nxb3 on tour – Gang of Four at The Brudenell, Leeds

This gig was part of the Recon festival, based in Leeds and Bradford, showcasing innovators and experimenters in music and other art forms. Gang of Four took to the stage at about 21:50 and started with ‘You’ll Never Pay For The Farm’ from their 2011 CD Content. A couple of tracks from their first LP Entertainment followed, the first was an electrifying version of ‘Ether’ with some magnificent Bass playing from Thomas McNeice followed by ‘Not Great Men’. During the pause before the next song new singer Jon Gaolor said how you all doing, alright? and someone behind me shouted out How old are you? which was probably a fair question as he didn’t look much older than his mid twenties. He had plenty of energy though constantly on the move from one microphone to another, diving across the stage to the nearest other mic when he knocked the current one out of position. He kept Al, the guitar tech constantly on his feet sorting the mic stands out, plugging leads back in and untangling cables as both Jon and Thomas bounded round the stage. ‘I Parade Myself’ from 100 Flowers Bloom was followed by Paralysed from Solid Gold and as the intro to ‘Anthrax started some idiot next to me started screaming fairly constantly for most of the track. Andy changed guitars before the start and threw it on the stage and generally abused it half way through the song. A couple of new songs from Content were next, Al put an extra mic onstage which produced the electronically distorted vocals for ‘It Was Never Going To Turn Out Too Good’ which was followed by ‘Do As I Say’ which I liked the best of the newer songs. It was back to Entertainment with their trademark choppy guitar for ‘Damaged Goods’ followed by ‘I Love A Man In Uniform’ and ‘We Live As We Dream, Alone’ from Songs of the free which was followed by ‘To Hell With Poverty!’ and the set closed with another song from Entertainment, ‘Return The Gift’.
They left the stage for about five minutes and Al brought in a (new) microwave still partially wrapped in plastic and put it on a box just to the side of the drum kit. When the band came back on stage Jon had a 2 foot long wooden stick and he started marking time, bashing the top of the microwave as the first encore, He’d Send In The Army’ started. The band had been a little subdued most of the main set but Thomas was jumping around the stage like there was no tomorrow now getting stage lights caught up in the bass lead and dragging them around behind him. He sent Jon’s mic flying and Al was kept busy for a few minutes sorting it all out. By the time Army was finished the microwave door was hanging off and the top was completely caved in, A couple more from Solid Gold, ‘What We All Want’ and ‘Why Theory?’ and then it was the end of the gig with ‘At Home He’s A Tourist.
I really enjoyed this gig, a good selection of old and new stuff and some great bass playing from Thomas. Andy’s guitar was low in the mix at the start of the gig and people were shouting at him to turn it up. Jon was Ok with the vocals and was running round from one mic to another for the whole 80 minutes but the fact remains that a large chunk of the crowd were not happy that Jon King was not fronting the band even though as an MD of an advertising company nowadays he just does not have the time to commit to the band any more. Quite a few people left before the end, some as early as 20 minutes into the set and there were a few negative posts to the bands facebook page after the gig.

Gig Preview in the Yorkshire Evening Post:
http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/what-s-on/arts-entertainment/music-and-gigs/gig-preview-gang-of-four-brudenell-social-club-1-6063991

Audience recording of the gig:
http://www.dimeadozen.org/torrents-details.php?id=466687&dllist=1#seeders

Gang of Four Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/gangoffourofficial

Gang of Four Website:
http://gangoffour.co.uk/

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nxb3 on tour – Pony and Trap’s leaving gig at The Blues Cafe bar, Harrogate

