Sweet did not disappoint. The legend that is Charlie Harper, vocalist of UK SUBS (3/5), had no problems packing out The Empress Ballroom, with the full original 1970’s line up by his side. With Harper taking on the show like a breeze, the Subs produced a well received set, with a crystal clear sound and punks stomping their feet continiously to all those dear Subs hits we love so much, from ‘Warhead’, ‘Stranglehold’ and ‘I Live In
A Car’ the show only got better for the audience of Blackpool. With the Gary Hodges’ 4- Skins closing this year’s Rebellion festival 2008, We now await anxiously for the next Rebellion, eager for more…
Nick Quinn/Samantha Bruce
THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT
NASHVILLE PUSSY, VINCE RAY & THE BONESHAKERS
London Astoria 2
Rednecks and psychos aplenty flocked to this sold-out rock ‘n’ roll cavalcade but, due to the questionable 6pm start, they don’t all come at once. Kicking off are VINCE RAY & THE BONESHAKERS and although the cult pin up artist, whose designs you’ll know from T-shirts and record sleeves worldwide, and his band provide an above average set of rockabilly tunes, including the hot-boppin ‘Everybody Smokes In Hell’, the small crowd seem unimpressed: a crying shame! Husband and wife team NASHVILLE PUSSY take to the stage next and by now both tiers of the LA2 are teeming with angry fans, but equipment troubles see the band leave after only a couple of songs. A disappointing half an hour later, The Pussy return and play a hard rockin’, if a little concise, set of southern sleaze, throwing in favourites ‘Go Muthafucka Go’, ‘You’re Goin’ Down’ and a headbanging cover of ‘Nutbush City Limits’. There’s still a bad taste left in everyone’s mouth as the band leave, but that all changes when Jim Heath steps onstage in a flame tipped suit, signature Gretch in hand and flashes a smile that’s oozing with Texan charm. After exploding into ‘The Baddest Of The Bad’, THE REVEREND HORTON HEAT treat the congregation to a host of cover songs from past decades, including punkabilly takes on ‘Greensleeves’, ‘Paranoid’ and ‘In Bloom’, proving the holy man and his pastors can convert any genre to the faith. Next it’s back to their own classics, with ‘Galaxy 500’, ‘Martini Time’ and ‘Bales Of Cocaine’. Jim’s fingers seem to somersault off the fret board in a blur and as the band leave the stage, the crowd scream for more. A short while later, they get it, with Blaine from Nashville Pussy joining the rock ‘n’ roll trio onstage for a rendition of ‘Ace Of Spades’, diving into the heaving pit at its climax. Topping the night off with the wrecktastic ‘Psychobilly Freakout’ and ‘The Big Red Rocket Of Love’, breaking midway for a trio of awesome solos, the crowd are left thoroughly satisfied. Praise the word!
16TH PSYCHOBILLY MEETING
Pineda Del Mar
This was the year that the annual Spanish Psychobilly Meeting became the scene’s official favourite festival. There had been fears that having moved up the beach from its previous spiritual home in Calella things just wouldn’t be the same. The fears proved right – it was twice as good. The new beachfront semi-permanent marquee was perfect, as was the whole event. The four day festival kicked off on the Thursday kicked off with all-girl Brazilian band AS DIABATZ who were only on their fourth gig ever but went down well, BEN COOPER ROCKIN’ pleased many but it was SPELLBOUND who got the place jumping for the first time of the festival, cracking set. Veteran’s THE BOPPIN KIDS preceded the headliners THE DEAD KIDS who are fronted by Koefte of Mad Sin fame. The name was almost apt as a falling lighting rig nearly killed the lot of them during a freak storm the brought the opening night to an end (footage ‘The Dead Kings – The End’ on YouTube). On Friday TABALTIX started the trend showing the massive talent of the new breed early playing American bands that are emerging on the scene. It was the old guard that took the limelight though, THE KLINGONZ put on a massive show, featuring clowns and fire-breathers and a severe rocking performance, a hard act to follow, but it was BATMOBILE headlining and they blew the place away, showing why they have been top of their game for decades. BAMBOULA once again displayed the talent of the young Americans but Saturday was a night of old school headliners, ROCHEE AND THE SARNOS were Klub Foot Favourites and went down well, but THE LONG TALL TEXANS had the place in a wrecking frenzy with their set of classic after classic that incorporated new tracks that still sounded like classics. THE GUANA BATZ headlined and rose to the unenviable task of following them, but follow them they did, Pip and the Batz belied the years and put on a show that would have had a Klub Foot pit begging for mercy. Sunday was hard work, for bands and fans competing with the football. THE CRACKS from Japan were a revelation, tons of make-up, great songs and a monks habits added by a Texan guest made for a top show. BANG BANG BAZOOKA rocked, and the COFFIN NAILS followed. As always they were great, Humungous seemed thirsty but the party onstage spilled off it, perfect. NIGEL LEWIS headlined, everyone was fucked by this time but it only takes a verse or two of ‘My Daddy Is A Vampire’ from the granddaddy of the genre to inject some reserves of energy into a psycho crowd. A fitting end to what is a must-attend festival. It’s a budget flight to Barcelona away – be there next year.