Rebellion 2016 – Day 2

 

imageRebellion 2016 – day 2

Dublins I am a car crash provide the starting point today. Atmospheric rhythmic noise rock and sharing a drummer with paranoid visions which gets my head moving along nicely at this lunchtime.

I had to cut them short to go and see slice of life who certainly aren’t atmospheric noise rock. They have piano, acoustic guitar, bass and Steve ignorants voice. This is punk rock to me. Steve was in Crass, is collaborating with paranoid visions but this is a challenge, for those playing and not listening i may add It has a vaudeville feel (be it s punk version) at times with words that asks questions. This is what the crass war was for. The last time I saw slice of life at rebellion it was at the end of a long day for Steve and the beer had probably for the better of him. The crowd were there out of respect as it was a new enough project. We are now here for the bands songs and Steve puts his heart and soul into this performance as he raps along at times. “This world is full of hate but a bit of love is alright”

Wonk unit have their breed of London diy fun punk which is getting bigger by the year. They blasted the large stage of the Tower Arena and had a great community feel from them. Watching Wonk Unit it just seems like they are your mates on stage and at any moment they could either be dancing alongside you or your could be playing alongside them on stage.

Wolf Bites boy had the new band stage staged packed. Three piece punk oi anthems. Temperature in the room was hot, pavilion wasn’t much better with Loaded 44 on stage. Their sound has a rockier rezillos feel to it, guitar solos and all.

One of the (many) things I love about rebellion festival is that the time of day doesn’t seem to matter. Empress ballroom was packed with anticipation for Reagan youth at 3.20 on a Friday afternoon. Let me say it again Reagan youth!!! Blistering set from the U.S. hardcore band. The songs weren’t really written for ballroom arenas but they still pack some power even if therms have only 25% of their original cohort (only guitarist Paul Bakija remains from the original line up)

Back to the literary stage for a bit of Pauline Murray talking about punk scene of the 70s. Fascinating stuff. Interesting take on the music business “every time I get involved in the music business something horrible happens” artists get treated really badly as it is all about profit motive. Bands are having to work harder for themselves which is difficult but that’s where it is.

Alex brindle was on next talking of punk rock today and his time in the flying medallions. It was an interesting juxtaposition comparing old with the current (can’t really call it new). The enthusiasm of Alex in marked contrast to Pauline’s cynicism. Johnny wah wah was the host but preparation seemed to be minimal

The not sensibles single I’m in love with Margaret thatcher will go down in the punk rock annals as on of the snottiness of a generation. Their rnb brand of punk saw the crowds flocking to the opera house. Vice squad were on in the outdoor setting of the Tower Street Arena at a similar time. Still sounding as good as ever these could well be the last rockers of rebellion as they blasted their tunes with the blackpool tower standing strong in the background.

imageSpeaking of the Tower, I managed to get my hans on a copy of Blackpool Rox 2, complete with cover of the Tower falling into the sea. Interviews with Simon Wells, Ted Diabase, Poly-Esters and Cock sparrer made for great bedtime reading.

The a heads bring it back into more basic punk rock mode. They first appeared on the Wessex 7″ on Bluurg records in 198, alongside Subhumans and it is to see them still screaming for change.

Attila the stockbroker has been demanding change since Joe strummer inspired him to pick up a ukulele 35 years ago. His audience treated him like punk royalty tonight. Technical problems meant it was back to the original rapping poet tonight, no music just one man and his angry words, and some pieces from his excellent Autobiagraphy.

This rebellion introducing stage is great. The x ray eyes were completely new to me. Not quite of the standard of youth man last night (that bar is very high) but this was a set full of energy in a garage pop punk kind of way. Another album I look forward to giving plenty of time to.

Penetration took on a different meaning for me after listening Pauline Murray earlier. They had some great songs on that first album and well worth hearing once more. Now that they are back playing they have a new record out with solid songs and a sound that carries through. Not the energy and excitement of x Ray eyes but still good to listen to.

I’d been told a few times to catch the dictators so it was for other people that I went to see them. Rightly labelled as the “corrective tissue between stooges, mc5 and the punk scene” dictators still have a lot of hair on show. More rock than punk but songs that resonate around the vast expanse of the empress ballroom.

Brix Smith spoke on the literary stage and told us how she changed her name from laura to brix after the clash track Guns of Brixton. Brix liked to speak so I’m sure that made it easier for the conversation with john Robb to flow. And flow it did. Brix read out a chapter from her book, her take on her arrival into manchester. It was some culture shock for the u.s reared woman. With a kitchen the size of her freezer at home in Chicago.

