Review – The Damned, Theatre of Hate, Ruts DC – London, Roundhouse

Friday 13th December 2013.

So after our last adventure in time and space with the sojourn at Leamington Spa, we once more put the time machine in mothballs. After all, how on earth were we going to top that?

This of course didn’t turn out to be too much of a quandary… The answer was staring us in the face, all along! The moon was growing larger. Comets were fading in the brilliance of the sun. The numbers began to add up. After Wednesday, soon Friday must follow… After 11 and 12 you will find the answer… Thirteen!

All of which led us to the conclusion that, to top that, you must do it all again, only better!

So we boarded the slivery silvery earth worm and headed for Chalk Farm.

Sibling in Black and myself sought refuge on the good ship Enterprise, with its fine Wenches serving an assortment of ales to the thirsty black clad masses! We momentarily ventured to the Middle East for refreshment of another kind. Before heading into the heart of the Citadel…

Do not be afraid!

Do not be afraid of The Damned…

The Damned are not afraid!

Not afraid of putting on a top show, with two support acts of the highest quality. And then some…

Ruts DC took the stage at a very early 7.20 pm on this Friday evening. And it was nice to see that the audience had filled out very quickly to catch them. Kicking off with Mighty Soldier, they sounded great and super tight. The drums were up front and the bass sounded great (although it was a little lost in the chasm that is the Roundhouse). Guitars and vocals were both clear and cut through the mix nicely. Again they gave us a perfect mix of their patented blend of Punkified Reggae or Reggaefied Punk! Both Old and new material sat side by side really well. The crowd really responded positively, and classics like Staring At The Rude Boys and Babylon’s Burning took us all by storm. A nice surprise in tonight’s set was the inclusion of Ruts classic Society. Let’s hope this band is back out on tour very soon.

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Next up were Theatre of Hate. I didn’t know what to expect. But having collected their early singles and first album in my youth, I was pleasantly surprised to hear these songs were fairly broadly covered in the set. The band seemed to be really into it and put on a great show. Enjoying the moment, they came across well. The crowd seemed to pick up on that. And a large portion of the crowd were singing along and dancing. Kirk Brandon seemed fairly ageless up on the stage, instantly recognizable as the strange punky guy that used to haunt Stanwell Moor decades ago. He seems to have an inherent awkwardness about him mixed with a tough guy stance, an odd combination, all of which adds to his uniqueness and stage presence. And then, when he opens his mouth to sing… What a voice. Great stuff, he’s still got it in abundance! Really powerful voice. Great set. Again the bass got a little lost at times but that does seem to be a flaw of the venue.

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Before we knew it we were on to the main event. The Damned!

Kicking off with Sanctum Sanctorum, the stage was awash with an eerie lighting that felt like some kind of psychedelic electric blue fog. Which was most apt, as Dave Vanian appeared like some dapper Dickensian vampire in his Frock coat and Top Hat. The atmosphere was ablaze.

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I’m pleased to report that the sound was crisp and clear, with all instruments audible, it was a great mix and not too loud.

Don’t Cry Wolf was next and was quite simply stonking! We were again treated to the opening three songs from the triumvirate of their classic albums; Machine Gun Etiquette, Black Album and Strawberries. There were less tracks from Damned x 3 tonight but instead we were treated to the delightful Plan 9 Channel 7, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Antipope and Jet Boy Jet Girl.

The band were on fire tonight… Tighter than a tight thing! The crowd were rammed in and the whole place seemed to be singing along (myself included) verbatim. Amazing! The chemistry between Messrs Vanian and Sensible was working like a well-oiled machine tonight. Mr Vanian in particular had the whole stage covered, moving effortlessly from side to side and engaging his fellow band mates and audience alike he put on a brilliant show. Also, the Captain’s yoga classes seem to be paying off as he has now mastered the ability to levitate the guitar just above his head with no strings attached (well, clearly there were strings attached to the guitar in the traditional sense… Oh you know what I mean!) And no hands! The classics were there of course… New Rose, Love Song, Neat x3 (I was willing Monty to break into Break on Through during this one but alas it was not to be!). All the while Pinch and Stu laid down a firm foundation for all of this to take place.

