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.
And so we return. A little greyer, mostly a little bigger but no less enthusiastic. Blackpool 2017 for this first weekend of August is less kiss me quick and donkey rides and more punk rock nostalgia as the home of the 80s political conferences is taken over by the punks. 7 stages kicking off with bingo from max splodge of splodgenessanounds. Max regaled us all on top of the pops with two pints of lager and a packet of crisps please and now he is in the bar calling out numbers for bingo and that very same order over and over again.
Today’s festival began with a race against time. Four full days of live music ahead and my 10.35 plane looks like it won’t get there on time. I will mix Max’s bingo and Geoffrey Oicott. But I wait in hope that I can catch Epic Problem, the spoilers and the tuts.
One issue of having 7 stages is there are bound to be clashes. They usually work out as 4 songs from a band you want to check out is far better than never being in the same room as them but this three being on different stages at the same time was always going to prove problematic. It was a problem I didn’t need to give thought to as trains and planes conspired against me and time was the winner, or lack of it.
Bratakus were the first band I caught. Two piece abrasiveness from Scotland. Some racket for two people, excellent stuff. In evil hour were on in the empress and played to a large crowd. Strong solid rocking punk tunes
Simon Wells and Carol Hodge came over to Ireland last year to play our We Shall Overcome festival and delighted the crowd. They were back today in the acoustic room as simon played tracks from his new album, songs that are usually played with a fuller sound and lots of noise. It’s great to hear them stripped down bare and raw. Heartfelt music that is very special. Simon greeted nearly everyone personally from stage and we welcomed him and Carol from our seats. The set as mixed with some of Carols haunting yet soulful songs which added spice to the mix.
Carol played again later with Slice of Life.
There are a few people who can do no wrong with the vast majority of the rebellion crowd and Steve ignorant is one of these. Steve will be singing some songs with paranoid visions later in the festival, a selection of songs that influenced so many. For tonight he is living in the now and it’s a good place to be. Steve can’t avoid the fact that he was in one of the most influential punk bands. A band that could easily be described as one that maybe not led a generation but guided a community. It was an accident and he is humbled by it all he wasn’t trying to lead anyone he was just being one of us. And still is.
The pukes were a trimmed down version of their usual selves. 4 ukuleles and some washboard rhythms playing punk classics. They had a huge crowd in the acoustic room singing along and wondering when would they learn. There was something missing from the band on stage and when i did that head count I realised that Lorna was missing. Her infectious enthusiasm is a beacon on stage but the colourful tunes still brought a smile to us all
This was my first time to see Bar stool preachers despite them being perennial visitors. Sing along punk ska anthems that had the crowd singing along and me wondering what the words were so I could join in
Reletics were the only and I saw on the introducing stage. Powerful punky rocky sound. They proudly sang about being an anti fascist band which is worth proclaiming time and again.
MDC are one of those bands that just keep going but in reality it is just singer Dave Dictor. Dave, like many others here this weekend, pretty much acts the same as he did in the late 80’s early 90’s. There’s been hospital visits and scares along the way but he is still screaming, even at the acoustic show tonight. The acoustic shows leave singers with no place to hide and dave coped very well stripped down to a bass and an acoustic and those songs about Reagan and the crazy state of the world growing up in the 80s seems as relevant as ever, maybe more so.
Zillah minx from Rubella ballet is like the offspring of Toyah Wilcox with attitude and politics thrown in. Toyah flew a flag for women in a time when women were solely objectified in music. Rubella Ballet brought colour to an anarchist punk scene full of black with some red for good measure. Both played this evening in the seated arena. Rubella ballet competed with the Puke’s for most colourful band. Maybe an anarcho spizz energy complete with illuminious dancers. I never really listened to Toyah before and couldn’t tonight as there were no seats in the house spare for her performance.
I also never really listened to good riddance. Not sure why but alongside Strike Anywhere they are on my list of “must find out more”. That list is increasing al the time but after tonight’s energetic explosion of hardcore I can strike them off.
