After a gap of 20 years, legendary Scottish punk rockers The Exploited, have finally played a Brighton concert, albeit in a rather unusual choice of venue, namely The Arch which is a club that was established in 2015 and is located down a ramp that leads to Brighton Beach!
The Exploited – whose current live lineup features Wattie Buchan (vocals), Irish Rob (bass), Steve Campbell (guitar), and 2023 new drummer boy Jo Oom (from Dutch band Disturbance) – had initially announced a set of European tour dates, but then added a handful of UK ones including tonight’s event that has been organised by promoters Divergent Venues.
The Exploited formed back in 1979 and have been gigging since 1980 (which their LED sign above and behind the band proudly boasted) and by our reckoning their last visit to Brighton was back in 2003, when they played at the Concorde 2 on 24th July of that year.
They were here in the early days when they played Xtreems (The New Regent) at the bottom of West Street which used to stand opposite The Top Rank Suite (now PRYZM) on 31st March 1983 and then returned on 15th February 1985 for the infamous abandoned riot gig at the Pavilion Theatre (on New Road) which had UK Subs as support. I was fortunate to have attended both of those memorable gigs. You can view both my tickets at the very end of this review.
The Exploited concerts are usually lively affairs as their ‘Barmy Army’ “don’t F*ckin’ mess”. The Brighton & Hove News Music Team were fortunate to witness the band performing live at last year’s Rebellion Festival in Blackpool on 6th August.
However, earlier that day, we also attended a special Q&A session featuring The Exploited’s frontman Wattie Buchan, which was very interesting indeed, as he says it exactly as it is, interspersed with copious amounts of swearing! I know exactly what you’re thinking…”What did he say?”.
OK then, down to the nitty gritty, what juicy facts did we learn that day?
Well then, here’s just a half dozen tasters……
1. The Exploited played their first ever gig at a YMCA (yes he did the arm movements) and they went down so badly that the venue cut the mics.
2. He did speed every day for 34 years and is not proud of the fact.
3. The Exploited’s scariest ever show was at the New York Ritz.
4. His favourite country to play live with The Exploited surprisingly isn’t Scotland, but right across the planet in Chile in South America as they are so up for it.
5. He’s not a Jello Biafra (former Dead Kennedys frontman) fan as he heard him in the UK citing one set of bands as his favourites and then a short while later in the USA he saw him again and Jello cited a completely different set of bands.
6. Wattie has had no less than five heart attacks and has a pacemaker fitted. This all sounds doom and gloom doesn’t it, but boy did we laugh! He was terrific!
Shortly after his Q&A (4 hours and 55 minutes to be precise) Wattie joined his band for their Rebellion live set that took place in the Club Casbah from 10pm to 11pm. They were, as ever, still on the case, here’s our account of that set:
“No need to leave the room just yet as UK82 legends The Exploited were set to take the stage. I hadn’t seen them way back when so I was definitely up for seeing them tonight. Earlier on, I had been to see their singer doing a Q&A on the Literary Stage which was definitely value for money. As you probably know, he doesn’t mince his words and many people were in the firing line.
As soon as ‘Let’s Start A War’ rang out the crowd were going for it. I always thought that their songs sounded more metally over the years, but not tonight, as they sounded punk for sure. It was a bit of a treat hearing ‘Dead Cities’ and ‘UK82‘ again I must admit. ‘Troops Of Tomorrow‘ got an airing and our friend Sean hijacked the microphone in between songs to get the crowd to chant the obligatory ‘Exploited Barmy Army!’. All the classics were played and a great end to a night and day in the Casbah for me”.
Back to the present day and tonight’s gig was opened by E.C.C (Electric Cowboy Club) but more on them shortly.
The Exploited graced the stage at 8:28pm and played a 77 minute set consisting of 25 career spanning 100mph numbers. For a punk-rock set 77 minutes is certainly going some. Yes we had a few breaks in between some tunes in order for red-mohicaned frontman Wattie to exchange banter with the crowd, but there was always that back in the day. So it was a decent length performance!
They kicked off with 1983’s ‘Let’s Start A War (Said Maggie One Day)’ and literally within seconds the moshpit was in action. Wattie looked slimmer than he was back in the day, but looked well considering.
A whole host of extreme punk numbers were being delivered at pace by Wattie’s chums, Irish Rob (bass), Steve Campbell (guitar) and new boy Jo Oom (drums) who was replacing or standing in for Wattie’s brother Wullie Buchan. We had ‘Fightback’, ‘Dogs Of War’, ‘The Massacre’, ‘UK 82’ and ‘Chaos Is My Life’, before landing at one of tonight’s set highlights, that being ‘Dead Cities’. A tune that I remember fondly as it even made it on to ‘Top Of The Pops’...Oh how I laughed that extreme punk had made it on there!
