Another new band to me, a female 4 piece, who reminded me of the Runaways, and that is high praise indeed. They are a hard rocking group with the magic 1960s Motown/soul oooh ooh oohs.
The front woman has a gravelly voice and the classic skinhead style. These are Not just women who can play,these are women who can play really well.
Their songs had great changes of tempo, and they are more hard rock than punk rock, and that demonstrates why punk provided such a boost for rock and roll.
Kenneths were new to me but they had a great backdrop…their name in blocks, that also made for a great patch.
They are a young 3 piece, with a female drummer/co-vocalist and a singer with the classic low slung guitar. The bass player would have fit right in with early Corrosion of Conformity. So there’s lots to like there.
Their songs veered towards the Ramones-y heartbreak pop lyrics, one outstanding example is their song, I don’t want to go out with you, which might be my favourite Kenneths’ song. With lyrics and sentiments like All Cried Out they proved that introspective, even plaintiff lyrics, can be paired with a grinding sound to make a great impact. Viva the punk contrast.
I promise this really happened, although it sounds like I am making it up.
This was an actual conversation I overheard as I was walking by a punk hunched over a plastic bin eating his takeaway chips.
Punk: You’re a cheeky little fucker aren’t ya.
Seagull: *embarrassed but dignified silence*
Talk with Andrew Czezowski and Susan Carrington
This was one of the most interesting and illuminating chats about entrepreneurship I have heard in a long time.
Two young people who loved music, style, culture and having fun opened a club, The Roxy, that four 100 days provided an outlet for the emerging London punk movement.
Both Andrew and Susan had fascinating stories to tell, about managing/nurturing/being around the Damned, Chelsea and Generation X.
The club itself sounded like a typical toilet venue that most people would avoid, yet in this case it hosted the likes of the Clash and the Heartbreakers and launched thousands, perhaps millions, of dreams.
I had a brief chat with both Andrew and Susan afterward and they were incredibly nice. They stressed the idea that you should follow your heart in your early career, do things you enjoy, work with people you find interesting, and always be open to opportunities.
They have recently published a couple of books about those 100 gigs, one is a collection of evocative photos and one provides details (and for me, inspiration) of the early DIY spirit that launched punk into the public consciousness.
It was also a good reminder of the Irish presence in that early punk movement…..the band Chelsea’s lead singer Gene October was originally one Gene O’Hara….and one of their early gigs was billed as ‘The O’Haras’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.