SCREAMING DEAD + HAZARD + DAMAGE UK – THE PRINCE ALBERT, BRIGHTON 20.3.22
Brighton-based promoter An Alternative Gathering has hit on a successful formula with the ‘Punk Sunday Lunch’ shows at The Prince Albert, near Brighton railway station. Three bands play on a matinée bill between 2pm and 5pm for a mere £5 in advance. It’s a mouth-watering prospect that attracts patrons from far and wide, although don’t expect any actual lunch. The establishment most emphatically does not serve food.
Today’s show is the fourth of the series, and as usual it’s an impressive bill of fare. First up, we have Damage UK, a four-piece from London playing classic old school punk with catchy tunes. Guitarist and lead vocalist Brian Damage, along with bassist Paul Flynn, formerly played in Nuffin’, whose gig at The Roxy in 1977 featured on the London Weekend Television documentary ‘The Year Of The Punk’. As Damage UK, they are joined on drums by Reg Charles, previously with The Xtraverts, and recent recruit Alan Davidson on lead guitar, playing only his second gig with the band.
The first few numbers move along at a brisk pace, and the new twin-guitar format is working particularly well, with ‘Total Surveillance’ featuring some nicely chiming lead work. “We may be old be we still care,” is the introduction to ‘Scorched Earth’. The lyric focuses on climate change, and there’s some impressive interplay between the bouncing bass and a splendidly jangly lead line. ‘Chains Of Austerity’ features more busy riffing and a post-punk feel.
Brian Damage has an excellent rapport with the audience, although being an inveterate social networker he does seem to know most of them personally. ‘Wirehead’, about someone obsessed with their phone, serves as a fine opportunity to take a selfie with the crowd. ‘Interesting Void’ was written way back in 1980. Bassist Paul, the only band member who can read the set list with unaided vision, is revealed to be the vocalist’s cousin. They have been in bands together since they were kids. It’s a fine song, with an insistent lead line soaring over lilting bass octaves.
’Modern News’ is scornful of the Murdoch-dominated media, though our genial frontman very generously exempts the Brighton and Hove News from his broader criticism of journalism. Regardless of the kind words, for me it’s the standout number of the set, with a vibey bridge section ushering in a splendid guitar wig out. Although still needing a folder of notes to refer to, new guitarist Alan is playing an absolute blinder.
A cover of 1960s garage classic ‘Rosalyn’ by The Pretty Things is impressively executed with an infectious energy, and ‘Cyber War’ features a Clash-style reggae breakdown. Backing vocals have been a bit sparse through most of the set, but are working well on ‘Chaos Of The Clampdown’, with its driving beat and more impressive guitar work and bass runs. The Clash theme continues to the end, concluding the set with a most enjoyable rendition of ‘I’m So Bored With The USA’. What an excellent start to the afternoon.
Brian Damage – vocals, guitar
Paul Flynn – bass, vocals
Alan Davidson – guitar, vocals
Reg Charles – drums
Damage UK setlist:
‘Palace Of Justice’, ‘Total Surveillance’, ‘Scorched Earth’, ‘Chains Of Austerity’, ‘Wirehead’, ‘Interesting Void’, ‘Modern News’, ‘Rosalyn’ (The Pretty Things cover), ‘Cyber War’, ‘Chaos of The Clampdown’, ‘I’m So Bored With The USA’ (The Clash cover)
Damage UK are on Facebook.
Hazard are on next, a three-piece who look like they will have no difficulty reading their set lists. They’ve actually been going since 2010, but are still fizzing with youthful energy. Were they truly wafted here from paradise? No, they’re from Luton. Guitarist Conor and bassist Chris are sacrificing comfort for style with heavy leather jackets, the latter completing his personal sauna with a pair of PVC trousers. They look pretty good, but the real star quality seems to be located at the back of the stage. Drummer Sam is an absolute force of nature, with breathtaking speed, power and fluidity. The kit is wisely trying to avoid being hammered through to the downstairs bar by creeping forward, propelled by the force of the kick pedal. The crunching riffs of opener ‘Sorry Ain’t Enough’ are punctuated by nifty stops and cheeky little drum breaks, a theme that continues with ‘Phonejacker’. It’s great stuff, with fantastic energy, although the lead vocal seems a little low in the mix and tends to get lost in all the excitement.