As I was comfy i stayed to hear johns in conversation with Peter Hook. There was a great moment when Peter hook came on stage and took a picture with Brix. The crowd were ignored for a few minutes as what seemed like two old friends catching up. There’s a book coming out on new order that Peter hook has written, all 700+ pages. Sounds like it could be a new order encyclopaedia. Peter tells us about joy division being formed as they were walking out of the pistols first gig in Manchester and how he still can’t play bass. It was the attitude of the pistols that changed these Manchester lads, “knowing that anyone can get up and stage and play a gig. You didn’t care what anyone thought, you just believed and went up there and did it ”

imageA quick run into the acoustic room then for Swill from the men they couldn’t hang. This is a perfect surroundings for swill. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a companion on stage this was country shining through but sing along and inclusive. I feel at home in this room, my reclusive self can smile as there’s a sing song going on

Seeing swill meant that I missed the start of paranoid visions but when I got to the pavilion it was on fire. Perfect surrounding and a great set from my home town boys. The visions are very much part of rebellion, like tv smith but a outburst of energy like a zit being forced off your face. They have a menacing almost haunting feel. The sound has opened out and the killing joke influence seems stronger than ever. Of course for any band that has been playing on and off for thirty years you can’t really take the lazy option and state their influences. They are the influencers now. Paranoid Visions want to challenge you, I’m reminded of the first time I saw them. I was terrified and completely captivated. The fear has now gone as I’ve gotten to know them but the captivation still holds true

imageAs my formative years in the 1980s were spent listening to punk rock, you could call it an education of sorts. The Newtown neurotics were a semester (we call them terms back home) the neurotics and Attila were going to travel to Dublin but then realised the ferry cost was too prohibitive. We nearly had them but had to make do with listening to the brilliant live album instead. Miscalculations on time meant I missed the q*a with Steve Drewetr earlier. A shame to miss it as his band were very important. Now I’ve seen him live a couple of times. I came to rebellion specifically to see the neurotics a few years back (after travelling to Harlow to see them too) so I’m completely biased. Steve is getting more acclimatised to acoustic gigs and has his daughter back up on stage with him but the damn treble is still turned up in the guitar. We sang along to Kick Out The Tories and wondered if the new empowered Labour Party will make the breakthrough they are promising to and what i can achieve.

While the neurotics had a whole semester I most definitely took a few classes on the men they couldn’t hang. They toured ireland and we went to see their folk punk rebel songs songs a few times. It seemed fresher at the time than many of the oi bands that I was listening to. Intelligent lyrics doesn’t just have to come from the spiky or skinhead punks, it’s all about the spirit and the men they couldn’t hangs set was definitely full of punk spirit without a spike to be seen anywhere. As I stood here beside Atilla the stockbroker watching him mouth every word as swill spoke about hanging around afterwards to talk to everyone I’m reminded why I’m indeed part of this community. We are all equals and we are mainly in it for the right reasons. Sentiment along these lines was stated when shirt of blue was dedicated to all those fighting for union or human rights throughout the world. The battle continues

niallhope

Before the men I listened to Dick Manitoba’s talk about the New York scene and his time with the dictators whose album was released a year before the ramones debut. Of course this being rebellion dick had to be asked about the bar he runs in New York, his own place. He has photos all over the walls of New York and uk punk. Sounds like aa aesthetically pleasing place. There was confusion over his next steps when Richie asked about an upcoming book. Turns out it’s a comic book!! Might be a book on the way of money can be got.

I was hanging on for dear life at this stage but was determined to see Naked Aggression. The men they couldn’t hang express their anger through folk music but naked aggression use it through all their power and force with electric guitars. In the smaller arena the songs still sound a s aggressive and relevant as ever. I wonder if Reagan youth had of played in a smaller room on a smaller stage would it have been different. Naked aggression songs Janet lost their anger. Full on assault, just what’ you need at the end of a long day. I2 hours after the first band of the day I didn’t have the stamina for dublins lee Harvey’s. Next time

Rebellion 2015 day 3 – the wildhearted outsider

Rebellion Day 3

The Boomtown Rats were Eire’s best ever popular music band…Eire’s Best Pop Band. That’s a bigger compliment that it might appear at first.

Few areas of human endeavour are more competitive than pop music. So mane people want a hit single or to be a pop star: so few get there.

Since it is so competitive you have to be single-minded to get there. And Bob Geldof embodies single-mindedness,

The Boomtown Rats were pop in the way that other brilliant tunesmiths of the punk/new wave era were: XTC, Squeeze and even Elvis Costello.

But the Rats were from Eire and Eire didn’t have pop bands…especially not pop bands with international appeal. That makes them really significant in Ireland’s culture. They broke with the past and the consensus: that makes them revolutionaries.

They were cranked up on Dr Feelgood and dug deeper back into the Blues of John Lee Hooker…and both are clearly heard in their set in a Blaclpool ballroom full of 40 years of punk survivors.

They also drew from Thin Lizzy’s pop smarts…Van Morrison and Springsteen’s late 20th Century troubadour style…the best of glam rock’s stomping beat in a ballroom blitz. And the swagger of Jagger.

Beyond Ireland that May not have seen remarkable…yet in Ireland it was transgressive and daring. Naturally being single-minded might lose you admirers as it wins you fans…and that is for another time.

The band were tight and punchy and went down surprisingly well for a band that don’t fit comfortably into punk history.

