Live! NoMeansNo, Liverpool, 5th October 2012

How auspicious. 5th October, I am informed by the BBC, was the date of the first Beatles show in Liverpool 50 years ago. And DeHud has procured tickets for us to see Canadian prog-punk legends NmN on the same date, in the city that started it all – Liverpool! Sounds too good to be true, don’t it? Well, it nearly was.

I managed to get sent to North London by work on the Friday. As my hopes of an early departure began to slowly fade away, I started to consider the very real possibility that I was not going to make the 200 odd mile journey in time. The minute I had finished, I was hot-tailing it to the car, then frustratedly picking my way through the slow London traffic, finally on to the motorways which by this time were filling up nicely with Friday afternoon congestion. The M1 was flowing nicely, until after about an hour the warning signs began flashing. I must have spent nearly an hour in tooth grindingly slow traffic, all the time watching the sat nav as the predicted arrival time moved later and later. Finally, after some four hours of motorway misery, I was pulling up outside DeHud’s house, ready to drop my bags, get changed and run for the train. 8.30 saw us both walking thirstily out of the entrance to Liverpool Central rail station – and into a great pub called the Old Post Office where we both demolished two pints of Stella in the time it took to say ‘Two pints of Stella’.

We arrived at the venue, known as the Kazimer, just as the support band had shuffled off. As we stocked up on German lager at the thronging bar, the familiar grey hair of the Wright brothers was visible from the stage – Rob in a bright green NmN t-shirt, John in a ‘Mom loves me best’ t-shirt. It was not long until the band, completed by Tom Holliston on guitar, took their places and the show began.

Now one of the first articles I posted on the web based Rip It Up was a review, from back in April this year, of the Hanson Brothers show in Leeds. You probably know that the Hansons are a side project for the members of NoMeansNo – that show was a classic so we had high hopes tonight, having discussed that the last time we saw the band was way back in ’91, at the legendary Duchess of York in Leeds.

The audience was interesting. As we stood at the back, we were reassured by the amount of greying hair, bald patches and general signs of age that we could see. The band has been doing its thing since before Lennon was shot, so you have to expect a maturing audience!

Songs both new and old were given an airing. One of my more recent faves, ‘Old’, was sadly not among them, but we did get amongst others ‘Jubilation’ from the same ep, as well as a lot of older material. The dynamic of the band is all based around Rob – at 58 the eldest member by some years. Although Tom is a more than competent guitarist, he was all but blocked out by the fantastic sound of Wright’s Fender Precision Bass. NmN are a bass-driven band, make no mistake. And man, can Rob play that bass. A couple of times, older songs turned into full blown jams as the three of them traded licks – it was almost akin to seeing a particularly raucous jazz band on stage as the chords and notes boomed out of the bass cabs.

As I mentioned, there was a clear line of demarcation between the two elements of the audience – the older crowd, content to nod and occasionally sing along, and the youngsters who made up the pit down the front. A couple of tiresome drunken assholes launched themselves time after time off the stage, often directly in front of Wright himself – until he had enough and quite impressively pushed the idiot in question off the stage and on to the floor. Bloody youngsters!

The show went on – the band treated us to almost two hours of great material with a sound and volume that was almost perfect – clear as a bell and just the right level of volume and power. They returned to do a couple of encores, and then, the end! I could have enjoyed another couple of hours of the back catalogue, but the guys had to be off to Leeds for last night’s show, the final one of the tour. Come back soon guys…

By ripitup Posted in Live!

Gazebo-a-go-go!!

Some reasons why I think this is brilliant;

  1. It’s the Wallrides
  2. They appear to be playing in front of a combine harvester factory.
  3. It’s a Gazebo moshpit!!!!
  4. The moshing hippy with a half eaten 1/4 pounder and a killer floral topped denim shirt.
  5. Try to spot someone who ISN’T having a great time?
  6. The festival is called “Shitfest”.
  7. It’s the Wallrides

OFF! on a Tangent

I’ve been away for a few days, so my sincere apologies for the lack of posts since Sunday evening! One of the things I did this week, however, was to hook up with fellow Rip It Upper DeHud to go and see OFF! in Manchester, which was Monday night. So I thought I’d tell you about it. You know the back story – punk rock hero finds disillusion when trying to re-form legendary hardcore outfit, thinks ‘Fuck It’, and forms new punk supergroup to take on the world. The hero concerened here is one Keith Morris, the legendary band is Black Flag and the new supergroup is OFF!, featuring not just Morris [Black Flag, Circle Jerks] but also Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) and Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes/Earthless/Rocket From The Crypt).

