With just four weeks to go to our annual trip to Rebellion Festival at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool we thought it was high time we gave you a flavour of what RPM would be doing over the four days that make up the absolute jewel in the crown of the UK summer festival season. Johnny H kicks things off with his look at the opening day and a line up that combines the old with the new in one huge celebration of everything great about punk rock music.

The opening day at Rebellion was always about meeting up with old mates to share a pint or two, then making some new ones in the process, it was about rummaging through the market to find long sought after gems, popping into the Punk Art Exhibition to see what twisted genius my old mate Colin Creamcrop Scott had been up to, and then perhaps maybe catch the odd band in the middle of all of this.

I’m telling you this so you understand the seismic shift I’ve seen in the last ten years of going to Rebellion. Thursday was kind of like the appetiser, or a quiet introduction if you will, for what effectively was about to follow over the next three day. Now I look at the bill and I wonder how the hell am I going to do any of the above as its just so jam packed full of great bands right from the off that I’m seriously thinking that next year I’m going to have to go up on the Wednesday as that now appears to be the new Thursday!

Anyway, this year thanks to the train taking the strain once again RPM should be on site just in time to catch Millie Manders & The Shutup and/or The Kingcrows. I say and/or because right from the start we have a band clash, something that undoubtably will see me going one way and our Editor In Chief Dom Daley going the other more than once over the course of the weekend.

Regrettably, our eta means we will have already missed System of Hate and The Murderburgers in Club Casbah and our Brazilian pal from last year Supla performing an exclusive acoustic set, but it doesn’t mean you have to too. In fact, go check them all out as from doors open this year this promises to be one hell of an action-packed weekend.

Back for the 5th year running (by my reckoning anyway) I would bet my Kiss Me Quick hat that Rebellion 2019 is going to be all about The Bar Stool Preachers. The Brighton based ska punks very much on the rise right now and promising to preview tracks from their soon to be recorded 3rd album their 5:15 slot (5:15 geddit?) on the Empress Ballroom stage plus headlining the Almost Acoustic stage later in day are going down on my laminated colour coded band planner as must see performances.

Again I’m not exactly sure where there will be time to anything else other than watch bands after this though as in quick succession we have Pears in the Empress, (our old Slugfest mates) The Blunders in the Arena, cricketing nutters Geoffrey Oicott in the Pavilion, with TV Smith and Slice Of Life both in the Opera House all playing within a two hour window. I can’t of course watch whole performance but I’ll try my best to catch at least some of each.

One band I really do not want to miss this year are Birkenhead’s Queen Zee who will be bringing their Eno goes grunge influenced glam rock stylings to the Empress Ballroom for an 8:30 slot promising to take us on a much welcome trip into the unknown ahead of the hardcore onslaught that is to follow. I was at their recent sold out Newport Le Pub gig but had to leave early when it overran and was truly gutted to miss them, and right now they seem to be everywhere, Download, Glastonbury and thankfully for me Rebellion. Queen Zee may be a bit mainstream for some tastes but they certainly a hell of a lot less pop than Masked Intruder who they follow in the ballroom, I just hope I don’t turn out to be a ‘Loner’ in such huge surroundings.

With Dom no doubt fluffing his mullet to Dave Sharp over at the Almost Acoustic stage and Flipper and The Descendents playing in the Empress plus D.I, Poison Idea and Fear all playing over in Club Casbah you’ll forgive me for thinking that I’ve just somehow quantum leapt back into the early ‘80s (I know there’s a Blackpool gag in there folks but I’ll let you make up your own punchline).

Fear playing their first ever UK show will surely be a must-see for many but for me it’s the lure of Poison Idea that will see me making the short dash from The Bar Stool Preachers in Almost Acoustic to Club Casbah for what might very well be their last ever UK show. ‘Plastic Bomb’ anyone? Fuck yeah!

With everything I’ve covered already I’ve rather shamefully not even touched on the new bands all playing on the Introducing Stage on the opening day, but from London ska punks Lead Shot Hazard through to The Outlines from Nottingham the Jonny Wah Wah curated stage promises a packed house and a total of 51 bands across the weekend coming from all across the world to play Rebellion, and who knows one of two familiar faces to RPM might just creep out on stage along the way too.

