Towers of London / Tsar / Johnny Panic,
Cambridge Junction, June 13th

On the day that Wacko Jacko was acquitted, that Coldplay and The White Stripes slugged it out to be number one in the hit parade and that a rival local promoter sent out e-mails calling on fans to boycott this gig, this was the perfect way to put the musical world back the right way up.

For when music is in danger of becoming boring and safe and staid and middle aged and obsessed with musicianship, here we were with a line up to remind us that it can be about a lot, lot more than that!

Johnny Panic's onslaught began early, before 8pm, but they already had the look of band whose time had come. And the place was already packed with mostly young punters (many of whom had already played for R*E*P*E*A*T almost infamous Monday night Portland Arms new bands nights), accompanied by older punks and the simply curious. Although the Junction's notorious dodgy sound did them no favours, they asaulted us with a selection of songs from their new album, and showed them to be taught, punked up howls of melody and pain.

Johnny Panic have no compunction about grave robbing from the best of past heroes, with lead singer Rob looking every bit the modern day Joe Strummer. With songs to match. Nor for them the easy subjects of girl friends, guns and ganga; areas dealt with include male suicide, brain death by drug destruction and an over arching insistence on questioning everything - "everyone of our songs is trying to get something across."

While they might claim to want to be "Cheap Trick with depth", they are in fact a potent cocktail of Clash, Green Day, Manic Street Preachers, Wildhearts, Idlewild and even Bon Jovi. The songs are taut guitar-driven harmonic rock, the stage show simultaneously rehearsed rock'n'roll preening and unpredictable chaos, the whole event the most refreshingly, contradictory and exciting thing I've seen for ages.

On any other night, Tsar might have shone too, but tonight they were outshone by their surroundings. And by the attraction of the bar.

Then it was time for Towers of London, one of the most talked about underground bands to play Cambridge for many a year, thanks to their bed-linen shredding escapades at a recent gig here. The interest was due to lead singers Donny Tourette's appearance and subsequent conviction and £775 fine in court for criminal damage earlier in the day. This conviction despite the banners carried by fans bearing the legend "Donny Tourette is innocent!"

Clever planning on the part of their PR meant that the hype surrounding this appearance was at fever pitch by the time the band took to the stage, with the photo pit the most crammed I've ever seen it, boasting lenses from everyone from the NME to umm... R*E*P*E*A*T, all after a bit of the action.

The Towers don't disappoint as they come dressed to impress, with slogans across their vests and pouring out of their mouth, some of them none too kind about the magistrates of our fair City! Big hair, big attitude and big mouths go well with the big guitars, big tunes and big show.

While Johnny Panic may look to The Clash school of punk rock, Towers of London make more than a nod to the later terrace sing-a-long mutation of the genre - think the Pistols second album with Motley Crue on guitars, the Cockney Rejects and the early Oi! sound, before it was perverted and corrupted by meat-heads. It's sneering, snotty, cocksure, bleach and leather-fulled punk rock, and it's the absolutely fucking perfect two fingered salute to a scene too busy congratulating itself on its monstrous musical virtousity or its CD sales in the States to wake up and smell the real flavour.

It's about time we had a bit of intelligence and attitude and yes danger injected back into our pop music.

And as I sold fanzines outside the gig, I heard that on this day that Donny Tourette was convicted of sheet ripping, Michael Jackson had been acquitted of something more serious.

Indeed the world does need putting the right way up.


Thanks to Mike at Hall or Nothing for the photopass and to Church Of Noise for organising such a great night.

Read our pre-gig interview with Towers of London here and with Johnny Panic here

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