All too soon, we were at the encores but Dave had one more little Christmas present to conjure from his Top Hat… For the encore we were given the masterpiece Curtain Call! Exquisite! During the atmospheric opening, time and reality began to shift, as I felt myself drawn ever closer to the ethereal… I could swear it was almost as if Mr Vanian was standing right in front of me offering me a firm hand shake from his gloved hand before drifting back on stage to tend to the vocal matters! Then Smash it up and then they were gone. Back out into the night from whence they came….

Or was it all some kind of dream? Some silky satin nightmare of pleasure and pain….

Come back soon… Don’t leave us drifting here too long!

Friday the Thirteenth…

Lucky for some!

Gig review – The Damned and Ruts DC – Leamington Assembly – 30th November 2013.

The Damned and Ruts DC – Leamington Assembly – 30th November 2013.


We have witnessed much activity in the time streams this weekend. The time machine seemed to be suffering from a problem with its navigation unit which was later traced to a faulty hinge on the sugar tongs. We set the dial for 1979 but after experiencing interference at the M40/Junction 16 triangle (believed to be linked with the mysterious disappearances of many a time traveller succumbing to the call of Space Sirens!), we eventually landed in Royal Leamington Spa. In what appeared to be yet another fracture in the space time continuum.

We found ourselves in a kind of disjointed future-past-present! Fluctuating between 2013 and 34 years earlier in 1979!

First we took refuge at the hostelry known as the Jug and Jester where we encountered many fellow time travellers and the tribe of the damned mingled with the tribe in black in anticipation of what was to follow.

My sibling in black and I journeyed to India, where we found sustenance and then we re-joined the tribes before reassembling in the 1920s at The Assembly.

On arrival, we made our way to the barrier that protected us from the spectacle we were about to behold.

Ruts DC came on stage at 7.40 and soothed us with their patented brand of Cool Reggae inspired Punk.

Kicking off with ‘Mighty Soldier’, our ears were caressed and our limbs were forced out of their atrophied state by the rock-solid rhythm section of (original Ruts) Dave Ruffy and Segs. In combination with the tasteful guitar work from Leigh Heggarty and sweet tones of singer percussionist Molara, we were treated to a musical performance of the highest calibre.

Particularly impressive were both the skill of Segs, in his ability to sing while simultaneously tackling some tricky bass parts. And that of Dave Ruffy who played brilliantly, perfectly recreating his energetic and complex Ruts drum patterns in an effortless manner without appearing to break a sweat!


In an impromptu change to the set they played the brilliant “Love in Vain” much to the crowds delight.  Throughout the set the audience was gradually growing and the response was very positive.

Captain Sensible was spotted watching the last few numbers from the side-lines as they finished with a strong flurry of Ruts classics – “Staring at The Rude Boys”, “West One Shine on Me”, “Babylon’s Burning” and “In a Rut”. Top Stuff!

After a fashion, and before we knew what hit us, The Damned threw a complete curve ball by opening their set with the darkly atmospheric “Sanctum Sanctorum” from 1985’s Phantasmagoria, stunning! Then they went straight into the rockers with another curve ball “Don’t Cry Wolf”, from the often overlooked Music for Pleasure, tonight it is sounding better than ever. 

Given they have such a vast back catalogue to draw from, The Damned never fail to (pleasantly) surprise with their choice of set list material. And tonight is no exception, they are on top form! Inspiring alliterations all over the shop what with Vanian’s Velvet Voice and Captain’s Crucial Chops (nearly…), Pinch’s pounding percussion, Monty’s Masterful meanderings and Stu’s Stonking Stringwork!

They throw in another number from the MFP era “Sick of being Sick”. From The Black Album we got “Lively Arts” flawlessly seguing into “Silly Kids Games”. There were a few from Strawberries – “Ignite”, “Generals”, and “Stranger on The Town”.  From Phantasmagoria we were also given “8th Day”. The modern era was skimmed over tonight, with the only example being “” from the brilliant Grave Disorder. From MGE we got “2nd Time Around”. And more!

