Pride Parade 2012

“He’s just a stereotype” is what the Specials sang many years ago. I remember the night the Specials first played in Dublin. I remember getting the bus home from town and some rude boys were travelling out to the Stardust to the gig. I was envious but it was a case of too much too young as my parents decided that me as a 13 year old would not be going. Instead I had to content myself with my rude boy badges on my black (and then red) harrington. This was my uniform, my statement to the world. I like the Specials, I like punk rock, it doesn’t matter what you make of it.
Interesting that 21 years on I was to attend a parade of people making a similar statement. It all started when my union conference passed a motion a couple of years ago to participate in Dublins Gay Pride Parade. There was much discussion over this and thankfully the motion passed practically unanimously. Our union would parade in solidarity with members whose sexual preference was for people of the same sex. I had never attended a pride parade (my reason being that I didn’t feel any wish to express my sexuality in public) and didn’t attend with my union colleagues that year, nor the next. However something changed at our conference this year. Firstly I got elected onto the Unions Executive Committee so there is a certain responsibility that goes with that. Secondly it was mentioned that the motion previously passed in regard to parade was in danger of being ignored this year. Turnout from PSEU was very disappointing, in much the same way as people can be hesitant to come out in public, many people are hesitant to be seen to be union activists, especially a public service union. So with that in mind I made it my duty to ensure we would be represented. Many people feel unions are irrelevant in todays society, I would never subscribe to that view but can totally see the reasoning behind it. So much work has been done in this country to better the conditions of the working man and woman and with most improvements in working conditions there is a strong union propping them up. Unions are relevant when people require decent working conditions, when they are looking for pay rises, when dealing with work expectations and leave arrangements. If these hard earned gains are already in place then where’s the relevance? Of course it is there to ensure these conditions aren’t eroded beyond repair. Anyway union talk can come another day (and will). I’m here to talk about pride.

The day of the parade came and we had banded together a dozen assorted folk to go along. As I boarded the bus (going in the opposite direction to that Specials gig 21 years ago) I suddenly became self conscious. “What if people see me on the March….oops parade”? I was thinking, “Would they think I was gay?” And suddenly it seemed to matter. I was amazed at this internal reaction. Of course I reasoned it out with myself but I couldn’t prevent that initial feeleing. I have spent all my adolescent and adult life saying it’s ok to be what you want and do what you feel. Your actions and how you treat others are what count and yet something very simple like walking down O Connell Street in full public view with a bunch of amazing people dressed in some of the most outrageous and colourful costumes you ever will see felt a little uncomfortable. And this is where society comes in, this is where organisations like PSEU and other trade unions can lead the way. it is ok to be gay, it is ok not to be gay. It really doesn’t matter and until society fully accepts this there will continue to be a need to have Pride day.


niall hope

All radio should be active

It’s always bizarre to reminisce about life in the 20th Century. It is so common for us all to now take to the internet in search of any information that is required. Access is at your finger tips should you wish to find out about music, stamps, food, news, sport. Heard there is an uprising in Egypt? Take to twitter and see what the participants are saying.

As with anything that is current it is hard to imagine a time that was different. Dublin in 1992 sure was different than 2012 (and a lot different to 1972 life in the capitl City). Radio was the starting point for many people to be turned on to new music, radio and hanging around record shops. For the punks it was more a case of hanging out in Freebird or Comet Records to hear the sounds doing the rounds. There was little on the airwaves to satisfy our punk craving. Some stations were dipping their toe in, capital radio had a twentieth century promised land show which I had helped out on. I had applied to some stations looking to put a show on that championed local bands and those on independent labels. Most of my responses were thanks but no thanks.

And then came Radioactive 101fm. On July 12 1992 it broadcast its first show from a flat in Dublins North Inner City (now officially known as an apartment). It quickly became a mouthpiece for those involved in alternative culture across the city. It had an ethos of no advertising and was collectively run. DJ’s paid subs weekly which paid for the station and no-one got paid. I had the privilege of having a show on air for a good while. As I was involved with Hope promotions putting on gigs at the time the show was originally titled “The Hope Show”. I had the Saturday evening slot from 6 to 8 so would get the football results off the tv and read them out over the airwaves and chat about upcoming gigs as well as playing tracks from punk rockers like Chumbawamba, The Ex, Fugazi, NoMeansNo and plent of irish bands too. I would get bands in and talk football and music and politics. It was a real labour of love. We were trained in the art of evading raids and where the transmitter needed to be thrown in the event of being visited by the powers that decide who broadcast what. It was exciting and refreshing and it felt like we were part of something positive. Life eventually got in the way for the hosts but it ran for 4 happy years all on 101fm on the radio dial (of those who lived close enough to be able to receive it).