Roddy radiation had everyone skanking as if the specials never stopped. Ska and reggae in an original Style. While roddy was skanking tv smith was punking. Tim is in the same mould as Steve ignorant. A legend of a musician and still playing those adverts songs as if it was his first time. Only two words to describe this set. Tv smith. That first album is a classic. I defy you to say otherwise. Tv smith is the boss.
Leftover Crack are in Dublin on Saturday. This may not be a warm up for that show but if it was, then the gypsy rose will he on fire. Hard hitting political us hardcore punk band. They were on top form tonight.
sem futuro showed you don’t have to be North American to have that punky hardcore sound. These Brazilians sure did create a racket, can’t say if the words were politically motivated as my Spanish is pretty nonexistent
Penny wise and bad religion brought the tunes back in. It’s amazing to see Bad Religiin still filling out halls and better again to see over 2,500 people singing along. Flying end to the first day, despite my disappointing start of clashes and ultimately missed sets.
There’s always a certain nostalgia to the last day. Like the last day of a Christmas holiday as you prepare to return to work or revert to a life you had escaped for the week. The stalls that had been a hive of activity for four days are, in some cases selling off their wares, packing up after another years business done. This day also coincides with blackpools annual air show. To me it’s just war planes making a racket but for many who are camped out for the day waiting it is a highlight – maybe it’s their rebellion. There’s a huge breeze on the prom today, wonder how that will affect plane flight tracks
Anyway if speed of music could power electricity the same way as wind does then revenge of the psychotronic man could generate enough power to run this festival. Possibly Manchester’s fastest band this threesome whizz through their each song before you can say psychotronic.
Captain Sensible from the damned always seemed like an interesting fella so I ambled along to the opera house to hear his irreverent talk. Most entertaining talk of the weekend. Captain leaves no holds barred as he gives his forthright opinion of people and the damned’s career to date. is manner means he can get away with saying things the rest of us would be lynched over. I then rushed to the new band stage to get a few songs from head sticks before heading back to see a piece of Omixlh from Greece Head sticks have a lovely blyth powere esque feel to them without a drummer saying 1-2-3-4 in a quaint Cornish accent before each song. Fast folk that veers toward punk with a harmonica
I know little about the punk scene in Greece but I was expecting a more d-beat sound. OMIXLH had more punk than crust feel at home in 1982 uk scene. Pretty good
Demob, from Gloucester, started in 1978 and yet still have a song about Charlie Harper being great. Their first two 7″s weren’t about punk rock legends but more about the situation with disaffected kids growing up in south west England and then finding a voice through punk rock. Sing along anthems
Andy Higgins is a man on a mission, his mission is to rid Blackpool Fc of its chairman Owen oyston before the club becomes a footnote in footballing history. Andy feels that Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortenson and more recently people like Brett Ormeroyd would be horrified at the way the club has gone downhill in recent years. It’s not like he wishes for the capitalist nightmare of the premiership but, like john Robb, Blackpool people are passionate about their home town. They feel the club should belong to the people and run not solely for profit regardless of what happens on the pitch. Andy will say Oyston out at any given opportunity and ran for election the the uk general election. He also plays in litterbug, runs a label and is doing a solo set today.
More clashes meant I had to miss goldblade, cress and Louise Distras but I wanted to hear Dave dictors story. Mdc have been on the go for many years and dave has just released a book on his experiences in it. Fast politically charged punk rock Johnny wah wah did a great job with this one as Dave spoke of the different scenes and dynamics in each one
After i had a quick chat with dave about the time Mdc played barnstormers in Dublin the nightingales took to the stagwe. Quirky sounds from this quartet. Certainly a band that continue to challenge the listener which is what punk does. No screams of ” n war, no kkk, no fascist USA ” which is what Mdc declared but this is a declaration of intent and rhythm, always rhythm with the nightingales, john Robb summed up rebellion perfectly when he said the festival is like one big John Peeel show, a huge divergence of music but a common ethos. Well the nightingales were peel favourites and belong here.
