‘VARIOUS ARTISTS’ – ‘REBELLION’ FESTIVAL, WINTER GARDENS, BLACKPOOL 6.8.23
Whilst there are other punk festivals held in the UK, the ‘Rebellion Festival’ is arguably the largest and most important, both in terms of the artists and the spectators that travel from all over the world to attend. Unbelievably this is only the second year that I’ve been here, but it is now an unmissable part of my annual gigging calendar.
This is the report of Day Four (The Sunday) of ‘Rebellion’. If you haven’t as yet read our account of Day One (The Thursday) then click HERE and then check out our reviews of Day Two (The Friday) HERE and Day Three (The Saturday) HERE.
There’s always something rather melancholic about the last day of a festival, no matter when or where it’s held. What – you mean I have to leave this paradise?!!! The only way to combat this feeling is to make the most of the time that is left, and so it is that I find myself entering the Empress Ballroom shortly before 1pm to enjoy Zen Baseball Bat.
As band names go, this particular one is pretty awesome. I could use up valuable space hypothesising about what the name may or may not mean, but let’s go straight to the music shall we? From the stage they tell us that they are “post post post punk”, which I would guess is a reference to how overused a term ‘post punk’ is. I think I shall describe them as ska punk. I hope they’re okay with that. Brothers in bands are often seen as bad news. Zen Baseball Bat have a pair of twins: Carl Gleavey and Gary Gleavey. They are the band’s songwriters, and one of them is on guitar and vocals, the other is on bass and vocals. Which one is which I wouldn’t like to say.
Anyone who has read my reviews of this event thus far will probably have cottoned on to the fact that I’m partial to a bit of ska, and Zen Baseball Bat scratch that particular itch most effectively. Not only that, but the lyrics mix politics, social awareness, and a particularly dry Warrington wit. For example the ‘Brown Cows Of Elocution’ is about Siri not understanding guitarist Gleavey’s accent. They’re diplomatic too. They assure us that the song ‘Why Do We Always End Up In A Place Like This’ is not about Blackpool. The music itself is utterly infectious. Quite frankly, if this band doesn’t make you want to dance then you should be worried, because you might be dead.
Unfortunately Zen Baseball Bat don’t have any Brighton or London gigs booked, but they are playing at the Specialized Big One at Sandford Holiday Park, Holton Heath, near Poole BH16 6JZ on Friday 3rd November. They also have an album called ‘Better Ways To Love & Offend’.
Zen Baseballbat setlist:
‘Place Like This’
‘Whipping The Lash’
‘Brown Cows Of Elocution’
‘You Won’t Get Paid’
‘Signed Off R.Mutt’
I don’t have much time to reflect on Zen Baseball Bat as I have to run (well, walk fairly quickly) to Club Casbah to see The Blue Carpet Band. They trade in high octane rockabilly and are an absolutely electrifying live band. Frontman Djamel Abina looks as if he was born for the job. He clearly lives the lyrics and doesn’t stay still for a moment. He’s all over the stage, in the photo pit, on the front rail, and in the audience. He has a sense of humour too – sitting on the edge of the stage and singing romantically to one of the security guards. At one point when Djamel disappears into the crowd, the band plays the intro for the next song repeatedly until he reappears.
Guitarists Brendan Stitch and Stan Standen (ex-Demented Are Go) both produce some incisive soloing, which makes me want to get my own guitar out of its somewhat dusty case. Their bassist is Marie Terry and their drummer Ant Thomas is also a refugee from Demented Are Go. The lyrics of some of the songs, such as ‘My Jacket’s Better Than Your Jacket’ and ‘Your Hangover Cure’ (Djamel reckons the band will cure such things – I’m not convinced!) may not be entirely serious. However, ‘The Slow Death Of Camden’ is a very socially aware song about the possibly not so gradual gentrification of Camden Town.
They have no Brighton gigs booked, but they will be at the Shake Some Acton Summer Carnival at The Aeronaut in Acton on Saturday 26th August, and at Roadrunner at the 229 Club, Great Portland Street, London W1W 5PN on Friday 3rd November. They also have an album: ‘Rock And Roll Carpet (Relaid)’. A band worthy of further investigation, in my humble opinion.
The Blue Carpet Band setlist:
‘Rock n Roll Carpet’
‘Right Behind You Baby’ (Ray Smith cover)
‘I Don’t Wanna Go Home’
‘My Jacket (Is Better Than Your Jacket)’
‘Slow Death Of Camden’
A friend of mine has strongly recommended The Cundeez. “Punk rock with bagpipes!” he said. Punk rock? Bagpipes? What’s not to like??? With this recommendation ringing in my ears, I head back to Club Casbah after a break for some grub. Everyone needs to eat, right? And no, it’s not cheating.
