Rebellion 2017 Barstool Preachers

Barstool Preachers

These raucous Londoners remind me a little bit in places of Yellowcard, one of the best of the Warped post-2000 acts.

They play an audience-pleasing blend of Pulverising anthemic punk rock. The So Cal punk sound repurposed for English singalongs.

I really like the ska bursts in their set with the organ giving the tunes that authentic ring.

A dynamic six-piece who seem to attract bigger crowds every time they play here…and with those ‘Hey hey hey’ choruses, what’s not to like?

Time to down tools and party.

Rebellion 2017 Soap Girls


Soap Girls

The most under-dressed act. Not surprisingly many of the older punters seemed to like that.

Some members of the audience felt compelled to walk up and slap them on the bottoms…the price you pay for art these days?

The type of act most people would rather see than listen to.

Enough said.

Rebellion 2017 The Pukes

The Pukes

The Pukes always make me smile. They are the perfect band for a good time.
And the acoustic stage can be a great venue to appreciate bands who can make a point, raise a laugh and even inspire a good old fashioned pub singalong.
They played ‘Johnny got himself a wife’ ‘Down by the Pier’ and had some funny banter about how we were missing Peter and the Test Tube Babies by watching them.
They joked how they had written a song for the new Test Tube Babies album but it was too good ‘so we stole it back’.
How cool would that be?

They are such a buoyant dose of fun, flowers, stripes, ukuleles, sublime harmonies, and punk rock.
A highlight was their cover of one of the best and most under-appreciated punk songs, I’v Got a Safety Pin Stuck in my Heart by Patrick Fitzgerald.

Rebellion 2017 Toyah


The punks were out in full force for this one; proof that Toyah has a lasting appeal for the people who were teenagers when she was at her commercial peak in the early 1980s.

The Opera House venue was packed, and there was something very appropriate about Toyah playing for the punk gathering in Blackpool. She was always theatrical and maybe even ‘music theatre’ was her genre with a punk/new wave sense of style and fashion.

She bounced onstage and seemed delighted to be there performing to an appreciative crowd. She announced that the last time she was onstage in Blackpool it was in the musical Calamity Jane, and that made sense. Although she said that some young member of the crowd then was telling her to f@@@ herself or words to that effect. The punks were far more polite and she launched into We Are, a piece of sci-fi pop followed by Good Morning Universe. To me, Toyah possessed the energy that wasn’t present in Gary Numan and the other early electronic pop/crossover acts. In place of his composed seriousness she seemed to revel in a wild freedom. Her songs seemed perfect for a space age stage show, a piece of musical theatre like War of the Worlds featuring warrior women wearing stylish make-up. Maybe it’s time for that musical….the punks tonight seemed ready for it.

That said, the synth sweeps tonight threatened to overwhelm the sound. But if Toyah’s early success, and she was a star after all, seemed like a fluke, there was a packed theatre tonight who seemed to swoon in their leather jackets to her operatic/little girl shrieking voice. Teenage dreams are hard to beat. And as she danced in her tinfoil dress to the Martha and the Muffins’ song Echo Beach, the punks were basking in sci-fi nostalgia. But for me it was my nostalgia for the era was more MDC than Toyah.

Rebellion 2017 M.D.C. Acoustic


Hearing MDC always takes me back to the days when I first came across them with Mick ‘Mohawk’ McCaughan and Barry Cooke. They were one of the bands I listened to most when Mick was the Ents Officer in Trinity in 1984-1985. They proved that low-resource black and white photocopied punk (think fanzines/Maximum Rock’n’Roll) could deliver hard-hitting topical songs with humour. MDC sang about many of the same topics as Crass but did it with a sassy humour. There was not just one way to do underground punk.

It made me smile, then, to see Dave Dictor singing those songs in an acoustic setting with a playful country twang. This was the music of his community as he made clear in Soup Kitchen Celebrity which detailed the early 80s in San Francisco where all sorts of people could dine thanks to charities.