This gig was the last one in their home town of Harrogate (for a while at least) as both Sally and Tom are moving down to London next week. As the stated stage time of 7pm approached the Blues bar was filling up nicely with lots of people coming down to give them a good send off. By the time they took to the stage at about 7:20, the bar was absolutely heaving, people even standing watching from the stairs which were overlooking the stage.
First track was the usual ‘John Green’ after which Sally announced “We’re moving to London on Monday”, something which they are obviously very excited about. ‘Patsy and the plasticine cake’ was next followed by ‘Ground rules’ and ‘Where the hell have you been’ before their regular cover of ‘Teenage kicks’ by the Undertones. A new song called ‘Dance’ taken from the forthcoming EP was next, they are still getting to grips with this track as Sally messed up the vocals, forgetting the words so they repeated the verse again and continued the song. My personal favourite, ‘Coming over’ was next followed by ‘Mice to men’ which is also going to feature on the EP. ‘People like you’ was followed by another new one, the heavier ‘Engage’ which has definitely got the makings of a new set favourite, and the last track of the set was KKKQUE which finished to a massive roar from the crowd with pretty much everyone shouting for more. “We haven’t got any more songs” wasn’t what the crowd wanted to hear so they ended up playing ‘John Green’ again.
There was a party upstairs afterwards as a thank you for everyone turning out to support their leaving gig and a bucket was passed round for a collection for the new start in London. People were emptying their pockets and I saw a few notes head into the bucket in appreciation of an excellent evening. Good luck in London and it won’t be long before they have a good fanbase down there if they keep playing like they did last night.

http://www.pony-and-trap.com/

nxb3 on tour – North East Calling (Part 2)

So after visiting the various merch stands and getting some food inside of me it was back inside the venue to see the tail end of the Mad Sin set, I wasn’t very impressed so it was a good call to take time out during their set.

Discharge were the next band on stage and they kicked off with ‘The nightmare continues’ which ran straight into track ‘The end’, not the end of the set. ‘CCTV’ was followed by ‘Ain’t no feeble bastard’ and ‘Hell on earth’ which was introduced as “for the Syrian gas attack victims” which ran straight into ‘Cries of help’. ‘Protest and survive’ was next then a false start into ‘War is hell, hell is war’ before finally managing to get it right, then ‘Never again’ and ‘State violence, state control’. All through the set people had been calling for Decontrol so Rat must have thought it was about time to wind them up by saying “we don’t do Decontrol anymore”. ‘Realities of war’ was followed by a storming version of the elusive ‘Decontrol’ and Rat immediately walked to the side of the stage wanting the crowd to shout for more, after a little goading of the crowd he came back and they launched into a finale of ‘Fight Back’, ‘The possibility of life’s destruction’, ‘Wars no fairytail’ and finishing off with ‘The blood runs red’. An excellent set from Discharge with Rat on fine form, the only downside was his mic not working for the start of the set so there were no vocals until about a third of the way through The nightmare continues.

I was really looking forward to Steve Ignorant with Paranoid visions who were next on stage, I saw Crass a few times in the early days and since then with Conflict and also in 2009 at the DPF. They kicked off the set with ‘When’ and the raucous ‘Join the dots’. There was not much of a mosh pit and there was a couple of times when the vocals were getting out of sync, there was even a couple of shouts of “fuck off” and “your shit”. ‘Braindance’ was next and just after the start the band lost the plot completely due to stage sound problems but they managed to get it back on track and the crowd started warming to the band, Steve started the next track off, I liked it but I just can’t figure out which one it is. ‘No contrition’ was next, followed by ‘Charity begins at home’ and ‘Changing times’ and the mosh pit was starting to get bigger now. ‘Independence day’ was followed by the great ‘Sex kills’ and they finished off with ‘Rock and roll and revolution’ It was great to see Steve back on stage again but he was under utilized, he is much better as the main frontman and I’d like to see him take a stronger role in the band. Hopefully his new project, Slice of life will see him back where he belongs, out in front.