She’s So Modern launched a set preceded by Hugh Cornwall, half of whose really great set was comprised of Stranglers’ songs. The Rats then charged through hits including: Like Clockwork, Someone’s Looking At You, I Don’t Like Mondays (which featured a raucous singalong by the massed choir assorted generations of punks and skins and crusties! It also featured a literally heart-stopping moment in pop music terms: the band standing still and silent poised to continue, teasing the crowd..in control if the crowd…but only by the slightest thread!). Mary of the Fourth Form was also included before the set concluded with Looking After Number One and Rat Trap.

Can any other Irish pop band pull as many original songs out of their back catalogue and deliver them with conviction and intensity?

Being Bob and the Rats this was a show….the final burst was a pre-recorded chant of The Boomtown Rats over a pulsing dance-beat…very AC/DC meets X-Factor…perhaps ironic!

If the band got cheers they also got the loudest boos of the festival: Geldof yelled mid-set: we are the Boomtown Rats…we are Mega!…you (the audience) are dressed an in black uniform of t-shirts with shit bands written on them….I am wearing a fuck-off suit of fake snakeskin!

It was perhaps irony…yet what other performer would dare such an outburst at the audience?

In 1977 the Rats screamed that Ireland could be changed…more doubted them than believed them….40 years later it is clear that Ireland has changed…..beyond imagining….it appears the Geldof and the Rats were right after all!

Huge Highlights:

Goldblade…to me they are the very essence of what punk rock means in 2015: vibrant….relevant…funny…..really funny, yet capable of making the most serious points….serious music, serious fun, a seriously positive force. Brilliant in an afternoon ballroom whose history singer (and punk historian) John Robb recounts as he cavorts in a manner that would have the ballroom proprietors turning in their elegantly constructed graves.

They reminded me of a point so elegantly stated yesterday by Joolz Denby: young people have no idea how much fun it was going on marches…you didn’t feel like people were going to change their ways or policies just because you were marching…yet you were having a laugh and felt good and that you were at least trying,

A.M.I.
Youth, youth, youth….wasted on most of us….Yet this dynamic four-piece full of energy and yelling, screaming, guitar-shredding passion and decent tunes draw ing from decades of (punk….think about it!) and other forms of rebel rock,

Louise Distra on the big stage as part of a three-piece band…no compromise…connecting with the spirit of Patti Smith as well as Riot Grrl rockers,

Barry Cain….great journalist and chronicler of the early punk scene…and one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the magnificent Radiators from Space…recalling when NME sold 250,000 copies weekly, and later when Smash Hits sold a million every fortnight! Astonishingly influential!

Steve Drewett from the Newtown Neurotics rocked the acoustic stage…and was superbly assisted by his daughter. She was fantastic and it was quite a thing to hear a young person who might be half the legal voting age, urging the old punk rockers to vote, take hope and change the world!

The Buzzcocks were majestic…..so many bright, brilliant and energetic songs….how many bands have so many singles of that calibre? It fills me with joy every time I see them! Funny to think that when they came to Dublin in the first rush of ounk that the authorities forced them to play practically with no amplification!

For some…noise annoys…for some of us noise is truly inspiring. What a day..what music…what memories!

wildhearted outsider

Rebellion 2015 – Day 3

image

Rebellion 2015 Day 3

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????

Dave Cain talks about his book Sulphate Strip
Dave Cain talks about his book Sulphate Strip
MDC no show for acoustic set
MDC no show for acoustic set
Steve Drewett and daughter Rosa
Steve Drewett and daughter Rosa

Steve Drewett – Jenga Society

Steve Drewett
The Jenga Society
Cruel Binary

drewett

With a history of music between us, playing for Steve and listening for me, it is hard to be objective about this release. I wrote to Steve over three decades ago trying to get his band of the time over to Ireland to play some gigs. His band were the Newtown Neurotics and he was going to travel over with Attilla THe Stockbroker. We swapped missives but eventually he decided that the but ferry costs would beat us. I had been listening to the band since their debut Beggars Can Be Choosers album which followed a couple of great 7″s. The sound was a clash of punk and soul bits and had me hooked as a teenager. Every track carried a message, they sang of a world where the general populace were being beaten down but we weren’t gonna be beaten, no way… only short term losses by ferry prices would be contemplated

And here we are, 15 years into the 21st Century and neo-liberalism grew from the Tory roots and is flourishing but we are still not contemplating defeat. We will not be beaten down is still being sung but so are tales of love and reflection.

This is a solo record, acoustic warblings and to be honest they are not fully suited to a voice that has led protest songs for many years. I keep expecting a drum beat to kick in with bass and electric guitar. Steves acoustic has the treble turned up and unfortunately, for me, I wish it would be turned down. If I had of been a soldier in the 80’s then Steve Drewett would have been my Sergeant Major – I feel like I’m a deserter now – a traitor by not glorifying in this record.

I saw the Neurotics earlier this year and those songs still make the hairs on my neck stand up, still as majic and inspirational as ever but sometimes you need to use the weapons you are best at and these weapons should be plugged in for this man.

If you haven’t heard the Neurotics or listened to them in a while please make up for the loss by seeking them out

niallhope