Thursday, April 6, 2017

Show Time!

The Damned
THE DAMNED - LEATHERHEAD - The Studio, Auckland, New Zealand - 8 March 2017
I thought my days of seeing THE DAMNED were pretty much done. After 35 sightings, the last of which was in my home town of Ipswich, I was set to call it a day. Then this 40th Anniversary World Tour is announced, along with a New Zealand date. How could I possibly refuse the band I’d seen that many times? I knew what to expect - which was minor disappointment but laced with great songs, a great vocalist and a few laughs. So, I bought me ticket to DAMNED 36.
I’d never been to The Studio before and, I have to say, it’s a shit venue. One big room with a narrow entry, crap sound and fucking $10 for a (small) bottle of beer!! If it’s competing with The Powerstation (Auckland’s best venue), it has a long way to go!!
Waiheke Island locals LEATHERHEAD started things off and bored me. Imagine BEASTS OF BOURBON Garage Blues ballistics fused with COWS noise-Rock bluster and you’re kinda there but without being as genuinely unhinged as either band. The guitarist (who was in THE PHANTOM CHORDS along with Dave Vanian) had a great sound it has to be said. Of the songs, the only original I recall is something called ‘Bacon’ but, without a doubt, the highlight was a maniacal cover of VELVET UNDERGROUND’s ‘White Light, White Heat’. They left the stage with a few expletives and that was that.
It was a bit of a ramshackle start to DAMNED proceedings. Keyboard player Monty came on and, from that moment, was very nearly the star of the whole show leaping around, playing stellar keys, providing lots of laughs and a genuine enthusiasm I haven’t seen from someone in THE DAMNED since Bryn. That said, it’s THE DAMNED and no one gets to upstage Dave Vanian, who appeared sporting a straggly beard and a long, black gothic coat and looked, as always, magnificent.
Monty - The Damned
A few pleasantries from Captain were said and then the tinkling piano intro of ‘Melody Lee’ was played and it was into things - full throttle. A brilliant ‘Generals’ followed (surely the band’s most underrated song) and from there it was a set culled mainly from ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ and ‘Strawberries’. Highlights were plenty: a thunderous ‘Love Song’, the double hit of ‘Black Album’ classics in ‘Wait For The Blackout’ and ‘History Of The World’ and the surprise inclusion of ‘Street Of Dreams’ which was dedicated to the late Bryn. Truly could’ve done without ‘Alone Again Or’ and ‘Eloise’... originals from that era would’ve been way preferential, but, certainly in the case of the latter, both songs were probably expected by those who discovered the band in their latter days. Never really liked ‘Noise Noise Noise’ much either...
Only two Brian Jones era tracks were played - the obvious ‘New Rose’ and ‘Neat Neat Neat’. Both tracks proved a couple of things: Capt can’t get anywhere near the cranked garage punk jams of Brian James and, as good as the current drummer is (and he is very good), he ain’t no Rat Scabies. You gotta remember that Rat was the best drummer of the ‘77 Punk era and would be Top Three drummers ever if there was any justice, so any one brave enough to steal his sticks and replicate his beats is on for a massive job. And yeah, those who get pissed off with ‘Neat Neat Neat’ being drawn out to epic lengths would’ve been pissed off again. I was. I’ve been seeing the band do this since about ‘88 if not earlier and it fucking irks me every time that one of the most urgent, adrenalin laced songs ever is nullified and morphed into an epic ‘moody’ rock workout. ‘Ignite’ was also drawn out into crowd participation leaves usually reserved for Bruce Springsteen and his ilk.
Captain Sensible - The Damned
Predictably ‘Smash It Up’ was saved for the encore (with Captain sporting a neat black and red stripy shirt a’la Dennis The Menace with ‘Smash It Up’ written across it). What was most unexpected and probably stole the gig for me was ‘Jet Boy Jet Girl’ - it even got me pogoing like I was fucking 15 again!!! Haha!! Another surprise was the second encore (by which time all the ‘Eloise’ listeners had left) of ‘Anti-Pope’ which was presaged by some anti-religious vitriol from Monty.
And that was that. All of ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ was played (bar ‘Looking At You’), a clear half of ‘Strawberries’ and nothing from the band’s output post ‘Anything’. I was hoping for ‘Curtain Call’ as always, likewise ‘Thanks For The Night’ which I ain’t seen the band do since mid-80s I reckon, but alas no to both. A few of us tried to get the "Captain Is A Wanker" chant going but again, the ‘Eloise’ lovers seemed a bit confused.
After the gig I discovered my hearing was damaged - genuine long-term damage. It was brutally loud and that shit sound system didn’t help. A few weeks since the gig, the ears have cleared a bit but not the extent of being back to where they were prior to the gig. It’s kinda fitting THE DAMNED was the band to do the damage.
So, the big question is, will I see them for a 37th time or more? Well, if Rat and Brian James get back together with Dave and Captain again (unlikely now I know), I’ll be there.
Until there - I'll remain a member of The Limit Club and say over and out.... Probably!!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Year-end Recommendations 2016