The Ruts DC kicked off their set with a couple of reggae numbers, starting with ‘Whatever we do’ and ‘Fools’ before turning the clock back to 1979 and the Southall riots for ‘Jah Wars’. The police theme continued with the magnificent ‘smiley culture’ which is a reworking of the old classic SUS. The old stuff continued with ‘Something that I said’ and the tribute to Malcolm Owen ‘Love in vein’. ‘Mighty soldier’ was the last of the new songs before the set climaxed with ‘West one (Shine on me)’, ‘Staring at the rude boys’ and the final track that got the whole hall bouncing, ‘Babylon’s burning’. This was the 4th time I’ve seen Ruts DC in the last year and they have been excellent each and every time, I know they want to move on with writing and playing new songs but they always get the best reaction when they play the old classics, a lot of which they played here tonight.

The UK Subs were on next with Charlie walking onstage holding a can of beer aloft and saying cheers!, the first song was ‘Creation’ with the sound very bassy and the level of Jets guitar all over the place. ‘You don’t belong’ and ‘Left for dead’ preceeded a riotous version of Rockers by which time the sound was more balanced. “They’ve given us some water up here, we don’t drink water – we drink beer. We’re a fucking punk rock band!” rants Charlie before launching into ‘Down on the farm’ which ran straight into ‘Hell is other people’. Charlie then introduces John, their driver who was playing bass as a stand in for Alvin who missed his plane, I seem to remember Alvin also got stuck in France last year because of a ferry strike and Chema had to stand in for him at last years Durham punk fest. ‘Emotional blackmail’ was next followed by a bit of blues, ’18 Wheels’ and ‘This Chaos’. A pause while Charlie talked about Jamie studying history and how nothing had changed in the last 2000 years and they got back into the swing of things with ‘Endangered species’ and ‘Tomorrows girls’. It was time for John’s spell in the limelight with the bass intro to ‘Warhead’ with Charlie saying “There’s no use prompting you guys, as you do this better than the whole world, you’ve always done it!”. The set built up to a climax with three belters, ‘Riot’, ‘Stranglehold’ and finally ‘Disease’. Another fantastic set with John doing a really great job standing in for Alvin, the crowd really getting behind the Subs with a massive mosh pit all the way through, Ace!

I’ve never been a big fan of Sham69, and didn’t even bother watching their set at last years Durham Punk Festival, I decided to give them a try this year and was surprised at just how good they were. They started off with ‘What have we got’, ‘I don’t wanna’ and ‘Ulster’. Jimmy recited the first couple of lines of ‘Rip off’ as an introduction to the song which was followed by another track I can’t figure out. ‘Tell us the truth’ and ‘That’s life’ followed before getting to the old songs that I knew well: ‘Angels with dirty faces’, ‘George Davis is innocent’, ‘Borstal breakout’ and ‘Questions and Answers’ all went down very well with most of the crowd joining into the mosh pit. ‘Stockwell’, ‘Money’ and ‘White Riot’ (Clash cover) followed and a storming ‘If the kids are united’ marked the end of the main set. After a 5 minutes or so break they came back on to do a thunderous encore of ‘Hersham boys’. Jimmy asked where do you want to go a couple of times and everyone shouted back “down the pub” and ‘Hurry up Harry’ was the last song of the night.

As Hurry up Harry played out Jimmy shouts to the crowd “You were fucking brilliant”, and he was right, a big crowd of well over 1000, a mix of punks, skinheads and normals all getting solidly behind the music with no aggro, fighting or taunting either inside or outside the venue. An excellent day apart from a dodgy sound engineer who made too many mistakes with the sound levels and had way too much bass in the mix for virtually the whole day, especially for the earlier bands.

The festival finished at 10:20 so a few bands could have easily done a couple of extra songs and it would still have finished before the curfew at 11.