Right that’s me knackered and I’ve only just written about day one not lived it, time for some shut eye back at the B&B then I’ll up bright and early for some Bingo with Max Splodge before the not to be missed Rat Boy Magic Show, and we are well and truly into Friday.

Want to join us on our Rebellion escapades? You can buy tickets for Rebellion here.

Author: Johnny Hayward

 

Thursday night must witness performances might come in various guises but one we’re excited to see and moving onto the Empress stage is The Barstool Preachers so here’s one they might play…

 

After threatening to turn up and perform Maybe this year is the year that we get to see Poison Idea and just to wet the appetite here’s PI with ‘Calling All Ghosts’

To finish off this Rebellion Thursday preview why not enjoy this rather rare performance from The Alarm Guitarists classic ‘One Step Closer’.  See you down the front

 

So another record of new(ish) music from Mike Peters and his new version of the Alarm hits the shops this week with a little help from a few of the people in his very impressive address book.  The album is connected to last years album that came out in two parts.  Confused you will be.  If you think you’ve heard some of these before then you’d be right as they’ve been around for a while and avid Alarm disciples will have heard a lot of these over the last few years.

Life isn’t as simple as a band writing enough songs for a record. They can write and record quickly and release music almost straight away through the many available platforms that now exist.  The MPO has always (since the original Alarm ceased to exist post Brixton) been ahead of the curve as far as independent cottage industries go. A personal touch that was different and exciting and it certainly helped keep in touch with the fan base, that hardcore that was always loyal to team Peters.  Today the MPO is a different beast altogether they’ve certainly grown and become a well-oiled machine and through sheer hard work have grown the Alarm name and managed to keep it relevant in an ever-changing industry.

Influenced by his well documented off-field tribulations Peters is a force of nature and his pursuit of making music is enduring and endearing – his passion for his art is second to none and has evolved as a writer, kept a few musicians close and having such talented players like Smiley and James Stevenson by his side Peters is still able to pen some really impressive Rock and Roll (although I do think the sound lack that punch that Craig Adams always brought to proceedings live and on record).

I’m glad Peters still writes new material but have to admit to not always being keen on his latter work I do own every single release he’s ever put out so I always find it difficult to write a review for an Alarm record, a band I’ve seen in many guises (well into triple numbers over the years). Call me a fanboy (I’m not bothered but can a guy in his 50s be a fanboy?) I can also admit when I find some of his lyric wordy and a bit cliched whilst at other times I find his lyrics uplifting and beautiful –  warm and sincere. At the end of the day he’s human and it would be a little odd if I liked everything he ever wrote and he got it right every time.

Well, ‘Sigma’ kicks off in fine fashion with ‘Blood Red Viral Black’ which features fellow coloursound comrade Billy Duffy (of the Cult parish) The song is a good opener and certainly benefits from Duffy’s fretwork  (I wish he’d write more song in this vein) I loved Coloursound and it worked really well.

Always dogged by the poundshop U2 tag something that really used to bug me, but, as I’ve got older there are certainly elements of Peters songwriting where their paths do cross. maybe ‘Brighter Than The Sun’ would be one such tune. ‘Time’ is classic modern Alarm and uses the familiar bass line that he got a lot of success with on songs like ‘Rain In The SummerTime’.  ‘Psalms’ begins with a simple ‘Stand By Me’ guitar strum on the acoustic and builds gently.

‘Equals’ has a guest spot from original Alarm member Dave Sharp that will please some. Then ‘Love and Understanding’ which sound familiar like ‘Strength’ for the Jet Age.  Is self-plagiarism a thing?  I do like ‘Prisoners’ and first impressions are it’s a little different.

As far as love songs go ‘Heroine’ is Peters hitting paydirt with some of his better lyrics and the way the song builds is excellent and its a song I’ve always liked. It sounds sincere and is one of the records shining lights.

Before the album signs off with ‘Two Rivers’, ‘Armageddon In The Morning’ is a bit of a throwback to Peters and his Poets days its a seven-minute journey that builds well and the acoustic and harmonica works really well with smileys rhythm. Again Peters touches on moments throughout his history (intentional or not but you can deffo sing ‘Blaze Of Glory’ over parts) and this one works really well and makes for a great song as it passes quickly.

