I’d still describe Clowns a new band but then they’ve been doing this hardcore rock n roll lark for six years which would hardly make them new really, it’s a tough one but one of the best records released this year without a doubt is ‘Nature / Nurture’ and its a great move on the face of it signing for Fat Wreck Chords. About eighteen months ago I stood in the Ballroom at Blackpool Winter Gardens in the early afternoon and watched Clowns own the day and turn in a pulverising and quite beautiful set and that was before we even had a sniff of the latest album (which, Incidently is their best by a country mile) and before that I’d seen them in one of the smallest stages of the festival a year or two before that where they’d just released ‘Bad Blood’ and that was a brutal – pulverising performance that made those present sit up and take notice of these Australian loons kicking the shit out of our ears with their punk rock. Wind forward to a cold November in Bristol as part of their jaunt around Europe in support of Nature/Nurture’ Clowns are in the motherfuckin’ house boys and girls and it’s a school night and the place – whilst not packed to the rafters is in decent shape and very busy indeed. Anyway rewind the evening a little and first up is three-piece Glug. Two ladies on guitar and Bass swapping vocals in the briefest of sets that was basically ten minutes and a bit but ten songs and plenty of between-song banter. they were never going to steal the show they knew it and we knew it but it was great to see them doing what they do on a school night.
Next up were the four-piece local lads The Broken Bones Gentleman’s Club. who to be fair have been around the block and are used to this kinda Monday night punk rock show as they proceeded to smash out their tight set of Hardcore punk rock for the next twenty-five minutes or so. Flip is a bundle of energy and turns the screw on the rest of the band as they get pushed harder and faster and tonight it really works. Cookie is our prowling the audience poking for a reaction and its working. Tonight The Broken Bones Gentleman’s Club are smashing it (as the kids say) as for what they played I couldn’t even begin to break it down as song titles were irrelevant. Maybe they played ‘Reasons’ maybe they didn’t but what mattered was tonight they were on form and took no prisoners and impressed those who’d bothered to turn up on time and give these punks the time of day. Great effort.
Finally, Clowns are ready as the busy venue is up for what is about to unfold and I’ve been looking forward to this since it was announced. Stevie has a sharp new haircut (since last time) and after a few stretches were ready to go and without any fanfare and ‘I Shaved My Legs For You’ is riffing the fuck out of the room and from the off this is going to be something special. Hanny J is a great foil for Stevie as they are both penned in by the dual riff maesters Rod and Will either side as they unleashing the venom. What a blistering opener, then it’s back to the rapid assault of ‘Infected’ off the uncompromising ‘Bad Blood’ album and that’s where they stayed for the title track and low and behold they open up ‘These Veins’ as well and the band sound on fire.
Next track up is ‘Freezing In The Sun’ which was released as a single prior to the last album but it only gave a slight glimpse into what was to come as the band took a giant leap sonically from the first two albums to ‘Lucid Again’ and then ‘Nature / Nurture’ where they seem to have really come of age and grown into something really special. Some of the songs steered them into Janes Addiction Territory (when Janes were on fire of course) and this single was their most accessible track to date and tonight it was pounding and they executed it to within an inch of perfection.
The band then flip-flopped between the most recent couple of albums with the pick of the tunes from both slotting in very nicely indeed. It took Williams a while to get into the audience but when he was comfortable he was like a cat on a hot tin roof not standing still for a second as the band hammered home the tunes giving him the space to do his thing and boy did he do it. ‘Like A Knife At A Gunfight’ grew into a swirling beast that it is but it was overshadowed by the monumental ‘, I Wanna Feel Again’ that showed how much this band has grown over their short tenure and all those shows are paying off because I wouldn’t want to be in a band and follow these on stage on this evidence. To suggest it was epic isn’t an understatement at all.
By the time we hit ‘Soul For Sale’ and a quick check of the time we knew we were reaching melting point in the set, the whole place was twitching at the very least as some lost their collective shit it was only ‘Never Enough’ to wrap up the evening. A fitting ending to a superb night of Hardcore entertainment from a band that was on fire and one I can’t recommend highly enough they were simply a sight to behold.
If you get the chance you really should check these Clowns out. It’s never too late to pick up one of the albums, hell even go for the first one that they sadly neglected this evening but I guess its fair that you can’t have everything. Now, these and Bronx on a doubleheader would be just the best idea if someone could make that happen in 2020 I’d be grateful. Clowns from Australia I salute you, you came – we saw – you rocked. Fuckin Awesome!
Author: Dom Daley