A couple of numbers on and we arrived at 2003’s corker ‘Noize Annoys’, which has nothing to do with the Buzzcocks similarly named ‘Noise Annoys’ from their brilliant 1978 ‘Love Bites’ album. After this Wattie dedicated the next number, 1982’s ‘Troops Of Tomorrow’ to punk legend (and Seaford resident) Charlie Harper, frontman of the UK Subs, who was watching on and who Wattie said that when his Exploited started, he personally looked up to Charlie.
The Exploited are clearly well in sync as the numbers flowed and I was unaware of any errors. Before we knew it, it was time for ‘I Believe In Anarchy’, which was solid and another set highlight, but I knew it would be as it’s virtually my fave track of theirs. After this we had ‘Holiday In The Sun’, which is not a Sex Pistols cover, as that’s ‘Holidays In The Sun’. Tonight’s version was a good’un too and lovely and fast, as was the next tune ‘Disorder’.
The following number, ‘Beat The Bastards’ was dedicated to tonight’s support act E.C.C, who Wattie described as “f*cking brilliant!”. This was surprisingly the best track thus far and had some fabulous breakneck speed drumming from Jo. After this there was some shared banter from the guy next to us who coincidentally came from Edinburgh but now lives in Brighton, but Wattie couldn’t understand what he was saying, which was rather amusing! Different dialects within the same city or beer talk versus deafness…you choose!
Next up it was the turn of ‘Cop Cars’, which quite possibly had the biggest moshpit all evening! After this they played ‘F*ck The System’ which was another fast corker. The following number, ‘Porno Slut’ was dedicated to Peter Test Tube aka Peter Bywaters frontman of those ‘Peacehaven Wild Kids’ Peter And The Test Tube Babies, who was also in the audience this evening. It was just like 1982 all over again!
Wattie then introduced ‘Army Life’ stating that it was the first tune that the band ever recorded. Half way through and Steve’s guitar suddenly totally cuts out, the others look across, but no it’s not having it, so they carry on anyway, and it was interesting hearing the tune with only the bass and drum parts. After a minutes stoppage or so, suddenly the guitar was miraculously fixed, but not wanting to miss out, the quartet actually started again at roughly when the guitar had cut out as opposed to starting the whole track again or going onto the next number ‘F*ck The USA’.
Mayhem alert! Wattie invited the crowd to come up and join the band on stage and about a dozen or so took him up on the offer and they all danced and sang to the easily followed lyrics of ‘Sex & Violence’. ‘Punks Not Dead’ was next, which I was expecting to go very near the beginning. ’Was It Me’ was given an outing next and things got even livelier and the venue’s drafted in staff had to all hold onto the crowd barrier, in fact they ended up pushing it forward towards us and so we had a little less space where to stand.
They signed off with ‘Rival Leaders’ and ‘Don’t Forget The Chaos’ and at 9:45pm they were finally done! So after all that lot, how would I describe how The Exploited set made me feel? The answer is simply invigorated and it’s a joy to be alive!
Wattie Buchan – vocals
Irish Rob – bass
Steve Campbell – guitar
Jo Oom – drums
The Exploited setlist:
‘Let’s Start A War (Said Maggie One Day)’ (from 1983 ‘Let’s Start A War… …Said Maggie One Day’ album)
‘Fightback’ (from 1996 ‘Beat The Bastards’ album)
‘Dogs Of War’ (from 1981 ‘Dogs Of War’ single)
‘The Massacre’ (from 1990 ‘The Massacre’ album)
‘UK 82’ (from 1982 ‘Troops Of Tomorrow’ album)
‘Chaos Is My Life’ (from 2003 ‘F*ck The System’ album)
‘Dead Cities’ (from 1981 ‘Dead Cities’ EP)
‘Alternative’ (from 1982 ‘Troops Of Tomorrow’ album)
‘Noize Annoys’ (from 2003 ‘F*ck The System’ album)
‘Troops Of Tomorrow’ (The Vibrators cover) (from 1982 ‘Troops Of Tomorrow’ album)
‘Never Sell Out’ (from 2003 ‘F*ck The System’ album)
‘I Believe In Anarchy’ (from 1981 ‘Punks Not Dead’ album)
‘Holiday In The Sun’ (from 2003 ‘F*ck The System’ album)
‘Disorder’ (from 1982 ‘Troops Of Tomorrow’ album)
‘Beat The Bastards’ (from 1996 ‘Beat The Bastards’ album)
‘Cop Cars’ (from 1981 ‘Punks Not Dead’ album)
‘F*ck The System’ (from 2003 ‘F*ck The System’ album)
‘Porno Slut’ (from 1990 ‘The Massacre’ album)
‘Army Life’ (from 1980 ‘Army Life’ EP)
‘F*ck The USA’ (from 1982 ‘Troops Of Tomorrow’ album)
‘Punks Not Dead’ (from 1981 ‘Punks Not Dead’ album)
‘Sex & Violence’ (from 1981 ‘Punks Not Dead’ album)
’Was It Me’ (from 2003 ‘F*ck The System’ album)
‘Rival Leaders’ (from 1983 ‘Let’s Start A War… …Said Maggie One Day’ album)
‘Don’t Forget The Chaos’ (from 1985 ‘Horror Epics’ album)
As mentioned earlier, support this evening came from trash rock n’ rollers E.C.C (Electric Cowboy Club) who are a Brighton based quartet that dropped their ‘Grapefruit Baby’ single just before last Christmas. Prior to that they released ‘Coconut Tree’ back in October as a single. The band is made up of Brandon Parker (vocals), James Lissimore (guitar), Jacob Lenadd O’Shea (bass) and Wyn Harcourt (drums).
