Rebellion & R-Fest – Day Four Report
‘VARIOUS ARTISTS’ – WINTER GARDENS, BLACKPOOL & PROMENADE, BLACKPOOL 7.8.22
The 15,000 capacity Rebellion Festival is the biggest punk rock music festival in the UK. It is spread across four days and attracts people from around the globe. The Winter Gardens venue in Blackpool has many sizable rooms including the Empress Ballroom, Club Casbah, Pavilion, After Dark & RIS (‘Rebellion Introducing Stage’), as well as the Mazzei Cafe for DJ’s. Upstairs there was also the Almost Acoustic, and the Literary Stage and Art Exhibition area.
For the first time in Rebellion Festival’s history, the organisers staged an associated outdoor festival located near to the Winter Gardens on Blackpool Promenade in front of the famous tower. This event was called R-Fest and hosted the more commercial side of punk and the surrounding genres.
Today is Day Four. You can read our other reviews of Days One, Two and Three, by clicking the links below:
Day One – Thursday 4th August
Day Two – Friday 5th August
Day Three – Saturday 6th August
The bands will be listed below in performance first order with the name of the writer listed after each act. 1-2-3-4- and we are off………………………..
FILHOS DE INACIO – CLUB CASBAH (1:00pm – 1:30pm)
We began our final push on Day Four of Rebellion with Filhos De Inacio at the Club Casbah from 12:57pm to 1:25pm. There was absolutely no way that we were going to miss this lot as they were the one band that we omitted to see on Wednesday at the Tache Rock Club. Read our review of the six other bands that took part that night HERE.
This Brazilian quartet has two vocalists, a drummer and a guitarist and they look like they really mean business! I have to sadly report that obviously many punks had been overdoing it somewhat on the Saturday night as attendance for this totally absorbing performance was very poor. To those that missed it….oh dear…..you missed a corker!
If speed merchants are your thing, then you must check out this posse. One of their singers was sporting arguably one of the best haircuts of the weekend too. This was music to blow away the Saturday night cobwebs too!
Both vocalists clambered over the crowd barrier and joined the punters for some antics. Their track ‘Mickey Mouse Is Dead’ was memorable and anthemic. Mid set, they were joined by another vocalist and thus we have a trio of them shouting at us in a Motorhead style tune. This performance was edgy, one vocalist sprayed an Anarchy symbol on the other’s shirt in spray paint and the singer came and danced with the crowd again and had fake red (blood) on his forehead. The security staff were doubled during the set and were on high alert due to the band’s unpredictable behaviour. It certainly kept them on their toes, but they need not have worried as the guys were just in the zone and getting their messages across. This was a fab start to the day!
Filhos De Inacio are on Facebook
THE CUNDEEZ – EMPRESS BALLROOM (1:35pm – 2:15pm)
First up on the final day are Scotland’s finest The Cundeez. They hail from Dundee and quite a few of their songs relate to growing up in their home city. They have been active for 12 years and it really doesn’t get any more Scottish than this band. They are kitted out in kilts with lead singer Gary Robertson regularly having a blow on the bagpipes. Gary is accompanied by Trotsky (guitar/backing vocals), Shaun (drums), Jump Aboot Jock (tambourine/press ups) and Stevie (bass/backing vocals).
The atmosphere is the friendliest I have seen all weekend and the mosh pit is more akin to Scottish country dancing. There is a lot of familiarity in the room as quite a few of the crowd seem to know the band personally. The ethos of the band is plain to see that it’s all about having fun and not taking themselves too seriously. Saying that though ‘CG McGeddon’ is on their setlist which is about depression, loneliness, and isolation so it’s not all fun and games.
Playing the title track from their recent sixth album ‘Geeez It’ they have to explain the meaning for those south of the border. It helps if you’re familiar with the Dundee dialect but it’s really not essential if you are up for a fun time.
Highlight of the set is ‘Kilts On Taps Aff’ which they wrote as an unofficial Euro 2020 anthem for the Scotland football team. The lyrics stem from lead singer and piper Gary Robertson taking his top off at gigs when it gets too hot. There’s even band involvement in the mosh pit.
They finish off the set with their new single, a unique version of ‘Echo Beach’ which is mightily different to the original and the Toyah version I witnessed earlier in the weekend, as the lyrics are minimal, “Echo Beach far away in time” repeated several times after a two-and-a-half-minute intro, and of course it has added bagpipes.
They have even spent some time filming the video whilst in Blackpool. They bid everyone farewell and look forward to seeing us all at the bar afterwards. Given that it’s only 2:15 in the afternoon it could be a long day for some!
The Cundeez are on Facebook.