I’m a little late in posting this, it has to be said. Why? Ohh... Lots of things got in the way. Lots of good music was heard in 2016, travelled a bit during the course of New Year and then there was the return to work...
Anywhoo... 2016 was an odd year. David Bowie passed away early on which was a major downer for me. I went to Vancouver - my first ever trip to Canada in fact - and caught SNFU live in their hometown. Then I headed back to the UK and saw... Nothing!! Caught up with lots of great friends of course, but in terms of gigs, it was quieter than a mortuary. Oddly, it was the first trip back that made me think the UK was no longer home, but it was also very, very hard for me to walk away from family and long-standing, loyal friends.
Best gig of 2016 had to be GRANT HART blasting a set of classic after classic songs with a New Zealand backing band. Joyous, uplifting stuff and old golden tonsils Hart still has it.
Anyway - year-end Top Sounds!! An awful lot of quality albums were released - and I guess there were HEAPS I haven’t heard. I should point out that some of the below were apparently released in 2015... The versions I cite however were released in 2016 and only came onto my South Pacific horizons in 2016.
So... Let the ceremony begin...

1. RUTS DC - Music Must Destroy {Westworld}
2. TOYS THAT KILL - Sentimental Ward {Recess}
3. RED DONS - Dead Hand Of Tradition {Deranged}
4. SPECTRES - Utopia {Deranged}
5. ROUGH KIDS - s/t {Sorry State}
6. CULTURE SHOCK - Attention Span {Alternative Tentacles/ Blurrg}
7. CULT VALUES - s/t {Deranged}
8. STEVE ADAMYK BAND - Graceland {Dirtnap}
10. SHIP THIEVES - No Anchor {No Idea}
Also rans: EXTERMINATORS - Product Of America {Slope}, RIKK AGNEW BAND - Learn {Frontier}, SHATTERED FAITH - Volume III {Hostage}, DANGER!MAN/ LUCKY MALICE - Handicap, WONK UNIT - Feel The Wonkness {Boss Tuneage}, DAYLIGHT ROBBERY - Accumulated Error {Deranged}, DRAKULAS - Raw Wave, BAD SPORTS - Living With Secrets, MIND SPIDERS - Prosthesis {Dirtnap}, PANSY DIVISION - Quite Contrary {Alternative Tentacles}, MEAN JEANS - Tight New Dimension, DIRECT HIT - Wasted Mind {Fat Wreck}, JOHNNY MOPED - It’s A Real Cool Baby {Damaged Goods}, LEE HARVEYS - Bullet For The President {FOAD}
2. DEAD ENDING - Class War {Alternative Tentacles}
3. VIOLENT ARREST - Authors Of Our Own Demise {Artcore}
4. MEAN JEANS - Nite Vision {Fat Wreck}
5. RUTS DC - Psychic Attack {Westworld}
6. COLOR TV - Color TV {Deranged}
7. DOA - Fucked Up Donald {Sudden Death}
8. NOFX - Sid And Nancy {Fat Wreck}
9. DOMESTICS - Brutal Regimes {Kibou}
10. PANSY DIVISION - Blame The Bible {Alternative Tentacles}
Also rans: OAF - Oaf {Deranged}, NIGHT BIRDS - Who Killed Mike Hunchback {Fat Wreck}, PAGANS/ GIILLOTINES - Split {Just 4 Fun}, TRANSMITORS - Cuppa Jarra Brozza, MOTOSIERRA - Buzo Nuevo {Spaghetty Town} 
1. VARIOUS - Action Time Vision {Cherry Red}
2. HOLLYWOOD BRATS - Sick On You {Cherry Red}
3. THE SUSPECTS - Voice Of America {Grave Mistake}
4. VARIOUS - Dope Guns And Fucking In The Street Vol. 1 - 11 {Amphetamine Reptile/ MVD}
5. VARIOUS - Mild In The Streets {Fat Wreck}
6. THEATRE OF HATE - Do You Believe In The Westworld {Cherry Red}
7. RIPCORD - Defiance Of Power/ Poetic Justice {Boss Tuneage}
8. TENEMENT - Bruised Music Vol.2 {Grave Mistake}
9. GRANT HART - Oeuvervue {Bang}
10. THE ENEMY - The Enemy {Westworld}
Also rans: FACE TO FACE - Reissues {Fat Wreck}, GBH - Hahaha, RUTS - Babylon’s Burning {Westworld}, COWS - Reissues {Amphetamine Reptile/ MVD}