So far so legendary. Well, after a long car journey I steered into a parking space next to the hotel on Manchester’s studenty Oxford Road, checked into the hotel, and after about an hour hooked up with DeHud, who had been reprimanded for his behaviour by several passengers on the train for his screaming and grunting whilst taking a nap, awakening from his slumber with a fleck of drool stringing from lips to t-shirt. Undeterred, we drew cash and headed towards a pub, finding The Knott bar a short walk away. This is an excellent, slightly shabby bar in trendy Castlefields, owned by Marble Brewery and serving fine beers from around the world. Draughts of Pale Ale and Deutsche pilsner were quaffed, and after a couple of sociable hours discussing the world of punk, we had meandered from The Knott, via The Cask, to the shiny new Brewdog bar on Peter Street. From here, increasingly unsteadily, we arrived back by the venue, a smallish club known as Sound Control.

Later on, we joined the reasonable crowd filing in to the venue to catch the support band, Trash Talk, tuning up. They did a lot of tuning up. This appeared promising. But DeHud and I, being ageing punkers, reflected in our cups about how, in the good ol’ days, you kind of knew you were at a punk show. The masses would be clad in shabbily ripped jeans, boots of an impressive but indeterminate nature, leather jackets decorated with studdings and paintings that reflected the mood and views of the wearer, and hairstyles that generally tended towards the vertical and garishly coloured. And yet today, [ourselves included], the dress code was pretty much ‘normal’. A few t-shirts bearing band names, a few hoodies, and skate shoes a plenty; but no real effort. I dunno. Maybe it’s just nostalgia……

Finally, Trash Talk hit the stage – but….sheesh. I dunno what they claim to be, genre-wise. It sounded like early Napalm death, with loads of seemingly uncontrolled, generic thrashing, bellowed vocals and a distinct lack of tunes and hooks. Did a band as well grounded and sussed as OFF! really pick this lot to support them on a major tour? We both hoped things would get better, but the whole feel of the band was formless, directionless…you know, I like a fast paced band as much as the next guy, but Trash Talk just didn’t seem to have any redeeming factors. They left us a bit confused and underwhelmed to be honest, because we’ve done 30 years of going to punk shows, and in that time I’ve seen a stack of bands who thought that playing loud and fast was the ticket to riches. Well, it ain’t. You need more than just noise and rage.

A lull and another beer – and then the familiar, dreadlocked figure of Keith Morris walked purposefully on the stage, dumping his big back pack and flexing his arms in preparation for the main show – OFF! had arrived. A wall of feedback emenated from Dimitri Coats’ guitar and they were off [if you’ll pardon the pun] in a blur. All the crowd pleasers got an airing – ‘Cracked’, ‘Wiped Out’ and ‘King Kong Brigade’ as well as a lot of stuff of the ‘First Four Ep’s’. And it was a great sight. Morris, ever the entertainer, broke the intensity a couple of times, relating a long tale about the joint state of our two great nations in the teeth of the current financial crisis, and a rambling story about the death of his buddy, Jeffery Lee Pierce of the Gun Club.

And then it was on with the show. But, and maybe it was end-of-tour fatigue, [Manchester was the penultimate date in an epic European tour], Morris seemed to be tired. Don’t get me wrong – he put in 110 percent and he roamed the stage in his Ramones t-shirt, glaring menacingly as the dreadlocks flailed. But he just seemed to be ‘doing a show’, if you know what I mean. I’d love to see them play after a well earned rest, in LA, to see the old hardcore juju in its native location. Tonight in summery Manchester, it somehow seemed to take off, but not quite fly.