‘Two Rivers’ is stripped back to piano-driven reprise, fans who’ve seen the band live will be familiar with this set closer but not in this form an excellent way to sign off ‘Sigma’.

I’m not sure how many new fans will buy into ‘Sigma’ and being so familiar with a lot of the songs I find it hard to call as a whole new new record (if you know what I mean) I guess ‘Sigma’ is the final part of a several year journey for The Peters family and something they found themselves working through.

I still believe and still wish all the best for The Alarm and would love them to grab some headlines for their music and work their way into a larger audiences heart, they still have the talent and that unwavering belief in what they do and I fully support that they’re not some nostalgia trip – they’re not one of those has been bands who can’t let go.  They make new music and by and large deliver time after time after time.  Doing things their way against the odds in the face of adversity that would have sunk most mortals.

Buy ‘Sigma’ and start a voyage of discovery and don’t be put off by the size of the back catalogue because there is so much on offer that is right up there with the best of em.  Go the Alarm

Buy Sigma Here

Author: Dom Daley

 

Another year another venture North for my annual trip for the Gathering as we head for Gathering Twenty Seven and this year’s festivities seem to coincide with the cold snap as the UK is besieged by snow as we struggle to trek North under the half an inch of snow that seems to have landed on high ground but we struggle on regardless as we maintain a=our fine record of attending every single one outside Rhyl town hall So that’ll be Twenty Five without fail.  We’ve seen some amazing performances over the years culminating in last years mammoth Saturday Night and a set that had an hour-long encore! beat that Springsteen.

We enter the arena for Friday nights performances and as if by magic Dave Sharp is taking the stage for his solo performance. Now I’ll admit that Dave is a little like marmite and there are those who love him and his folky noodlings and those that aren’t fussed and as much as I love the guy and ‘Hard Travellin’ was and still is a fantastic piece of work and one of the best albums the Alarm or associated members ever made since then his work has left me cold and his performances of which I’ve seen many have been tepid.  Its a tough gig even for Dave doing the Gathering as a lot of people just want to hear old Alarm songs and drink and as many people catch up on the Friday its not until Dave is Joined by Mike Peters that things get really interesting.  There is a respect and a love that is evident considering what these brothers from different mothers went through but there is also a tension in the air and they seem to accept both and it helps create some magic when the guitars are turned up and the mics are switched on.

Tonight sees the pair begin with a fine rendition of ‘Bells Of Rhymney’ quickly followed by a fantastic ‘Gasoline Alley’ some great stories are told about their pre-recordings and the songs they used to play together when they started this journey and ending on ‘Get By With A Little Help From My Friends’ seemed to cement that respect for each other and what they have achieved.

We get a great ‘Shout At The Devil’ followed by ‘For Freedom’ and ‘Marching On’ and for me such a magical time in music comes flooding back with such classics getting played by James Stevenson, Smiley and Peters even if James seems to be having some technical difficulties the flow of the set isn’t broken and playing in the round is working a treat . As the Bass synth starts for ‘Howling wind’ my mind takes me back to some of those early shows and the feeling I had as a young man and that steady bass vibrated through the floor as sharpie played the riff on ‘Howling Wind’ I’m caught with my thoughts where have all those years gone its well over half my life ago and I’m brought back to more recent times after ’68 Guns’ because James and Smiley leave the stage for peters to wander down a wormhole of early solo songs as the excellent and underplayed ‘Poetic Justice’ gets a rare outing the same can be said for ‘It Just Don’t get any Better Than This’ and latter ‘Feel Free’ as far as Fridays go this one is shaping up rather nicely thanks.

James and Smiley return to the round for a blast through ‘Drunk And Disorderly’ and ‘We Are The Light’ and its a delight to hear ‘Superchannel’  and ‘Rocking In The Free World’ for the first time in a long time.  With the clock ticking and beauty sleep needed for a long Saturday it only left Mr Sharp to return to the stage for a memorable slog through ‘Knocking On Heavens Door’. Friday was in the bag, done and dusted and as far as Fridays go that was easily the best for many a year possibly since Coloursound made their debut. Bring on Saturday.

February 2018

Foulmouthed Filthy February or something like that.