The band’s members are Gary Robertson on vocals and bagpipes, Stevie Cundee on bass, Trotsky Cundee on guitar, Shaun Kerr on drums, and Jock Castle and Wullie Cundee on mayhem. Some of these names may not be the names that appear on the members’ birth certificates.
Gary Robertson appears to have his work cut out for him. However, when he’s singing and not piping, Trotsky’s guitar lines are certainly reminiscent of bagpipes. The band have a ‘Bez’ on backing vocals and tambourine. This will be either Jock Castle or Wullie Cundee, or are Jock and Wullie one and the same? He takes his shirt off revealing that he has “taps aff” in black tape on his chest. Few follow his example. On ‘Rooota!’ Gary tells us to “go f*cking mental!” The song is hard and fast and well suited to us following said instruction. The Cundeez: probably the most fun that I’ve had with my clothes on for some considerable time.
The Cundeez setlist:
‘Peat & Diesel’
‘Them An Us’
‘Kilts On Taps Aff’
‘Oi! Oi!..Cockney Reject’
‘Ane Step Ahent…End’
Next it’s over to the Opera House (for the first time today!!!) for The Nightingales. The last time I saw this band was at Birmingham University in March 1986. In those days vocalist Robert Lloyd had a bit of an air of Philip Larkin about him. Now he’s the absolute spit of the late poet laureate! Robert is the last original member of the band, although most recent newcomer James Smith has been in the band since 2014. Bassist Andreas Schmid and drummer Fliss Kitson have both been in the band for at least ten years.
Since resuming active service in 2004 The Nightingales have managed to release nine albums. Their music is still, in my view, wonderful, and is still wildly underrated and /or ignored. At best, the band still doesn’t receive the attention and appreciation that they deserve. They have also regularly been dropped by record companies. This is possibly reflected by the titles of their last five albums, which are as follows: ‘For F*ck’s Sake’, ‘Mind Over Matter’, ‘Perish The Thought’, ‘Four Against Fate’, and ‘The Last Laugh’. Likewise, Robert Lloyd’s dry humour is reflected in the titles of some of the songs played tonight: ‘I (Heart) CCTV’, ‘Too Posh To Push’ and ‘I Needed Money At The Time’.
Robert Lloyd is the genius behind the band, but he is a little reticent onstage. Andreas Schmid makes all of the announcements. Maybe Robert feels that his lyrics do the talking for him. He still has a wonderful baritone, and plays a nifty harmonica as well. He also plays kazoo! Fliss Kitson is an astonishingly good drummer, and spends most of the gig with her face hidden behind her hair. If you are new to The Nightingales there’s a lot to enjoy here.
The next UK date for The Nightingales is at the ‘Rockaway Beach’ Festival in Bognor Regis on Sunday 7th January 2024. However, if you can’t wait until then to have the live Nightingales experience they undertake a European tour in October. If you don’t want to travel the next best thing is probably their “Live In Balsall Heath” album which comes out in September.
The Nightingales setlist:
‘Ace Of Hearts’
‘Thick & Thin’
‘I (Heart) CCTV’
‘Too Posh To Push’
‘Mutton To Lamb’
‘Diary Of A Bag Of Nerves’
‘I Needed Money At The Time’
‘Best Of British Luck’
‘Watch Your Posture’
‘Real Gone Daddy’
‘The Top Shelf’
‘Dick The Do-Gooder’
I remain in the Opera House for The Wasps, possibly best known for their track ‘Can’t Wait Till ‘78’. The original band split up in 1979, and original vocalist Jesse Lynn-Dean resurrected the band with a new line-up last year when they released a new album called ‘Punk Prayer’. The band is now based on the Costa Del Sol. In 2003 an album called ‘Punkryonics’ was released comprising tracks recorded by the original line-up between 1977 and 1979. They don’t appear to have actually released an album during this time, although this could be because of the management problems which led to their demise in 1979.
So, what are they like today? Jesse is wearing a top emblazoned with the slogan “Angry, Young and Poor”. Well, he may still be angry and poor, but unfortunately the ‘young’ ship sailed some time ago. However, youth is arguably a state of mind, and I think Jesse definitely qualifies from that point of view. He’s definitely still angry though. One of the songs mentions The MC5, who were definitely very angry back in the day. The band are tight and powerful, providing the perfect vehicle to enable Jesse to express his anger.
Several of the older songs get an outing tonight, including ‘J-J-J-Jenny’, ‘Run Run Angelica’, and ‘Evil Man’. It should be noted that the new songs are every bit as good as the old ones though. A particular standout is ‘Radio’, about an Army veteran who’s done two tours of Iraq and one tour of Afghanistan, and how his radio is the only thing that keeps him relatively sane. ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’ is another newer song about finding your partner in bed with your best friend, whilst ‘She Don’t Love You’ (which doesn’t appear to have been released) is apparently about Jesse’s mum.
