Live Goings On


When I lived in Leeds I used to get to see loads of bands - at least 1 a month - admittedly it helped that my brother was a journalist who used to get me free tickets!

Anyway - now I live in London where everyone plays - I don't get to to see many! Her in-doors isn't that keen. Its not 'cos I'm tight but there is something quite dispiriting about going to a concert on your own - and I've done it a few times!! So if you fancy going to a concert but can't find anyone to go with and it's a punk or SKA band - drop me an E-mail and perhaps I'll come along with you!


Anyway - here is the first - hopefully of many - reviews of concerts I've been to. By the way - I don't take pen and paper with me to these concerts - so you won't get a track listing - I also have a tendency to get fairly pissed while there so I forget what they played!!


The Leeds Festival 30th August 1999- Temple Newsham Park - The Warped Tent


Ahhh - the mighty Hepcat - well this is the 3rd time I've seen this lot and once again they were excellent. Put on early in the day for some bizarre reason they fought against a rather subdued/hung over crowd but, despite a fairly large number of new tracks, they still turned the crowd onto their excellent Ska. Highlights were the excellent "Nigel" and "No Worries".


The Vandals

Things just got better and better. This was the highlight of the day for me. The Vandals really know how to get a crowd going, and despite being on at 4.30 in the afternoon, they played an absolute blinder. Loads of their best tracks got airings - "Live Fast Diarrhea", "Its A Fact" and the excellent "I Have a Date". Once again, lead guitarist and vocalist on "I Have a Date" Warren Fitzgerald stripped naked during this number. He scaled one of the pillars to ensure everyone saw that he does not have a hair on his body - very disturbing!


Less Than Jake

I didn't much like this lot on the one album I have of their's - "Pezcore" but I have to admit, live, they were excellent. If you have heard any of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones stuff then you will get the picture. They were excellent - very tight with a great horn section and a number of crew dressed up in masks doing the dancing etc. Very entertaining!!


Ice T

....or "Ice Motherfucking T....Bitch" as he would now like to be known!! The guy has real charisma and stage prescence but his music just doesn't do it for me. Still the first 3 tracks I heard were entertaining enough - if only for the prescence of Ice T and his homey's!!


The Offspring

Off to the main stage to see The Offspring. I last saw this lot a couple of years ago at the Brixton Academy and they were dreadfull, so I was interested to see how they had changed with a number 1 single under their belts. I must admit, they were a lot better this time, they sped through there big singles - Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) and Self-Esteem. They had an amusing break when they brought out the "Backshit Boys" (dummies with some shite boyband music playing in the background) and proceeded to beat the shit out of them with a baseball bat. Unfortunatly they then played there latest single "Get A Job" which is just quite dreadful and it was time to return to the Warped Tent.


Good Riddance

Hardcore straight edge at its worst - I lasted 2 tracks!


Red Hot Chili Peppers

It was good news that Good Riddance were so bad 'cos it meant I could watch the first 5 tracks of the excellent Chili Peppers. A good festival band 'cos there is something for everyone. They appeared to be concentrating on their latest offering "Californication" and their best album "Blood Sex Sugar Magic" (or whichever way they go!). Flea dressed in a long flowing black dress with a severe cut up the leg made an interesting sight to behold! But what a great bass player.



As always - superb entertainment from this Californian punk band. The guitarist (Fletcher) was not impressed by the slamming in the pit - he felt more effort was required calling the audience lazy. This is a bit rich from a band who don't tour over here - only playing the UK at Festivals such as this. That said they were excellent playing a good range of new and back catalogue stuff and ending with the usual "Bro Hymn" with loads of the crowd joining them on stage.


Voodoo Glow Skulls 29th April 1999 - The Garage, London

I saw this lot years ago at The Duchess in Leeds and they were superb, so I was looking forward to this one.

The evening kicked off with a band called, something like, Department 16. They were SHIT!!! They were playing some kind of mixed up disco, come Prodigy, come Rage Against The Machine wank. It was absolutely crap - have you got the picture yet?! The rest of the audience felt pretty much the same as well!

On came VGS - who stormed through loads of their excellent back catalogue. This was great for me and my brother - but hopeless for all the "I saw The Offspring when they were number 1" tenny bopper wankers in the crowd. Unfortunatly - the band realised that only a few of the (sell out) crowd knew the songs - and they weren't best pleased!

It was a shame 'cos this was the last night of VGS's European tour and they were clearly up for it - they were playing really tight, violently fast, ska-core punk at its best - but the audience just didn't get it. Still it was a great night - despite a few near fights with some of the children!