But now, 20 years later, we were treated to a reunion night which we dj’d at. Of course some of us where there with the same vinyl that we had played 2 decades previously but the discussion on the night featured the advent of internet radio. Where we used to talk about becoming the media we now can share our thoughts and music on line AND not have to worry about a transmitter needing to fly into the air and vanish. So all the grey haired dj’s are getting lessons in how to put together a radio show on a computer. Most of us need to become familiar with the art of mp3 but we still have the enthusiasm we exhalted in the early 90’s (and we can always ask out kids for tips now!!!!)

Radioactive 101fm led the way for many in Dublin and put together an eclectic bunch of people and hopefully these people can come together once more as we have plenty still to say abot this city and the way we live our lives.


niall hope

Rebellion top 5’s pt 3

Top 5 ways to improve Rebellion

I loved the festival this year, although I’m a recent enough convert over the past 5 years this was my favourite one so far. Lots of good diverse bands and with so much to do. I love that it’s on in Blackpool as the tatty slightly decaying seaside town is such a perfect home for the punks. As with everything there is room for improvement, here’s my suggestions

Liase with Blackpool Tourist Agency – it’s not enough for the Blackpool Gazette to welcome the punks in their editorial more of the local restaurants and businesses need to recognise the value of attracting 6,000 people into theire shops over the weekend. I noticed one cafe doing a 15% discount for attendees, some more of that would be very welcome.

More VEGGIE Food – It is obvious by the empty fridge section in the nearby Holland and barrett and the sparse salad shelves in M&S that a punk rocker likes thier vegetarian food. unfortunately we’re not all vegan but there is a large contingent of us that are. In the Winter Gardens itself the catering on display isn’t great for the veggies but it is all in house. The nearby chippers (of which there are many) have greasy fare of fish and chips and battered sausages, many of us don’t want this type of grub. If some influence could be put on winter gardens to have a better selection for us animal rights championers that would be a winner

Records – It’s an independent music festival celebrating punk rock and its alternative culture. There are many stalls selling items from punk rock key rings to coasters and clothes and some records. Bands get a look in when they are on stage and set up pop up stalls along the way. How good would it be to have stalls dedicated to up and coming punk and indie labels. Labels like Boss Tuneage  who do a great job publicizing the old and the new. It’s not all about Captain Oi!!

Fanzines – It’s not just where have all the bootboys gone you know? What happened to all the zines. I know they are a bit sparse but no way have they all vanished. Are people allowed sell zines at it? How great would it be to have a stall with zines, it could lead to a resurgence in this way of documenting our scene

Books – it is great to hear the interviews John Robb does on the literary stage, fabulous insight into the history and hopefully will be recorded some day. Why is it only books from people speaking at these go on sale? Let’s push our counter culture, let rebrellion be the stage for those putting out their own books, their own records, their own zines. Let it be a voice for creativity.


niall hope

Rebellion top 5’s pt 2

Top 5 t-shirts
We did a very scientific search on t-shirts on display – looked at them all and tried to remember which were most popular band by their merch.  And in no particular order we have….

Resistance 77 – wierd that they fell the need to explain their patriotism but even wierder that england seems to be mentioned on all their shirts

Cock Sparrer – perennial Rebellion favourites, there was less on display than previously but still easily into the top 5

UK Subs, evergreen Charlie Harper must have released a tshirt every year the band has been in existence, that alone would guarantee a fair amount but the subs must be up there for the number 1 spot

Restarts – I was surprised at how many shirts siad restarts on them. increasing in number each year

Gimp Fist + SLF – i was tempted to go see them as their was so many oversize adults proclaiming their alleginace to the band. Unfortunaltely I still don’t know what they sound like but strangely feel acquainted witht h band as there was so much, SLF were equal in numbers and the stiff little fingers can make a nice gimp fist!!

niall hope

Rebellion top 5’s pt 1

Top 5 moments from Rebellion 2012

The anti-fascist sing songs from Los Fastidios, the Filaments and Hard Skin – whilst it may have been less prevalent than in recent years there is still a small number of people who believe themselves to be superior due to the colour of their skin. This year there was some great sing along moments and three stand outs are from bands who actively proclaim themselves as anti-fascist. It is with great irony that I stood amongst 1500 people proclaiming at the top of my straight edge voice the hard skin anthem “We’ve still got beer”