The classics were there of course, “Smash it up”, “Neat Neat Neat”, “Love Song” and “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today”! Another bonus was the revival of “Ballroom Blitz” During the encore. All executed deftly with subtle twists, nuances and stagecraft in abundance, plus the odd Dalek thrown in for good measure…


…Back to temporal matters – We are so lucky to have this band in their fifth decade of existence consistently delivering the goods. A few of us tonight were celebrating the 34th anniversary of first seeing the Damned in 1979 on the MGE tour at the Rainbow Theatre in London. All of which beggars the question “Where does it all go?”

If you get a chance I strongly urge that you catch this brilliant pairing of bands in a theatre near you soon!

Must dash, the new hinge has been installed and we’re off back to 2013….

P.S. thanks to Mr Final for proof reading 🙂



Wilko at Koko – Gig Review

Wilko Johnson Live at Koko Camden Sun 13th Oct 2013.


So we finally got the time machine back up and running using the starting crank from a Morris Minor 1000. Having set the controls for the 1970s, we experienced some sub-space interference which led us to an alternate present day/1970s mix-up.

Landing in North London, we headed to the Music Machine in Camden High Street in search of musical enlightenment. Once there we discovered a venue by the name of Koko. Undeterred we ventured inside. My companion for this evening was Mr C (a friend of old), we had not seen each other for these last two decades, despite the advent of time travel. So it was interesting to hear from Mr C’s perspective that: ‘when I used to go to these gigs in my 20s the audience were all in their 20s! Now I’m in my 50s and the audience are all in their 50s!’ (Speak for yourself, I thought, although….). A fair observation!

Unfortunately, thanks to the sub-space interference, we missed the first act ‘The 45s’. Who by all reports were very good! We did, however, arrive in time for the second support act ‘Eight Rounds Rapid’ who were very entertaining, their guitar player appearing to be a remarkable evolution of Wilko himself, in terms of playing style/technique and stage presence. They treated us to a decent set with their modern interpretation of hard-edged R&B.

In no time at all, Wilko arrived on stage to a rapturous reception (The venue was packed out). Kicking off with an energetic ‘All Through The City’, Wilko, Norman and Dylan were completely on top of their game and up for it. We had a good vantage point at the front in the centre. From where we had a good ol’ boogie along with a select section of the audience, including the Japanese fan club. Although, it should be noted that many other were stood still like statues… most odd… maybe something to do with the sub-space!

The set was rocking, including ‘She does It Right’, ‘Sneaking Suspicion’, ‘Don’t Let Your Daddy Know’, and ‘Roxette’ to name a few. The sound was pretty decent for most of the set, although at times the bass was getting lost a little (quite common at live shows but you really don’t want this happening with a player like Norman Watt-Roy… You really need to savour his every note!) And the bass drum was strangely overpowering at times. Mr C commented that Wilkos guitar could’ve been a nudge higher in the mix. But really these points are being relayed just to convey the facts rather than being a criticism, because it was full on rockin’ awesome in there last night! Fucking Brilliant, in fact!

Sometimes you forget it’s a 3 piece making this glorious sound. Wilko was full of energy and using all of his stage moves from shuffle to machine gun to duck-walk and back again, superb! The dynamics between the band were superb with lots of light and shade. In the quieter passages the sound was excellent showcasing the virtuoso talents of the whole trio.

Wilko had the whole stage covered with his signature psychotic style, making love to the guitar and even playing it behind his head. Drummer Dylan was cool and rock-solid throughout. While Norman was in the zone (where, it must be said, he appears to permanently reside!).

In a trice, we were at the end and they kicked in to ‘Bye Bye Johnny’ with all that that implies! Emotive stuff! Wilko conducted the audience for a full sing-along of the chorus. Then they took it down a notch allowing Norman to stretch his legs, amazing! A super drum solo from Dylan and another couple of strong choruses and they were gone…

They treated us to two encores before turning us back out into the night… Bittersweet!


