THE LONDON SS + UKULELE SUBS – THE PIPELINE, BRIGHTON 24.11.18
Tonight was to be my very first venture into The Pipeline located in Little East Street, Brighton to witness two contrasting acts, namely The London SS and Ukulele Subs.
I had been invited to the compact event by the Ukulele Subs – more from them shortly.
The London SS, as legend has it, was the breeding ground for future legendary punk bands. The band itself were clearly well ahead of the game as they formed as early as March 1975 having bumped into each other a month earlier on the Portobello Road in London. These four founding members were guitarist Eunan Brady, bassist John Brown, drummer Geir Wade and some guitarist called Mick Jones! Yes THE Mick Jones of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite!
The London SS were (initially) all over by 1976, just as the punk movement was starting to take a grip of the country. They hadn’t released any material other than their being a rumour of a cassette recording hiding somewhere in the depths of Mick Jones old flat. But within this very short space of time, they could claim that some of the gracious and the good from the punk world had passed through their ranks. Namely future Generation X, Chelsea and Sigue Sigue Sputnik impresario Tony James, and future The Damned and Lords Of The New Church band member Brian James (who is no relation to Tony).
It’s also reported that The Damned’s drummer Rat Scabies had also played with London SS and in fact many other notable musicians tried out for the band but did not make the cut. These included two future members of The Clash, Paul Simonon and Terry Chimes. Another future Clash member, Nicky “Topper” Headon, was asked to join but declined. So the London SS was, as some would arguably say, one of the main catalysts for the punk rock movement. Although their choice of band name sat uneasy with many people (as did Joy Division’s name) as the SS could be mistaken for a reference to ‘The Schutzstaffel’.
Wind the clocks forward to 2012 and founding member Eunan Brady has together another ensemble under The London SS banner. He wanted to clarify the bands name and so has posted a disclaimer of their website stating “The London SS neither support nor condone nazism, neo-nazism, fascism, racism, sexism, bullying, homophobia or random acts of tw*tism!”.
Brady wasn’t new to the music business as he had been in a glam rock/protopunk band called The Hollywood Brats from 1972 to 1975. Interestingly enough the bands initial name was The Queen, but obviously Freddie Mercury’s lot came along and so Eunan’s outfit were obliged to change their name. Amusingly, Brady was recruited into The Hollywood Brats through an advertisement in Melody Maker for a guitarist “drunk on scotch and Keith Richards” and funnily enough, that’s exactly how I would describe Brady’s appearance tonight. However, when I was talking to him prior to tonight’s memorable performance, I pointed out that I felt that there was a Lords Of The New Church image going on here, in reference to lead singer Stiv Bators, who was in the band as well as being in the Dead Boys.
So here we are upstairs at The Pipeline in Brighton. It’s raining outside, but nobody’s spirits have been dampened. The room is compact to say the least and so whatever happens, this is going to be an intimate affair. There’s five band members located at the back of the room and according to wikipedia the lineup is Eunan Brady, Jimi McDonald, Taj Sagoo, Michael Kane, and Andi Emm, but I suspect that this might not be the exact five blokes in front of me.
Suffice to say that at least 40% of the band are absolutely mullered and obviously living the roots punk rock/rock’n’roll lifestyle to the full. This however wasn’t a bad thing as it gave the event a real edgy feel to their dozen song set, which included two encores!
They performed all 4 tracks for their 2015 EP ‘No Beards, No Beerguts, No Beginners’, namely ‘Imitation’, ‘Star’, ‘Sell Out’ and ‘King Drag’, and played ‘Zurich 17 (Be My Baby)’ and ‘Sick On You’ and both of which can be found of The Hollywood Brats album, with the latter also appearing on criminally underrated 1977 The Boys self-titled album.
The crowd wouldn’t let them leave and so they also gave us ‘Jet Boy’ by the New York Dolls as their first encore track and then went onto unleash their take on The Stooges ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ as the second encore track.
What must be said is that this clearly wasn’t your ordinary performance, as the shirtless Irish singer (and nearly trouser-less too – he got his rear out in true Iggy Pop style) was off on one. He was stupendous as he larked around on the heads and backs of the crowd, with once falling a few feet onto the hard floor. It had no effect as clearly the Guinness had done its job. He was sprawling around the floor and at one stage there was a full bundle with another band member and members of the crowd. It was nothing malicious, just sheer drunken shenanigans! You rarely get anything like this anymore and it was a joy to have been there!
The London SS setlist reads: ‘Pipeline’, ‘Sick On You’, ‘KGB’, ‘King Drag’, ‘Zurich 17 (Be My Baby)’, ‘Star’, ‘Dirty Love’, ‘Imitation’, ‘Sell Out’, ‘Kick It (‘You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party!’)’, ‘Jet Boy’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’.
Support tonight came from a UK Subs tribute band called the Ukulele Subs. For those of you that don’t know, the UK Subs are a legendary punk band that formed in 1976 and are fronted by the wonderful 74 year old forever punk rocker Charlie Harper. After 42 years on the case, he is still going strong with the band. Charlie is like a national institution and clearly many people think this. People like Ukulele Subs band members Neil Keenan (ukulele/vocals/Devo fan) and Dave Fanning (bass) and Finnish born Satu Salonpaa (percussion/harmony vocals) clearly think this as they have a shared love of ukuleles and the UK Subs. They hit on the idea of strumming away to their favourite Subs songs, plus a few other punk rock classics thrown in for good measure.
The Ukulele Subs, with their trademark giant sized brightly coloured spectacles, is clearly a case of thinking outside the box, and the punters tonight certainly went along with the notion as they applauded every faithful rendition. They performed no less than 13 UK Subs compositions, which included the singles ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’, ‘Teenage’, ‘Warhead’ and ‘Stranglehold’ as well as album faves. Plus for good measure they rounded off their set with Sham 69’s ‘Hurry Up Harry’ anthem and The Buzzcocks timeless classic ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’.
The Ukulele Subs would be ideal for music festivals such as Glastonwick! Maybe someone tell Attila The Stockbroker!
The Ukulele Subs setlist reads: ‘C.I.D’, ‘B.1.C’, ‘Telephone Numbers’, ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’, ‘Teenage’, ‘I Couldn’t Be You’, ‘Scum Of The Earth’, ‘Left For Dead’, ‘Time And Matter’, ‘Killers’, ‘I Live In A Car’, ‘Warhead’, ‘Stranglehold’, ‘Hurry Up Harry’, ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’.
So in conclusion, a fab night out with very friendly people. Would love to do it all over again – hint hint guys!