REBELLION FESTIVAL Blackpool August 4-7
For 15 years Rebellion has been the festival to attend
if you like punk or Oi! music. Whilst I am sure that not every resident
of Blackpool is enamoured by day-glow Mohicans cluttering up their high
street, it cant be argued that with up to 5,000 people a day attending,
it brings a lot of much needed revenue to the town.
Built in 1878, the Winter Gardens was literally decades
ahead of its time. Whilst most people will know the Empress Ballroom,
where they play the televised darts, the building actually contains
many different self contained venues. Six stages are continuously in
use for over 12 hours of each of the 4 days and the sheer number of
bands available to see can get a bit mind boggling. Having previously
attended, I came prepared with an itemised breakdown of who and where
I should be for every hour of the day. Whilst inevitably there will
be clashes of bands you want to see, it is still a great way to revisit
old favourites and take in new bands.
And so, befitting a musical genre that is played
at breakneck speed, here is my double quick review of my very own Holiday
in the Sun:
Thursday 4 August:
MAX SPLODGE (Acoustic)
Whilst I think it is fair to say that he had imbibed more than a few
ales, this was still a surprisingly entertaining set. Complete with
two Splodgettes (i.e. grown men wearing tutus) he sings/slurs his way
through a varied set list including firm favourites Two Little
Boys and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.
The worlds only cricket fixated punk band arrive from deepest Yorkshire
bedecked in full cricketing flannels. Mixing old with new, we have standard
favourites like Dawn of the Dickie Birds, LBW
(Lager Before Women) and I was Montys Double, as well
as new numbers like Kestrel For a Knave and Pictures
of Lillee. Howzat? A right Yorkshire Ripper of a band!
WORLD INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY
New York residents, their line up includes horns, piano and guitar.
Apparently they are a musical collective that have over 30 members.
The group is led by singer Jack Terricloth, who has been the most
constant member throughout the group's history and is known for his
pointed commentary during shows. Frankly not my cup of tea and I retire
to the bar.
OLD FIRM CASUALS
The second time in two weeks that I have seen Lars Frederiksens
(of Rancid fame) new band. Visually they hark back to the late 70s
skinhead look with Ben Sherman shirts, Sta Prest trousers and Doc Martins.
The sound is definitely Oi based and shout-along anthem flow readily
from Lars pen. Set highlights are Casual, Lone Wolf,
The Old Firm and rousing finale of Last Resorts Violence
In Our Minds.
A new hardcore supergroup led by Keith Morris of Black Flag/Circle Jerks.
Unbelievably he is 56 years old, although in fairness he has worn well
and jumps about like someone half his age. A bit too repetitive for
me, but well received by the capacity audience.
Of all the bands on the first day these were the ones I was looking
forward to seeing most. Largely overlooked in the writing of punk history,
they have been around since 1976 and were invariably featured on any
line up from the Roxy or Vortex. They wrote many undiscovered gems in
the early punk days, all of which got an airing tonight. So I get a
chance to drunkenly bellow along to Insane Society, Last
Years Youth, Screwed Up, Punk Rocker,
I Need Nothing and especially GLC. Its
difficult to put into words the pleasure in being in a packed venue
after midnight, with like minded middle aged blokes all of whom have
had too much to drink, shouting out GLC, GLC, youre full
of shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!. Worth the ticket price alone.
Friday 5 August:
Saw them in Cardiff recently where the attendance disappointingly just
about scraped into double figures. However today there is a very respectable
turn out for this Street punk band from London. Nothing extraordinary
in their sound, but rest assured if you like Cock Sparrer, The Business
or Last Resort you will like them. They run through a varied setlist
taking in numbers from throughout their career such as SNAFU,
Buddah of the Back Street, John Fila, Drug Dealer,
Horrorshow, England and their tribute to Joe
Strummer The Future is Unwritten. Similar look and feel
to Old Firm Casuals and bizarrely they also include the Last Resorts
Violence In Our Minds.
Perennial favourites of the anarcho punk scene and a band that spawned
a thousand t-shirts. I have never heard them before and in fact they
turned out to be rather good. The only reservation is that each song
is preceded by a lecture/explanation that gets rather tiresome after
a while. For a musical genre that prides itself on not obeying orders
it seems rather odd that certain bands seem intent on preaching what
you can and cannot do/like/think. Still Im sure they mean well.
Predating punk, this band played with the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club
in 1976. I was disappointed to find that with singer/guitarist Knox
no longer in the band they had only one original member in Eddie on
drums. However, a sterling effort with all their well known tunes included
such as Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Whips and Furs, Baby,
Baby and of course Automatic Lover.
Saw these for the first time when last at Rebellion and was blown away.
Whilst they are undoubtedly Oi/Street Punk, their lyrics are a cut above
the normal boot boy anthems. Mickey Fitz is a great front man and they
can mix undoubtedly humorous number like Guinness Boys,
Get Out of My House and Drinking and Driving
with more serious social commentary such as National Insurance
Blacklist, Harry May and Suburban Rebels,
the latter being one of my all time favourite punk songs. A great live
band and definitely worth checking out if they visit your manor.