DEE SKUSTING & THE RODENTS – AFTER DARK & RIS (2:00pm – 2:30pm)
Dee Skusting & The Rodents were on the After Dark & RIS stage from 1:57pm to 2:28pm. Their Facebook page proudly bellows at you that “We are the RATAS from the depths of Los Angeles! Gnawing our way through your eardrums & the scene”.
This American trio consists of Dee Skusting (vox/guitar), Johnny Rodent (drums/bv’s) and Chris Clark (bass). They dropped their debut eight tune release titled ‘Freedom Lost’ back in 2019 and have very recently backed it up with their track 12 ‘Scars’ album.
Dee delivers her words in a real shouty style akin to traditional second wave punk with a rock/metal tinge. During their 29 minute set, the venue started to fill up but was unfortunately only half full at the band’s conclusion. Each composition was delivered immediately after its predecessor and for their final number that had the additional extra vocal prowess of Alison Cara Elliott from Maid Of Ace.
THE DERELLAS – PAVILION (2:15pm – 2:50pm)
We headed over to the Pavilion stage in order to catch the second half of Glam tinged sleazy punk’n’roll set with The DeRellas having stayed for the full Dee Skusting & The Rodents performance, as we hadn’t seen them live before and that they weren’t as local to us as vocalists, bassist and Sid Vicious lookalike Timmy DeRella as he lives in Brighton. The thinking therefore was that it would be easier to see The DeRellas than ‘The Rodents’.
Once in the Pavilion we worked out that we had only missed four tunes and that we still had seven to go, but to be honest I immediately felt that I had lost out by missing ‘Strung Out Sin City’, ‘Don’t Tell Me What I Did Last Night’, ‘Emergency 2020’ and ‘Freakshow’. Thankfully the room was nicely packed and I immediately caught one of my fave tunes of theirs ‘High Rise Supersize’.
I can recall seeing the band performing live a few years back and wondering why Timmy wasn’t the frontman. Cue lineup change and he is now! Also in the band on guitar is Luca Comencini, who folks will recognise from also being in Spizzenergi.
‘Underground LUV’ was up next and Jez Miller from NYC was doing his thang! ‘Soho Hotel’ and ‘Pressure Is Gonna Get Ya’ followed. I must state that these guys are looking and sounding really good today! ‘Sonic Detonator’ came and went and then we had ‘Stick It To The Man’ which was most enjoyable. Their set concluded at 2:52pm with ‘Night Time’ which had elements of Iggy Pop’s ‘I’m Bored’ and was a real treat. If proto punk is your thing, then you must check them out! The band went down really well and what I witnessed was enjoyable, bar the near punch-up immediately behind me, that I managed to diffuse by standing between the culprits as ‘Something’s Got To Give’.
Read our December 2021 Brighton gig report on The DeRellas HERE.
ALTERED IMAGES – R-FEST (2:30pm – 3:20pm)
Sunday for me starts with Altered Images outside at the R-Fest Stage. Vocalist Clare Grogan is the only remaining original member of the band onstage today, and looks very much younger than her sixty years. Altered Images have a new album coming out, entitled ‘Mascara Streakz’, which features multi-instrumentalist Steve Lironi (who also happens to be Clare Grogan’s husband) who joined the band in 1982, Bobby Bluebell and Bernard Butler. The album will also feature songs co-written by Texas bassist Johnny McElhone, who was Altered Images’ original bassist. Therefore the band onstage today is very much the live version of the band. This is not to say that this line-up lack pedigree. Guitarist Rosie McLune and bassist Gill Bickerstaff are from long-established Glasgow band The Hedrons. Live, this version of Altered Images are commendably fiery. My only minor quibble is that the keyboard parts are on a backing track.
The hits appear early, with ‘I Could Be Happy’ as the second song. It’s not just about hits though. It becomes clear very early on that every song in the set is there for a reason. We learn that ‘Insects’ from the debut album (‘Happy Birthday’) was John Peel’s favourite Altered Images song; ‘Bring Me Closer’ from ‘Bite’ was influenced by Georgio Moroder; ‘Change Of Heart’ allows Clare to unleash her “inner Pat Benatar.” They cover ‘That’s Not My Name’ by The Ting-Tings. Frankly I found this a little pointless, but to be fair it’s a good version: it’s heavier than the original, and Clare certainly seemed to enjoy it.
Debut single ‘Dead Pop Stars’ gets an airing, and ends with a spectacular drum flourish. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the drummer’s name, so apologies to him. This particular song got the band into an amount of hot water. Coming out in early 1981 it wasn’t long after John Lennon’s death, and some people took offence at the song’s lyrical content, despite the song being written and recorded before Lennon’s death. ‘Glitter Ball’ was co-written with Bernard Butler during lockdown, and is fittingly funky. Presumably it will have a place on ‘Mascara Streakz’, the title track of which also gets an airing.