‘Get Outta My Head’ employs chanted backing vocals to good effect, and the unrelenting pace motors on with the tumbling hook of ‘Bad Habits’. A cover version of The Clash seems de rigueur, and the band turns in a particularly satisfying performance of ‘Safe European Home’, an ambitious selection from ‘Give Us Enough Rope’. Things are hotting up and there seems to be plenty left in the locker. ‘Lost In England’ is a proper scorcher, with a glorious “I’m so lost” chanted hook and an urgently ascending chord progression leading to a blistering solo. Conor is getting some serious dirt in his sound, thrashing the daylights out of a suitably distressed looking double cutaway Les Paul Junior.
The heavy leather jackets are off by now, and the pace is unrelenting. ‘Human’ features a dancing two-chord rhythm figure, backed up with plenty of powerful drum hits and super-fast fills. ‘Citizen Of The World’ is another cracker, with a chanted refrain. The hard-played guitar finally yields to the onslaught, with a string breaking during the closing number, ‘Freedom Fighters’. To his credit, Conor manages to deftly swap to his spare within the duration of a brief drum break, and nonchalantly rejoins the fray.
I’ve been hugely impressed by Hazard, who have brought some great songs and a whole lot of energy to the party. It’s always reassuring to see younger generations of players taking up the punk cause too.
Conor Hussey – vocals, guitar
Chris James – bass, vocals
Sam Tyrrel – drums
‘Sorry Ain’t Enough’, ‘Phonejacker’, ‘Get Outta My Head’, ‘Bad Habits’, ‘Yesterday’, ‘Terminal Boredom’, ‘Safe European Home’ (The Clash cover), ‘Lost In England’, ‘Human’, ‘Citizen Of The World’, ‘Freedom Fighters’
Find out more at www.hazardofficial.com
The concluding entertainment for this afternoon comes from Screaming Dead. A punk band, formed in Cheltenham, they released a string of vinyl singles that made some headway in the indie charts of the early 1980s. An interest in horror films was reflected in the lyrical themes and the band’s image, and they have been retrospectively credited as originators of ‘horror punk’, which has more recently led to some well-received touring in the Americas, where that particular sub-genre enjoys an enduring popularity.
Onstage in Brighton they ooze class, with Sam Bignall an utterly mesmeric frontman. A shock of dark corkscrew hair tumbles across his heavily made-up face, and a black gloved hand reaches out to connect with the eager punters in the front rows. The sound is massively powerful, with solid drumming underpinning impressive bass runs and screeching lead. In terms of musical style, the closest and most obvious comparison would be with The Damned, an impression that is confirmed with the inclusion of a rather fine cover of ‘Love Song’. Needless to say, the already enthusiastic audience perks up considerably, and there is some lively dancing and moshing at the front.
Sam is very mobile, and has managed to pull the lead out of his mic a couple of times by stepping on the cable. Fading eyesight is the curse of the veteran performer, and it’s touching watching him trying to line up the male and female XLR connectors. Brian Damage, ever the wag, helpfully offers a pair of glasses from the audience. The set thunders on, replete with great riffs and catchy hooks. ‘Necroaria’ is urgent and vibey, and there’s some superb lead on ‘Night Creatures’.
As opening lines of songs go, “I am the angel of your death” is something of a statement piece, and I’m rather taken with ‘Resurrection’, which has a catchy singalong chorus. A drum stop is thrillingly filled with a perfectly timed plectrum slide down the guitar strings, which makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. ‘Pretty Mess’ opens with some sustained guitar howl worthy of the late Mick Ronson, and is subsequently driven along by a hammered-on bass riff that puts me in mind of The Damned’s ‘Neat Neat Neat’.
There’s new material too, with ‘Waiting For You’, which has an excellent descending vocal hook and a lovely dancing guitar riff reminiscent of Keith Levine era PiL. The set concludes with two more familiar numbers that were singles back in the day ‘20th Century Vampire’ and a storming cover of ‘Paint It Black’. It has been a most entertaining performance by a band absolutely on top form.
Sam Bignall – vocals
Baz Clark -bass, vocals
Mazzy – guitar, vocals
Hugh Fairlie – drums
Screaming Dead setlist:
‘This Is the End Of The World’, ‘Valley Of The Dead’, ‘Lilith’, ‘Damned Generation’, ‘God Of Love’, ‘Love Song’ (The Damned cover), ‘Necroaria’, ‘Night Creatures’, ‘Angel of Death’, ‘Resurrection’, ‘Pretty Mess’, ‘Waiting For You’, ‘20th Century Vampire’, ‘Paint It Black’ (The Rolling Stones cover)
The Screaming Dead are on Facebook.
Once again, this has been a most enjoyable way to pass a Sunday afternoon, and I’ll be home in time for tea. If punk in its many forms is your sort of thing, I strongly recommend you check out future instalments of Punk Sunday Lunch.