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Obituary - Micky Fitz

On Friday 2 December 2016, Michael Fitzsimons - better known as Micky Fitz - vocalist with UK Punk/ Oi! band THE BUSINESS passed away. The cause of death appears to be cancer of the Lymph Gland.
Born in 1959, Fitz was among the school friends who formed THE BUSINESS in Lewisham, South London in 1979. The band’s first appearance on record was via the ‘A Sudden Surge Of Sound’ compilation released in 1980 on VU Records. The classic ‘Harry May’ single followed in 1981 via Secret Records. The same label released the ‘Smash The Discos’ EP the following year and the debut album, ‘Suburban Rebels’ in 1983.
Although the band appeared to remain active ever since, releasing records on labels like Burning Heart, TKO, Taang! and Captain Oi!, there was the odd disruption. Soon after the ‘Harry May’ single, all of the original members left Micky high and dry as they went on to form Q-BOW, which morphed into SMACK. Then, following 1988’s ‘Welcome To The Real World’, the same occurred. Move on a few years and Micky reappeared in THE ELITE which performed several BUSINESS songs. From there, in one form or another, THE BUSINESS never let up. Their song ‘England 5 – Germany 1’, became a football anthem for England and appeared in the 2004 comedy movie Euro Trip. The band’s most recent release was the ‘Back In The Day’ single in 2014.
Fitz was diagnosed with cancer late in 2015 and underwent radiotherapy treatment. In January 2016, Fitz made a public update via Garry Bushell’s Facebook page. It states he had finished the ‘intense Radiology and Chemotherapy treatment’ which followed a throat operation to remove an aggressive tumour that was working its way through his neck. This was to be followed by dieticians and neck and throat specialists who were to get him eating again.
I have to confess I was never the biggest of BUSINESS fans. I never saw the band live and only have the debut album and a Complete Singles Compilation in my collection. That said, I know just how important the band has been and the sincerity with which it operated, and appreciate the vitality and energy that was in every track they recorded - and a lot of that vitality was down to those charismatic and formidable vocals of Fitz.
Fitz is survived by his partner, Kim and son, Jamie.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Show Time!