This evening, the Brighton & Hove News Music Team broke their E.C.C duck and I’m certain that based on tonight’s performance, it won’t be the last!
Well where do we begin? At the beginning of their set I guess, which was at 7:29pm. A trio of players were positioned on stage: drums…check, Epiphone bass…check, Squier Mustang guitar…check, vocalist…oh, no vocalist! We were positioned front right (house left) and then all of a sudden from behind us, this young topless tattooed guy suddenly appears and clambers over the crowd barrier and rolls onto the stage! The existent trio don’t bat an eyelid! I would have thought that at least one of them would have thrown this imposter off the stage!
Hold on a minute…it’s the singer, Brandon Parker. What an entrance! But there’s more…much, much more! Suffice to say that if Duracell Batteries are after something different in order to promote their wares, then Brandon’s your man.
They begin with ‘Reality’, the first of their ten tunes, and musically it sounds rather promising trash rock n’ roll. Song two ‘Yeh’ I’m Movin’’, was more than adequately demonstrated by Brandon as he vacated the stage (one of many trips as it turned out) and lived up to the title of this ditty by joining us in the crowd and whizzing all around us. Song three ‘Trippin’’ and Brandon kicked off the moshpit and the punters that were just starting to dabble beforehand, were now encouraged to go full throttle.
I was standing there thinking to myself that vocally it’s got more than a nod to Jello Biafra (former frontman of the Dead Kennedys) and Brandon even sounds American when singing but I think he’s a Brighton boy, physically it was heyday Iggy Pop on steroids, and musically it’s The Cramps. Not a bad combination if you think about it.
Brandon was really up for it, and when I say really up for it, I mean REALLY up for it. He contorts his face like the mad jailer’s assistant in Monty Python’s ‘Life Of Brian’ “Oh, don’t worry about him, sir. He’s ma– he’s m– he’s ma– he– he– he’s m– m– m– he’s m– he’s m–”. One isn’t really sure what he’s going to do next, but I would guess that something around 15 to 20% of their set was filled with Brandon writhing around on the floor! As Iggy said “I’m a real wild one, wild one, wild one, wild one”.
Brandon is extremely animated and his energy levels were literally off the scale, hence the Duracell reference. E.C.C are a band seen once and not forgotten, that is if all of their sets are like this! Guess we will find out next time!
By now, I was totally lost as to what track they were on as I was so absorbed trying to track where Brandon was in the venue, but one of the latter numbers did actually remind me of The Damned’s 1977 tune ‘Stretcher Case Baby’. Now I know this review of E.C.C appears to all be about Brandon, but you have to appreciate the work behind the scenes (ie up on the stage) that James, Jacob and Wyn, were doing, if you have already witnessed this outfit live and they have been the same as tonight, then you will understand.
E.C.C are yet another decent Brighton band that’s seriously well worth seeing. It’s a true spectacle if tonight is anything to go by. After 28 minutes they were done and vacated the stage at 7:57pm. Great job lads…..ALL of you!
E.C.C will be playing live again Brighton tomorrow (Saturday 25th March), when they will be playing at a special event at the Green Door Store along with The Damn Shebang, The Atom Jacks, and Gene Pool – Details HERE.
E.C.C (Electric Cowboy Club):
James Lissimore – guitar
Brandon Parker – vocals
Jacob Lenadd O’Shea – bass
Wyn Harcourt – drums
E.C.C (Electric Cowboy Club) setlist:
‘Yeh’ I’m Movin’’
‘Grapefruit Baby’ (from 2022 ‘Grapefruit Baby’ single)
‘Maxine’ (from 2022 ‘Grapefruit Baby’ single)
‘Coconut Tree’ (from 2022 ‘Coconut Tree’/’Ran A Red Light’ single)
‘Ran A Red Light’ (from 2022 ‘Coconut Tree’/’Ran A Red Light’ single)
Check them out on Spotify and find out more on Instagram.
In conclusion, I must state that on initially hearing that this gig (of all gigs) was taking place in a renown drum and bass nightclub venue, was either a windup or a really bad choice of venue. How wrong could I be! It was absolutely perfect, it’s like an underground cavern where the music can be ramped up to Motörhead levels and no-one outside will be none the wiser! Although they will have to sort out their beer pumps as not good just having lager, cider and energy drinks in cans! Let’s hope they book more similar events down here, and I’m not just saying that, as back in the day it used to be The Zap Club, a place where I saw many bands, although the stage back then was to the right of the current stage and the bar which is opposite wasn’t there then! A fab night out! Cheers guys!
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