‘Don’t Talk To Me About Love’ which Clare says she co-wrote with her husband, is from the ‘Bite’ album, and sounds more than anything like Bananarama. Unsurprisingly the set ends with ‘Happy Birthday’, or as Clare puts it, “the song that keeps on giving.” This has been an interesting set which concluded at 3:10pm, and the future for Altered Images looks bright. However, are they, or were they ever, punk? I would say a point is very definitely being stretched here!
Read our March 2022 Brighton gig report on Altered Images HERE.
BUZZCOCKS – R-FEST (3:45pm – 4:40pm)
We made our final venture across the Blackpool tram lines to the outdoor R-Fest for a trio of differing acts. First up was to take in the joys of the Buzzcocks from 3:41pm to 4:43pm. Not surprisingly with such a big name the R-Fest venue was packed, but we luckily still made our way to the front as we have been able to do so for most of our reports.
Buzzcocks (it’s not ‘The Buzzcocks’ you know) formed way back in 1976 and were one of the very first outfits that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy. If there’s only ever going to be one Buzzcocks record that will sit in your vinyl collection then ‘Singles Going Steady’ is the punk masterpiece that will more than do the job. However, for me personally, it’s every original 1976 to 1981 release with a few beyond! In fact the very first concert I attended featured the classic Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle, Steve Garvey and John Maher lineup. It was at the Top Rank Suite in Brighton on 8th November 1978 and it ended in an actual riot, talk about a baptism of fire! But they were always my favourite UK punk band, the American being the Ramones.
Today’s Buzzcocks is a former shadow of what has gone before, with only vocalist/guitarist and occasional tambourine user Diggle still flying the ‘Flag Of Convenience’, along with Danny Farrant (drums since 2006), Chris Remington (bass since 2008) and Mani Perazzoli (guitar since 2019). But I guess that this is better than nothing.
The quartet take to the stage for their 16 track set four minutes early (and come off three minutes late) and they strike up with ‘What Do I Get?’, followed by ‘Senses Out Of Control’, ‘Fast Cars’, ‘People Are Strange Machines’, ‘I Don’t Mind’, ‘Sick City Sometimes‘ and ‘Autonomy’. Seven career spanning numbers down and then it was tingly arms time for me on hearing the opening bars of ‘Why Can’t I Touch It?’. Dare I say it, but a vastly underrated Buzzcocks tune and not an obvious choice for a punk style festival, but I was extremely pleased that it got an outing, and was the surprise highlight of the set for me.
Following on, Diggle stated that the band has to move on and thus they deliver ‘Bad Dream’s’ which will appear in September on the forthcoming album ’Sonics In The Soul’. The tune has an underlying Krautrock backbeat mixed with a proto punk vibe. ‘Third Dimension’ followed, which was standard rock fayre with the use of a megaphone which vocally turned Diggle into Mark E Smith. Another rocky number in the form of ‘Destination Zero’ had an outing, but wasn’t anything special.
A couple of oldies but goodies arrived in the form of ‘Orgasm Addict’ and ‘Promises’, which weren’t the best live versions I had ever heard by them. Another post Shelley number, ‘Manchester Rain’ had an outing and is the band’s new single. The final two tracks were ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’ (which the crowd loved) and an extended guitar solo and rant version of ‘Harmony In My Head’.
I have seen Buzzcocks a number of times since their inception and I believe that this was my least exciting time. I can recall afterwards even debating whether I should have gone and seen The Avengers in the Empress Ballroom instead. This decision niggled me for a few hours and as a result, I decided to leave Ruts DC for another team member to review, while I caught the acoustic later set from The Avengers in the upstairs Almost Acoustic room.
Read our March 2022 Brighton gig report on Buzzcocks HERE.
CHELSEA – EMPRESS BALLROOM (4:40pm – 5:25pm)
It would be rude travelling all the way to Blackpool from Brighton and not take a butchers that the special Chelsea set, especially as their frontman since their inception way back in 1976, Gene (“Allright?”) October, now works and resides in Brighton.
It is well documented that a trio of the original outfit went on to form Generation X, thus leaving the poor chap without an actual band. Has the smell of the original Human League to me and that certainly didn’t hurt Mr Oakey’s career did it.
These days, Chelsea are very much a solid outfit, that obviously has the Jagger-esque frontman still at the helm, but ably assisting him are Nic Austin (guitar), Mat Sargent (bass), Steve Grainger (drums) and Rob Miller (guitar). For their Rebellion performance in the vast Empress Ballroom they have opted to perform virtually the whole of their second album ‘Evacuate’ (minus ‘Tribal Song’) which came out in 1982 on Step Forward Records.
