‘Reason To Be Cheerful’ – The Blockheads

Posted On 27 Jun 2019 at 12:46 pm
The Blockheads live at The Old Market, Hove 14.06.19 (pic Nick Linazasoro)


Over forty years after their founding, and nineteen after their original frontman’s death, The Blockheads are embarking on their 41st-anniversary tour and doing it with style, swagger and verve.

Combining the individual bandmates influence of jazz, blues, reggae, funk, rock and roll, and music hall, they formed one of the most popular punk rock alternatives of the late seventies and early eighties. 

Of course, it’s hard to write a review of The Blockheads without mentioning the late, lamented Ian Dury who was so integral to the Blockheads sound, as lead singer and lyricist, but when they formed in 1977 the original line up included Chaz Jankel (keyboards and guitar), Norman Watt-Roy (bass guitar), John Turnbull (guitar) and Mick Gallagher (keyboards), all of which were very much here tonight. They were joined by John Roberts (drums), Gilad Atzmon (sax) and Derek “The Draw” Hussey (lead vocals and wordsmith).

It was clear that many people had travelled from all over the country to see them play live, tonight, (most not for the first time, from the tales that they told me). 

I along with quite a few others in the audience had not previously experienced them live, despite remembering them fondly and feeling that along with Squeeze, ELO and many others, they had soundtracked my youth, only to be picked up again with the expansion of my CD collection in the late eighties, however, when they came out onto the stage at The Old Market and they blew EVERYONE away!

The Blockheads live at The Old Market, Hove 14.06.19 (pic Nick Linazasoro)

Together they were really tight, which with the majority of them having the benefit of working together for more than four decades, is understandable. 

It seems unfair, with such an exceptional band to single any one of the members out, but I particularly enjoyed Watt-Roy, (who is considered one of the greatest British bass players of all-time), with his incessant, funky moves being incredibly mesmerizing. 

Derek’s vocals made the songs his own, not just a tribute to Ian’s, and the new material was (without an encyclopaedic knowledge of their back catalogue) pretty much indiscernible from the more well-known tracks.

They had the audience in the palm of their hand from start to finish, with almost everyone dancing for the entire concert and the band seemed genuinely pleased to be there.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I have sung and smiled and roared and danced so much in one night, but perhaps that was the ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’! 

The Blockheads live at The Old Market, Hove 14.06.19 (pic Nick Linazasoro)

The setlist reads:

‘Wake Up And Make Love To Me’

‘Hold Up’ (new)

‘Express Yourself’ (new)


‘Billericay Dickie’

‘What A Waste’

‘Head Above Water’ (new)

‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’ 

‘I Want To Be Straight’

‘Fact Or Fiction’ (new)

‘Tear It Up’ (new)

‘Sweet Gene Vincent’

‘Clever Trevor’

‘Reasons To Be Cheerful(Part 3)/Jack Sh*t George’ (This sounded like a brilliant extended version).

‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’


‘Don’t Put It Off ‘Til Tomorrow’ (new)


More information on The Blockheads HERE.

Junkyard Sons live at The Old Market, Hove 14.06.19 (pic Nick Linazasoro)

The support band tonight were called Junkyard Sons, who were a likeable 6 piece all original blues-rock band, made up of two guitars, bass guitar, harmonica/ tambourine, lead vocals and drums.

They were very enjoyable, sounding similar to the theme tune from ‘The Sopranos’ ‘(Woke Up This Morning)’ by Alabama 3 with a bit of Fun Lovin’ Criminals thrown in for good measure, but all their own compositions.

A huge simplification would be to say that they consisted of great riffs, spanking guitars and  thumping drums, that you could feel in your chest.

I would have liked to have seen a longer set, but obviously being the support act, they were limited to how long they could play for us. I’m sure that we’ll get the chance to catch them again sometime soon.

Overall, a fabulous night that left me smiling from ear to ear.

More info on the band HERE.

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