This was their first gig since their recent reformation after splitting
in 1986, and they didnt disappoint. Taking tracks mostly from
their 1982 debut album Still Out of Order, they are surprisingly
tight, given their lengthy hiatus. Revolving predominately around two
brothers Lee and Floyd Wilson they were originally championed
by Mensi from the Angelic Upstarts and made their recording debut by
contributing a track to the infamous Strength Thru Oi! LP.
Tonight they belted out Five Minute Fashion, Catch
22, Catalogue Kids, In For A Riot and
Still Out of Order and sound-wise they dont appeared
to have aged one bit. A promising return to action and hopefully this
wont be their last gig for another 25 years.
This clashed with the Exploited, but for me there was only ever going
to be one winner. Whilst I will forever name the Clash as my favourite
band, it is true to say that the Damned are not far behind. Having first
seen them in the late 70s, and followed them religiously
throughout the following decades, I can honestly say they rarely play
a bad gig and tonight was no exception. With Sensible and Vanian resplendent
in shades the band blasted off with a deafeningly loud version of Melody
Lee and for the next hour and a half I was caught up in hugely
enjoyable nostalgia trip. Excluding anything from their latest long
player they took in numbers from all their other previous recordings
and so a packed auditorium was treated to New Rose, Neat,
Neat, Neat, Love Song, Wait For The Blackout,
Eloise, Anti-Pope, Smash It Up,
Disco Man etc etc. The Damned released the UKs first
punk single and for me remain the UKs foremost punk band. They
tour later in the year doing their first and third albums (Damned,
Damned, Damned and Machine Gun Etiquette) in their
entirety and in chronological order, so if you get the chance go and
see what punk was like when it still retained a semblance of musicality.
The Damned - pic Sam V
Saturday 6 August:
Its unusual to find one of the first wave of punk bands that retain
so many original members. Nick Cash on vocals and guitar; Guy
Days on guitar/vocals and Pablo LaBritain on drums are still going strong.
The only newcomer is Arturo Bassick (also of the Lurkers) who has only
been in the band for 20 years! I think it fair to say that Nick Cash
was once less wider of girth and less follically challenged, however
time has not dampened his enthusiasm. Between 1978 and 1981, they had
five Top 75 singles in the UK Singles Chart, and one
Top 40 single. So whilst the set started slowly, it got into full stride
when they dusted off Emergency, Im Alive,
Me and My Desires, Emergency, Feeling
Alright With The Crew, Homicide and a cracking Nasty,
999 - pic Shasa Hazza
Hailing from Boston, they formed in 2002 after lead singer Mike McColgan
(who had left the Dropkick Murphys to pursue a life-long dream of becoming
a firefighter for the Boston Fire Department) decided
he couldnt stay away from music. It appeared that a problem with
the sound check meant they had a curtailed set, however that didnt
mean they were any less enjoyable and certainly the boisterous crowd
joined in the spirit. A good proportion of tracks came from their latest
eponymous long player, so we get Formation, Rattle
and Roll, Punk Rock and Roll and the Shape of
Other Men, plus perennial favourites Tobes Got a Drinking
Problem and In Defence of Dorchester. However,
the highlight was a cracking version of The Fighter that
segwayed into The Clashs Guns of Brixton. They finished
with a rip roaring reworking of Sham 69s Borstal Breakout (renamed
Boston Breakout). A great live band and one I can hopefully see live
Very like the acoustic set, but with electric guitars and band. All
the favourites played along with a smattering of songs regarding Max
Splodges obsession with Genghis Khan!?! What can I say other than
it was good drunken fun.
Another original 70s band, and whilst they might not have reformed
specifically for the festival, they still only play the occasional gig.
Bizarrely in the late 1990s, Japanese band Thee Michelle Gun Elephant had
a hit with a Boys cover. This prompted the re-release of several Boys
albums with encouraging international sales (more than 30,000 albums
being sold in Japan alone). Whilst theyre not a band Im
particularly familiar with, I did recognise Cop Cars, I
Dont Care and an anthemic Brickfield Nights.
Also if you feel like some vulgar yuletide punk, check out their alter
egos The Yobs and their disgracefully politically incorrect album The
Yobs Christmas Album. Just dont play it to the kids or your
The Boys - pic Shasa Hazza
Ive seen them previously and quite frankly the joke is starting
to wear a bit thin. Original members Leonard Graves Phillips and Stan
Lee must fast be approaching the age to get free bus passes, so to see
Graves Phillips singing a number whilst wearing a hand puppet of a cock
and balls is somewhat demeaning. They do the usual covers of Paranoia,
Nights in White Satin and of course Banana Splits,
but maybe its time they thought of growing old gracefully.
Unfortunately due to being waylaid with the Dickies, I miss the start
of the Neurotics. In truth this is not so much of a band, rather vocalist
Steve Drewett performing his politically charged songs accompanied by
some random musicians. If you ever wondered where Billy Bragg got his
influences from look no further than here. Whilst most of these songs
were written well over a quarter of a century ago rather earily they
still resonate today, most obviously Living With Unemployment
and Kick Out The Tories.
