Give Me Fire

It’s been a very long time since I saw any of the second wave of punk bands on stage, unless it’s been Discharge. But tonight, sobriety willing, I’m hoping to make it up town to see GBH.  

I’ve seen them, along with the likes of the UK Subs, Exploited, Sham 69 and Anti Nowhere League, loads of times over the years. But I fear using online technology isn’t very punk rock so my last recorded sighting of the Brummie punx was way back in 1996. I must’ve seen them in the 21 years since? 

A lot of those bands passed through the Potteries in the mid to late 90’s and I saw most of them locally. If ’96 was the last time I saw them, then tonight will be the first time I’ve seen them whilst I’m in a state of inebriation! 

A lot of the bands are still treading the boards, but more so now they appear to be confined to a more festival style setting. A series of all day events under the Calling banner have been going strong over the last few years. Even though I’m slap bang centre of North West Calling (Manchester) and Midlands Calling (usually Wolverhampton), I’m yet to take the plunge and get along to any, mainly because I have other gigs planned. The same with the long standing Rebellion weekend in Blackpool, a veritable who’s who of punk spread over four days and multiple stages on the coast of the Irish sea. Usually this weekend has clashed with Bloodstock. 

I was seriously tempted with a drive to the Golden Mile this year to experience the punk showcase as there were a few bands I’d like to have seen. But once the stage times were released into the public domain that put paid to that idea. Virtually every band I wanted to see was spread over all four days and due to hit the stage post 9pm, in a few cases after the witching hour and I was working the next day. Saved me some cash anyway  

Tomorrow’s stumbling block is my towns annual beer festival. I’m supposed to be off work all of this week. Today is my fifth and final day that I’ve worked this week. We have plans Saturday, so that only leaves tonight to sample some fine (and not so fine) ales. Let’s wait and see how that pans out. 

Give Me Fire was released as a single by Clay Records in 1982, but never made it onto a studio album until the 2002 reissue on Captain Oi! Records of City Baby’s Revenge. 

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Not getting home until gone 3pm today hasn’t been very conducive to me making it to Liverpool tonight. I was in the house for less than ninety minutes until I had to leave again. I’m out now until nearly 7pm and a train is twenty minutes after that. Not too bad I can probably hear someone say, but factor in a 3:40am alarm call today and tomorrow and it’s a no go. I’m sure I’ll have missed a great gig tonight. 

Tomorrow night I have a brace of options and both much closer to home. There’s a Motörhead tribute band playing at Eleven. A few miles further on sees A Page of Punk making a return visit to The Potteries. 

A Page of Punk hail from Tokyo, Japan and play a ferociously fast brand of punk. Not as fast as those I should’ve been seeing tonight, but fast enough. Lots of 1,2,3,4 count ins to pretty short songs. 

I’ve seen the band once before again in Newcastle under Lyme back in 2013. My main reason for attending that show was to see the short lived Thirty Six Strategies play one of their earliest shows. For those who don’t know that was yet another one of Ian Glasper’s bands. That show, as the poster attests, was a peculiar mix of bands all gathered under the punk banner. 

I’m not sure about any of the other bands playing on Friday, but getting four bands for a fiver you can’t really go wrong for a bit of Friday night entertainment. There’s a slim chance I’ll be seeing them again in Leeds on Saturday, but for how busy I’ve been at work lately I fear that’s another show to bite the dust. Sometimes I really hate my job, having to be in early six days a week plays havoc with my social life! At least I’ve only got four days next week then purportedly a straight run of ten days off. 

The track translated as Itarutokoro is included in their latest album Punk Day – Beautiful Day via I Hate Smoke Records. 

Let The Truth Speak

Hopefully tonight I should be off to see reactivated and rejuvenated punk band Warwound support Icons of Filth on the outskirts of Manchester. Originally it was to be held at the Retro Bar, right on the doorstep of Piccadilly train station. Since the venues demise a few weeks ago it’s now somewhere in Levenshulme. Jumping on a train looks like too much hard work. There’s a long wait in Piccadilly to head back south to Crewe so I might as well drive and be home in half the time. 