There were that many great performances it is impossible to select a highlight from the day, each band were the highlight in their own way: Gimp Fist with their anthemic street punk that went down way better than their position in the line up would suggest, Crashed out with their brilliant Fat punks don’t pogo anymore and their covers of traditional north east songs, Goldblade with the rousing Psycho and Do you believe, The Mob with the superb Witch hunt and No doves fly here, Discharge with the frenetic Decontrol, Ruts DC with the magical Smiley culture/SUS, UK Subs with their driver John doing a fantastic job standing in for Alvin and Sham69 with Borstal breakout and Hersham boys.

nxb3 on tour – North East Calling (Part 1)

North East Calling is the new name for the long established Durham Punk Festival which had to move from its regular venue of Dunelm House in the Durham University Students Union due to renovation work in the main ballroom. It moved to the larger 2000 capacity O2 Academy in Newcastle with the bands in the main hall and merch stands in the smaller upstairs room.

Doors opened at midday and I arrived about 1:00 just after local street punk band Gimp Fist from Bishop Auckland had started their set. The first song I caught was ‘War on the streets’ which ran straight into ‘First in line’ and ‘Heart full of pride’. ‘Skinhead not bonehead’ was next, followed by ‘Just another country’ and finally ‘Here I stand’. A good start to the punk fest with all the songs churned out at breakneck speed with no gaps in between apart from a bit of chat to thank the Audience before Here I stand. The singalong choruses got a decent sized mosh pit going down the front which was well populated with Gimpfist T shirts.

Crashed out, another local band from Jarrow were next up, Chris introduced them with a shout of “We are Crashed out from the North East of England – Howay then!” and they launched straight into ‘This is our music’ running straight into ‘No Fear’ and a bit of chat before the excellent ‘The town that died’ which could have been written about any number of northern towns. A raucous ‘Raise your glasses’ which was a drinking song based on Blaydon Races (for all you pissheads out there) came next followed by a storming version of the Angelic Upstarts ‘Police Oppression’. This was followed by another cover version of The Jarrow Song by Alan Price from 1973. ‘One of the boys’ was followed by another cover, Paranoid by Black Sabbath. The magnificent ‘Fat punks don’t pogo anymore’ got the mosh pit going again and their version of Cushy Butterfield finished off another good set.

Goldblade were on stage next, always a good fun band to watch and this was no exception, they kicked off the set with ‘Fighting in the dancehalls, fucking in the street’. A bit of chat from John to try and get the mosh pit going before ‘Strictly hardcore’ and ‘The shamen are coming’. John shouted out “Is there any young people in the audience” and a couple of grizzled old timers stuck their hands up which earned them a dedication for ‘Jukebox Generation’. A bit of a delay followed while a photographer climbed up on the stage to take a few pictures then it was back to the music with ‘This is war’ and ‘We’re all in it together’. ‘My name is Psycho’ really got the mosh pit stirred up and they kept up the momentum with ‘Riot Riot’ before finishing the set with ‘Do you believe in the power of rock and roll’ which ended up with what seemed like half the audience declaring “I believe”

The Mob were next, a band I haven’t seen play live since 1982 so was expecting a lot of new stuff in their set, but most of their songs I recognised from their first LP, Let The Tribe Increase. They arrived on stage and launched straight into ‘What’s going on’ without acknowledging the crowd, ‘Shuffling souls’ and ‘Cry of the morning’ were next then the great ‘Another day, another death’ followed by ‘The mirror breaks’. They were on a roll and the songs just kept on coming with pretty much no separation between them, ‘Our life, our world’, the new single ‘Rise up’ complete with a false start so they had to begin it again which was followed by one song I didn’t recognise. The big guns came out next with the excellent Witch Hunt which ran straight into the brilliant ‘No doves fly here’, ‘Gates of hell and finally finishing up with the brilliant ‘Never understood’. There wasn’t much of a mosh pit for the set but they got a massive reaction from the crowd at the end for a brilliant set which was packed full of the best of Let The Tribe Increase.

