There are some shows that when they get announced you just know you’re going to be there for some reason you follow the star and on this occasion that star led us all the way to London Towns Lexington for the only date from Seattle’s The Briefs.  Now I’d already seen them this year at Rebellion in the confines of the Empress Ballroom and as much of a great night that was I wanted to see them in some club surrounded by fellow punkers all after the same rush of energy and boy when the line up was announced expectations went through the roof.

I first saw the band support the Misfits way back in 2007 but for the life of me can’t remember a great deal about it (bloody apple juice) so this time sober I made the long journey expecting entertainment from a super strong undercard that featured former Role Model Sulli and More Kicks who opened at the eye-popping half seven would anyone else show up?

Of course they would, the place quickly filled as the band knocked out their power pop goodies with frontman Sulli leading this three-piece through an entertaining and excellent set of sharp, catchy and most excellent tunes.  I don’t know the names of most of the songs as their only offerings so far in the 7″ single ‘Its A Drag’ but they duly perform that and the audience showed their appreciation for what was excellently crafted tunes. ‘She’s A Reaction’, ‘Tearing It Down and ‘ Blame It On The Satellite’ stood out for me. So far so good as tonight was already hitting the high expectations. I also appreciated the brief Buzzcocks lyric thrown in to respect to the passing of Pete Shelley that week, whose influence is there in the music of More Kicks for sure – nice touch Sulli. So, More Kicks, Remember the name we’ll be featuring them in 2019 when they will have new records and live shows already pencilled in. Sulli, Marco and Kris that was top notch.

Next up were Miscalculations from London Town and I must say live, that cold almost Brutalist sound isn’t there as the band sped through their set that was bright and warm sounding, and in all honesty – just fantastic. opening with ‘The Inaudible Pitch’ off their first record The band were on fire and seemed well up for this. With that cold brutalist sound not being there it was down to the songs to just do their thing and as the band peeled off one after the other with only spoken word tape playing between them they gave a masterclass of punk with a Buzzcocks like ferocity to the performance that punchy basslines sounded huge in the room tonight with Mauros Les Paul really cutting through the songs iy sounded like he’d gone to battle swinging a mace but his chosen weapon was his guitar. ‘Live With Myself’ also from the debut album followed and by the time ‘Severing The Spine Of Confidence’ was played I was sold – this was excellent. Picking a favourite tonight was impossible but ‘Writers Block’ and ‘Invisible Uniform’ would come pretty close. It was a set you just didn’t want to end and it looked like the band were having the best of time as well.  That won’t be the last time I encounter Miscalculations live that’s for sure. Two down just the main course to go! Follow That you Briefs.

With very little room left in the Lexington to find some oxygen, The Briefs took the stage on this chilly Sunday night to a rapturous reception and after the intro, it was straight down to business as ‘Stuck On You’ started the body slamming and pogoing right from the off. Strap yourselves in folks it might get a little turbulent but the soundtrack on this journey is off the hook. Now, this is where bands like The Briefs work best – a tight club full of sweaty smiling faces singing along with every word a band and its audience as one getting down to some seriously good Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The Briefs are just one of those bands who have numerous albums packed to the gills with catchy songs that just get inside your head and stay put, it makes sense that live it doesn’t really matter what they play then because you just know that it’s going to be good, no. Not good but great. ‘My Baby Is A communist’, ‘Rotten Love’, ‘Silvia’ followed by ‘We Americans’ now tell me how that isn’t pretty fuckin’ awesome as an opening four songs? You wouldn’t want to follow a band like The Briefs how can you especially on this kinda form. The only way it is possible to maintain this level of enjoyment is to knock out a new song and tonight that’s exactly what The Briefs do and the new song is the recent singles B Side ‘She’s The Rat’.

We also, at this point get informed that a new Briefs album is in the can and the good people at Damaged Goods are releasing it early 2019! How d’ya like that folks? A new Briefs album early in 2019.  who was it said Rock n Roll guitar music is dead?  Send that moron round to the Lexington and tell these three bands and this audience that. then watch as they get laughed out of the club by the capacity crowd who are soaking up the guitar music on show tonight.

‘Run The Other Way’ then ‘Silver Bullets’ get the audience fist punching as the buzz kill pace of prime time Ramones is hammered out kill- Die-Kill-Die not exactly seasons greetings but fuck it this awesome. ‘Destroy The USA’ from ‘Sex Objects’  get aired then there’s time for the new singles A-side ‘Kids Laugh At You’.  A quick look at the stopwatch and there’s still time for a few more as long as their fast and short – noted and duly obliged. Then we’re well into the home straight and very soon this will all be over,  I was lost in a moment of some punk rock bliss that I didn’t notice really that the end was in sight as the band troop off stage for a quick rub down before the encores and out you go.