Live: Hanson Brothers, The Invasives, Cyanide Pills, The Magnificent, Beard

Billed as the ‘Sudden Debt Tour 2012’, this show was the conclusion of the tour of Europe that has seen the Hanson Brothers and The Invasives play an impressive schedule of live shows through Europe.  My first visit to the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds was marked by a line up so extensive it almost qualified as a mini festival. 

After meeting up at the station with my fellow Rip It Up staffer Mark, we took ourselves through the teeming streets and up to the excellent North Bar, a small and unassuming institution serving a fine selection of beers.  Later, after a show of solidarity against the government’s unjust ‘Pasty Tax’ by patronising Greggs and a remarkable halal chicken joint, we weaved our way unsteadily towards Hyde Park and studentland via a series of pubs, sampling imported beers and making conversation of the merriest and lightest kind, and only after following a circuitous route through the hinterland did we eventually arrive, just as the first band took to the stage. 

The first band up was Beards, I think.  They played an energetic set,with all the hardcore touches present and correct.  Unfortunately the set was rather too short to make the required impression on me, as the bill was so full.

Next up was a band we were quite excited to see, having posted one of their songs recently in the Music section.  The Magnificent are a band from Huddersfield, and they started in 2007. The current line-up is Matt (guitar, vocals), Jimmy (bass, vocals) and Charlie (drums).  They played a tight set, with a sound that contained energy, tunes and rather more originality that many bands you see nowadays.  It’s refreshing to see up and coming bands who don’t feel that they have to simply re – hash all the old Minor Threat standards, instead having their own sound and using others’ material as influences as opposed to simply creating a carbon copy.

Then The Cyanide Pills took to the stage.  They are quite simply the most punk thing I have seen in years, right down to the fact that not one but two of their number were wearing white leather jackets! They played a tight set, betraying their self-confessed influences: The Buzzcocks, a bit of Ramones sing along, in fact you name a 1977 British punk band and they have the sound nailed!  Mark was so impressed that he bought their CD.

With excitement increasing and the venue filling up rapidly [it’s a nice sized hall for bands], it was the turn of The Invasives from Canada to take the stage.  They are touring with their hockey obsessed countrymen, The Hanson Brothers.  Invasives are a trio from Vancouver BC formed in 2001 and consisting of 2 brothers Byron and Adam Slack (Vocals/Guitar/Bass) and 1 Hans Anus (Drums).  They play a kind of similar sounding music to NoMeansNo – very much the stripped to the bone, angular type of hardcore sound, with unexpected time changes and an interesting vocal style.  I really rate them, and hope to get hold of their last LP, ‘Desk Job at castle Dracula’.

Then, after a bit of a break, it was time for the Hansons to get up and play hockey.  Rob and John Wright, Tom Holliston and Hanson-only Mike Branum make up the band members, and they perform complete with two striped shirted referees who deal with any foul play by both the musicians and any crowd members.  As expected, they played a blindingly tight, fast and generally get up and fucking go punk rock set, pausing only to catch their breath before launching headlong into another Ramones-esque thrash.  Truly marvellous, and with more hooks than your local angling club!

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this jokey side project for the Wright brothers and Tom Hollister.  I mean, NoMeansNo are one of the longer serving, more ‘cerebral’ of the bands I have followed over the years, and I’d only ever heard the Ramones cliches when the Hansons were mentioned.  But they are actually a band with their own style and songs, and they go much further than just cranking out dumb ass sub Ramones stuff.  As expected their musical accomplishment was unquestionable but the whole band concept it seems like a kind of pressure valve for when NmN gets too serious for them perhaps.  In an interview with Chart Attack which I read some time ago, John Wright, who normally resides behind the drum kit in NmN, says:

The Hanson Brothers is a great release for us,” Wright continues. “Robbie’s the lead in Nomeansno, being up front singing.

He gets to put on a mask and do nothing but play bass and rock out. I get out from behind the drums and get to be a goof, up close to the audience. I can assault them.

Tom loves the Ramones, so he’s just pounding out bar chords. You play in the same band for so many years, it gets stale. You need to reinvigorate.”

They have actually created the Hanson characters with remarkable observation of the stereotyped Canadian male – who is all about beer drinking, patriotism and HOCKEY!  It’s amusing on more than one level really, and that is their triumph.