Mad Sin were next but I didn’t bother with them, I checked out the merch stands, bought a couple of DVDs and a T-Shirt which I took back to the hotel before grabbing some cod and chips on the hoof before going back inside for Discharge whose set will be reviewed in part 2

nxb3 on tour – Berlin Black and Dead Eyes Opened at Carpe Noctum, Bradford

This gig was at the Carpe Noctum club night in Bradford which moves from place to place, the latest venue was a club in Barry Street in the centre of town. The doors were supposed to open at 7:30 so after a rather good Chicken Madras at The Sheesh Mahal in St Thomas’s Road I duly turned up at the venue at about 7:40 only to find that they were nowhere near ready to let the punters in. Other people were starting to turn up now and were getting directed to The Castle pub at the top of the hill with the promise that the band would tell everyone there when they were ready to start. Not wanting to drink anything as I was driving back to Newcastle after the gig I didn’t bother with the pub but hung around outside for what seemed like forever. People were starting to drift back home by 10:00, giving up on the gig ever happening, but there were still a fair few people hanging around both inside and outside the pub. Around 10:30 we got word the bar was open so all moved 50 yards down the street to find the club still shut.

The doors finally opened about 10:45 and the gig kicked off at about 11:00 when John Merrick’s Remains took to the stage for a short set of about 20 minutes. As they were leaving the stage the singer said into the mic “If you liked us then buy a CD, if you thought we were shit we were Westlife” which was absolutely priceless, a magic moment.

After a very quick change over Dead Eyes Opened were onstage and they went straight into the set without the intro tape as it was so late. The set kicked off with ‘Tuan’s Day’ followed by ‘My Sanity’ and ‘Sentimental’. Spooks tried to shift a few copies of the new album, Tyrants on the intro to ‘Believe’ which was followed by ‘MV’ and ‘Who died to make you king’. The title track of the new album, ‘Tyrants’ was next and the set closed with a cover of the Depeche Mode track ‘Never let me down again’

After another quick change over Berlin Black took to the stage, they kicked off the set with ‘Burn it down’ which ran straight into the more melodic ‘Step inside’. The excellent ‘All fall down’ was next followed by ‘Walk away’ and ‘Nothing More’ A quick pause for Chris to thank everyone for staying out so late, as it was approaching 1am by now then it was straight into ‘Nothing more’ and ‘It’s only natural’ A bit more chat from Chris and the bass kicks in for the intro to ‘Please you’ which was followed by ‘Big Riff’. Chris thanked everybody again for sticking around to watch the bands then they launched into ‘We get tired’ and the set closed with ‘The only ones’

Another good Berlin Black gig with two pretty good support bands, a slightly shorter set than expected at a shade under 40 minutes while Dead Eyes Opened played for 45 minutes. The short set was probably due to the late start, the live music didn’t finish until 1am and the music carried on later until the early hours.

Quote from the Dead Eyes Opened Facebook page:
“Wow! Last night, against all the odds, as the venue was built around us, Bradford rocked! A sincere thanks to all of you who stayed out late and made it a great evening. Hugely appreciated.”
It’s the first time I’ve been to a gig where the bands had to put the venue together before playing 🙂

I left after the bands finished, I still had a 2 hour drive to get back home and I had an all day festival in Newcastle the next (same) day so desperately needed a couple of hours kip by this time. It was a very good night.

nxb3 on tour – Loaded 44 at The Duchess, York

This was originally supposed to be a gig by the UK Subs but they pulled out a week or so before hand. The main support Loaded 44 took over the headline slot and they were supported by three local bands, of which I missed the first two and arrived half way through the set by The Franceens. Chris the manager of the venue was even on the door to give back a ÂŁ3 refund to anyone who had bought advance tickets for the Subs.

The UK Subs don’t have the best of luck in York, they cancelled a gig on 15 December 2012 at Fibbers because of low ticket sales, at the time the promoter never offered an alternative smaller venue such as the Duchess or Stereo and I’m sure they weren’t the only possibilities in town.