February began with a road trip to see a band who for me has been my go-to pilgrimage in North Wales for The Gathering weekend for the last quarter of a century (almost). A weekend celebrating the music of Mike Peters & The Alarm reached a high point on the Saturday night as a Four-hour performance rounded off an impressive weekend. I’ve enjoyed going for almost quarter of a century where special guests have included Billy Duffy, Craig Adams, Steve Diggle, Pete Wylie, Dave sharp, Ian McNabb, Eddie McDonald and a whole bunch of other musicians I’ve forgotten and I’ve managed to attend without missing a single year.

I must admit the thought of such a marathon performance on a Saturday night filled me with dread can any fans watch for four hours? The answer is a resounding yes! It flew by and was one of the best Saturday night shows I’ve ever seen Peters perform especially when he was joined on stage by Craig Adams for the final hour (that still doesn’t sound right – the final hour). Roll on February 2019 when I can do it all again.

 

Staying on the live front, Other RPM scribes went to some far-flung countries to catch their Rock n Roll with Craggy taking in an excellent show from Fertile Hump live at Kabinet Muz, in Brno. but a large gathering of writers took in a show or two when the Damned went around the UK this time with the added excitement of Paul Gray back in the fold for the first time in decades which was rather nice.  Seeing the Damned with a new album in tow and playing sold out shows all across the UK in decent sized venues was awesome and it has to be said so were the band.  Gray seemed to give them a right shot in the arm just in time for this stint of dates was easily the highlight of February. But with the recent news of our Brother Scott Sorry battling a serious illness the Rock and Roll community rallied and a series of benefit shows were arranged to raise funds for Scott at such a difficult time what with the American Health system being what it is  The likes of Role Models, Main Grains and  The Empty Page rocked out at The Parish to rave reviews whilst Wakefield Warehouse saw the Professionals, the Wildhearts, Massive Wagons and Sonic Boom Six take care of business and send Positive vibes across the ocean as well as money raised at these spectacular shows.

Before Feb was done The UK also saw the return of Bullets And Octane and Ben attended a memorable show in York that proved that Gene Louis had lost none of the fire he had inside his beating heart when he first toured the UK.

 

As for recordings to hit the shelves, historically early in the year, things open slowly in the music business and January being about new resolutions before finally seeing new releases hit the shelves, so, Feb saw an avalanche of really big hitters for RPM writers.  We had the release of Imperial State Electric’s Live album ‘Anywhere Loud’ as well as some garage awesomeness from the likes of the Cavemen and The Bellrays getting round to release records. 

Several writers were also impressed by the latest Buffalo Tom long player ‘Quiet And Peace’ with Craggy picking it as one of his albums of the year. February belonged to a few foul-mouthed releases, the first came in the shape of Jonesey with their self titled long player with its down n dirty sleazy punk rock n roll and song titles and lyrics that would make a sailor blush no doubt about that. But one of the years highlights hit us like a sledgehammer between the eyes has to be Motherfuckin’ Motherfuckers with ‘MFFFMF’ (I think that’s the correct amount of F’s) inspired by Supershit 666 and the idea of some friends from the most splendid Bitch Queens and Oz and Lee from the mighty Hip Priests recording a mini album packed full of songs that were written in the shortest of times. I’ll let Lee Love tell you, good people, what happened, ” Ah the dumb Lee Love story. Well, me ‘n’ Oz went To Basel for a few days to hang out with our mates from Bitch Queens and we ended up getting pissed (as you do) and I was winding them up saying I could write and get em to record a mini album in a day. So we went into the Queens studio the next day and played through everything once maybe twice and hey presto it was done”.  Creating that Copters supershit 666 vibe.

To be fair this pack of loons rose to the occasion and absolutely knocked it out of the park in fact they didn’t just knock it out of the park they followed out tied it to the back of their pick up truck dragged it around the wood then kicked any life left in it out then did it all again for shits and giggles.  An absolute giant of punk rock n fuckin roll – make no mistake about that! Motherfuckin’ Motherfucker should and one day will rightfully be seen as a classic of its genre.

 

Also, The motherfuckin’ Dwarves were taking back the night in February as well and a jolly fine record that was.  Maybe it should be renamed Fuckin’ foulmouthed February from now on.  What a month. Outstanding stuff.