The nine of the ten tunes were performed in the same order as the original vinyl, thus fans were kicked off on the right foot with the title track which was penned by guitarist Nic Austin. ‘How Do You Know’ followed and the album highlight ‘War Across The Nation’ (another Austin tune) was blasted out to the faithful as song five. There was even time for a few more ‘hits’ to round off with, namely ‘Urban Kids’ (1978 single), ‘I’m On Fire’ (from 1979 self-titled debut album), ‘No Admission’ and anthemic finale and debut single ‘Right To Work’.
Read our April 2022 review of their Brighton gig HERE.
HOLLIE COOK – R-FEST (5:05pm – 6:00pm)
We stayed put at the outside R-Fest and thankfully the sun came out for the charming offspring of former Sex Pistol Paul Cook and former singer with Culture Club, Jeni Cook, that’ll be Hollie Cook then! Hollie and her four chums (the General Roots band) take to the R-Fest stage at 5:06pm for a 50 minute relaxing performance filled with some sweet reggae tunes from her latest ‘Happy Hour’ album and beyond.
Leopard skin style print clothing and large glasses was the order of the day for this charming young lady, who informed us that this was her first ever punk festival. As you would expect Hollie was on vocals and the lads were taking care of the guitar, drums, headless bass, Nord Electro 5D and Nord Stage 2 BX keys.
This slot is one of the Sunday afternoon performances and fits the bill nicely, allowing batteries to be charged for the later punk rock sounds. But now it’s reggae with some added dub breaks for the duration of Hollie’s eleven track set, with a trio of tunes being lifted from her new platter, which were opener ‘Unkind Love’, ‘Moving On’ and best of all the title track, ‘Happy Hour’ with its added deep bass sounds. I liked the way that the drummer literally felt every note with his whole body as he played.
Before we knew it, after some little bopping, it was 5:56pm and time for Hollie to vacate the stage. I know where I’m going to be on Saturday 22nd October 2022, at Chalk in Brighton watching Hollie do her thing – tickets HERE.
TOM ROBINSON BAND – R-FEST (6:30pm – 7:30pm)
Thirty-four minutes after the departure of Hollie Cook, it was time for the Tom Robinson Band to entertain the R-Fest faithful. The sun had come out for Hollie’s reggae tunes, but it had gotten overcast again for the following dozen song 70 minute set, which concluded 10 minutes later than showing on the programme.
Tom was on vocals and bass, and his friends took care of the guitar, drums, cowbell with acoustic guitar and keys. Radio presenter and long-time LGBT rights activist Tom has been making music since he was around 25 years old and he is still at it at the age of 72, although he doesn’t really look that old.
The audience and the music is the most sedate that I have experienced thus far at the whole festival, which might just explain why this is actually my first ever encounter with Tom et al. After opener ‘Bully For You’ they perform one of my fave tracks of his ‘Atmospherics: Listen To The Radio’ which was enjoyable. A trio of other numbers that I wasn’t overly familiar with followed: ‘Grey Cortina’, ‘Martin’ and ‘The Mighty Sword Of Justice’. Familiarity was restored with a couple of hits in the form of ‘Too Good To Be True’ and ‘War Baby’.
Formed Adverts frontman and now solo artist in his own right, TV Smith, bounds onto the high stage as joins the band for a couple of numbers that includes a rendition of ‘Thin Green Line’. After which another three big hitters are unleashed in the form of the singalong anthems of ‘Glad To Be Gay’ and ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’ as well as ‘Up Against The Wall’. The set concludes with ‘Power In The Darkness’, but I reckon ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’ would have been a better option. Tom comes across as a really decent fellow, although maybe not the world’s foremost Boris Johnson impersonator!
THE DROWNS – PAVILION (6:35pm – 7:15pm)
As I am wandering around the Winter Gardens I hear a band playing in The Pavilion of which the sound took my fancy. The Drowns hail from Seattle and play their American brand of hardcore punk with such venom that I could not resist giving them a listen even if I did only see about half their set. The band members have many years of punk rock experience from their prior projects, Success, The Shell Corporation, and The Briggs. They also have a couple of albums to their name, ‘View From The Bottom’ released in 2018 and ‘Under Tension’ from 2020, which I will be giving a listen to after this.
Key to my enjoyment was ‘She’s The Knife’, a song aimed at empowering women all over the world who have to put up with all the bullsh*t they get in a male dominated society. Add to that a blistering cover of ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and it was a highly enjoyable unexpected encounter with a band I had previously never heard of. Sadly, this was their only UK date of a European tour but they are definitely a band I will watch out for in the future.
