Rebellion 2017 The Membranes and the Choir of Choirs

The Membranes and the choir

Just when you think that it’s all been done, that punk/DIY/independent music can be placed into a nice, neat category alongside comes a ‘happening’ that is inspiring, creative, funny and life-affirming.

I don’t want to say too much about the Membranes and the choir…because if you missed it, well, you really MISSED it.

It was surprising, unexpected, dare I say it, very risky, yet brilliant and funny and original.

This was space rock with a sense of humour. A piece of art and also proof that we humans have an infinity capacity for doing things that inspire other people and bring them joy.

I still have a smile on my face from seeing the Membranes in a big ugly industrial car-park with a modern choir dressed in black who sang in an avant grade style with grins on their faces.

If this is what space is like, if what the future is like…..then sign me up captain.

Michael

Membranes Tour 1988

May 15 1988 Membranes, Pleasure Cell, Not Our World Connolly Youth Hall
May 18 1988 Membranes, Not Our World Underground
May 20 1988 Membranes, Not Our World, A House, Louis Stewart Christchurch Cathedral

 

John Robb of The Membranes was the musical catalyst for me to start putting on regular gigs. His boundless energy and passion for good music rubbed off. The Membranes were keen to return to Ireland and Hugo no longer wanted to be involved. I was more than willing to help out. I rang some venues and arranged for the band to stay in Paddy’s parents’ house. I asked the editor of Sunny Days fanzine how would someone get a gig in Cork. He asked why and then said he could book a venue.

As well as the Cork date, we booked three Dublin gigs – one gig for NCAD as Paddy was in college there, one with The Pleasure Cell at the back of NEW BOOKS in Temple Bar (headquarters to Communist Party of Ireland), and one in the Underground. When John got back to England he told everyone he knew in bands (which was an awful lot of people) that they should visit Ireland. That lead to a lot of phone calls and interest from people wanting to come over. When people say to me that’s it’s easy to say “just do it yourself”, I think back to those Membranes gigs and remember that’s exactly how we started. The only guarantees given to the band was that they would receive any money that was made on the night. The Membranes were happy with that arrangement as they would let to visit Ireland, let people hear their band and even perhaps get some money for it. Perfect! I had started playing in a new band, called Not Our World (N.O.W.). We got 7 songs ready before The Membranes came over. With those 7 songs we got ourselves on the bill of all the gigs and did the “tour” with them.

Terror of Modern Life

Goldblade

The Terror of modern Life

Overground Records

Goldblade-the-terror-of-modern-life

13 slabs of modern day Punk rock is presented to us here in the form of Goldblade’s new album. This band have been touring worldwide since 1995 with a work ethic that is second to none. Give them a gig and a chance to get to it and the men from Manchester (or at least living there) will do their damndest to make it.

It’s been 5 years since their last album, Mutiny, but in that intervening period they have played in Europe, America, Asia and Africa and singer John Robb manages to turn up almost weekly on television discussing some aspect of music.

This album is a punk rock bespectacled look at the world these days. From Brother Johns succint observations to Brothers Keith and Pete’s manic riffs to Brother Robs frantic drumming we are served up a fast punk lesson. Listening to the drone like title track and the Membranes esque bass driven sound of tracks like Shaman is Coming and hey You Elastic Face gives an insight to the bands record collection. It’s like a history lesson of independent music, part Killing Joke, part Clash, but in no part trad Rock this takes us on a journey through popular music culture.

Goldblade’s real value has been in their live shows which are an anarchic mix of rebel rousing choruses and the antics of lead singer John Robb. However this album has brought us a step closer to that experience. I’ve been using it as a soundtrack to my jogging. Plenty of speed to keep me going but not too fast for me to loose pace. And then there’s the singalong bits “Psycho Takes A Holiday” and “Sick/Tired” notable ones, however if you see an aging man jogging down the street, grinning and singing “We’re All In It Together” don’t run away from me….

niallhope

Blackpool Rebellion 2012 Day 2

Day 2 Create. Community.

One of the most interesting things about punk is its invitation to create. Sure, like any other popular music genre, it is associated with tonnes of consumption: how many Ramones t-shirts have sprung from cotton plants around the world? How many bottles of dye have been sold to embellish punk heads? How many patches, zips, studs, leather jackets have been snapped up by eager punk consumers?

The really compelling element of punk is the urge to produce. The Rebellion Festival hosts an exhibition of art by and of punk. The pieces I love most are the really cheery and funny punk cartoons that also capture perfectly their punk subjects. The artist has an incredible talent. Depicting moments like the Clash London Calling video or the changing styles of John Lydon on a tiny drawing require insight and skill.
Viv Albertine

Speaking of Mr Lydon, and his name should always be celebrated when discussing the punk consumers producers, one of the performances today provided a compelling human history lesson. Viv Albertine from the hugely influential girl group The Slits played solo at the Bizarre Bazaar stage. As one of the key figures in the early blossoming of punk she provided some key insights. She described how Mr Lydon named her band the Flowers of Romance and how she and fellow member Sid Vicious spend the hot summer of 1976 rehearsing in the Ladbroke Gove basement of Joe Strummer’s squat. All of these human details illustrate how densely networked that early London punk scene was.

