‘Wise Up! Sucker’, ‘Everything’s Cool’ as ‘The Poppies Strike Back’ at Brighton gig

Posted On 12 Dec 2021 at 7:08 pm

Graham Crabb from Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

POP WILL EAT ITSELF + ABDOUJAPAROV – CHALK, BRIGHTON 11.12.21

Having recently witnessed an enjoyable concert from Gaye Bykers On Acid (see our review HERE), I noted that band member Mary Byker is also in Pop Will Eat Itself. “Ah ha!” I thought to myself, I know where I will be on Saturday 11th December 2021 at CHALK live concert venue where I will be experiencing a night of dance and jollification courtesy of ‘The Poppies’ or if you prefer Pop Will Eat Itself aka PWEI.

Mary Byker from Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Pop Will Eat Itself last played live in our city nearly three years ago when they thrilled music lovers at the Concorde 2 on 21st December 2018. Their 19 song setlist on that night included a couple of fantastic cover versions, the Prodigy’s ‘Their Law’ and Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’ a brilliant tribute to the late Buzzcocks frontman who had died a few weeks previously on 6th December.

Pop Will Eat Itself  and fans at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Pop Will Eat Itself formed in the West Midlands back in 1986 and in the following decade they had some great chart success, with hits including Def. Con. One,Can U Dig It’, ‘Wise Up! Sucker and my fave a cover of Sigue Sigue Sputnik’sLove Missile F1-11’.

Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

In 1996 they called it a day, only to briefly reform in 2005 and now have been back together since 2010 and they have gone down a storm at Festivals and sold out shows around the country including the Indie Daze Festival 2015 and 2016.

Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

The current Pop Will Eat Itself line-up are Graham Crabb (original drummer, later co-frontman/vocalist and main songwriter), Richard March (original member and later Bentley Rhythm Ace), original member Adam Mole (keyboards), vocalist Mary Byker (Gaye Bykers On Acid, Apollo 440), drummer Fuzz Townshend (Bentley Rhythm Ace, General Public) and bassist Davey Bennett (This Burning Age).

Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Such is the excitement around the band that Cherry Red Records have released a 75 track 4CD set of PWEI career spanning work. It’s entitled ‘PWEI: Def Comms 86-18’ and you can grab yours HERE.

PWEI belly slamming (left) and PWEI fans from Worthing (right) at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Tonight on a cold winter night at CHALK we witnessed ‘The Poppies Strike Back’ as they performed an 84 minute blaster consisting of 19 career spanning tunes and a cover version. During the set I was to see the error of my ways as amazingly this was my very first encounter with ‘The Poppies’ and I was perplexed as to why this was my debut concert for them. Back in the day, they were always at the fringes of what I liked and they even covered Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s ‘Love Missile F1-11’ which I dutifully purchased on 12”, but I just didn’t go and see them live. I guess that ‘Sputnik’, The Shamen, Utah Saints, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb and hard CORPS simply had more draw for me.

Graham Crabb from Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Very late to the ‘Poppies’ party, I came on board from 8:15pm, when their intro tape blasted out ‘The Incredible P.W.E.I. vs. the Moral Majority’, which is also used as the backing for their tune ‘The B Side’. Just prior to them appearing, the stage crew were putting together interlocking rubber stage mats for the duo of vocalists Graham Crabb and Mary Byker to springboard on and thus gain more height. This was a fine idea for the mere mortals, but should you be a certain number 7 for Manchester United, then you wouldn’t have needed them.

Mary Byker from Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

The format of the band this evening was the aforementioned duo of lead vocalists along with a keyboardist and guitarist (not at the same time!), a bass player (who looked like a dreadlocked version of Sputnik’s Tony James), another guitarist, and finally a drummer. To our left (stage right) there was also a laptop which no doubt handled all of the programming.

Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

They opened with ‘Dance Of The Mad Bastards’ which had bundles of funky guitar and drums over layered with Run DMC style vocals. A great choice to lay out your stall and thus the punters reacted accordingly and bounced around and several around me at the centre front were singing along to all the words from all of tonight’s tunes. There was no let up as a trio of tunes followed in succession without a real break. Those being ‘Not Now James, We’re Busy…’, ‘Can U Dig It?’ and ‘Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies!’ The choice of these first four was ‘Can U Dig It?’ which was awesome! The crowd were in a relatively controlled frenzy.

Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

After a couple of tracks, they unleashed a relatively new number ‘The Poppies Strike Back’ which I Am informed that it more than likely had its live debut a year ago back on 12th December last year at Islington Assembly Hall in London. This was a really decent rave tune and I loved it, although the keys weren’t loud enough for my liking. It seemed that every track was dual vocal and drumming led and rather funky.

Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Next up was the rather wonderful ‘Nightmare At 20,000ft’, which had a fabulous guitar riff akin to Isaac Hayes ‘Theme From Shaft’. This PWEI corker was one of the best tracks tonight and quite possibly got its inspiration from the classic 1963 black and white ‘Twilight Zone‘ episode featuring William Shatner (that’s Captain Kirk to the rest of us) who was the only passenger on an airline flight to notice a hideous creature wandering around the wing of the plane while it is in flight.

Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

‘Bulletproof!’ was decent and its “aha, aha” lyrics reminded me of the timeless ‘That’s The Way (I Like It)’ hit by KC & The Sunshine Band. This was followed by crowd favourite ‘Def. Con. One’ with its Buzzcocks ‘Something’s Gone Wrong Again’ backbeat. It’s a classic, but still didn’t force me to order a “Big Mac, fries to go…” on the way home! After this came ‘Wake Up! Time To Die…’ which somehow reminded me of Placebo.

Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

The sextet vacated the stage after this and returned to perform no less than a half dozen numbers, starting with ‘Ich Bin Ein Ausländer’ which we were informed was written by band co-founder Clint Mansell. After this came the ridiculously short, 82 second ‘Very Metal Noise Pollution’ ditty followed by the even shorter 61 second ‘Candydiosis’ punk classic.

Graham Crabb from Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

‘Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina’ was the penultimate number and arguably not as good as many of the previous tracks, however, closing number ‘Their Law’ which is a cover of The Prodigy tune, certainly got the mixed aged punters going mad and at 9:39pm it was time for the fella to head to the front of the stage and take a well earned bow!

In conclusion……..luvved it! More please!

Pop Will Eat Itself  live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Pop Will Eat Itself setlist:
‘The Incredible P.W.E.I. vs. the Moral Majority’ (intro tape)
‘Dance Of The Mad Bastards’
‘Not Now James, We’re Busy…’
‘Can U Dig It?’
‘Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies!’
‘Wise Up! Sucker’
‘Everything’s Cool’
‘X Y & Zee’
‘The Poppies Strike Back’
‘Nightmare At 20,000ft’
‘PWEI-zation’
‘Chaos & Mayhem’
‘Bulletproof!’
‘Def. Con. One’
‘Wake Up! Time To Die…’
(encore)
‘Ich Bin Ein Ausländer’
‘Very Metal Noise Pollution’
‘Candydiosis’
‘Inject Me’
‘Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina’
‘Their Law’ (The Prodigy cover)

More on PWEI HERE.

Les Carter with Abdoujaparov live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Support this evening came in the form of the unusually named Abdoujaparov, which is the current work of none other than Les Carter who was one half of the popular Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine. (Back on the day, I hear that they played a decent gig at The Zap Club on 19th June 1990). His nickname is ‘Fruitbat’ and Abdoujaparov is named after the drug-taking road racing cyclist Djamolidine Mirgarifanovich Abdoujaparov from Uzbekistan.

Yours truly (crowd right) enjoying Abdoujaparov live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

The mood was certainly set just prior to Abdoujaparov taking to the stage as the soundsystem was blurting out the 1985 industrial classic ‘Don’t Crash’ by Front 242. They were an immense band and I was fortunate enough to witness them live on two occasions during their heyday period: Astoria Theatre, London 11.4.1989 and Brixton Academy 6.10.1993.

