RANCID & COCK SPARRER / PiL


RANCID
COCK SPARRER
SAN FRANCISO WARFIELD

SAN Francisco, California: world renowned for Alcatraz, glorious sunshine and the Golden Gate Bridge. However on the 23rd and 24th of March, The Warfield was to hold the punk rock birthday party of the year! As American punk rockers Rancid and English Oi! legends Cock Sparrer celebrate their respective 20th and 40th anniversaries in style.
From the moment of sound check both bands were equally as excited to play together as they exchange merchandise, beers and laughs with not a frown in sight. By gig time the atmosphere was electric as the people cram this once-abandoned theatre to its full capacity as both shows are sold out.
As the lights dim the crowd roar with excitement as boots stomp and beer flies across the ceiling, Cock Sparrer enter with a siren sounding ‘Riot Squad’. Even a crowded karaoke bar multiplied by ten could not compare to this crowd singing every word, as the echo of chanting bounces the walls throughout the set.
Beating through tracks such as ‘Working’, ‘Teenage Heart/Droogs Don’t Run’ & ‘AU’ the boys from ‘Sparrer showed their younger counterparts and headliners Rancid how it was done. With Cock Sparrer having the classic equation of sing-a-long hooks and catchy riffs it would be difficult for the band to disappoint as they close their set with ‘England Belongs To Me’ and ‘We’re Coming Back’ with two thousand American voices helping out on the choruses.
However, the party didn’t stop there. Rancid, the punk rock ska chart toppers, turn in an explosive set, opening with ‘Radio’ followed by the infamous ‘Roots Radicals’ and throwing the crowd into a frenzy as the floor becomes a dance floor.
From there they dropped into ‘Last One To Die’, a poetic, fast-hitting punk song taken from the latest album, which you can’t help but nod your head to and barrelling through other songs such as ‘Old Friend’,‘ Blood Clot’ and ‘Maxwell Murder’.
Near the end Skinhead Rob of the Transplants made a brief but fantastic appearance, joining in on ‘Red Hot Moon’, proving his voice is still powerful and strong. Ending the set Rancid closed with ‘Tenderloin’ and ‘Ruby Soho’, two of their most loved and well-known songs, finishing off a fantastic set in fine style.
Throughout the two nights both bands tweaked their sets to give the audience a different flavour, so the crowd didn’t see the same show twice, but included the classics the fans wanted to hear.
On the closing show Rancid paid respect to Cock Sparrer, inviting them back onto the stage where both bands sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to each other.
A celebration of the highest order.

Words/Photos: Sam Bruce


PUBLIC IMAGE LTD
LONDON HEAVEN

WITH the dents in his public goodwill still fresh over those recent episodes of buttery buffoonery, John Lydon’s return to the musical arena ─ with a PIL line-up that could hardly be described as ‘classic’ ─ has been greeted with some trepidation. Certainly the 2012 PIL, which retains guitarist Lu Edmonds and drummer Bruce Smith from the band’s late eighties incarnation, has its vices. Self-indulgence being one of them; with a set that runs well over the two-hour mark, PIL could comfortably have trimmed off forty minutes or so and probably been better for it. I would guess this failing stems from the organisation’s head, since Lydon ─ blowing snot from each nostril as he works the room like some council estate Arthur Askey ─ clearly relishes the spotlight, and seems intent in squeezing the most out of it.
Beefing aside though, there are points at which PIL are undeniably stunning. Bruce Smith and bassist Scott Firth are amply capable of reproducing that claustrophobic strain of earthquake dub that characterised the band at its most inventive. Edmonds ─ who looks as if he’s spent his time since PIL’s 1992 split splicing together unlikely combinations of stringed instruments on a desert island ─ summons up an impressive atonal squall. Over these foundations Lydon snarls and keens his way through choice moments from the PIL catalogue. There are moments of pure magnificence; few could argue with the very real sense of anger and betrayal packed into the iconoclastic ‘Religion’ or the accusatory ‘Albatross’, and the feeling of loss which Lydon still injects into ‘Death Disco’ is staggering. While the jury’s still out on the new material showcased tonight, top notch renditions of such milestones as ‘Rise’ and ‘This Is Not A Love Song’, and an unexpected encore of 1993’s Leftfield collaboration ‘Open Up’, ensure there is little call for the much-rumoured stagebound butter-pelting, which significantly did not materialise.
So that’s the contemporary Lydon then; bloody-minded, infuriating, and, quite frequently, brilliant. He could be wrong. He could be right.

Hugh Gulland

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