The animal rights message in Chicken Squawk is perhaps even more relevant today as Dave pointed out. He is keeping MDC current by singing and writing and ‘Trump and Putin’ and it was great fun to hear John Wayne was a Nazi, Corporate Death Burgers, as well as Dick for Brains. He gives details of his life and the backgrounds to those songs in his excellent autobiography which is well worth a punk rock read.

For someone growing up with a love for punk rock in suburban Dublin, Ireland, MDC were torch bearers.


Rebellion 2017 TV Smith Adverts

TV Smith plays the Adverts

TV Smith is always a complete and total highlight of Rebellion for me. Tonight he doesn’t disappoint even though he is playing the outdoor stage where naturally the sound is not as condensed as the indoor venues. I completely love the first Adverts album. Funnily enough, it reminds me of the debut from the Radiators from Space. Short snappy to-the-point songs about society/community, anxiety about the media and the joyful abandon of being young or having a cause.

Bored Teenagers, Gary Gilmore’s Eyes, One Chord Wonders rang out into the dark Blackpool sky and shone as brightly and powerfully as the city’s electric illuminations.


Rebellion 2017 Bad Religion

Bad Religion

These punk rock giants stride like a colossus over the modern scene. What is most astonishing is how long they’ve held that lofty position. To me, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, and the Rollins Band, seemed to define the evolution of punk in the US into a commercial form that could not only draw loyal fans but could even get into the best-selling charts. Epitaph is one of the greatest business success stories of all time in the punk scene and hats off to everyone there for running such a business so effectively over the long term.

Don’t forget it was the Bad Religion/Epitath people who launched the Offspring into huge success in the 1990s. That was when ‘alt rock’ was such a major market force.

And here they are, back in Blackpool, giving shout outs to Sham 69 and DOA and proving that small scenes can also be the launch pad for mainstream success.

It is still great to hear their disciplined, tight, powerful punk Rock (with a capital R). They never deviated from their mission, they are consistent and still pack the punk that they did when I first saw them in my glory years of the late 80s/early 90s.


Rebellion 2017 Slice of Life

Slice of life

Here we have Steve Ignorant of Crass with an interesting piece of theatre. And by interesting I don’t mean crap/self indulgent. This is raw emotion with a lush background of keyboard, acoustic guitar and bass from a cracking backing band including beautiful male female harmonies.

It’s a reminder that Crass’s gift was to inject punk with a healthy [over]dose of sixties subversive theatre.
Instead of Crass black this is a white workingman’s shirt with boots and braces show, it reminds me of Yoko Ono’s primal screaming. A good reminder that the counter culture of the sixties didn’t end in a full stop.

There’s no middle ground here, take is love-it-or-hate-it no prisoners raw theatre. Ignorant performs as a deranged 1930s [hard]workman. And Ireland’s own hardest working man in punk, P.A. Jesu from Paranoid Visions formed a spontaneous choir in the audience during tonight’s performance, proving there is no barrier between artist and audience.

Ignorant was a true anti-star and tonight he spoke of Las Vegas but this was Blackpool vaudeville with the ghosts of the men and women who were never given their own show, their slice of the spotlight.

Cathal Funge. An interview with the broadcaster Cathal about his punk radio documentary.

What can we expect from the documentary?


The documentary is going to be a bit of a trip back forty years to tell the story of Irish music in 1977. I’ll be covering quite a few events from that year including The Boomtown Rats and The Radiators From Space both releasing their debut singles, Rory Gallagher headlining the Macroom Mountain Dew Festival (Ireland’s first outdoor rock festival), Lizzy headlining Dalymount with The Rats and The Rads supporting, The Clash in Belfast and Dublin and the launch of Hotpress.


Were there any surprises for you as you delved into the scene at the time?


There was a lot of talk in the UK press over the last twelve months about the 40th anniversary of British punk so I started to look at what was happening in Ireland around that time. The initial idea was to look at the Irish punk scene but after a bit of research I noticed a lot of things started to happen at once and not just in Dublin but across the country, North and South.