Gig review – Straighten Out – The Hope and Anchor Islington.

Straighten Out – Live at The Hope and Anchor Islington – Friday 20th September 2013.

Apologies once more for delays in relaying this message…

The time streams are particularly busy at the moment and that coupled with various anomalies of one kind or another has necessitated a temporary mothballing of any plans for time travel. Particularly in light of Sir Bee’s stranding in 1981!

All of which beggars the question: What do to on a Friday night whilst forced to stay in the present? The answer being: Go to see ‘Straighten Out’ play at The Hope and Anchor in Islington.


What better place for a tribute to The Stranglers to play?

The Hope and Anchor played an important part in the early career of The Stranglers. In November 1977 the live recording of ‘Tits’ From the White EP was recorded here at the session that would later be released as’ Live at The Hope and Anchor’. And then-landlord ‘Fred Grainger’ (who gave the band a much needed ‘break’) was name checked as ‘Grainger man’ in the song ‘Bitching’.

For those neither old enough nor fortunate enough to have seen The Stranglers here during this period, this gig presented a perfect opportunity to hear the MK1 songs played live in this setting.

A fair number of fansinblack filled out this little basement venue to be greeted by the band kicking off with a lively ‘Burning Up Time’. Treating us to a set packed with classics like: ‘Toiler on The Sea’, ‘Goodbye Toulouse’, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Princess of The Streets’ to name a few. The band seemed tight and on form and there was a good banter with the crowd. And the sound…

…The sound was fantastic and very ‘very’ authentic, from the Snarling vocal and biting guitar, to the swirling keyboard* via the growling bass and relentless pounding drums. If you had closed your eyes it could’ve been 1977.

The set was like a ‘best of’ compilation compiled by real fans. We were treated to ‘The Raven’, ‘Who Wants The World’, ‘Go Buddy Go’, ‘London Lady’ and many more. Some of the material in this set rarely gets played by the actual band these days, songs like ‘Tramp’ and the wonderful ‘Peasant in The Big Shitty’.

The crowd responded in kind with energetic revelry and word perfect accompaniment, just as if they were actually seeing The Stranglers. At one point the band took a quick poll of the audience to see if they wanted ‘Down in The Sewer’ or ‘Genetix’ to be played… I requested both but ‘Sewer’ won the day and it did not disappoint!

Before we knew it the band had left the stage. Then one enthusiastic crowd member got on the mic to stir up the crowds appreciation for what they had just witnessed. The crowd didn’t need much encouragement here as they were cheering and howling for an encore.

An encore was duly given; a rousing ‘No More Heroes’ followed by a brilliant ‘Tank’. Then it was all over and the fans slowly began to file out of the venue with big fat grins on their faces.

Highly recommended!

*The inclusion of a Hammond organ and other period keyboards gave a real authenticity to the sound – Stunning!

Additionally the event was being filmed – some of the videos  from YouTube below:

Gig Review – The Buzzcocks – Brixton Electric 21st June 2013.

The Buzzcocks – Brixton Electric 21st June 2013.

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Forgive the delay in transmission…
This broadcast relayed from Summer solstice 2013…
The seas of time were choppy, so we sought safe harbour from this temporal tempest in the fair haven known as Brixton. After some time sampling the local hostelries we ventured to the theatre known locally as ‘The Fridge’ now widely known as ‘The Electric’.

steve diggle sonic storm

As luck would have it we were not alone in seeking comfort here, a multitude was in attendance, all eager to sample the sonic delights of the troupe of wandering minstrels who go by the name of ‘The Buzzcocks’! And none were disappointed…

A brief warm up from the capable support act ‘Apple Shift 7’ set the right mood. Then a brief pause…

And Boom… the main event… Kicking off with ‘Boredom’, ‘Fast Cars’ and ‘Autonomy’ the pace was relentless with a youthful energy that belied the years accumulated by these seasoned professionals.
Barely stopping for breath, or pausing for applause, the hits kept on coming (in no particular order); ‘I don’t Mind’, ‘Ever Fallen in Love’, ‘Love Battery’, ‘Breakdown’, ‘Girl from the Chain Store’….