Neville Staples looking after his daughter. One thing about punk is the anti-hero sentiment prevalent in many songs. Both SLF and Neville Staples proclaimed from the stage “Everyone is Someone” and how true that is. everyone is someones son or daughter and for many attending rebellion they also have duties as parents. Whilst it was heartening to see a large number of kids in attendance with their guardians it was great to see Neville looking out for his daughter in the crowd as near 2,000 people were skanking along to doesn’t make it alright. She was up the front having a great time – her first punk gig. Meanwhile Neville was slightly uneasy but not letting it get to his performance

Literary Stage – it was great to hear the history of punk being spoke by people who were there in 77. Slaughter and the Dogs gave a great insight into Manchester of the day, Viv Albertine spoke educationally about London, John King spoke of the influence of punk rock his writings and Pete from the Lurkers spoke of their travels.
This really ought to be filmed and made available for all as John Robb asked just the right questions to tease out the stories from the history makers.

The MOB were haunting in the Pavillion. It was a superb venue for them, maybe 400 capacity and their harrowing sound was perfect for it. An amazing intense set that belied their years and who could believe that album was over 20 years ago

The Acoustic Stage is a gem – many classics are unearthed every year. This time around it was my introduction to Ginger Wildheart. I was simply amazed to see so many people singing along and having a great time, knowing every song, anticipating every move.

niall hope

It’s not a rebellion but it is rebellion

Where do I start with rebellion?  If its new to you check out it’s an annual gathering of the punks to blackpool. Blackpool is such an apt location for it as its a city stuck in the 70s with bits of modernisation but very much old school. Rebellion has over 200 bands playing during its 4 days and I’m here for the weekend, here’s a snippet of Thursday’s action

First up for me was the tea time antics of max splodge (yes of splodgenessabounds). He was compering bingo later (it is Blackpool after all) but for now it was an acoustic set ably backed up by 2 men in drag running around the room.
I ran up to the art exhibition upstairs which had been home to a q and a earlier which saw the mercurial John robb in conversation with mickey fitzgerald from the business. It’s a great concept and I vowed to do my best to catch it tomorrow. Anyway the art was surprisingly good. Knox, from the vibrators. Charlie harper, from uk subs. Gaye black from the adverts all had work on display. One notable exhibitor was David worth’s punk rock cartoon. I only wished I had of stuck with my ferry plans for travel as I could carry so much more.
Back to the music and off with their heads were banging out some anthems. It’s my kind of sound, loud tuneful, heartfelt songs.

Different to Jim sorrow who was doing an acoustic set but no less heartfelt.  Hull troubadour Jim was strumming that banjo like it was his Gibson sg. He also plays in freaks union. I couldntvstsy for more than three songs as the filaments were on in the empress ballroom ( yes the same venue that hosts bale rom dancing and darts competitions). It was upbeat, fast with a manic trombone player. Great to hear an openly anti fascist song as its amazing how unnerving it is seeing so many people in the crowd with short hair and union jacks.

After the Filaments shredded it was back to the acoustic room for Lucy ward. Lucy  is a regular on the folk scene and this is her first rebellion I think she’ll be back especially if she keeps throwing in an odd clash song.

I couldnt pay too much attention as the excitement of seeing snuff was about to explode. I remember first seeing snuff in Belfast in 1988 (I think). They blew me away that night and have been a regular on my playlists since. They only have Duncan from that line up but are still amazing. The songs are so good. They didn’t (maybe couldnt) play I’m not listening anymore but more than made up for it in their 45 minutes. Class

I think because it was a further two hours before the buzzcocks were due to go on stage that it became a struggle. I suffered through Rory McLeod and his acoustic, spoon led warblings. I wondered if the Newtown kings were the commitments of ska or maybe the resident wedding band for rebellion. I found demob, the heavy metal kids and the business pretty painful. They signified to me what is bad about these events. Sometimes there’s no need for middle aged men to get on stage. Maybe if they meant more to me back in the day!!!