Yes, I know they have been a stalwart of the American punk scene for
years but I thought they were awful. So much so that the highlight was
their speeded up version of Stand By Me by Ben E King!
And so to the festivals headliners with the Empress Ballroom full
to its 3000 capacity. People from all over the UK, USA, Canada, Germany,
Italy and Croatia (to name but a few countries) had made the pilgramage
to hear them. Now if truth be told Ive never really got
Cock Sparrer. To me they sound like a punk version of Chas and Dave,
all catchy tunes about East End Life and having a row down the Mile
End. They headlined the first time I attended Rebellion and whilst I
enjoyed them, I was still baffled by why they uniquely have sprung to
international fame from all the early 80s Oi bands. However even
I have to say that tonight they were excellent. Everywhere around me
people were word-perfect to every (and I mean every) song. So like hymns
in a cathedral, the collective voice of Blackpool Winter Gardens roared
out Running Riot, Chip On My Shoulder, Argy
Bargy, Working, Riot Squad, Where
Are They Now? and of course England Belongs to Me.
Sunday 7 August
GLEN MATLOCK & THE PHILISTINES
The last day turned out to be homage to my bygone heroes and where better
place to start than with the original bassist in the biggest band of
them all, the Sex Pistols Its often said that when Matlock left
the band, the Pistols never again wrote a great song. Whilst I am not
that keen on the mid-Atlantic drawl he now uses when singing, some of
his new numbers are quite catchy and his band are more than competent.
However, the undoubted highlights were hearing God Save The Queen
and Pretty Vacant sung by the man who co wrote them. I can
honestly say that when the intro for the latter started the hairs on
the back of my neck stood up.
Glen Matlock and the Philistines - pic Shasa Hazza
And so to the vocalist of the Adverts, a band who gained a certain amount
of notoriety by releasing Gary Gilmores Eyes in 1977.
This song concerned a blind hospital patient receiving the eyes of real
life executed murderer Gary Gilmore. However, in retrospect I should
have gone to see the Outcasts, a Belfast based band that was reforming
especially for Rebellion. I somehow got the notion that the normally
acoustic Smith would be doing the hughely underatted Crossing
the Red Sea with the Adverts in its entirety with an electrified
band. However on arrival there was no sign of a band and after opening
numbers of No Time to be 21 and Safety in Numbers
he veered off into his later, rather soporific, agi-punk. Rather disappointing
Later in the night I see Captain Sensible and between songs he ventured
the opinion that the real spirit of punk was not people like Johnny
Rotten, but Charlie Harper. By my reckoning Charlie is now 67 and has
fronted the Subs since 1976, but stiil retains all the enery and enthusiasm
that brought him to the scene 35 years ago. There are rarely suprises
in a UK Subs setlist, but do the heaving masses care, do they f*ck!.
Smashing through CID, Stranglehold, Tomorrows
Girls, Keep On Running, Teenage
and their show stopper Warhead, there is no sign that Charlie
will ever slow down. And why should he when he is clearly idolised by
everone in attendance. Genuine punk royalty.
The Lurkers had a brief a career that was notable for being the first
group ever on Beggars Banquet Records. Of the original line up
only Arturo Bassick remains, but he is such a big personality, both
literally and metaphorically, that the bands popularity has never waned.
They played initially in any venue that would have them and they retain
a certain pub rock quality. Their set list is made up of catchy, guitar
driven number such as Shadow, Freak Show, Aint
Got a Clue, Just Thirteen, plus a few covers like
Then I kissed (kicked) her and Pills. To encapsulate
their liking for alcohol they finish the set with Dean Martins
Little Old Wine Drinker me.
Just time to nip in to see the ex lead singer of the Dead Kennedy, who
takes to the stage wearing a blood splattered lab coat and hands covered
in crimson. As neither of his first two songs are from Fresh Fruit
for Rotting Vegetables I jump ship. In restrospect I am wise as
apprently he spent a good proportion of the set ranting about corporate
big businees in America. Ive had enough of being preached at for
the weekend thanks.
And finally after 4 days my weekend closes with the Captain. Joined
on stage by Monty Oxymoron and Paul Grey (ex Eddie & the Hot Rods,
The Damned) he plays the most eclectic set list of the whole weekend.
OK his early 80 chart hits (Glad Its All Over, Wot)
maybe a bit cheesy, but he throws in a Pink Floyd cover (??!), a couple
off the last Damned CD (So, Whos Paranoid), the afore
mentioned Eddie & the Hot Rods Do Anything You Wanna
Do and Elton Motellos controversial gay punk anthem Jet
Boy, Jet Girl. And as the bouncers fought to enforce the venues
curfew, Captain went out with a speeded up version of his No 1 single
Happy Talk. A special mention should also go to Paul Grey
as a bizarre gardening accident with secateurs had resulted in him losing
the tip of one finger. He still managed to sound the consumate professional
even with only 3 fingers on the frets!
So there youn have it, 4 days, 26 bands, many pints
of Strongbow and a diet of chips. How do I feel? Old and knackered.
Would I do it again? Damn right, roll on Rebellion 2012.
Grown men wear shades in the rain in Blackpool - Dorps,
Thanks go out to my two fellow travellers Dorps and