Hepcat 23rd February 1999 - The Garage, London

2nd time in the UK and probably one of the best gigs I have ever seen! Kicking off we had - as in November 1998 - Intensified - if you get the chance - check 'em out. A real quality Ska band from Kent (England). I wasn't totally convinced the first time round, but this time they were superb!! A couple of their songs which appear on their latest single - "Fat Cat" and "You'd Better Run" are two of the best Ska tracks I have ever heard!

Check out the excellent "Don't Slam The Door" a compilation of their early ('93 through '96) singles and compilation tracks.

2nd up were "Mouthwash" a very young hardcore punk band from England. After an, understandably, nervous start this band proved that they know how to (punk) rock with a bit of Ska-Punk thrown in! Let's face it - this lot were playing to a pretty much straight Ska crowd (with the odd exception) and they rightly went down very well. Pretty much like a mix of 'Strung Out' and 'Operation Ivy' they made an excellent juxtaposition of music with the clean Ska of Intensified and Hepcat.

On then to Hepcat. What can I say - they kicked off with the superb 'Nigel' (my personal favourite from their last - highly acclaimed - album 'Right On Time') and played through a fair majority of that album and despite missing one of the horn section (on TV presentation duty apparently) they showed just why they are reckoned to be the best Ska band around at the moment.

 All in All a really excellent night - and yes - I did get very, very drunk!!


The Stranglers - 22nd and 25th January 1999 The Sheraton, Auckland, New Zealand and Sweetlands, New Zealand

Wow - what a globe-trotter this man is. Well, no - got to admit this is a review of the above concert by Michael Kerridge - many thanks to him for allowing me to add this one - here you go;

I promised you a run-down on the Stranglers performance in New Zealand, and here it is. It was phenomenal! Far better than their 95 concert here, and that was excellent. They're getting better all the time! Their set was tight, raw, powerful and energetic, and it certainly impressed the thousands that saw them. All of the people I went with are now official Stranglers fans!

The songs really suited the festival-most of them from Hugh days, but also the best from the new line up. They included Nice n Sleazy, Straighten Out, Thrown Away, Hanging Around, Money, No More Heroes, Always The Sun, Skin Deep, Golden Brown, All Day and All Of The Night, Brainbox, Toiler on the Sea, Raven and Coup de Grace, which is fantastic live as you know already. I must say that God is Good is a fantastic opener, and brings a far more modern sound and look to the band, which they maybe needed, but it works well.

My highlight was actually meeting the band back stage (nervous as hell) and bloody nice fellas at that. JJ greeted me very warmly, along with Jet, while Paul tryed to coax me into playing some silly ball game!

All in all, a killer evening, although the whole Sweetwaters festival was upset by a cash crises. The Stranglers and many others never got paid! Elvis Costello was fuming on the news, yet the Stranglers took it very well.

Let's hope they move into the next century full steam ahead-they deserve far more success!

The Stranglers also played an acoustic set at the Sheraton Auckland with other artists whom included Neil and Tim Finn, Elvis Costello, Donovan ,Grant Lee Buffalo, and Cowboy Junkies-all for Youth Programme charity, on Friday 22nd.

  Order No Mercy - The Authorised Stranglers Biography Today!


Stiff Little Fingers - 19th December 1998 - The BBC Hipperdrome


Another band I have seen on many occasions, in fact SLF were the first live band I saw back on their "Out of Our Skulls" Tour in October '83. Anyway, enough of the history lesson. This event, which was being recorded and filmed for posterity was in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their debut single - Alternative Ulster, along with the forthcoming release (in February 1999) of their new LP "Hope Street" which will be released as part of a double CD package with a "Best Of" compilation on the second disk - in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their debut album "Inflammable Material". Are you still with me?

We all received a free copy off a CD recorded earlier in the year at Newcastle Riverside - limited to around 500 - so should be worth holding onto! This includes a couple of tracks which will appear for the first time on "Hope Street".

When you got into the theatre you were treated to an excellent compilation video of live performances and old videos of the band - including the promotional videos for "Beirut Moon" and "Harp" and some very old footage for "Suspect Device", "Barbed Wire Love" and "Alternative Ulster".

I have to say SLF were clearly well up for the night - I have never seen them play so long (about 2 and a half hours). As usual - I don't have the set list - but the highlights for me were "Harp", "Roots, Radicals, Rockers & Reggae", "Fly The Flag", "Nobody's Hero", and two Jake Burns and the Big Wheel tracks - "Race You To The Grave" and "She Grew Up" (incidentally dedicated to Shirley Sexton who, of course, is the Webmaster at the official S.L.F. site).