Front man Pete Shelley entertained all with his unique command of poppy angst-y punk. Female and male alike were under his spell (with a healthy portion of the audience representing the fairer sex).

Steve Diggle gave a performance of great magic and majesty, a sight to behold. He’s a true rock star, delivering all of the requisite gestures and posturing with perfect execution while never missing a beat.

Not forgetting the new guys; Chris Remmington providing all the necessary nuances for the bass and Danny Farrant doing a bang up job on drums (Beating the kit to within an inch of existence during ‘Pulse beat’!).

The only minor hiccup occurred during ‘Fiction Romance’, something went awry, the band simply stopped and restarted treating us to another superb rendition.
This particular time traveller was anticipating that perfection would have been acheived upon hearing ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’… Alas it was not to be… But no matter… the performance, delivery and set list more than made up for this one omission.
In fact, truth be told, the mighty rendition of ‘Harmony in My Head’ was worth the entry fee alone! Steve played out of his skin on this. He took us on an extended psychedelic meander mid-song before kicking back in to the main structure with real gusto.

In a flash it was over, with Encores including ‘Orgasm Addict’ and ‘Oh Shit’, none were disappointed! Fellow space/time traveller Spizz was also witnessed enjoying the hospitality of this temporal Oasis.
After the storm had died down, it was safe once more to file out into the remains of this longest day. We spied locals rejoicing the pagan festivities of the Summer Solstice, including a tree hugging Pigeon and a time travelling Flower present in different continents and time zones on the same day!


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Gig Review – Adam Ant – Roundhouse 11th May 2013

Adam Ant – Roundhouse 11th May 2013

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So we boarded the Time Machine and set the controls for chalk farm In the late 70s… All did not go smoothly! A malfunction in the main drive got us caught in a temporal anomaly… the chronometer date readout showed we had landed 35 years later than intended!

We cautiously stepped outside to investigate the situation… 

The fracture in time was more serious than first thought… We arrived at the Roundhouse and while it was 2013, the attire and appearance of some of the locals seemed to indicate it was also 1978 and 1981 at the same time…

This confusion continued with the entertainment; the first band Alexa De Strange showed that they were most capable proponents of their craft in fine voice and fettle, while not quite managing to escape the confines of the early 80s.

Further anomalous, the second band New Killer Shoes took us to the 90s while staying firmly rooted in the present with their well crafted melodies, licks and harmonies…

Both of these acts receiving a hearty reception across the fissures of the space time continuum…

Then, after much anticipation… Suddenly we were transported on a roller coaster ride through these choppy seas of time by a steady hand on the tiller courtesy of the one known as Adam Ant. 1977, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, beyond and through to 2013 were all expertly navigated. Adam and his Posse treated the hungry masses to such classics as; Beat My Guest, Whip in my Valise, Zerox and Cleopatra to name a few; Interspersed among a mixture of the hits (Dog Eat Dog, Kings Of The Wild Frontier, Ant Music, Stand And Deliver and more); and the new (e.g. Vince Taylor, Cool Zombie, Marrying The Gunners Daughter).

And travellers from past present and future were most gratified. The band did most expertly turn their hand to all aspects of Antdom. Even the poppiest of hits were played with an intensity most pleasing and worthy, breathing new vitality into them.

Then they were gone…

Then they were back again… with; Press Darlings, Lady and Fall In!

Then they were gone again…

Before returning one final time to bless us by reciting; Red Scab, Get It On and Physical (You’re So)…

And then as quickly as it had occurred, the rift in space and time healed and the travellers were returned safely to their own temporal planes.

Catch this man and his excellent band!

Highly recommended!

Gig Review – UK Subs plus TV Smith, 100 Club Oxford St W1. 9th May 2013.