The Drowns are on Facebook.
UK SUBS – EMPRESS BALLROOM (6:50pm – 7:50pm)
Rebellion is always packed with loads going on, and sadly there are the inevitable clashes in timings of when your favourite bands are on, none more so than early Sunday evening, with a mad period starting from 6:30pm when Panik hit the ‘Introducing Stage’, up to 2 hours later when Conflict vacate the Club Casbah stage. In the middle of all this going on is a set from the legendary UK Subs from 6:50pm to 7:50pm in the packed Empress Ballroom, a stage that these punk stalwarts most definitely belong to.
‘The Subs’ were originally put together as the Subversives (and The Marauders before that!) way back in 1976 by Charlie Harper who was originally a singer in Britain’s R&B scene. With him were guitarist Nicky Garratt, bassist Paul Slack, and a drummer Rory Lyons. They were also one of the first hardcore punk bands. These days the only original man left standing is 78 year old ‘war baby’ Harper who was born in London but moved to the Sussex countryside when he was eight years old. He still lives in Sussex to this day and is arguably Seaford’s second most famous resident after Jordan Mooney (RIP).
Down the years, there have been many members of the band, there must be as many as The Fall, but the outfit in the Empress Ballroom tonight are Charlie Harper (vocals and harmonica), Alvin Gibbs (bass), also of Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants, Steve Straughan (guitar) of North East punk band Hi Fi Spitfires fame, and latest recruit Dave Humphries (drums), who is also the stixman for Reign of Fury.
Being a photographer during Rebellion entails whizzing all over the place and usually leaving the band’s after just three numbers, as is the case here. But we really must flag up the UK Subs and Charlie as he honestly is a national treasure. I don’t know how you go about achieving such things, but people should get together and nominate Charlie for a knighthood for services to the music industry and in particular punk. In Brighton, Charlie down the years has nearly always been seen at roots level supporting the smaller local punk outfits and even manning their merch stands whilst they are on stage! He is a lovely guy and should be cherished!
Thus whilst I’m snapping away this evening, I’m singing along to ‘Down On The Farm’ and ‘Endangered Species’ as part of their enjoyable energy filled set. A set I know not what the full tracklisting was, but there are a number of clips on YouTube and the band themselves have actually posted tonight’s performance of ‘Endangered Species’ from the drum cam, which gives you a stageside view of what is going down and highlights how busy drummer Dave actually is during the number – watch it HERE.
Read our April 2022 Brighton gig report on UK Subs HERE.
MAID OF ACE – PAVILION (7:30pm – 8:15pm)
Sunday night has left me with some more tough choices. Stiff Little Fingers or Theatre Of Hate? Maid Of Ace, UK Subs, or Conflict who I have not seen for about 40 years? There are massive queues to the Empress Ballroom so that helps me make my decision. I opt to watch Maid Of Ace, one of my local favourites whom I had seen only last weekend at The Crypt in Hastings, albeit through one eye after getting a finger in my left one during a support act’s mosh pit. I had missed half of their opening song ‘Stay Away’ last week, which also happens to be one of my favourites, so I make sure I am there in plenty of time to hear it on this occasion.
Maid Of Ace have been purveyors of adrenaline fuelled punk since 2005. They are comprised of Alison Cara Elliott (lead vocals/guitar), Anna Coral Elliott (lead guitar/vocals), Amy Catherine Elliott (bass/vocals) and Abby Charlotte Elliott (drums). I guess their parents only got as far as ‘C’ in the ‘Baby Names For Girls’ book then! The girls released their debut self-titled album back in 2014. That was followed by the cleverly titled ‘Maid In England’ in 2016 and their latest long player ‘Live Fast Or Die’ was launched in 2020.
These four hardworking sisters continue to up their game every time I see them and have come a long way since I first saw them in their early years’ but still have that raw punk edge which hits hard. After twenty minutes of a storming set seen through both my eyes and a pair of specs just to make doubly sure, I reluctantly drag myself away from The Pavilion to make my way towards the Casbah Club and my anarcho punk date with Conflict. I’m informed that the Maid Of Ace set concluded at 8:10pm instead of 8:15pm, so I didn’t miss as much as I had originally thought.
Read our July 2021 Brighton gig report on Maid Of Ace HERE.
