THE DICKIES - Cardiff Globe, 7.8.16
There is a section in the Sex Pistols film "The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle" called "Anyone can be a Sex Pistol" and revolves around the bands attempt to replace Johnny Rotten after he had flounced off into the sunset at the end of their disastrous US tour of 1978. The rest of the band - Vicious, Jones & Cook - manfully keep a straight face as various members of the public try out as the new lead singer of the UK's premier punk band. Needles to say the results are mixed, with the only real person of note to emerge from the shambolic debacle being Eddie Tenpole Tudor, who later went on to form his own band and have a brief 15 minute of fame (Swords of a Thousand Men anyone?).
Well tonight it was truly a chance to be a Dickie for the evening. Long time front man Leonard Graves-Phillips, one of only two of the original members still in the band, was residing in a London hospital bed due to gall stones. So the gig became a chance for any budding vocalist in the audience to get up on stage and have a go at fronting one of the original US punk bands. I later asked guitarist, and other band original guitarist Stan Lee, why the tour had not simply been called off once Graves Phillips predicament was evident. He replied with refreshing honesty that it would have cost them ten grand!
Anyway, after an entertaining set by Stroud band Chinese Burn, The Dickies hesitantly ambled onto stage. Explaining the fact that they were singerless, Lee became rather emotional at the level of assistance they had received all over the UK from other bands (GBH's Colin standing in at the Rebellion festival) and audiences, who all appeared to be pulling with them in their hour of need.
After the instrumental of Rondo (the Midget's Revenge) , the first guest vocalist made an appearance, being their merchandise guy. For the next four songs he gave a very passable impression of a professional singer, made even more bizarre in the fact that his normal job is an undertaker.
The rest of the night continued in a similar vain with stellar punk anthems like Rosemary, Manny, Moe & Joe, Give it Back, Waterslide, You Drive Me Ape, Curb Job, I'm OK, You're OK, being mixed in with covers such as Nights in White Satin, Gigantor, Paranoid, Communication Breakdown and the obligatory Banana Split, but sung by random audience members, the Dickies tour manager, the bands bass player and rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of the aforementioned support act Chinese Burn.
A great night, that was equally funny and entertaining, and one that reaffirmed my faith in the DIY ethics of punk rock. Hopefully in the long run Graves Phillips will return to full health, but it has to be said in some ways it was his absence that made this gig such a memorable experience.