Warwound were a short lived band back in the early 1980’s for a few years. Various members splintered into other groups like the Varukers and Sacrilege. Then bassist, now guitarist, Damien resurrected the name with a trio of musicians well respected within the punk and hardcore scene to blast out some old Warwound songs alongside a smattering of Sacrilege and Varukers standards. The original demos got an updated release and a few days ago an album of new material, Burning the Blindfolds of Bigots, surfaced. I heard snippets of the album when I saw the band in Leeds back in March, so I can’t wait to get my grubby hands on a proper copy. 

The bass player of the rejuvenated outfit is Ian Glasper who I’ve known for more than twenty years since I first met him at a Stampin’ Ground gig in a youth club in Rugeley in 1996. Throughout all the bands I’ve seen in the last 28 years this guy is probably the one I’ve seen on stage the most. He’s been in quite a few bands and besides Stampin’ Ground who are the band I’ve seen more than any other, I’ve also witnessed him with Decadence Within, Suicide Watch, Freebase and Thirty Six Strategies. 

A throw away comment at an Earth Crisis show in Dudley many moons ago led me to my first shows abroad where I was offered a space in a van for a few shows in Belgium. Since that weekend I’ve had the bug to travel overseas for gigs. 

If you like your D-beat punk with huge chunky swathes of metallic hardcore then Burning the Blindfolds of Bigots is probably the album that you’ve been waiting for this year. 

Serve And Protect

So Netherlands DeathFest last weekend was quite a good few days away. I saw some very good bands and the exceptional Demolition Hammer were the band of the festival. I also had to endure some dross and suffer half a day on Monday in a rainy Eindhoven where everywhere in the city appears to be closed. It was good to be back home – even if it was later than expected – to be greeted by the wife and an absolutely mental puppy. 
 
Saturday afternoon sees me tackling the M62 north for my first trip to Leeds for 2017. New York City band Citizens Arrest grace the minuscule stage within the Temple of Boom for their first ever UK shows (the second being in the same venue on Sunday) and I believe their first ever European visit.  

Their original run lasted between 1989 to 1991, and saw them release a few 7″ and 12″ sized pieces of vinyl in that short period. They weren’t very prolific with their live performances and only played a couple of dozen times all on the eastern side of the States and a solitary Canadian show. They were playing around the time of the whole New York hardcore explosion, but I’ve never really known them associated with the scene at the time from their home city. I think they may have been a bit too punk (with a lot of Boston hardcore influences) for some of the lower east side crew. 

Seven years ago they regrouped with a line up containing members who’d previously been in the band and played a handful of shows Stateside. Various members of the band have played in a wide variety of bands since the initial split such as Assück, Hell-No, Colossus and Born Against. 

With this show in Leeds, and bringing Infest, Drop Dead and Siege over last year for exclusive European shows, it makes you wonder who has won the lottery in Yorkshire! Two sell out crowds with eleven support bands would only bring the venue around £4,500 from ticket sales. Half a dozen return flights from Newark would swallow up virtually all of the door takings, so someone is really doing this for the love of their music. I can’t really complain as I’ve seen four bands who I’d never have expected to have seen on British soil and I didn’t have to suffer more journeys to London for them. 

Obviously there’s no MTV video for anything Citizens Arrest have done, but the majority of their back catalogue is readily available via YouTube. Serve and Protect was originally released on the 1990 7″ A Light Into The Darkness on Wardance Records, and has had several rereleases since. 

Free Speech For The Dumb

Well I’m currently sitting on a plane above the clouds, probably somewhere over the eastern part of England heading to Eindhoven. Not as many metal heads on the flight as anticipated but lots of oddly dressed guys that look like they’re heading on a stag weekend. They must know something that we don’t – Eindhoven was one of the dullest cities I’ve visited for a long time, then again besides Monday morning we didn’t trek about the place much. 

Leaving a dank and grey Manchester (and my little man Ozymandias) behind me, hopefully 400 miles further east the climate will be a bit more welcoming. 

We were delayed slightly leaving so it’s going to be a race against time to get the bus from the airport to the hotel in Eindhoven then onto the train to Tilburg for the show. In an ideal world I’d like to have been there in plenty of time to catch some death metal blast beats dished out by Exhumed. Failing that an hour later sees local lads Discharge ambling onto the main stage.  

Last weekend they played a packed out Stoke show at the Underground. I saw them a few years ago in the same venue and it was pretty sparse to put it politely. Since they inked their deal with Nuclear Blast and seemingly gained some more appreciative fans from their appearances in much of the mainstream music media, it does appear to have reignited their career, along with the introduction of JJ on vocals. End Of Days is easily on of my favourite releases from last year. 