GLITCHERS – AFTER DARK & RIS (8:00pm – 8:30pm)
On the way to Club Casbah I pass Sophie, the drummer from Glitchers and she greets me with a cheery “Hi!” having obviously recognised me from a street gig of theirs. I continue on my way and watch one song by Conflict, but my heart and head are on the same wavelength and tell me to go to the RIS (‘Rebellion Introducing Stage’) to support the young busking couple that are Glitchers. I have seen them twice on the streets of Hastings and once in The Crypt, so this is a big step up for them. My youngest recently saw them playing the streets in Eastbourne and loved what they described as screamo and here they were playing in the loudest venue of the festival.
Jake tells the crowd it is their seventh gig of the weekend, so maybe some think it will be a subdued affair. Not a chance! Jake’s energy is undying as he throws himself around the stage. A lost setlist doesn’t make a difference as they speed through their songs. Somehow Sophie got through it all with ‘sweat dripping from her eyeballs’ and a three-day migraine to cope with.
In true DIY fashion they make all their own merch from recycled items, and you can purchase it by donation though Sophie said that if you think they are rubbish then you can steal it!
Surprisingly Jake only broke one wireless system for his guitar and there was no further material or physical damage that I’m aware of. On being told there was still 12 minutes left he did mention that was as long as one of their normal street gigs as we were treated to an extended set. It was unusual to see Jake using a microphone as I am used to the megaphone, but he made good use of both that were on stage as he bounced from one to the other. He engaged the audience in a crowd surf by letting us know that if a bunch of 13-year-olds in an Asda car park could hold him up then it wouldn’t be a problem for us. In a turn up for the books Jake even praised the security who also assisted. A bit different from your normal shopping centre security in Lancaster as they recently experienced.
Finishing off with the singalong ‘F*ck The Tories’ left me pleased that I had opted to support the future of punk. In addition, I even got a personal setlist from Sophie written on the back of one of their own screen-prints, which was well worthy of a donation.
RUTS DC – EMPRESS BALLROOM (8:10pm – 9:10pm)
My penultimate band of the weekend are Ruts DC, thus named as they were the surviving members of The Ruts who continued after the death from a heroin overdose of vocalist Malcolm Owen; DC standing for da capo, an Italian term meaning “back to the beginning.” The current line-up has the original Ruts rhythm section of bassist John “Segs” Jennings and drummer Dave Ruffy. Singer and guitarist Paul Fox was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, and passed away the same year. His place in the band is now taken by Leigh Heggarty.
Despite Ruts DC having brought out some great records in their own right, they realise that what a festival crowd really want to hear are classics by The Ruts, and they certainly don’t disappoint! The set gets under way at 8:10pm and is liberally sprinkled with Ruts classics, including ‘SUS’, ‘West One (Shine On Me)’, and ‘Jah War’. That’s not to say that the Ruts DC catalogue is entirely ignored. Indeed, they have a new album coming out entitled ‘Faces In The Sky’, the title track of which is the opening song, and pretty excellent it is too!
‘Counterculture’ and ‘Born Innocent’ are also from the new album, whilst ‘Dangerous Mind’ is from ‘Animal Now’ (1981), and ‘Kill The Pain’ is from ‘Music Must Destroy’ (2016). However, the closing Ruts trio of ‘Staring At The Rude Boys’, ‘In A Rut’ and ‘Babylon’s Burning’ are almost worth the price of admission on their own. Whilst none of us are getting any younger, thankfully Ruts DC still play with sufficient energy to do justice to their classics, as well as their new material. They are to play some dates in the UK this coming winter. Don’t miss ‘em! Details HERE.
Read our February 2022 Brighton gig review of Ruts DC with The Stranglers HERE.
THE AVENGERS – ALMOST ACOUSTIC (8:50pm – 9:25pm)
Having missed out on The Avengers live set in the Empress Ballroom from 3:35pm to 4:20pm earlier today, as I had opted to again see the Buzzcocks, it was now my duty to head on up the almost hidden staircase into the Almost Acoustic stage, in order to catch an acoustic set of The Avengers and frontwoman Penelope Houston’s solo material.
Although Rebellion was nearing closure, this was actually my first encounter with this wonderful room. Wow, it looks like a Disney set or something found in Portmeirion (of ‘The Prisoner’ fame). It’s amazing, you would never guess it was here from the exterior of the building, it’s a hidden gem!
The Avengers are from the USA and they were the support band at the (initial) last ever Sex Pistols “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” gig at ‘Winterland’ on 14th January 1978. The day many originally thought that punk had died, and yet here we are today at Rebellion 16,276 days or if you prefer forty-four and a half years later, and punk is still going strong!
