The packed out crowd at the Lewes Con Club tonight witnessed the rare spectacle of an evening in the company of the original 1977-1980 line-up of The Mekons (Jon Langford drums, Tom Greenhalgh guitar/vocals, Ros Allen bass, Andy Corrigan vocals, Mark White vocals and Kevin Lycett guitar) , known currently as The Mekons 77.
The Mekons formed in Leeds in the late 1970s as an art collective and are one of the longest-running and most prolific of the first-wave British punk rock bands, although during that time they have moved across many music genres.
Through the years, The Mekons musical style has evolved, incorporating aspects of country music, folk music, alternative rock and even occasional experiments with dub. The band has experienced several changes in line-up since their formation over 40 years ago, and although the current line-up of ‘Mekons’ are writing and recording music, playing shows and touring, the original ‘The Mekons 77’ have reunited and are playing live shows for a limited time and the Lewes gig is one of those.
The band were responsible for the totally epic ‘Where Were You?” single which has truly stood the test of time – I never got bored of it. If anything I have always felt that it was just never long enough and I would immediately pick the needle up and place it at the start of my prized 7” vinyl and listen again, oh and errr again.
The six-piece politically and socially aware Mekons 77 are more like a collective on stage rather than a solid band, having been off on their own separate projects. It feels that they got together for the fun of it, for possibly one last tour and one last album – ‘It Is Twice Blessed’. As the singer stated at the Lewes gig tonight, that it was probably the punters last chance to see them as by the fiftieth anniversary they might be dead. This was typical of the bands sense of irony and humour.
Their sound arguably led the way to acts such as The Fire Engines and other bands of that ilk. Looking at them today, there is not a hint of a punk past. The singer (Mark White) was revelling in his dad-disco-dancing with his tank top on. He told us that his tank top was his proudest possession as it was the first jumper finished by a Ugandan disabled school, when he was out there volunteering three years ago. Very admirable!
The surprise track of their set tonight was ‘The Building’ which was simply one guy doing a cappella. The highlights of the night was ‘Dan Dare’ culled from their 1979 debut album ‘The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen’, the debut 1978 single ‘Never Been In A Riot’, and the aforementioned legendary follow-up single ‘Where Were You?”. At last I have finally heard the song live!
The Mekons setlist was:
‘32 Weeks’, ‘Healey Wavin’’, ‘Rosanne’, ‘Fight The Cuts’, ‘Stay Cool’, ‘Never Been In A Riot’, ‘After 6’, ‘Corporal Chalkie’, ‘Still Waiting’, ‘Lonely And Wet’, ‘The Building’ (solo a cappella), ‘Trevira Trousers’, ‘Dan Dare’, (encore) ‘What Are We Going To Do Tonight’, ‘Where Were You?’, ‘Elevator’
For further information on The Mekons 77, try here: https://www.themekons.co.uk/ and you can grab their new vinyl album here: https://www.themekons.co.uk/shop/it-is-twice-blessed-vinyl-lp
There were two support acts tonight. The first was Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls and Jon Langford is actually The Mekons 77 drummer, although him and his band were playing a totally different sound from the main act. It was soulful blues and went down well with the crowd.
The second support was Sussex’s finest comedy punk band ASBO Derek. If you think along the lines of the infamous part-time punks the Television Personalities crossed with I, Ludicrous and the off-the-wall lyrics of Neil Arthur from Blancmange, then that’s about sums them up.
The band have been together for around eleven years but only got around to releasing their debut album last year. You can find it on their Bandcamp page here https://asboderek.bandcamp.com/releases, where you will read that….. “Asbo Derek is a band not a bloke. Vic Godard is a fan, so much so that he has released their LP on his own label, GNUincRecords. He describes the album as “songs for arseholes doing ridiculous things because they think they’ll look arseholes if they don’t.” Asbo Derek’s particular form of affordable art has been described as ‘double-garage cabaret’”.
The lucky Con Clubbers were treated to a nine song set of humorous ditties that included: ‘Velcro Shoes’, ‘Crimp It’, ‘Lost At The Buddhist Centre’, ‘Crook Of The Elbow’, ‘Canary Wharf’, ‘Power Mensa’, ‘Bryan Ferry’s B*llbag’
Arguably the most bizarre track being a list of lost property items listed as missing by a Buddhist centre. The most visually amusing being the ‘Crook Of The Elbow’ which was an observation of how people wear their bags on the joints of their arms and outstretch them as if to say ‘look at me’. Their naughtiest, well, I am sure you can guess. The final song was sung by their drummer.
More inanities here: https://www.facebook.com/asbo.derek.9