Speaking of middle aged men, the buzzcocks  finally played to a packed empress. Those songs are so good, songs like boredom and what do I get with shelleys trademark tones.  The huge crowd lapped it up and I sat there happy that I started my journey 22 hours previously to get to this point

Still rebellion – day 2

After the late end to last night rejoicing the wonder of the buzzcocks I had to pace myself a bit better today. I also had to get to Bloomfield road to score my ticket for evertons trip to Blackpool on Sunday.

I got back in time to see John robb talking to Tom hingley. Tom was the lead singer of inspiral carpets and has many a good story. He also plays a great acoustic set. Of course he talked so much today he missed his slot and pog who were on next and Perkie after that couldn’t be expected to miss theirs so Tom couldn’t play. I found comfort in the fact that he is back in Dublin in September so will see him then.

I remember HDQ playing in mcgonagles in the 80’s and was completely blown away by their stage presence. Much like the instigators from that same era the band moved and jumped around stage like it was an Olympic gymnastic event. The years have taken their toll but it was nice to see that brand of energy once more. Andy T was a different type of energy, he ranted over punk tunes but always had a message. It was exciting to see him and the mob. Unfortunately I missed out on Hagar the womb but the mob made up for it. Full of menace and vigour. I closed my eyes and had the gatefold 7″s in my hand whilst singing along. “No doves fly here” was poignant. Hopefully the tribe increased yesterday.

Paranoid visions and acoustic is similar to peanut butter and jam. Whenever I ask for that on my bagel I tend to receive strange glances however it’s great. You should try it just like the visions have embraced the acoustic. Well not all them. It was so noticeable that deko was not there spitting out the venom. 30 years of the visions and this must have been a first. No deko on stage! He saw a bit of them and then headed off to see Chelsea. Their set was refreshing, after 30 years that is great to hear.

There is a certain attitude that goes with some people in bands. My best phrase for it is the rock star attitude. It is one that my punk is the opposite of. People in bands could quite easily be in the crowd watching. Anyone can be in a band, everyone should try it. It mightn’t work for us all but you can have fun trying. That’s what makes punk relevant to me. You could be the vocalist, the fanzine writer, the promoter, the guitarist, sound engineer or the paid up punter. None are more important than the others. So when I see bands troop on stage after someone tunes their guitars and places their water in the correct place I get worried. I’ve seen a few bands like that today and that’s not my punk rock. I don’t feel part of their community. However when I see Lost Fastidios and 7 Seconds I am with them. Together we can take on the world. Together we can do anything. Tonight we sing along and it is glorious. Highlights for sure. Citizen fish not far behind there too. These are my rebellion, with tv smith playing along and John robb narrating.

Here we go, three in a row. Rebellion day 3

The stamina of some of the punks is unreal, either that or they are sleeping outside the winter gardens. Statics were on at 2.30 so that was my starting time but rebellion had already a big crowd in attendance. Los fastidios, from Italy were on in the empress Ballroom at 2.25 and they brought their usual large crowd. I love watching these Italian skins singing about anti fascism and animal rights. We can all sing along for animal liberation and how the workers of the world must unite. But unfortunately I owed it to the statics to watch them so missed a bulk of Los fastidios.

That’s the great (and sometimes bad as I completely missed Geoffrey oicott due to scheduling) thing about a festival like this. You can easily dip your toe in and out of bands. So I got to see a bit of penetration, Spizz energi, monochrome set, vice squad, blood or whiskey, neck, the only ones and choking victim in between the fuller sets.

Also on was John robbs excellent series of interviews. I caught the ones with mick and Wayne from slaughter and the dogs and also viv albertine formerly of the slits. It would be great if these were recorded as they provide a fascinating insight into the history of punk rock. Slaughter gave a great account of the manchester scene and growing up in that time. Viv spoke of squatting in London in the 70s and hanging out with mick jones, sid vicious and the start of the punk scene. She also spoke of her time with the slits and the eccentricities of people. Fascinating.

I left to hear the now englands biggest anti fascist gay oi band. Hard skin announced themselves on stage and blew us away with their ironic oi anthems. Im in on the joke so I can gladly sing along to “we’ve still got beer” as I raise my glass of water. A great laugh and in many ways summing up rebellion. Decent people not to be taken seriously.

Next full set was paranoid visions in the Olympia. It’s a long way from fibber magees that’s for sure. you could probably fit 10 fibbers into this place. It’s massive and must have been daunting for the 8 visions on stage. Tv smith even joined in for a song.