The Shit Talkers
SNFU - MODERN TERROR - THE SHIT TALKERS - The Venue, Vancouver, Canada - 20 August 2016
I literally heard about this gig the day before it happened, after only being in Canada for about three days. Considering The Venue was within walking distance of where I was staying (and thanks to the guys at the stellar Neptoon Records who gave me expert directions to the gig), it was a total no-brainer that seeing the legend that is SNFU in their home town was something I had to do.
Unfortunately, I’m writing this over a month after the actual event due to my successive travels after I left Canada. One thing I do recall is that The Venue is a great place to see bands. Probably holds about 700, has a great PA, a stage that could easily hold a seven-piece but without making a trio look lost and it has a bar on both sides of the room. SWANS was playing soon after I left unfortunately; I imagine they would be brutal in this kinda place.
Anyway, first on stage was THE SHIT TALKERS, a grungy Punk 5-piece made of four ladies and a dude in drag (at least, I hope it was a dude in drag!). I can’t recall song titles but remember a sound akin to an amped and Punked BREEDERS. The main singer had a few technical issues with her guitar but didn’t let it get the better of her. Was good to see a number of people had turned out to support the band too.
Modern Terror
A couple of beers down (there was some kinda Canuck beer on sale which was not only cheap, but pretty good too) and I was feeling that neat beer buzz that occurs just as the alcohol starts to kick in. Great timing too because on next came MODERN TERROR. The band is a trio and played a fusion of M.D.C.-style political Hardcore but with a Fat Wreck kinda twist. Throw a little THE ‘INBRED in there too and you’ve got it. Among titles I recall were the potent ‘Let America Burn’, ‘Boys In Blue’ and ‘First World Problems’. There was a bit of black humour too in ‘Junkie Punker Mom’ and the ode to blowing up Vancouver Island in ‘Let’s Bomb The Neighbours’. They had the heads of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump on sticks (unfortunately, not the named persons real heads - THAT would’ve been fucking stunning!!) as part of the stage set and, best of all, the vocals were delivered with clarity - especially those of bassist Jamie Swann - which made the message of the songs that much more powerful. They were giving away CDs at the end of the gig too - yes I scored one and a review will be posted soon. A band that did everything right in my eyes... Looking forward to seeing what lays ahead for them.
SNFU vocalist Mr Chi Pig had been wandering around the crowd for much of the gig, shaking hands and conversing with those he knew. Surely looked like time (along with drugs and hard living) had taken a bit of a toll on the guy. That said, when the band hit the stage, the jams they cranked hit all the right places.
I have to admit, I lost interest in the band a bit after the ‘Better Than A Stick In The Eye’ album from 1988 and that probably explained the reason that there were a bunch of songs I didn’t know. That said, the band nailed it pivoting around a monster rhythm section and a couple of guitarists who slammed out the riffs with serious ferocity. Songs? ‘You Make Me Thick’, ‘What Good Hollywood’ and the trio of classics from the debut album, ‘Broken Toy’, ‘She’s Not On The Menu’ and ‘Cannibal Cafe’ all could claim to be highlights. A little bit of a scuffle broke out and after the main set one of the guitarists grabbed the mic from Chi Pig and threw it to the floor... Pretty standard events for an SNFU gig, as were the beaming, sweaty faces at the end of the gig.
I picked up the SNFU biography written by Chris Walter and received a kiss on the ear from Mr Chi Pig after he signed it. Oddly, that seemed a fitting end to a blazing night of Canuck Punk Rock. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Obituary - Brandon Ferrell

On Tuesday 31 May 2016, Brandon Ferrell, a member of such bands as GOVERNMENT WARNING, CAREER SUICIDE, DIRECT CONTROL, WASTED TIME and MUNICIPAL WASTE, passed away.
He was born on 28 April 1984 and at the time of writing, the cause of death is unknown.
In addition to being involved with the Hardcore bands above in a capacity as drummer, guitarist and/ or bassist, Ferrell ran No Way Records. He also opened, and was the original owner of, Vinyl Conflict records in Richmond, VA. Ferrell also had his own thrash project on Tankcrimes called OBSESSOR, where he played everything. It's worth noting Ferrell did the artwork to IRON REAGAN's 2012 demo.
He is survived by his wife Lauren and their twins, Darby and Zoe.