Ireland or more specifically Northern Ireland took over the empress ballroom for a little while as Belfast punks the defects and outcasts played. Punk rock bands that were very much on the edge and in a dangerous place when they started in 1979. That fear has since changed but both bands will never forget those days. the defects are the more political of the two and the title track of the new album 45 minutes is about bombs instigated by Tony Blair
For me the roughneck riot are a modern day men they couldn’t hang, maybe if the flatliners added some traditional instrument and covered the men. Banjo, mandolin, accordion and punk spirit shining through. Plenty of songs for you to scream along to. There was some power and passion on show. Class
There was a brief return to the anarcho punk scene of the 80s with anthrax (uk) and Hagar the womb. Both had those circle a’s on their records as I unfolded out every crease in their fold out sleeve to read what they had to say. Anthrax always seemed slightly more serious and little has changed. They use their songs as statements where as Hagar the womb are more stories with plenty of humour thrown in I must admit I find it confusing when bands who have so much to say with their lyrics say nothing between songs as Anthrax did. The stage is their soapbox and some slip off it.
With a collective age of 310 Hagar have plenty of between song banter. Karen does her best to be the host on stage as she opens cans for all the band which led to the inevitable spills and makes sure they are ok. Bassist Mitch joined the crowd and it was all good fun.
I had to catch the adolescents. Another institution much like dag nasty. Two great u.s hardcore bands. The adolescents are from south California so it was fast skate core but dag nasty, well that’s a different story altogether. Melodic hardcore songs, the only problem is they were being played in a car park…in the rain!!!! It started raining which was good as there was less people around to smoke but then there was less absorption for the sound which at the start was awful. Like playing a record at home on low volume in case the people on the other side of the room hear you. What a shame. I moved down to stand in front of the pa, that helped a bit bar for the bass drum beating against my heart. I managed to find a spot with decent sound and got lost in the greatness. Where was I?
Ruts DC, as I mentioned, are royalty. The part they play in rebellion is of a people that were the establishment when people had faith in an establishment. People to be respected and listened to. Before it all went sour
I heard three other bands doing ruts covers this weekend. Bands that otherwise played originals. Tonight it is just their songs stripped down and sounding as good as ever. A few newer songs tonight but still it was a special moment when we all stood up at the end and gave an ovation of sheer respect and appreciation.
When the last day is complete I’m reminded of how much rebellion suits this “tatty seaside town”. Remnants of the 70s are rife. The amusement arcades will have their 2p falls and 10p bingo. It seems, almost frozen in time as they look back to the days when Britain used to holiday here and reminisce about then”good oil days”. Amongst this is glimpses of modernity trying to break through, some new buildings, some redecorate old landmarks but underneath it all a people proud of where they come from and not ready for anyone to tell them otherwise.
I said it was a marathon and whilst Wonk Unit may have just arived in Blackpool this is the start of my third day. It’s a great start for me though as I get to see a band I’ve been hearing and reading about for a couple of years and have been following their own Wonk Fest for the past couple of years. They have an new member in Jess who adds a keyboards and screams to the ska tinged hardcore sound or joke core if there is such a term
Louise Distras’s acoustic set last night was a highlight and she has beefed out her sound now with a band. My introduction to Louise was at rebellion and was always solo with her guitar. I delighted in the fact that an independent woman would get up on stage and rail against the world, rallying the troops. I wasn’t expecting such a powerful set on offer from the three piece. Almost as good as the acoustic. Almost, still damn good.
AMI are from Brighton and the collective age of the four piece may not be equal to Charlie Harper from the UK subs who was standing in the from row for most of their set. Good power slightly rock sound. Singer had a descendents t-shirt so the future is bright.
Goldblade early on a Saturday afternoon on the first day of the new football season. I could have made my excuses and watched the scores but how can you miss this? Complete with oyston out banner in support of the local football team gold blade are the underdogs band and they will scream at the top of their lungs for that underdog. We will rejoice with them.
Nic Austin on the Literary stage gave us a chance to sit down and take in the stories of his time in Chelsea and his spell with Generation X. Nic is still playing, not only in Chelsea but has a new record out too, church of eon
The Boys played some acoustic versions of their early pop rock sound. Pop punk means so much more than Green Day or other sped up tuneful bands. The original wave saw bands wih basic tunes and an atitude play some great songs. The Boys had these and it is great to hear them stripped down.
