Monday, 7 May 2012

"Don't Moan At Me, I Didn't Fucking Vote For 'em"

Hello, and a quick welcome back, I must say it’s fantastic to be back. Yes, after all that hard graft I am highly relieved yet slightly disillusioned to report that my uni life is finally over, just the ‘real world’ left to face now (apologies for that God-awful cliché).  One thing is for certain though; I'm glad to get out of Stoke-on-Stench for good.

Just another quick post and update before I eventually get back into the swing of things again. I’ve decided that I’ll definitely keep writing the blog, and expect I’ll be writing a lot more especially whilst I’m in the process of job hunting.

Anyway enough banging on about complete bollocks, I thought I’d share with you a short review I wrote for my Final Project after seeing Sham 69 live last month…

Jimmy Pursey has had his fair share of criticism since he formed Sham 69 back in 1976. Notoriously outspoken, the frontman has attracted all kinds of attention, both wanted and unwanted.  So when it was announced last year that the original line-up were reforming, critics and fans alike were keen to see whether they would live up to the hype which surrounded them originally.

They were not to be disappointed. Although never the most sophisticated of punk bands, Sham 69’s reasonably impressive guitar skills combined with boisterous yet infectious football chants, certainly makes their live appearances entertaining and after all these years, it appears to be an art which they have perfected.

Unsurprisingly, there’s no shortage of entertainment value tonight, as Pursey embarks the stage with a slight spring in his step and the room instantly livens up.  Despite seeming somewhat haggard in his appearance, he is full of beans and seemingly in a good mood, and as he launches into the anticipated Borstal Breakout, his energy and enthusiasm are present in abundance.

Ripping through what seems to be a brief set (given that the songs are so short in duration), the band captivate the audience, many of whom appear to be on a nostalgia trip as they start a small pit in the centre of the floor. However, it’s not just ageing punk fans who are here tonight; there are a few teenagers and even a couple of young children, sitting on their parent’s shoulders and sporting almost comically oversized band T-shirts.

“Everyone’s fucking moaning about the Tories…” Jimmy spits into the mic towards the end of the performance "But don’t moan at me, I didn’t fucking vote for ‘em”.  The frontman then throws himself into the catchy If the Kids Are United, whilst seemingly conducting the crowd and mockingly gesturing at them to sing louder.

Soon after there’s a half-expected cover of The Clash’s White Riot, reminiscent to the “good old days”; this gets everyone in the room attempting to relive their youth, with somewhat half-hearted pogoing spreading across the floor like wildfire. 

Ending the night on the awaited 1978 top 10 hit, Hurry Up Harry, it’s clear to everyone in the room that the whole band are genuinely glad to be back touring together. Despite the complicated underlying issues between the band and their legal battle with former band mates over who has the rights to the name; it’s fair to say that the future of the original Sham 69 line-up is safe, for now.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Shhh You're In A F***ing Library

Hi guys, just a really quick post whilst I’m attempting to power through both my final uni projects which seem to be taking up pretty much all my time at the moment.

Anyway last week I went down to London and was able to get to Mick Jones’ Rock & Roll Library exhibition, which was bloody amazing. It’s barely a tiny part of his huge collection, (I dread to think what his house is like) but there were some absolutely brilliant things there.

I’m aware that there’s pictures up on many sites across the web, but I figured you can’t have too much of a good thing especially when it comes to The Clash, so here’s a few pictures I took whilst I was there. Who knows, maybe you might even spot something you’ve not seen before.

Rumour has it that Mick is looking for a permanent place to showcase the entire exhibition, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that he manages to find somewhere real soon, will be fantastic to get chance to look at more of his stunning collection.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Disorganisation And Some Impressive Young Blood

It’s out of character for me to go and see a band without doing any prior research, but a gig I’d been invited to by a good friend come round a lot quicker than expected, and and my lack of preparation only became apparent on the day itself.
 The band I’m here to see are one of the support bands, and it’s probably the first time I’ve gone to a gig without knowing what the band actually sound  like. Admittedly it’s a bit of a gamble and could go either way, but my friend is full of praise about the band, which I take his word for.
The first support act are Nottingham band Swimming, who have already attracted quite a following, thanks to coverage in the likes of The Guardian and on the BBC website.
Quite bizarrely, throughout the set a surfing video is being projected onto the screen at the back of the stage. It’s similar to the sort of videos which get played in the back of Hollister, only I can’t smell that enticing air freshener they use - all I can smell is lager and stale weed.
A couple of songs in and I have to admit they demonstrate a pretty effective combination of keyboard and synths and the frantic drummer (coincidently better known as beatboxer and  live looper ThePetebox) is certainly a hell of a talented guy.
But the vocals are just too dull and melancholy for me, and if I’m perfectly honest I’ve heard it all before. Don’t get me wrong , I think the band are good at what they do and I can see people buying into this, but the lifeless swaying just doesn’t quite cut it for me, and to be honest at this point I am questioning what I’m doing here.
After a few minutes to digest the last performance Bad Apes, the band I’ve been waiting patiently for are up. As the buzzing three-piece embark the stage they have my undivided attention. My friend has been talking to them throughout the night - a group of unsuspecting young lads, joking and mixing with the audience whilst splitting a 6 pack of beer between themselves.  
I’m still anxious at this point, but then from the moment they launch into the opening song the whole place starts to liven up and it’s clear to see why. Frontman Joe flings himself around the small stage, energetically ripping into his guitar and throwing his powerful raw vocals over the well-constructed combination of the post-hardcore and punk sounds they are creating. 

I must admit I’m quite taken aback by the energy the band demonstrate, to be honest it’s not what I was expecting at all. It’s definitely the surprise I had been waiting for.
I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for three pieces, and it’s not something I’ve actually come across very often. It’s certainly a refreshing change to see a young band take on this formation, when there seems to be a number of bands just sticking 5 or even 6 people on a tiny stage and hoping for the best.
With them being the support act, it’s a short but effective set, and without a doubt what I’ve seen tonight I have been genuinely impressed by. Bad Apes certainly do look like a promising band .

Due to the usual bane of public transport I was only able to watch 20 minutes of Norwegian headline act The Megaphonic Thrift’s set, so it would be unfair to judge them without seeing them in full flair. What I can say is that they kind of remind me of British Sea Power, taking catchy and upbeat melodies and occasionally crossing them with heavier riffs and some impressive guitar solos.
So there you have it, the first gig I have attended without prior research into the band. Would I do it again? Well I’d like to think that it was just a one-off and I’ll definitely be more organised next time I go and see a local band. That being said, in hindsight it was certainly a great feeling to be pleasantly surprised and that is something I wouldn't mind experiencing again.
* Pictures courtesy of Jamie Boulton -