If I didn’t have such an eclectic taste in music and what border lines on an obsession of seeing bands play live, I could have spent all day Saturday loitering around the Warzone stage. It’s a self contained arena within the site. Food, drink, toilets, wood chipping and a great stage, with an awesome sound and fantastic bands in front of me. What else was required?
Following Strife were UK punk bands Discharge and the UK Subs all before Bad Religion brought proceeding to and end on that stage for me for the day. Immediately before Greg Graffin’s mob took to the stage I witnessed Sunderland’s madcap Toy Dolls for the very first time.
These guys were one of about 15 bands I’d never seen and highlighted as a must see. By the time I got to the stage after Sick Of It All had finished they’d already started, but I hadn’t missed much. There is no way you can watch this band and not crack a smile. Vocalist, and only constant band member since their formation in 1979, Michael Algar with his seemingly helium infused vocals and day glo sunglasses, injected a sense of fun into the punk world. Even just reading some of their song titles brings out a wry smile.
Jammed in between bands with political views and songs about nuclear war, corrupt police and dodgy politicians – all serious stuff, who thought so many people would be into a trio playing a punked up version of Nellie The Elephant? I was expecting a sparse crowd there for them, but they are seemingly pretty popular on the continent. For whatever reason they appear to have played very few shows on home soil in the last 20 years, but recently a Manchester show was announced for 2017.
Regrettably I’ve listened to nowhere near enough stuff by these Mackem’s, so another wrong that need righting. My first experience with Toy Dolls was way back in 1985 or 1986 at a disco in the pensioners hall in the village that I grew up in. Nellie the Elephant was played and I was dragged into the circle by some much older kids and taught to pogo. After the Oooooooooooo part in the song has kicked in you just jump up and down on the spot with your arms by your side. Much like you’re on an invisible pogo stick, obviously.
Coincidentally, I’m watching this Sid Vicious documentary and he claimed to have invented the dance that is synonymous with the early punk shows.
Nellie The Elephant is taken from the groups 1983 album Dig That Groove Baby, and remains the bands most successful chart success, reaching the dizzy heights of number 4 in 1984.