I vaguely remember Patrik Fitzgerald from way back. He had a guitar a unique voice and some quirky songs. These were all in fine fettle tonight. For some bizarre reason I thought of frank side bottom as i closed my eyes listening to Patrik. Frank, without the paper mâché head and the keyboards and the cover version, maybe you get my drift!!! Let’s just say he could be a relative with THAT voice.

I was completely blown away by ruts dc preceding patrik. They played to a huge crowd and it was a blistering set. The ruts hold a special place in my heart. I remember Malcolm Owen dying. As a young kid I could almost feel the pain that Malcolm was going through. His songs in the ruts were stories about his life. His experiences of trying to give up drugs and subsequently loosing that battle in the bath in his parents home exude sadness to me. I wrote about him in my first zine in 1983 and still have that sadness over me when thinking about how his life was wasted. I loved the ruts so excitement was pretty high for me. They kept going for a while under this moniker after Malcolm’s death but their records never captured the same excitement as the ruts. Tonight started off slow enough. I was enjoying their white reggae / dub sound but was hoping for a bit more. This I certainly got in spades. They reworked some of their classic songs and still seemed heartfelt. Staring at the rude boys and jah war were the standout moments of the festival for me. It wasn’t just the songs on the night, it was the history. Brilliant.

P.I.L. finished the night for me, considering I didn’t go see them in Dublin recently I wasn’t expecting too much. I got what I expected and I had to queue in for the pleasure as the ballroom was so packed, it hadn’t seen a crowd like this since the darts!!

The last quarter – rebellion day 4

The last quarter – rebellion day 4

Well it’s done and dusted now and I must say that this years rebellion festival has been my most enjoyable. Today was more a case of what I missed as I got to see my annual Blackpool fc football game.

I first came to the tatty seaside town the membranes sang about as a young teenager. It coincided with my introduction to punk rock. I used to be able to pick up records in my trips over here or even see an odd gig that never would have happened in Dublin in the early 80s. I have great memories of angelic upstarts live in Blackpool bierkeller, or buying zen arcade by husked du or spike milligans tape recorder by the membranes. Blackpool was part of my education growing up and part of that was going to see Blackpool fc. A trip to the sea by premiership side everton was happening so I scored my ticket early for that. Because of it I missed the amazing Goldblade, random hand, sonic boom six, dubtones and the last of the literary events. Seasiders won 2-0 so that was nice to see anyway.

A festival like rebellion is almost like a trip through my musical scrapbook, more so this year with the introduction of the bizzare bizzare at the opera venue. I got to see outcasts and altered images there tonight. Both bands had their 6 month period in my life. The outcasts were the band from the north who played in the magnet. My brothers would come home with stories of trouble and excitement from these gigs. I listened to that first album over and over again. I managed to see them with the clash in the sfx and still have the ticket. Altered images on the other hand had a couple of good singles and were cool because they featured “the actress from Gregory’s girl”. I stayed for most of their set but did draw the line when they covered baby I was born this way. I ran to catch agnostic front belting out heir version of blitzkrieg bop. Chalk and cheese in the two venues. But isn’t that part of the joy of it all. We can celebrate diversity!!

Another band important to me for a while as a kid were stiff little fingers. Again it was stories of their gigs that I was regaled with, stories that always featured trouble somewhere. I used to wonder why would people fight at gigs, are we not all in this together? There was not a sniff of trouble in the 2000 strong crowd singing along “everybody is someone”. That was also a theme of my surprise of the night Neville staples of fun boy three and specials fame. I expected to pop in and catch a couple of good tunes. Instead i couldn’t leave as I was taken in by the infectious dance rhythms. We were all smiling and singing along. “everybody is somebody” for sure.

And then there’s tv smith. Tim was in the adverts but has been blasting his own songs for years. I spent a good year listening to a tape of crossing the red sea with the adverts. We could listen to music in work and this was one album we all agreed on. Tv smith played at least 4 times over the weekend, each time with a different flavour. Tonight was acoustic and mostly his new songs, played with unrelenting energy and passion. If you ever get a chance do check him out.

I’d never come across ginger wildheart before but felt like I’d stumbled on to something special tonight. It was like coming across a members group that was open for anyone to join. Hundreds of punks screaming along to gingers acoustic songs, knowing every word. Amazing.

And that was it!! Rancid were packed out, uk subs were missed for slf and the outcasts, loads more missed out but so many good memories. I can now catch my breath and add this to my wonderful scrap book of punk rock life.