If you missed this chance to see the band then check out the web site above for the forthcoming tour dates around the U.K. during February and March 1999.



The Stranglers - 21st November 1998 - Shepherds Bush Empire


OK - this is about the twentieth time I have seen The Stranglers live and every time I absolutely love them and I come home and have to listen to the entire back catalogue again! This time was no exception.

The support act was Laurence Gowan who was, undoubtedly, a very talented piano player and singer. Unfortunately, if I had the chance to go and see a mixture of Elton John and Genesis I think I'd pass! That said he went down a lot better than many of The Stranglers support acts I've seen over the year - and hats off to a man who dares play solo in front of a notoriously difficult audience. Not a patch on the excellent Mike Peters who supported (solo) the band on two previous tours.

On then to The Stranglers. No Waltzinblack or Aural Sculpture to herald the band - just the opening of "God Is Good" and on they walked. I must admit - I didn't realise this was one of the tracks JJ sang on from the new album. I personally love this song - it could have been on the Men In Black album and would surely make an excellent first single from the album with it's very much "in the 90's" sound. The band looked really up for it - this being the last night of a 5 week trek around the UK - they were clearly giving it everything they had.

I have to say that the hour and a half the band played fair whistled past. Other high spots were the JJ sung Raven and In The End - with just JJ and Dave playing. A rollicking 96 Tears, All Day and All Of The Night , Toiler On The Sea, Brainbox, Coup De Grace and 5 Minutes were other excellent highlights showing once more that both Paul Roberts and John Ellis have amply replaced Hugh. And JJ got the intro for No More Heroes spot on! If you want to see a full track listing check out The Rats Lair - link on the main Stranglers Page

All in all a reaffirmation that The Stranglers are alive, well and kicking the shit out of a lot of other "rock" bands poncing about these shores at the moment. (I unfortunately saw a bit of the Oasis live concert on MTV when I got back!) If you've not caught them live recently - hard luck - you'll have to wait for the next tour - but catch them then and see how it should be done.

Before I forget - it was nice to see Dave Greenfield dressed up as a viking - sword and all!!


  Order No Mercy - The Authorised Stranglers Biography Today!


Hepcat - 18th November 1998 - The Garage


Despite 2 Tone being the first music I ever got into - back in the days when The Specials, Madness, Bad Manners et al were charging their way up the charts, this was the first SKA concert I have ever been to. Very Poor! I loved it!

First up were Intensified - a SKA band out of the Hepcat mould from Kent, England. They were excellent - no disrespect to their singer - but the instrumentals were my personal favourites. I couldn't believe how tightly they played. When you have been to as many "punk" concerts as I have - seeing a band who just DO NOT make mistakes and play very well crafted and complicated pieces of music perfectly - is quite a surprise.

Check out the excellent "Don't Slam The Door" a compilation of their early ('93 through '96) singles and compilation tracks.

Next up were Marshall Peanut - go see them if you get the chance. A mixture of (for me) Madness and Ian Dury & The Blockheads all put down on, what was often, a manic beat. The singer looked and acted like Lee Evans - the guitarist was clearly a fan of the Sparks keyboard player - all moody and glaring! You get the picture. Excellent band - again playing really tightly - with enough innovation to really mark them apart from a lot of the Ska-Core bands of the moment. Watch out for this lot in the charts - if there is any justice in the world (mind you with Cher at No1 at the moment there probably isn't) this lot should go far.

Check out their album "May Contain Traces" released on Square Root Recordings, Catalogue Number SRCD001

Then onto the main act - Hepcat. Apparently only off the plane from America that afternoon and absolutely knackered! This was their first ever UK gig - and they were out to impress - and did they ever! Playing mainly back catalogue - only 3 or 4 tracks from their new(est) album "Right On Time" - they had everyone skanking in the place. Track after track of superbly played SKA effortlessly weaved its magic through the hall. The high spot for me was the great track "No Worries" but I was disappointed that they didn't play "Nigel". The big question left on everyone's lips was - "Is Efren Santana (the tenor sax player) really the sun of the great Carlos Santana?"


Check out the following excellent Hepcat albums;

Out of Nowhere - Released on Moon Ska Records - MR032CD


Scientific - Released on BYO Records - BYO 040CD


Right On Time - Released on Hellcat Records - 80406-2


Inflammable Material for all your Punk and Ska CDs


The Stranglers Page

The SLF Page