Back to tonight and the trio’s set commenced at 8:50pm and concluded at 9:24pm. It was lovely to be able to sit down on a comfy chair (all of which had bums on them) and listen to what was on offer. Lead singer Penelope Houston is also a folk singer, so going acoustic was natural for her. Her two male counterparts were apparently using borrowed acoustic guitars for this performance. They played Penelope’s solo material from her last album ‘On Market Street’ and others, as well as a few numbers by The Avengers. It’s fair to say that I very rarely listen to anything acoustic, by that I mean never, but seeing these guys was another tick off of the bucket list.
Further details on The Avengers & Penelope Houston HERE.
CITIZEN FISH – PAVILION (9:30pm – 10:20pm)
With some time to kill, I see that Citizen Fish are playing in the Pavilion and having missed their most recent visit to Hastings I don’t want to blow another golden opportunity to see them for the first time. I had seen the Subhumans set at Rebellion and was impressed with their energy and Dick Lucas certainly transfers that to his other project. As with Subhumans it is a lot about the message in the lyrics, but rather than the anarcho punk vibe this is ska punk of the highest order. With Ska bands the brass section is of high importance and the expertise of Alex Gordon on trumpet and Matt Dowse on trombone are key to the sound. The lyrics are not so political but do crossover some topics from his other band including vegetarianism which he is very passionate about.
I get to see half an hour of the 45 minute set before I have to leave for a prearranged review slot with Theatre Of Hate, but I must say that it’s one of the most enjoyable gigs of the weekend and I have to tear myself away from the barrier. Dick is a great front man and a reviewer’s dream as he introduces each song to the crowd. I struggle to pick a highlight because it is all so consistently good. ‘Fearless’ is about conquering fear with anger, ‘HD Riot’ is about rioting and looting corporate shops, and ‘Manmade’ is about “humans f*cking the earth” as Dick puts it so succinctly. A difficult choice indeed.
I have to leave early but the message to myself is clear: under no circumstances should I miss any future Sussex gigs by Citizen Fish.
Citizen Fish are on Facebook.
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – EMPRESS BALLROOM (9:40pm – 10:45pm)
To usher in the end of the festival we have Stiff Little Fingers. The last time that I saw the band was in 2000. At that time Jake Burns looked very much as he had done around twenty years previously. Whilst everybody ages, I’m somewhat shocked to realise that the bloke singing today is still Jake Burns!!! He’s still sounding pretty good though, which I guess is the main thing. As well as Jake, the current line-up of Stiff Little Fingers also includes original bassist Ali McMordie, drummer Steve Grantley who had played with Jake Burns in The Big Wheel between 1982 and 1987, and guitarist Ian McCallum.
Again, Stiff Little Fingers are professionals and know what a festival crowd require from a headlining act. They kick open the door with ‘Suspect Device’, and the set is bookended by ‘Alternative Ulster’. In between the albums ‘Inflammable Material’, ‘Nobody’s Heroes’ and ‘Go For It’ are well represented in the set. However, there are deeper cuts as well such as ‘Bits Of Kids’ from ‘Now Then….’(1982), and ‘Strummerville’ (a tribute to Joe Strummer) from ‘Guitar And Drum’ (2003). Unfortunately SLF are only allotted one hour and five minutes for their set, so we only get one song from their most recent album: ‘My Dark Places’ from ‘No Going Back’ (2014). The band’s allotted time goes far too quickly, but it’s plenty of time for them to show that as a live band they are in rude health. More power to their collective elbows.
And so Rebellion 2022 comes to an end. It has been a well curated and very varied festival that has been enjoyable and to a certain degree educational. Will I be back again next year? You betcha!!!
Read our March 2022 London gig report on Stiff Little Fingers HERE.
THEATRE OF HATE – CLUB CASBAH (10:00pm – 11:00pm)
So, the final headliner of the weekend in Club Casbah is Theatre Of Hate and it is my second helping of local Brighton based hero Mr Brandon at Rebellion. Disappointingly there are some technical hitches setting up and there is an eleven-minute delay before the band start their set which in hindsight meant I could have watched pretty much all the Citizen Fish set. As consolation for the delay the security are handing out Haribo marshmallows and sweets beforehand to the patient mosh pit.
When they do eventually get going at 10:11pm it’s a great start as they open with their biggest hit ‘Do You Believe In The Westworld’, which reached No.40 in the mainstream charts and No.1 in the Indie charts and afforded them their one and only ‘Top Of The Pops’ performance. Such an atmospheric song and I feel instantly transported to the Wild West. There is a crowd singalong to ‘Conquistador’ and ‘Original Sin’ goes down a storm as always. Stan Stammers is on fine form and playing to the crowd, whilst Clive Osbourne on sax is superb as seems to be the norm. I must also give a mention to Adrian Portas on guitar who just seems to ooze coolness in the hot arena.