Loaded 44 arrived onstage at about 9:45 to a sparse crowd of around 30 people which included the support bands. They kicked off the set with their usual opener “We saved the world today” with the vocals a little low in the mix. Beki introduced the band and it was straight into “Let’s get away” followed by “Last drink”. A couple of minutes pause to get the vocals increased a tad and “Generation idiot” was next followed by “When I’m with you”. “Something for Nothing” ran straight into “Bad News” then “Life’s wasted”, the excellent “Drop that bomb”, “Breakdown” and the main set closed with “10 years!”
The band didn’t even get to leave the stage, there may have been only 30 people there but they made a hell of a lot of noise shouting for more so the band duly obliged with “Radio” followed by “Say Nothin” and “I’ve got no name”.
This was a good gig with the band giving everything they had to get the small crowd to liven up a bit but they just weren’t responding. It can’t have been easy for Loaded 44 as the UK Subs are a big band to stand in for, especially with a small lack lustre crowd but they persevered and made the best of it.

Definitely worth the drive down to York.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/LOADED-44/117191444960499

http://www.last.fm/search?q=Loaded+44&from=ac

nxb3 on tour – Gee Vaucher and Penny Rimbaud at The Brudenell, Leeds

This gig was part of Re Con festival in West Yorkshire which was to bring pioneers in music, art and film together, both international and underground artists who were doing work in blurring the boundaries between music, art and film.

I was here because of work they both did 30 years ago, with their involvement in the anarchist punk band Crass. Gee was responsible for the graphic and hard hitting artwork featured on the bands record releases and the movies that were played on the banks of TV screens at their gigs while Penny was the drummer in the band. I was a big fan of the band at the time and saw them play live a few times in the early 80’s before they split up in 1984.

The night kicked off with an introduction by Andy Abbot, one of the organisers of the Re Con festival and then a film by Gee Vaucher titled ‘Angel’ The film had no action as such, it was a ‘study in stillness’ which consisted of a young girl staring back at the camera for 49 minutes. The girl was Gee’s great niece, Angel filmed during the transition of moving from junior to secondary school. Angel has an older sister who changed a great deal when she changed schools so Gee wanted the film to capture her before she moved to secondary school and she became street wise and changed forever. Angel was filmed continuously for an hour, her subtle reactions to her sister talking off camera were captured and then a 15 minute section of the film was selected and slowed to about ÂĽ speed before the sound track was added. The film showed the subtle changes in her facial expression, her smiling to clips of bird song, reacting to passing trains and her posture slowly sagging as the film progressed, presumably as she was getting more and more bored with the filming.

Afterwards Gee discussed the film in a Q & A session with the audience, her motivation for doing the film, the process of making the film and audience reaction to the film.

After a 15 minute break Andy Abbott introduced Penny Rimbaud who started talking about the new (second) autobiography he had started writing which he had given the working title ‘A brick wall made of air’. He started reading from the first page with numerous interjections when he disagreed with himself… He then went off on a tangent for a while about a guy on the bus to Kings Cross station that morning who was cutting his finger nails and his dilemma about whether or not he should confront him over it. This developed into a parallel discussion where he compared this to his philosophical writings and his activism for a while until he got bored and then asked for questions from the audience. A wide range of comments and questions from the audience were discussed, dealing with his self identity, whether the media had robbed him of his sense of self during his time in Crass, his philosophical writings, his privileged position (he didn’t like that one!), the legacy of his time in Crass where he motivated people to change their lives and the realisation of his own mortality with reference to his recent serious illness.

He finished off with a discussion of the mass incarcerations of over 2 million people in America and how it related to some work he was doing with a dance outfit from Italy. He played one of the current tracks they have been working on and we can expect to hear some more results of the collaboration when they make an album together next year. By this time it was last orders and the organised event wound down.

Not really what I was expecting but still very interesting and it’s good that he is still involved in making music with both the Italian dance band and the Jazz outfit Penny Rimbauds Last Amendment.