999 were a punk band from my youth but I wanted to hear what Barry Cain had to say about his book sulphate street, his time as record mirror journalist and then publisher of flexipop magazine.
A-Heads were part of the anarco wave that showed that not only was diy possible, it was imperative. Say and sing what you like.
MDC certainly said and sang what they wanted. Unfortunately after sitting and waiting 15 mins we were informed they hadn’t arrived. I was hoping for this to be my chance to she’s them as they are due on last tonight. It gave me a chance to listen to monkey from the addicts and his take on performance and punk and being happy to be part of a community. Hard to believe they have recorded and released over 200 songs, must make it hard to think up a set list, I had to leave when I heard they played Israel, hugely disappointing.
Peter and the test tube babies always seemed like a band with interesting tales and it was nice to hear some of them. The literary stage is a hugely imortant facet of rebellion. We get to hear first hand accounts of what was going on with all these bands. It’s great for someone like me who was living in a different country and buying the record but not really expecting to ever be in a position to see them live. It wasn’t Peter on stage but Del from the band had some stories to tell anyway.
Steve Drewett is one such person I wrote to and wondered if I’d ever get to see him live. I have now seen him or his band the newtown neurotics 6 imes and love it every time. I had never seen him on stage with his daughter rosa before as she accompanied him on 6 tracks. It’s such a privilege to be here listening to bands that played such a part in my formative years. It’s 30 years later and life keeps moving on. We realise that but at the same time it’s always good to take stock of where we come from. For many that is the community or area they grew up for me I grew up in the punk community and the neurotics were very much neighbours, along with Ruts DC and so many more this weekend.
Culture Shock I have seen nearly as much as the neurotics and they would have lived around the corner in that community, newcomers though :). Upbeat punk and dick is in great form tonight.
The literary stage was buzzing today, nina antonia spoke of her book about Johnny thunders and her musical upbringing listening to Marc bolan
It then became time for the big guns. Hugh Cornwall from the Stranglers, Peter Perrett from the Only Ones and Steve Lake from Zounds set us up for the Boomtown Rats. I was amazed at the size of the crowd for the rats. Full to capacity but was it in anticipation of the music or was there an ‘intrigue’ factor? The crowd weren’t jumping around or celebrating each song in dance and it was thinner by the end of the set but I had to leave anyway for the neurotics and the mob that’s more my punk rock anyway. The amount of Merch the boomtown rats brought in and out was phenomenal. Signed CDs and DVDs galore. I guess autographs are important to some punks. Me? I prefer memories.
Hard Skin are one of the few bands that get away with verbally abusing the audience. Like an Oi version of Captain Hotknives they don’t take themselves seriously but realise the world is a serious place. They play in the casbah which is outdoor and a realisation for me that so many punks still smoke. We have become so accustomed to smoke free zones entering one for a gig is a real step back in time, not a better time though. Hard skin don’t care, they only care if there are fascists in the building, no room for them in our scene. A belter of a set from everyone’s favourite obnoxious wannabe skinheads
The Mob were one of the best sets a couple of years ago and tonight compete again for it. Steve lake guested and tried to remove the menace but the casbah was rocking and this was another highlight.
Buzzcocks don’t need an introduction and the songs sound like they could have been written yesterday. Such good tunes but maybe it’d be better if Steve Diggle hadn’t turned out to be such a good guitarist. These songs are too easy for him to play so he admonishes them with solos.
Steve Ignorant’s album with Paranoid Visions showed how these stalwarts can still be relevant with their new songs. Tonight’s set was a mixture of that album and some older songs that Steve had written. They also won the prize for biggest self publicists or band that wear the most of their own band tshirt
I was asleep for MDC as it is hard to sustain 14 hour punk rock days, has no-one heard of the working time directive? I did have a wry smile when I saw the line up of stalls in the casbah venue. U.S. Hardcore band with strong links to the UK anarchist punk scene competing with all the madmen records, home of the mob competing with Steve ignorant from Crass competing with hard skin whose musical roots are in that anarcho punk scene. All separate stalls, no chance of one big one in the main area next year????