The Hunt for Gene October takes me to Lewes on an April night

Posted On 16 Apr 2019 at 2:24 pm

Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

CHELSEA + THE DERELLAS – THE CON CLUB, LEWES 13.04.19

Saturday night and another trip to The Con Club beckoned. Considering I had never been here until the back-end of last year, I have rapidly fallen in love with this venue as they continue attract many bands from my youth.

Nic Austin from Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Tonight, it was the turn of Chelsea. The first time I saw Chelsea was as an impressionable 17-year-old way back in December 1981, when they were the first band onstage at a concert headlined by The Damned at The Lyceum in London. To be honest, I don’t remember too much about their performance at that gig, which also included Anti-Nowhere League, Charge and, Black Flag.

Mat Sargent from Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Since then I would occasionally catch them as a support act on my regular Sunday night jaunt to the same venue, but I never went out of my way to see them and the only fickle reason being their name. After witnessing former Chelsea player Paul Canoville being racially abused by his own supporters in 1982 I was put off all things Chelsea and that somehow included the band! It was nothing personal Gene and please don’t take it to heart as I also ignored The Wedding Present until 2017 because they named an album ‘George Best.’ So here I am in 2019, a far more mature individual prepared to give them a second chance, unlike the football team.

The DeRellas live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

First up were The DeRellas. If only I had watched the local news, then maybe I would have been prepared for the tornado that was hitting Lewes at around 8.50pm. In true Ramones style, with bassist Luca even sporting a Johnny Ramone hairstyle, they hit the stage running hardly stopping to draw breath. With their glam punk style, it is obvious to see why comparisons have been made with the likes of The Heartbreakers and New York Dolls.

The DeRellas, Timmy (left) and Luca (right) live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

There was barely any time for interaction as the band went through their setlist in double quick time having appeared onstage 20 minutes later than was originally planned, though they did tell us that they had just returned from touring Spain where they had all gone down with Spanish Flu, promising us that we would all likely catch it tonight. At this point I withdrew from my normal position of centre stage near the front to the relative safety of a slightly more mid-audience position.

Billy Chaos from The DeRellas live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Apart from that, the only other break was when Timmy had technical issues with his amp and had a few seconds to fix it, which luckily was noticed by Billy on drums who was able to relieve us of the chaos by slowing proceedings down.

Timmy (left) and Luca (right) from The DeRellas live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

In amongst all the mayhem they played their recent singleHigh Rise Supersize which came out on April 6th last year and is well worth a listen at a rather lengthy, for them, three minutes and seventeen seconds.

The DeRellas live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Despite the relentless onslaught they still didn’t have time for their encore, not that the crowd requested one as they were satisfied with the performance.

The DeRellas, Timmy (left) and Joey (right) live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

The DeRellas are: Joey DeRella (vocals, guitar), Luca DeRella (lead guitar, backing vocals), Timmy DeRella (bass, backing vocals), Billy Chaos (drums).

Gene October from Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Next up was the main act of the night with Chelsea set to take to the stage in Lewes for the very first time. Having supported bands such as The Clash, The Damned and The Buzzcocks back in 1977, Chelsea are a band with punk pedigree having been present at its inception. The short-lived original line up of 1976 even included Billy Idol and Tony James, who went onto form Generation X.

Nic Austin (left) and Gene October (right) from Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

The demographic of tonight’s audience demonstrated that they have not caught the imagination of the younger generation in Lewes and surrounding areas, as Chelsea’s pensioner fan-base were out in force. Apologies to those younger crowd members but there weren’t too many of you to be seen.

Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Chelsea went straight onto the attack as they started off withNo Admission the B side to their second single and followed it up with the title track to their most recent album Mission Impossible,’ (which you can order HERE) warming up the crowd nicely. This performance was set to be more that of a Carlo Ancelotti Chelsea team than a Jose Mourinho one. It wasn’t long before a bit of a mosh pit got going with local social media celebrity Smelly at the centre of it.

Steve Grainger from Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Given that I thought I had not taken much notice of Chelsea when they were at their peak, I was amazed that I actually knew so many of the songs they played tonight. As it was, with the exception of about four songs, all their set was taken from the 1977-1982 period, so it really was a trip down memory lane for the old school punks. I was surprised to hear that Chelsea had released their entire back catalogue of albums in the ‘Chelsea Definitive Anthology’ volumes 1,2 & 3, with each volume including three albums chronologically, but that was down to them being off my radar for so long and I didn’t realise they had so much material. Grab your copies here – Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3. My highlight of the set was I’m on Fire which had me singing along with the rest of the crowd.

Nic Austin (left) and  Gene October (right) from Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Again, there wasn’t much interaction with the crowd apart from the odd “How are you Lewes?” but it wasn’t noticeable as they belted out one song after another in an unrelenting set. There were though some well-choreographed synchronised right footed kicks directed towards the audience from Nic on guitar and Mat on bass, who both appeared to be enjoying themselves. I have to admit that I had some admiration for Nic’s Mohican as sadly I never attempted one in my day despite having a secret urge to do so.

Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

As we reached the encore Gene did say that he was going to play another fifteen songs, but time was against him and we had to settle for just the five, finishing off with crowd favourite, the classic Right To Work.’

Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Tonight, I had set my expectation levels low as I had not seen Chelsea for a number of years and not all bands age well, but I was pleasantly surprised, not a phrase that I use often at a punk gig, with the energy they produced, and I enjoyed their set of all-out attack. You can trust that I won’t be ignoring their music for another 37 years.

Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Chelsea are: Gene October (Vocals), Nic Austin (Guitar), Mat Sargent (Bass Guitar), Steve Grainger (Drums).

Steve Grainger from Chelsea live at The Con Club, Lewes 13.04.19 (pic Nick Tutt / Captivitas Photography)

Read our Chelsea 2018 Brighton gig report HERE

Gig flyer

Tour flyer

Chelsea setlist

The DeRellas setlist

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