ALVIN GIBBS & THE DISOBEDIENT SERVANTS + CRIMINAL MIND + CHARLIE HARPER – CON CLUB, LEWES 08.09.19
Yes folks, tonight was one of those special nights! Not only were there punk stars on stage, but the audience was littered with them! It was one large extended happy family!
I’m reasonably sure that the Bristol based promoters ‘Death Or Glory’ would have been pretty chuffed with their debut Lewes concert last night, as they managed to entice a number of quality ‘punky types’ down to the capital of East Sussex in order to witness the new joint venture between members of the UK Subs and Ruts DC.
The Brighton & Hove News Music Team were very pleased to share banter with a number of well known artists, especially Nick Culmer who we had reported had got glassed in the head last month. Nick aka Animal was there with his Anti-Nowhere League bandmates. Clearly Nick was still rather fragile as a direct result of his horrific ordeal, but I was pleased that he had made the effort to drop down from Tunbridge Wells in order to witness the nights events.
Also in attendance was none other than the former bass player of The Adverts, Gaye Advert, who is now known as Gaye Black. We interviewed her last month – you can read it HERE.
She had made the trip down from London last night in order to support Alvin and the boys. Gaye has been building a fine reputation in the art world of late (Saatchi Gallery etc) and has previously designed Alvin’s ‘Ghost Train’ single cover.
Also giving their support was Debs DeRella and her husband Timmy from the DeRellas who are famed for running the very popular ‘Rockaway Beach’ club in London. Ali Gaven and Victoria Smith from the wonderfully named Cockwomble were there too. Victoria is also rather well known as a member of The Ramonas. Punk legend Jordan was also in attendance sporting her brand new glasses. I heard Charlie Harper telling her that he liked them, so that’s given them the ‘Royal’ seal of approval.
There might have even been further punk celebs in attendance, but it was a busy night and so if you are one, then we do apologise for not popping across and saying “Hi!”.
The night was kicked off at 8:10pm by the aforementioned Charlie Harper who is famed as being the UK Subs frontman. This evening he was totally happy in offering his services for free in order to give his bandmates Alvin Gibbs (bass guitar) and drummer Jamie Oliver the seal of approval. It was an enjoyable 32 minute acoustic set by Charlie, who sat there with his guitar, harmonica and two glasses of whiskey and coke. The setlist tonight was confined to the pocket in his bag backstage as Charlie worked his way through a selection of Subs classics including ‘Stranglehold’, ‘CID’, ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’ and ‘Warhead’. The latter proved very popular with the crowd and virtually everyone sang along with him. The set wasn’t confined to just UK Subs material and compositions by the likes of Woody Guthrie were performed. I suspect that it was intended to have been ‘Charlie Harper plays like Bob Dylan’, but in fact it was more akin to Jonathan Richman, who was making it up as he went along. The punters didn’t care one bit, they simply lapped up the charm oozing from the stage.
After a short break it was time (8:50pm) for the Con Club faithful to witness an energy filled set by Bristol’s Criminal Mind. The lads formed the band in 2008 and released their ‘Life To Defend’ album in 2015, and prior to that in 2012 their self titled debut album hit the streets. The band members are Josh, D, Abel and Jake and they have previously shared stages with Ruts DC, The Exploited, GBH, Discharge, Buzzcocks, UK Subs, Sham 69, Cockney Rejects, Street Dogs, Subhumans, The Adicts, The Business, The Restarts and more. I can recall that they performed in Brighton a few years back at the ‘Undercover’ festival which made it’s only local Sussex appearance up at Brighton Racecourse. The four lads certainly offered us a decent fast set full of energy and so it’s no wonder that they have been added to the London Punk Festival lineup which takes place on 21st September and also features Anti-Nowhere League, Discharge, Chron Gen, Vice Squad, The Ramonas, Steve Ignorant and Knock Off. Criminal Minds Con Club set was well received and their second tune had ska overtones, whereas their final number was like a 100mph sea shanty. They dedicated a track to Motörhead, which sounded not unlike a cross between that and Rotten Foxes. After 39 minutes it was all over. My mate loved it and snapped up their album.
At 9:49pm the intro tape was hit and on strolled Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants to much aplomb. Folks might not be aware, but this is the relatively new music project that’s been put together by the UK Subs and ex-Iggy Pop bassist Alvin Gibbs. He has got together with UK Subs’ drummer Jamie Oliver and Ruts’ guitarist Leigh Heggarty and this evening is assisted by Steve Crittall, who has been a member of The Selecter and also up until very recently a member of The Godfathers and has connections with Ten Benson.
The nature of the music resolutely reflects Gibbs’ key influences over five decades: 1977-style Punk rock, Glam rock and 1960’s/70’s Garage and classic rock ‘n’ roll – and this was the staple diet that the Disobedient Servants served up during their exciting set. No soon as they arrived on stage, they were off performing the opener from their new ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ album, which is called ‘Arterial Pressure’. Then they immediately launched straight into their ‘Ghost Train’ single.
There was so much raw energy and power emanating from the stage, that it was an impressive feat. Next up was one of Alvin’s penned tracks from the UK Subs 2015 ‘Yellow Leader’ album in the form of ‘Bordeaux Red’, which was hotly followed by another one of Alvin’s UK Subs compositions, namely ‘Drag Me Down’ from their 1989 ‘Killing Time’ album.
Alvin and the lads also plundered material from his Iggy Pop touring days, which came in the form of 1980 Iggy & The Stooges ‘I Got A Right’ from the ‘I’m Sick Of You’ album and The Stooges 1970 ‘Fun House’ opener ‘Down On The Street’. I personally felt that these two tracks were arguably the most powerful of the night and I for one loved them!
Alvin then halted proceedings to share a touring comparison between his time with Iggy Pop and Charlie Harper and the UK Subs. Talk about chalk and cheese! The gist of the story was that when Alvin was touring with Iggy Pop, they arrived at their hotel in São Paulo, Brazil and Iggy asked where the swimming pool was, there’s wasn’t one, and so he asked where the bar was, there wasn’t one, and so Iggy said that he wasn’t staying there. Whereas when on tour with Charlie and the UK Subs boys, they were driving around the Netherlands looking for a squat where they were meant to be performing. Charlie chirped up about simply asking a punk on a bike where the squat was, which obviously was an extremely long shot. Amazingly they were passed by a punk on a bike who actually knew where the squat was. There was just one light-bulb in this barn that had a cart-horse in it. Charlie said it would be fine as long as they got the horse out. Alvin said that it was one of the very best UK Subs gigs ever – rock’n’roll eh?
Back on the music front, and another UK Subs track raised its head in the form of ‘Guru’ from the 2013 ‘Work In Progress’ album. This was followed by an absolute corker in the form of ‘In A Rut’/’Warhead’/’In A Rut’ medley. They were joined on stage by Charlie Harper for the ‘Warhead’ part, and this went down a storm. These guys are seriously talented musicians and it was an honour to be able to watch them perform for us.
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