THE UNDERTONES + THE REZILLOS – CHALK, BRIGHTON 28.9.23
Tonight we headed on down to Chalk in Pool Valley, Brighton for a sold out gig from two rather fabulous acts! The Undertones and The Rezillos were in the house and it had the feeling of a double-bill event. Inevitably someone had to go up first and that job fell down to The Rezillos.
Scotland’s punk scene is alive and well with The Rezillos still up there leading the pack. Fans of the iconic punk band were thrilled when they announced their recent après le pandemic tour dates, and their recent high-energy performances have lived up to expectations. The Rezillos may have been around since the ’70s, but they’re still bringing their style of punk rock, tunes and Rezillos goodness to the masses in the 21st century!
But The Rezillos’ high-energy performance isn’t just about the music. It’s also about the band’s stage presence and showmanship. Originals Eugene Reynolds and fellow vocalist Fay Fife are known for their dynamic and playful interactions on stage, often trading off lead vocals and engaging with the crowd. Guitarist Phil Marx, bassist Chris Agnew and another line up original, drummer Angel Paterson round out the line-up, each bringing their own unique flair to the performance.
Offstage, The Rezillos have been influential in the punk and new wave scenes since their formation in 1976. Their debut album, ‘Can’t Stand the Rezillos’ is considered a classic of the genre and features hits like ‘I Can’t Stand My Baby’ and ‘Flying Saucer Attack’. The band’s influence can be heard in the music of countless punk and new wave bands that followed in their wake. The last album, ‘Zero’ continued the adventure, and a new album is on the way! Sorry! No dates as yet, but we were played a couple of new tracks tonight.
Formed in Edinburgh in 1976, The Rezillos were one of the most influential bands of the first wave of punk. Their unique blend of punk, new wave, and pop music helped to define the sound of the era, and their catchy hooks and irreverent lyrics made them a favourite of fans and critics alike. I first met them whilst on the Ramones road-crew in Edinburgh, in 1977, and have been in touch pretty much ever since.
As the band launches into the drums, bass and loud guitar for ‘Destination Venus’, the audience is transported back in time to the early days of punk rock as Fay and Eugene took to the stage. The raw energy and rebellious spirit of their music is still very much evident, and it’s impossible not to get caught up in the moment. The packed in crowd at Chalk launched themselves straight into it.
But it wasn’t just the classic much loved songs such as ‘My Baby Does Good Sculptures’, ‘Mystery Action’, ‘Flying Saucer Attack’ and ‘Do The Mutilation’ that got the crowd going. The band’s newer material, including ‘Spiked Heel Assassin’, ‘The Groovy Room’ and ‘Zero’ were all well-received. The Rezillos continue to prove that they still have what it takes to write catchy, memorable songs that get people moving. Did I mention a new album is in the works!
Two new tracks played tonight were ‘Cranium’ and ‘Edge Of Delight’ from the forthcoming, as yet untitled, new album. The album Eugene confirmed will be out next year. Phil fired up the guitar for the opening riff, ‘Top Of The Pops’ after an intro from Fay, and the few hundred people in the venue decided it was time to get up and pile in! Sweat pouring down everyone’s faces! No time to stop.
Throughout the set, the band members’ energy and enthusiasm never waned. Lead singer Fay Fife continues to be a force to be reckoned with, belting out lyrics and engaging with the audience at every opportunity. Vocalist/saxophonist/guitarist Eugene Reynolds was equally impressive, shredding through those well known riffs and solos with ease. His sax playing was on fine form as were his vocals.
‘My Baby Does Good Sculptures’, Chris hit his stride with some superb bass playing for this one as Phil provided some sparking guitar breaks. A set highlight for me. Chris kept the well loved bass riff running, working with Angel to provide the rhythm and support. He makes it look effortless. Anyone who has played a bass guitar to a Rezillos track will know it isn’t as easy as Chris makes it look. It was clear that The Rezillos were having just as much fun on stage at Chalk as their adoring fans were in the crowd. The band’s chemistry was palpable, and it was clear that they were thrilled to be back in Brighton delivering their music once again.