The earlier delay inevitably leads to songs being cut from the original setlist with the most obvious absentee being the brilliant ‘Legion’. Still, they finish off with a barnstorming version of ‘Propaganda’ which leaves me more than satisfied as it is one of my all-time favourite songs. Even the security staff join in for one last dance and I have to praise them for the way they have handled the numerous crowd surfers throughout the weekend and have generally been in good spirits. Rebellion you’ve been a blast.
Read our April 2022 Brighton gig report on Theatre Of Hate HERE.
THE MEMBRANES – PAVILION (10:35pm – 11:25pm)
It was finally time to sign off our Rebellion/R-Fest extravaganza in the Pavilion from 10:40pm to close at 11:26pm, in order to catch John ‘Louder Than War’ Robb’s outfit The Membranes who originally formed back here in Blackpool in 1977/78, so it’s fitting that it ends here on stage with the local outfit.
There was to be just eight more tunes until we were released from the Rebellion spell and allowed to slowly wander*/stagger* (*delete as appropriate) back to our various Blackpool accommodation for some well earned kip prior to catching a number of trains back home to sunny Brighton.
The Membranes like their counterparts Joy Division, Bauhaus and The Fall were post-punk originators who were part of the same world as bands that combined their small town frustration with a love of heavy bass and distortion. It doesn’t come as a surprise that John Robb is the bass player as well as the frontman. The Membranes originally decided to call it a day back in 1990, but normal service was resumed when John Robb got back on the case in 2009 and they have been entertaining crowds up and down the land (and abroad) ever since.
This evening, the band members look like a clash of styles, with the ever shirtless, buff mohicaned Robb, joined by a lady that dresses in the same vein at Gazelle Twin and she is in charge of Komplete Kontrol S49 keys and laptop and backing vocals, alongside her is a mature guitarist who had fallen over and broken his ankle, but valiantly played on, as well as a mature looking drummer.
The Membranes specialise in dramatic songs which are full of bass laden riffs, which affords Mr Robb to go about his business on stage as he does his almost keep fit workout with his four stringed axe in tow. The band are certainly ploughing their own furrow and I can’t actually think of any other bands that are just like them, other than possibly early PIL and some Joy Division. .
Blackpool boy Robb certainly looks the part for a frontman and doesn’t fail to deliver as he is clearly a fan of the top ‘E’ string on his Fender Precision bass, which when plucked reverberates through everyone’s bodies. He ironically informs us that back in the day when he was younger that the venue wouldn’t let punk rockers in the building, and yet now look at it, full to the rafters with them!
The Pavilion is not quite full to capacity, but those that are present are up most certainly for it, before they collapse after a four day grilling Rebellion. The outfit kicked off their 8 songs with ‘The Universe Explodes Into A Billion Photons Of Pure White Light’, ‘Dark Energy’, ‘Do The Supernova’ and ‘In The Graveyard’ which are all from their 2016 ‘Dark Matter /Dark Energy’ album. The choice track from these being ‘Do The Supernova’ which is a rather decent track to bop along to, even at this late in the proceedings. This evening, The Membranes had an unofficial fifth band member in the form of a Scottish lady who was standing next to me at the very front and she was banging her own tambourine in time with the beats. I’m not sure if this is a regular occurrence, but I have to state that she did an admirable job of it.
Next up was ‘Black Is The Colour’ from 2019’s ‘What Nature Gives...Nature Takes Away’ album, which certainly gives a few nods to ‘Leaders Of Men’ by Joy Division. This was followed by ‘Snow Monkey’ (from the same album), the vocals of which strangely reminded me of Shaun Rider for some unknown reason.
Another Joy Division nod (‘I Remember Nothing’) was up next and really was the highlight of the set, that being ‘Deep In The Forest Where The Memories Linger’ which can also be found on the same 2019 album. This was terrific! They have certainly ventured a long way since their iconic 1984 ‘Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder’ single, which I believe was the first tune that brought me to their attention. They conclude their enjoyable set with ‘Myths And Legends’ which finishes at 11:26pm and that’s our Rebellion 2022 complete!
The band released their sixth album (a double) titled ‘What Nature Gives…Nature Takes Away’ on Cherry Red Records back in June 2019. The album is built around the theme of nature and features a 20 piece choir and contributions from Chris Packham, Shirley Collins, Kirk Brandon and Jordan Mooney. The Membranes came to Brighton on 23rd June and Jordan was there up on stage with them – Read our review HERE.
Thank you Rebellion and R-Fest, we all had a blast! Same time next year then! Tickets HERE.
You can read our Rebellion and R-Fest reviews of Days One, Two and Three, by clicking the links below:
Day One – Thursday 4th August
Day Two – Friday 5th August
Day Three – Saturday 6th August
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