Before performing a song about rows of needles and rows of lonely people she told us how Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers introduced heroin to that London scene. It had been relatively drug free she shared: “we couldn’t afford them”. Apart from a little speed. It is funny to think how that creative, vibrant, chaotic community were affected by this America import.

Albertine’s performance is confessional. Highly confessional. She is compelling not comforting. Far from it. She used the stage to make uncomfortable points. She warned the audience about naive beliefs in standard myths. She peeled back fairy tales to unpack the real dangers within. Seeing her there, using her battered electric guitar to accompany her personal statements, reminded me of the eclecticism of Bjork, Woodie Guthrie, the sonic insistence of Suicide and the gender politics of the Birmingham School. She doesn’t use her guitar liked a meek folkie. She manipulates it with distortion and rhythm to highlight her words.
She spoke of the demeaning invitation to be the ‘hook-up’ of an unnamed man. Harsh lessons were delivered from this everyday warrior in a sparkling spangly dress.
She left us with the haunting image of a happy house/unhappy home. Designer kitchen and architectural wonder containing a prison for the expectations of the housewife. The song cresendoed with a chant of the expected duties of the ‘home-maker’.

“I hope he is still talking to me” she said of Mr Lydon. On the evidence of the chat with John Robb, I hope so too.

Lurkers

Another really compelling use of the stage was by Esso from the Lurkers. His book about what it felt like to be in one of the first wave of bands is very melancholic. The tone is wistful, direct, raw and human. It is one of my favourite insider accounts of that early punk movement. Loneliness, confusion, isolation and a wish for things to be better fill the pages.
He read a passage today about being on tour and dealing with the inevitability of being gobbed at by hordes of young people who thought was what you were supposed to do. That’s what the media can do. He also described how the band recorded with Mick Glossop and a conversation he had with Uriah Heap’s singer who was in the studio. The well coifed Uriah Heap front-man extoled the virtues of America. To Esso he contrasted America with Britain based on how much money could be won on their respective quiz shows. He also urged Esso to get in shape, to enjoy his body, to develop a physique like his: tanned and toned from exercising and the Californian sun.
Esso was somewhat surprised to find him crawling on all fours in the studio a few hours later. Two bottles of brandy consumed and his positivity and focused approach to life seemingly temporarily lacking.

Tom Hingley

Another highlight was meeting Tom Hingley and getting his autobiography. His time with the Inspiral Carpets, who Noel Gallagher famously roadied for, appears to be filled with learning about the music industry. His infections personality combined with the bits I read briefly make me pretty sure it is going to be a great document of what the music industry is really like.

The Mob

I had always, and incorrectly as it turns out, lumped The Mob in with the horde of bands that emerged after that initial flowering of punk. ‘The Class of 82’ as one magazine cover described them, went up a road that wasn’t appealing to me at the time. The Buzzcocks, and in particular that man, Mr Lydon, navigated a route that was more experimental and unexpected to me. So when I finally did see The Mob they were heavy and perfectly capable of delivering a powerful punch without stepping on the accelerator constantly. They had that interesting twist on dark music of the time that UK Decay and Killing Joke had. I did recognise ‘No Doves Fly Here’ and was really impressed by their songs of doom, disaster, drudgery and repetition. As Niall Hope says: “If you have something to complain about; you have something to change!” I must educate myself a bit more on their recordings.

7 Seconds

Speaking of positivity, 7 Seconds delivered an impassioned stormer of a set to finish the night. It was great to hear the songs about community, combating racism, confronting macho attitudes in society and in the music scene. Seeing the band, as well as Kevin Seconds on the acoustic stage earlier, is very life-affirming. He talks about how happy he is to get to do something he loves. Playing music with people he admires and travelling to perform that music. Part of his buoyant honestly stems from being 51 and still doing something he loves. His enthusiasm is infectious.

Los Fastidios

Also infectious was Los Fastidios’ rousing sing-along which had a few hundred assorted punks and associated tribes singing in unison about being anti-fascist hooligans. The band have such spirit and enthusiasm. Always inspiring.

Up The Irish

The Irish contingent were out in force today. Paranoid Visions did an acoustic set! A sure sign of the Apocalypse! It actually demonstrated that their songs can really work in such a setting. An acoustic album might get some of their lyrics heard by a larger audience. It was great to hear Penetration’s Don’t Dictate and New Model Army’s Vengeance. In fact, there is never a bad time to hear either of those songs. Interesting to hear Sara Bellum’s female voice on Vengence. Unique. In was literally incredible to hear their most intense song (and they have more than a few) ‘Strange Girl’ about teenager Ann Lovett who perished giving birth in a Longford field alone. This was accompanied by one staggering punk attempting to adjust his Sid and Nancy bum flap in front of the stage! You can’t make this stuff up!

Neck did a very raucous take on ‘Spancil Hill’. And singer Leeson informed the gathered punks that it was the London Irish who kept Irish traditional music going. People couldn’t resist their Celtic punk sound.

The Wild Hearted Outsider

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.