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.
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 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.
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.
It’s not even four o,clock and I already have a new favourite band.
Girls and boys looking for contemporary punk role models need look no further
They are two-piece, so lazy comparisons with House of f
Freaks and even Carter the USM are inevitable, yet that shouldn’t take away from how original and powerful Bratakus are.
I love their song Open Your Eyes with its manic panic energy.
They did a wonderful cover of the Cress song Breakdown which again had an industrial-scale full-throttle force.
They are fast, frantic, fantastic and fun and show that the spirit of true girl power is alive and thriving in 2017. Their new CD is just out and boasting songs like I Know Nothing it is well worth checking out. They finished their set with Products a song proudly introduced as an animal rights song.
In Evil Hour
were a revelation when I saw them first at Rebellion two years ago. They have got even stronger in the interim. Packing a visceral push without sacrificing melody and boasting a commanding female vocalist they are well worth seeing if you like your rock. It is easy to understand why Niall splashed out on their album when we saw them last. They are still comfortable on the main stage and I look forward to seeing them move up the bill.
They move seamlessly from melodic singalong to growling shrieks with a pulsing rhythm of the classic four piece rock bands.
So sad to say that I missed them today, but we managed to buy three of their albums. The covers are just what you hope an indie band’s album covers would look like. Artful, beautiful, distinctive and evocative. And we got to meet the band-member who designs them too. Really looking forward to checking them out.