The Rezillos had been a wee bit late on stage and so some of the setlist was cut. Sadly ‘20,000 Rezillos Under The Sea’ was gone and the classic ‘River Deep Mountain High’, which always sees Fay deliver a blinding rendition of it. We did get the classy ‘Someone’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’. Eugene stalking the crowd and delivering wonderful growling vocals on this one!
Closing the set tonight, another of the highlights of the show for me was the band’s performance of ‘I Can’t Stand My Baby’, which had the audience bouncing along in a frenzy. The song, which was originally released in 1977, still sounds as fresh and exciting as it did over 40 years ago, I can testify to that!
Fans of all ages and backgrounds come together tonight to celebrate the music they love, united by a shared passion and that Rezillos rebellious spirit. Fay and Eugene switch around vocal duties. The setlist is always different and so you always get a different show every time. The Rezillos will always catch you off guard. The Rezillos proved again in Chalk that they still deliver a killer live show. Fans who were lucky enough to catch them tonight due to the early start, were treated to a set that featured classic hits alongside new material. Rezillos Rock!
Fay Fife – vocals, theremin
Eugene Reynolds – vocals
Phil Thompson – lead guitar, backing vocals
Chris Agnew – bass
Angel Paterson – drums
The Rezillos setlist:
‘Flying Saucer Attack’
‘Bad Guy Reaction’
‘Sorry About Tomorrow’
‘(Take Me To The) Groovy Room’
‘Spike Heel Assassin’
‘It Gets Me’
‘Edge Of Delight’
‘Do The Mutilation’
‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’ (Fleetwood Mac)
‘Top Of The Pops’
‘My Baby Does Good Sculptures’
‘I Can’t Stand My Baby’
The Undertones emerged from Derry in 1976, the result of five friends (John O’Neill, Damian O’Neill, Fergal Sharkey, Billy Doherty and Michael Bradley) learning how to play basic rock and roll. The Undertones signed with Sire Records and ‘Teenage Kicks’ was re-released, resulting in the band’s first appearance on ‘Top Of The Pops’. Over the next five years, John O’ Neill, crafted further pop gems such as ‘Here Comes The Summer’, ‘Jimmy Jimmy’, ‘You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It)’ and ‘Wednesday Week’ whilst Damian O’Neill and Michael Bradley contributed ‘My Perfect Cousin’.
Now, some records just stop you dead in your tracks when you first hear them. ‘Teenage Kicks’ was such a slice of vinyl. It wasn’t really a huge hit at the time, but it did mark the entry of The Undertones, and it was their first of 13 hit singles between 1978 and 1983. This tour was a celebration of that song being released some 45 years ago!
Now the band may be a little older now, but you know it’s good to see that they’re back on tour once again. This gig turned out to be, as expected, a joyous, raucous gig delivered by one of Derry’s finest exports to date. The now packed crowd were well up for this. Two cracking numbers opened up the set ‘Emergency Cases’ and then with that distinctive, urgent Undertones sound of choppy guitars ‘You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It?)’, The first two songs powered at 100 mph drum patterns, soaring guitars and bass fills and the fine vocals delivered by Paul McLoone.
In 1983 Sharkey left the band to pursue a solo career and the remaining members decided to call it a day. The Undertones were to remain silent for the next sixteen years. In 1999 The Undertones reconvened, to once again perform their two-minute, three and a half chord songs to a new generation of fans in Derry. Fellow Derryman Paul McLoone replaced Sharkey on vocals and his vocal prowess and electric onstage presence soon convinced any doubters that he was more than capable of doing the job. He was on fire tonight.
Hats off to Paul McLoone, he is a natural frontman and his energetic and at times almost frantic style and presence pulled us all in. The latest setlist highlights just how rich their back catalogue is. And that back catalogue was raided for one of my personal all time fave 45 rpm singles, ‘Jimmy Jimmy’. Back then that song captured everything for me. A stunning record and still sounds great whilst playing the recent eBay purchase of their ‘Greatest Hits’ album today. Damn they were good, and tonight proved they are still good!