This was also to be my second encounter with Abdoujaparov, having previously had the joy of seeing their set at the 24th annual Glastonwick festival on Friday 31st May 2019. That very same night I was right down the front for the Angelic Upstarts performance, where I reported “I reckon that this Glastonwick gig must surely be right up there as one of their best performances. They were easily the best act of the day for me and this was their greatest gig that I have so far witnessed and the most fun I’ve had at a gig for ages!” Tragically their iconic frontman Thomas Mensforth aka ‘Mensi’ died on 10th December 2021, aged 65, after being infected with COVID-19.

‘Mensi’ RIP: ANGELIC UPSTARTS live at Glastonwick 2019 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey Photography) (click on pic to enlarge)

Tonight at CHALK, Abdoujaparov took to the stage at 7:15pm as a sextet and performed an all too short 32 minute set consisting of ten diverse numbers. To be honest, there was actually time for them to have played the intended 11 songs, but ‘Fingers’ was omitted.

Abdoujaparov live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

The Abdoujaparov personnel has arguably changed more times since their formation in 1998, than that of The Fall. According to their family tree there are to date no less than 75 incarnations! Thus I’m not totally sure who they all were this evening. The format of the half dozen gents was frontman Les Carter on lead vocals and Fender Telecaster guitar, and the others were taking care of: backing vocals and Rickenbacker bass; Gibson Les Paul guitar; drums; Yamaha CP keys; and Yamaha MOTIF ES7 synth.

Abdoujaparov live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Their material was all tracks that you can tap your feet to. Not surprisingly the Abdoujaparov sound is a combination of softer punk meets Carter USM with comedy moments thrown in. New number ‘George’ (one of a trio of cuts this evening taken from latest platter ‘Race Home Grow Love’) was one of their set highlights. It has that likeable indie pop vibe sound like heyday Pulp and Blur meets Blondie’s ‘Atomic’. Following number ‘Brixton Flippin Riots’ was certainly a swinging number with a 60’s feel.

Abdoujaparov live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

‘If You Want To Save The World (Listen To The Girl)’ was a bass and drum led retro track that John Peel would have loved. ‘There’s A Monster in My Garden’ was more in the realm of lyrically The Lovely Eggs but musically not so. ‘Where Was the Love?’ was awarded the loudest applause to date from the CHALK audience.

Abdoujaparov live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

‘Emergency Medical Hologram’ (a nod to ‘Star Trek Voyager‘ maybe?) was a real rocker and another set highlight for me. Penultimate number ‘Maria’s Umbrella’ was like The Clash but not lyrically about a serious subject matter. Closing track ‘Fish Face’ started like The Damned with the rumbly bass and moved into Dead Kennedys territory meets a soft version of Blitz ‘No Survivors’. At 7:47pm they were done and vacated the CHALK stage.

In summing up, Abdoujaparov are a fun time jovial mild punk outfit that should be bigger than they are and also play more local gigs so that we can all go and enjoy their sound over and over again.

Abdoujaparov live at Chalk, Brighton 11.12.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Abdoujaparov setlist:
‘Abdoujaparov Theme (Singalonga-Abdou)’
‘Aren’t We All (Hero)’
‘George’
‘Brixton Flippin Riots’
‘If You Want To Save The World (Listen To The Girl)’
‘Where Was the Love?’
‘There’s A Monster In My Garden’
‘Emergency Medical Hologram’
‘Maria’s Umbrella’
‘Fish Face’

On 24th November the brand new 12 song ‘Race Home Grow Love’ album was launched. Find it on Bandcamp.

Find out more at www.abdou.co.uk

Gig flyer

Pop Will Eat Itself setlist

Abdoujaparov setlist

  1. Adam Mole Reply

    Their Law is NOT a cover, maybe you haven’t lived the time it came out so check your history.

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