After the Briefest (sorry) time the band was back on stage and strapped in ready to take this thing home. It was to be kicked down the road in spectacular fashion with a hattrick of tunes that would be a match for any punk rock bands best set moment let alone just the encore. ‘Killed By Ants’ led us into the final furlong then it was ‘New Pair Of Shoes’ before the inevitable ending of the mighty ‘Poor And Weird’ and then it was done.

My high expectations were realised and three bands totally killed it.  Three very different bands but all with strands of the same DNA and did punk rock ‘n’ power poppin’ Rock and Roll justice. Tonight with one of the best shows of the year no doubt about it and even a week later I’m still buzzin’ – That’s the evil powers of Rock and Roll right there, now when can we do all this again? Pretty Please.

Pictures marked Zigpix are published with the kind permission of the owner all other pics RPM Online.

Author: Dom Daley

Martin Chamarette. 

When I heard that one of my all-time favourite bands were reforming for a one-off gig, this was my early Christmas present to myself. Like most of the bands that I love and attempt to champion, Jonny Cola And The A-Grades were doomed to obscurity. I did warn them; “if I love you, there’s no hope”. Though this is not entirely my fault; the public is not known for their great taste.

Twenty years earlier, and they could have been on a par with Suede and Pulp, deservedly so. Their album ‘Spitfire’ is still one of the best I’ve ever heard, so I headed to Paper Dress Vintage with great excitement. The boutique come venue suits their unique brand of glam pop anthems well.

I was relieved to get there in time to see the support set by Sister Witch. Theirs is a darker mood, but complements the atmosphere. Lux Lyall is ethereal and enchanting upfront, while David Ryder Prangley is still masterful with a sleazy riff. That’s another album I need to get.

And so, The A Grades take to the stage, launching into ‘Wronghead’, and Jonny reaches the mic just in time, to a round of applause. Boys, you have been missed. Classic, lost single ‘Marlborough Road’ follows, and I lose track of the set list and embrace this special moment. The small room is packed, everyone knows the words, and my few photos are wobbly as the floor is shaking.

Highlights? They possess so many great tunes, but hearing ‘Halo’ one more time is fantastic, while ‘Ripples’ threatens to make my eyeshadow run. Just something in my eye. Jonny is clearly a little shocked at the warmth of their reception. But all of us here know; this was a special band. ‘Straight To Video’ is epic. I’d have loved them to have played ‘Spitfire’ in its entirety, but it’s all good. Jonny refuses to end the set with a slightly wobbly ‘The Party’s Over’, so we get a rare airing of ‘Disappearing Act’. One early sign of Christmas that I can forgive is Jonny’s Santa hat for encore ‘All I Want For Christmas Is An Action Man’.

And tonight, for me, was like Christmas and birthday rolled into one. A bittersweet farewell, but one to treasure.

On such a spectacular sign off how could it be that RPM had two people at the venue  – both with notebooks and pencils in hand Role Models Rich Ragany was also in attendance and had this to say about the return of Jonny Cola & The A Grades

 

Rich Ragany. 

Reunions and farewells are cuttin’ onions and church bells. Ring, ring, ringing away and forcing tears, representing the death knell of some glorious, glamorous misspent youth or past. Jonny Cola & The A-Grades never seemed too interested in that schlocky nonsense. They always seemed more about the here and now, giving Saturday night’s cracked actors a cracked pavement to amble down. Romantic, lust filled and knowing there may be some suffering tomorrow. But it’s worth it. It always was, and Friday reminded me of that.

Alice Cooper met up with Jarvis Cocker and Lou Reed. Bought something unmentionable from Elliot Easton and, hey… does anyone have David’s number? Not Jones’… he never answers. I mean Johansen’s… To say there is an eclectic mix of influences present in the band’s music is an understatement. They proudly flaunted that on the night. Wonderfully, I never thought once of anyone else but The A-Grades. Doing without trying. Cool.
There. I said it. The good ones never try.
With each member an excellent player (making the ranks of such wonderfully ongoing concerns as Simon Drowner’s Desperate Journalist and Mauro Venegas in The Speedways), you never got a sense of overplaying. Just bright, shimmering, slutty entanglements on the exact right side of falling apart, letting us know we in the audience were as well. If we want to be.

And Jonny. Jonny, please. What an engaging performance. Sly smile worn warm… and real. I was moved
The songs and legacy of the band are not relegated to reunions to cast your mind back. This show was a reminder of the songs that should remain part of our soundtracks.
Those weekends were great, sure. So was this one.
Well played boys.

*Footnote RPM has copies of their final single ‘Blow Up’ on white vinyl available just email us with a sob story and we might open the vault and sell you one*