The set selection proved just how much the band have kept in touch with their roots, but also highlighted a band maturing both in terms of the musical style, and song writing skills of the O’Neill brothers. The songs and material tonight ranged from 1978 to 2007. They were playing this set tonight fast and tight.
Now if you find yourself needing a lesson in putting together a 2 minute belter then you won’t go far wrong using The Undertones model. A fine example would be ‘Here Comes The Summer’! It’s a joyous thing! Some 32 songs listed for the setlist and I am pretty sure they got through most of them!
The Chalk crowd, well they seemed to love every minute of this well-crafted set. With the set firing up the hits after every couple of songs it was a relentlessly enjoyable set. The inter band banter was fab and Paul McLoone took every opportunity to engage with the crowd. Mind you, I would love to hear ‘Mars Bar’ played live!
Every note and buzzing riff, every vocal word and note just oozes with pop/punk perfection such as ‘Julie Ocean’, ‘Wednesday Week’ and ‘Get Over You’. Throw in the mix of the sound of two guitars, a thumping bass line and percussion and you have a sound that packs a melodic punch and injects a huge shot of adrenaline into the music. After seeing the set, it was clear we were heading towards the closing numbers.
The songs played tonight have proved themselves timeless and judging by the crowd they still strike home to an audience made up of all ages. ‘My Perfect Cousin’ closed the set to a huge cheer! Some 30+ songs packed in tight to a 90 minute set. Astonishing performance from The Undertones.
It was great to meet the guys and have a quick chat individually. They are looking forward to the rest of the tour. Tonight we had two top bands playing the live circuit and these guys are the real deal. A touch of genius put The Undertones and The Rezillos together, it was a helluva hot night I can tell you!.
John O’Neill – rhythm guitar
Michael Bradley – bass guitar, lead and backing vocals
Billy Doherty – drums
Damian O’Neill – lead guitar and backing vocals
Paul McLoone – lead vocals
The Undertones setlist:
‘Emergency Cases’ (from 1978 ‘Teenage Kicks’ EP)
‘You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It?)’ (from 1979 ‘You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It?)’ single)
‘I Need Your Love The Way It Used To Be’ (from 2003 ‘Get What You Need’ album)
‘The Love Parade’ (from 1983 ‘The Sin Of Pride’ album)
‘Family Entertainment’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘Jimmy Jimmy’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘Thrill Me’ (from 2003 ‘Get What You Need’ album)
‘Tearproof’ (from 1980 ‘Hypnotised’ album)
‘It’s Going To Happen!’ (from 1981 ‘Positive Touch’ album)
‘Crisis Of Mine’ (from 1981 ‘Positive Touch’ album)
‘Teenage Kicks’ (from 1978 ‘Teenage Kicks’ EP)
‘True Confessions’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘Smarter Than U’ (from 1978 ‘Teenage Kicks’ EP)
‘Nine Times Out Of Ten’ (from 1980 ‘Hypnotised’ album)
‘Oh Please’ (from 2003 ‘Get What You Need’ album)
‘I Gotta Getta’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘Girls That Don’t Talk’ (from 1980 ‘Hypnotised’ album)
‘Male Model’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘Here Comes The Rain’ (from 2007 ‘Dig Yourself Deep’ album)
‘Here Comes The Summer’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘When Saturday Comes’ (from 1981 ‘Positive Touch’ album)
‘Girls Don’t Like It’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘(She’s A) Runaround’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘Julie Ocean’ (from 1981 ‘Positive Touch’ album)
‘Wednesday Week’ (from 1980 ‘Hypnotised’ album)
‘Listening In’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘Get Over You’ (from 1979 ‘Get Over You’ single)
‘More Songs About Chocolate And Girls’ (from 1980 ‘Hypnotised’ album)
‘I Know A Girl’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘Jump Boys’ (from 1979 ‘The Undertones’ album)
‘There Goes Norman’ (from 1980 ‘Hypnotised’ album)
‘My Perfect Cousin’ (from 1980 ‘Hypnotised’ album)