1977 in Ireland seems to be a year of beginnings for a modern Irish music scene. You had bands like The Radiators getting into the charts, rock festivals in Macroom and Dublin, The Rats on Top of the Pops, a national music magazine launched etc. The documentary in many ways is about a bunch of people just going for it, creating new ways of doing things and setting the tone for others to follow, which off course they did.


If you compare today’s vibrant local music scene to 1977, it doesn’t just feel like a different era, it feels more like a different planet!


What do you make of those early punk ‘pioneers’?

I love the DIY attitude and lot of the music from that era has stood the test of time. A lot of the events I cover in the documentary are not punk but they were inspired by the spirit and energy of time. It seems as if the climate for change was ripe and people went for it. In the case of Macroom, it was just a bunch of people in a small West Cork town trying to bring some extra business into their area. They came up with the idea of staging Ireland’s first rock festival and managed to pull it off with Rory Gallagher headlining the event at a time in his career when he was playing venues like Shea Stadium, not the local GAA pitch in Macroom.


At the same time, up the road in Cork City, Elvera Bulter (now label boss at Reekus Records) was in UCC and she started putting on gigs in City Hall including Dr Feelgood and The Stranglers. By the end of the year she was hosting the weekly Downtown Kampus gigs at the Arcadia which quickly established itself as the focal point of a new music scene in the city. That scene blossomed in the 80’s and gave us great bands like Stump and Microdisney.


I’m sure they didn’t realise it at the time, but a lot of these people were pioneers. They didn’t just do things, they also showed that there was a market for rock music in Ireland.


How did you get into music (as a fan) in the first place?


Growing up in Wexford, there wasn’t much going on in terms of music, no record shops, no gigs etc. I was very fortunate that my dad and older brother both had great tastes in music. My dad had a lot of old 60’s albums that I soaked up and then as I got a little older, I would sneak into my brother’s bedroom and rob/borrow some of his albums. So, anything from Teenage Fanclub to Nirvana, Mercury Rev, Pixies, Sonic Youth.


Around that time, I got a part time job as a petrol pump attendant in a local garage, working a few evenings after school and during summer holidays. The garage was in the middle of the country side and I sat in a hut for about 5 hours with only a radio to keep me company. Dave Fanning suddenly became my best friend and his nightly show was an education, as was Donal Dineen’s show on Today FM.



Any particular punk songs/albums/gigs that really moved you?


From the late 70’s era, I particularly love Buzzcocks first five singles and I think The Clash’s debut album from ’77 sounds great forty years on. In the documentary, I talk to Paul Burgess from Belfast band Ruefrex and Jake Reilly from The Blades about The Clash’s visit to Ireland in October ’77. The Trinity gigs have gone down in local music folklore, how many bands formed after that night out with Strummer and his gang? On the flip side, up in Belfast the gig was cancelled which caused a mini riot and some claim is was the night that the Belfast punk scene was born. I think that might be stretching it a little but it is interesting to hear about the impact the visit one band had on music fans in two very different cities in October ’77.

Listen to the documentary here

Cathal Funge….a great documentary on 1977 Punk in Ireland

Cathal Funge has produced an excellent radio documentary on 1977 the year that punk established a foothold in Ireland.

The show includes some great reflections by participants including two of the best bands of the era, the Undertones and the Radiators from Space. You can hear:

Elvera Butler (Reekus Records and Cork Kampus venue)

Smiley Bolger (DJ and promoter of Moran’s, McGonagles and the New Inn)

Fachtna O’Ceallaigh (manager of the Boomtown Rats)

John O’Neill (Undertones)

Pete Holidai (The Radiators from Space, Trouble Pilgrims)

John Creedon (broadcaster)

Donal Gallagher (manager of Rory Gallagher)

and the historian Diarmaid Ferriter.

It is a fascinating piece of work, and really captures the spirit of the times.

Here is a link to the documentary:–The-year-Irish-music-was-reborn

Cathal was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the documentary and what inspired him to delve deeper into the story of punk in Ireland.