UK Subs plus TV Smith, 100 Club Oxford St W1. 9th May 2013.

So I met up with me old mate Graham for this one which was cool as we used to go and see the Subs regularly down at the Marquee many moons previously. We met outside the club, where several punters seemed to mistake us for security (including Mr Smith who I duly held the door open for, must have been the black attire or something!). After retiring to a local hostelry for refreshments (some more refreshed than others judging by the suspiciously sweet, herbal smell in the air), we adjourned to the venue for the evening’s entertainment.

Well it’s been a very long time since I visited the legendary 100 Club in London’s Oxford Street (Decades in fact! But of course I’m not that old…).  And, surprise surprise, it hasn’t changed a bit. Everything looks identical to how I remember it all those years back; I don’t think they’ve even flushed the bog since my last visit! Even the punters, the gnarly punk rockers and their more enticing female counterparts were exactly where I left them last time, it was like a time capsule (Time don’t matter at all)! In fact, time seemed to play a central role in my perception of tonight’s proceedings.

So we checked out the merchandise stalls and it was instantly noticeable the good value offered by the Subs for their punters, with Tees at a Tenner and the CDs not overpriced too! Maybe that’s another time capsule thing… Then while chatting with the lovely lady running TV Smith’s stall, out pops Charlie Harper and starts chatting to the crowd, ever the man of the people. Sorry I didn’t get to say hello Mr Harper, maybe next time hopefully!

On to the entertainment…

TV Smith blazed through his set like the mighty punk rock troubadour that he is with a healthy blend of old and new material and a sprinkle of Adverts stuff. While he was doing his thing I looked around at the crowd and people were lapping it up, one lovely young lady at the front was with him word for word throughout. And there not two feet away from me on my right was stood the lovely Gaye Advert, the time capsule clearly working well in her favour! TV Smith seemed genuinely chuffed when he politely asked the crowd if they’d like to hear a new song and he received a hearty response. After a brief break, he returned for an encore of Adverts classics; Gary Gilmore’s eyes, Bored Teenagers and One Chord Wonders. Superb!

TV Smith

By now the place had filled out nicely and it was time for Charlie’s Boys…

Alvin, Jamie and Jet took their respective places on stage followed by Charlie and they hit off with a stonking ‘You Don’t Belong’ and the crowd went berserk, very strong moshing tonight with too strong a whiff of testosterone in the air, for this punter, so I chose to view from the edge of the pit, only receiving the occasional contact as the cloud of chaos occasionally splintered out in all directions. At one point Charlie demanded they calm down! But they didn’t though and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves bar the odd one or two so it was all fairly innocuous really.

The Subs gave us a great set with a smattering of newer material (‘Hell is other people’ for example) fitting in nicely with the classics; ‘Emotional Blackmail’ (which took the roof off), ‘Time and Matter’, ‘Rockers’, ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’ and ‘Party in Paris’ to name a few…

UK Subs

In between the numbers there was a bit of good natured banter between Charlie and Alvin. And a lot of punters were calling out for songs such as ‘Teenage’ to which Charlie replied “We don’t to requests!”

Back to the time thing… this band are timeless! Their material sounds just as urgent and relevant today as it ever did. Charlie doesn’t appear to have aged at all in the last couple of decades, Alvin too for that matter! Maybe it was just the effect of the tardis like qualities of the 100 club or perhaps the dim lighting!

Of course we were treated to a brilliant rendition of ‘Warhead’ with much audience participation. And all too soon they’d left the stage leaving us all yelping and whistling for more…

And more is what they gave us, more classics! For the encore we got ‘C.I.D.’ followed by ‘I live in a car’ (executed deftly at lightning speed). Then Charlie finally gave in to the crowd and said “Okay, you’re getting one request!” There were many screams for different songs but Charlie turned back to one punter and said “You were loudest” just as they kicked into ‘New York State Police’. Awesome!

And then, all too soon, it was over, and we filed out of the time capsule and back into the dark reality of the dank/dreary London (springtime!) evening.

Recommended viewing!