UK SUBS + 40 SHILLINGS ON THE DRUM + THE DINZ – THE CON CLUB, LEWES 11.11.18
On realising that I would be writing a review of the UK Subs gig at The Con Club in Lewes, I decided to rummage through my vinyl collection to give them a listen again. I was aghast to find that I only possess one 7” single and that is a cover of ‘She’s Not There’ by The Zombies, which apparently was sung by Paul Slack and not even Mr Harper. It is also a UK Subs rarity in that it is not even a picture sleeve or coloured vinyl!
Having seen the band live on numerous occasions dating back to 1981, this certainly surprised me as I was positive that I had purchased other singles as they were regulars on Top of the Pops when it was half decent. The burning question was whether tonight would encourage me to add to that solitary piece of UK Subs vinyl?
Another anomaly was that given the numerous punk, post punk, psychobilly and indie bands that play at The Con(stitutional) Club, unbelievably this was the first time that I had frequented the venue. First impressions were definitely good with nice staff, reasonably priced alcoholic beverages and a perfect sized room to see a band.
For those of you who have not ventured to Lewes previously then be aware that parking can be tricky and as a result I unfortunately missed most of the set, only catching the final song, of recently formed punk band The Dinz,
They sounded good and went down well with the crowd in an emotion packed evening for them given the recent sad passing of their lead guitarist, Stroph.
Brighton based, 40 Shillings On The Drum were next on stage.
An interesting mix of styles with somewhat punk lyrics and a definite heavy metal influence on guitar. They had a large following in the room and went down well with the local crowd.
The moment I was waiting for soon arrived and the UK Subs were next up on stage. In preparation lead singer Charlie Harper had been hanging around the merchandise stall speaking to all the subversives and posing for photos, for most of the evening. Now it was time for things to get serious.
From the word go the crowd were gripped, thankfully not in a real ‘stranglehold’, but by the relentless barrage of songs from their massive back catalogue. I was feeling a bit ‘fragile’ to begin with but dared to venture into the SWAMP (Seniors With Attitude Mosh Pit) after the pace of the set took its toll on those who had peaked too early. It was to end up being a sweaty affair.
I lost track of how many songs they played in their hour long set, but it must have been edging close to twenty and unbelievably no setlist! I suppose when you play what’s rumoured to be around 200 gigs a year then you get to know your setlist off by heart.
As is to be expected most of the favourites were played including; ‘Warhead’, which accurately predicted the future way back in 1980; ‘Stranglehold’, always guaranteed to get the crowd going; ‘CID’, ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’, ‘Rockers’, ‘Fragile’, ‘Party In Paris’ and ‘Keep On Running (Til You Burn)’, but to mention a few.
Not too much time for interaction with the crowd, but when there was, it was good humoured with ‘the real’ Jamie Oliver (longest serving drummer) and Alvin Gibbs (bass on several occasions since 1980) getting involved. Steve Straughan looked the part on guitar and the Subs are tight as a unit.
The longevity of the band obviously centres around 74 year old Charlie Harper. 42 years as lead singer of the UK Subs, his voice appears as strong as ever and he still manages the very occasional onstage pogo. Given the punk rock lifestyle that he has lived it is wonderful, some may say miraculous, to still see him going strong and entertaining us old punks.
A couple of light hearted stage invaders during the encore and one impromptu dancing woman from the crowd, added to the enjoyment and atmosphere of a good natured punk gig.
There was no self-publicising of the impending EP due out this month, ‘Screaming Senile’, which is their first ever fully independent release and for which the Launch Party is on November 21st in Nuneaton.
I suspect that after tonight I will be giving it a listen and I will most definitely be adding to my depleted UK Subs collection. Judging by tonight’s performance there is no better place to start than with the first two albums, ‘Another Kind of Blues’ and ‘Brand New Age’, and work my way through their full alphabetically ordered back catalogue of albums. It could take a while!
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