‘Can’t Wait Till ‘78’ is the penultimate song in the set, which concludes with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, which Jesse says he “re-wrote for Lou Reed, and if he was here he’d be f*cking furious”. Actually it’s not radically different. It’s much faster, and has a spoken word interlude. Most importantly though, it rocks! This looks very much like a rebirth for The Wasps, and hopefully we’ll see them gigging in the UK again soon!
The Wasps setlist:
‘It Don’t Matter To Me’
‘She Made Magic’
‘Run Run Angelica’
‘Can’t Wait Till ’78’
‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ (The Velvet Underground cover)
Next up for me in the Opera House are Brighton based outfit Gaye Bykers On Acid, who reactivate somewhat blurred memories from the mid to late 1980s. Also, who can forget their alter-ego band Lesbian Dopeheads on Mopeds?! The appearance of Gaye Bykers On Acid at ‘Rebellion’ I must confess was a bit of a surprise when I first saw them on the bill.
So who is in this line-up? I’ve yet to see any official confirmation, but that’s definitely Mary Byker (or Ian Hoxley if you must) on vocals, synth and laptop. It certainly looks like Kevin Hyde on drums. The guitarist is definitely too young to be Tony Byker, unless he’s using a really quite revolutionary age resisting face cream (we’re told later that he’s known as Billy Boy), and cementing the partnership is Robber Byker on bass.
Still in many ways it doesn’t matter who’s in the band because they sound really bloody good! In fact, they’re probably better than they were thirty-five or so years ago. The laptop is tweaked between songs, but what sometimes sounded like a digital intrusion back in the day, is now barely noticeable.
The set seems to have been put together quite carefully, and has definitely been devised with the fans in mind. There are three songs from debut album ‘Drill Your Own Hole’, which certainly pleases me a great deal. They leave the best till last, with ‘Animal Farm’, “for the hardcore out there”, ‘Rad Dude’, which was the B-side of 1989’s ‘Hot Thing’, plus the first two singles ‘Everythang’s Groovy’ and ‘Nosedive Karma’. As reunions go, this has been decidedly triumphant! Should you wish to share in the Bykers’ triumph, you can do so when they play The Hope And Ruin in Brighton on Saturday 2nd September. – Tickets HERE. Should you wish to share in their triumph twice they London’s 100 Club the night before.
Gaye Bykers On Acid setlist:
‘T V Cabbage’
‘Bedlam A Go-Go’
‘Don’t Be Human Eric – Let’s Be Frank’
‘Git Down (Shake Your Thang)’
‘It Is Are You?’
‘Face At The Window’
‘All Hung Up’
Some may mock me, but I’ve been waiting to see The Dickies for around forty-five years. So although Steel Pulse are on in the Empress Ballroom, I’m taking this opportunity to see The Dickies. Who knows when or if I’ll get the chance again??? The venue is pretty much at capacity tonight, so possibly I’m not the only person who has had that thought.
Whilst there are only two remaining original members of The Dickies (vocalist Leonard Graves Phillips and guitarist Stan Lee), the outfit has never split up so the band have developed more or less organically. They start tonight with a cover of The Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy In The UK’, which is the song that Phillips auditioned when he joined what was then Stan Lee’s band.
Tonight The Dickies are wildly energetic and there is barely a gap between songs. This despite Phillips telling us that he is sixty-seven years old and has a prostate of enormous proportions. Large prostate or not, he still remains the consummate showman, utilising various unlikely props throughout the show. For example at one point he suddenly appears wearing a snorkel and carrying a blow-up doll. For one song he has a dog glove puppet, and after that he wears a duck’s bill, but we still take him seriously!!!
There is a great deal of dark humour on display, as evidenced by ‘A Gary Glitter Getaway’, a single from 2022 which is included in tonight’s set. Unfairly or not, the band are known for their 100mph cover versions of famous songs, most of which we get tonight including ‘Nights In White Satin’, ‘Paranoid’, ‘Eve Of Destruction’ (which was their first UK single), and of course, ‘Banana Splits’. They had plenty of great original material too, much of the best of which is on their first two albums: ‘The Incredible Shrinking Dickies’ and ‘The Dawn Of The Dickies’. All in all though, this has been an incredible live show, and a more than fitting end to the ‘Rebellion’ Festival 2023.
The Dickies setlist:
‘Anarchy In The UK’
‘Nights In White Satin’
‘Pretty Please Me’
‘I Really Hate Punk Rock’
‘Got It At The Store’
‘A Gary Glitter Getaway’
‘The Dreaded Pigasaurus’
‘Many, Joe And Jack’
‘You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)’
‘Rondo (The Midget’s Revenge)’
‘Eve Of Destruction’
‘Rebellion’ festival will return on 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th August 2024. Early bird tickets are already on sale from HERE.