It may well be 13 years since Flyscreen last played Newport (rock city) but it’s got to be nearly three decades since I last saw the band live, and back then, not only was I sharing a transit van with the boys in the band playing shows up and down the UK, but their line up also featured one Fraser Munro. Yup that’s the same chap you probably now know best (well if you’re reading this anyway) for co/fronting and playing bass in maximum velocity garage punk rockers Deathtraps.
Although tonight he’s no longer doing that.
No, he’s not left the band, it just that Veej, Matty and Fraser have gone and acquired themselves a bass player – step forward Namaan. Which means that Munro has gained two strings and is now co/fronting and playing guitar, with the resulting racket they now create sounding like it could level not just tall buildings. but whole cities, Newport being the first…. of many, I hope.
So, for the second time in a week I’m witnessing the Le Pub sound system dealing out some critical noise levels, with the needles well and truly in the err… red for ‘Red Eyes & Black Kisses’ and to some here tonight, perhaps witnessing the band for the first time, this must have come as something of a sonic shock to the system, as it was for those of us who have seen them many times, with the early inclusion of ‘Hell Of A Girl’ from Matty and Veej’s old band The Sick Livers. I thought this tune might have been just a one-off set list inclusion for their recent blast at Slugfest (where they were still a trio and also played a rollicking cover of Judas Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law’), but no, here it is loud and proud, for a whole new generation of gig goers to lose their shit to. Tidy darts!
Elsewhere the band’s sub thirty-minute aural rip ride flew by in the blink of an eye with the likes of ‘She Said’ and ‘Rip Em Off’, from their exceptional last record ‘Appetite For Prescription’, giving us all bloody noses, whilst the ever present oldie ‘Fuck The Cool Kids’ once again helped shatter the venue’s swear jar in just under three minutes flat.
It’s fast, its furious and its totally fucked-up rock ‘n’ roll, what more could you want on a Saturday night?
I always find it kind of irritating when a venue suddenly fills up for a headliner, but then Flyscreen are a what you might call a “more commercial” sounding musical proposition than the band that has just blown the bloody doors off Le Pub’s live room. It’s most probably why they were snapped up by MCA during the mid ‘90s and why they still have enough of a diehard following in da Port to sell out tonight’s gig, well in advance of showtime. It also doesn’t hurt their popularity one bit that their song ‘Carl Zeiss Jena’ (which was also a top three hit in Germany pop pickers) is also an anthem dedicated to this very city’s football team, and when it’s played here tonight mid-set you can almost taste the passion in the room. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here, because there’s much more to Flyscreen than just that one song, as opener ‘You Sons Of Bitches Shut-up’ quickly proves. Taken from the band’s 2005 album, ‘Only Dirty People Wash’, an album of ten songs I’d somehow totally missed at the time of release, this tune just like ‘Popsong Singalong’ the minor hit single from the album, which also (ouch!!!) pops up mid-set, are both post-New Seattle beauties of the highest order.
There’s of course always going to be the slightest whiff of nineties nostalgia in the air when most of your back catalogue was written in that decade, but when you have songs as strong as ‘Chopperquad’, ‘Ugly Freak Of Nature’ (not the version where singer/bassist Paul suddenly sang the words to ‘Homo’ over it), the always amazing ‘Biffbamaboomalamababe’ and ‘Snowbunny’ in your set list…who cares? That’s because, even whilst Tony, the band’s powerhouse drummer, is normally residing in San Francisco these days, the quartet (completed by guitarists Dave and Marc) have somehow managed to shoehorn recording an all-new record, into the time he’s briefly been back in the UK for tonight’s gig, and after hearing the first fruits of this session ‘I Love Everybody’ tonight, it sounds like it’s going to be an absolute banger.
Flyscreen’s forty odd minute set here tonight once again illustrated to everyone present just why they really should have been up there with the likes of Manic Street Preachers and Feeder in the popularity stakes. But that’s the UK music industry for you eh folks. It’s a shit business…
Author: Johnny Hayward