I’m quite surprised the inclusion of two of their tracks on Metallica’s Garage Inc. compilation album some years back – well pushing twenty years now I come to think about it! – didn’t achieve the same goal for them to some degree. Allegedly on a personal level though it did extremely well for them. Guitarist and founding member Bones apparently managed to quit his day job and pay off his mortgage due to it. Every cloud has it’s silver lining. 

I never saw them during their original run with Cal on vocals, and it wasn’t until their reformation with Rat that I broke my duck. Since then I’ve seen them numerous times and in front of varying sized crowds. From a tiny, but partisan, crowd in Crewe via the cavernous Ritz in Manchester and London’s Forum, to decimating the Warzone stage in France as part of Hellfest last year. This evening is going to be somewhere in the middle and I really do hope the Dutch crowd gives these Stoke lads and punk innovators the appreciation that they’ve worked hard for going on nearly four decades now. 

Free Speech For The Dumb was released back in 1982 on the classic Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing by Clay Records. Twenty eight minutes of glorious noise. 


Well I ended up finishing this and posting it the day after their set. Not the biggest crowd in attendance on the day, but very enthusiastically into what was been served up to them from the stage. Mission accomplished. 

R.I.P. Micky Fitz

  

Last night I went to bed with a few murmurings of the passing of Micky Fitz – the frontman of Lewisham Oi! band The Business – due to cancer. 

Waking up and checking social media over a mug of coffee this morning there are more obituaries on my time line to Micky than actor Andrew Sachs who played Manuel the Spanish waiter in Faulty Towers. Influential bands in the hardcore and punk scene have all paid tribute to the West Ham fan. Sick Of It All, Cro-Mags, Strife, The Toy Dolls, Madball, Ignite and Slapshot are just a few. 

The Oi! and street punk scene has often been misunderstood as a violent and racist style of music, fair enough there are more bands with those politics in this genre, but The Business weren’t that way inclined, even though they had that shady element in their following. Any perceived violence usually came from the football hooligan angle. One of the most poignant tributes I’ve seen today is from Knuckledust guitarist Wema, thanking him for taking them out on tour. 

I only ever saw the band once and coincidentally Knuckledust were also on the bill at the Astoria on 1997. It was an all day affair “headlined” by Agnostic Front, but due to some of the unsavoury elements in The Business’ fan base they were a surprise and unannounced headliner, the worst kept secret that had been circulation around the venue all day. I could have added to that single total over the years, but a lot of their shows I could  have been going to usually got scrapped late on and those that went ahead were shrouded in rumours of disorder, so the coward that I am steered clear. 

My favourite track by them is one of their many football themed tracks Southgate ’96, there aren’t too many songs about a footballer missing a penalty. That track also brings back memories of my first European adventure with Stampin’ Ground.  
  

Possibly the track most associated with the band is Harry May their first single released in 1981 and later found on their debut album Suburban Rebels, both released by Secret Records. 

Don’t Blame Me

  

To mark St. Andrew’s day here’s something from north of Hadrian’s wall. One of the bands in the second wave of the British punk scene, ex soldier Wattie Buchan joined The Exploited in Edinburgh back in 1979. 

Like a lot of the bands from that time they have moved away from the abrasive punk sound that they are renowned for and are now a much more thrashier, hardcore crossover kind of band. And like Discharge they also had that not much talked about metal phase. 

Pushing forty years together as a band, and a lot of them spent with his drumming brother Wullie, they have got quite a list of ex members but only managed to release nine studio albums so far. 

I’ve only seen them twice, the first time was 1997 in Birmingham around the time of the Beat the Bastards album. It was held in the now defunct Foundry venue which was a perfect size for the medium sized or up and coming bands. I’m pretty sure Stampin’ Ground played that night too. 

The second and last time was in 2013 where they shared the Ritz stage in Manchester with Discharge in what was a prelude to the North West Calling festival that has ran there for the last few years. 

Since my last encounter Wattie suffered a heart attack on stage whilst on tour with Napalm Death in Portugal. In the two years since he’s battled his way back to fitness and has started performing live again. He’s 60 now and due a retirement soon, but hopefully I’ll get to see them again.