Thursday, March 5, 2009

Calling All Punks!

Blackpool Rebellion this year is shaping up to be a snorter. The latest addition is Killing Joke, who will headline on the Sunday night. Fantastic! I first saw them at Hammersmith Palais in about 1981, around the time of their second album What's THIS For?, and it was one of the best gigs I've ever been to. At the time it was widely rumoured that the Joke deliberately booked the most inappropriate support acts, to drive the crowd into an angry frenzy before they came on. Sure enough, first band up were fey popsters Aztec Camera, whose sensitive acoustic opener provoked a storm of gobbing. They stuck at it manfully for a few songs but soon gave up, as the thick strings of plegm dripped from Roddy Frame's guitar and the chanting (off! off! off!) drowned them out. Next up were proto-goths UK Decay, whose schtick was whirling studded belts above their heads. Ignorant of this, my belts had been taken off me by the bouncers at the door, but fans in the know had kept theirs under their clothes until this moment and greeted UK Decay like a swarm of demented helicopters, a whirling mass of leather and steel. By the time the Joke played we were all so fired up it could never be anything but brilliant: the pounding drums, the shrieking vocals, the palpable anger. And to cap it off, a ruck on the way out trying to get our belts back. What a night! I've seen them again a few times since, most recently at the Mill here in Preston in 2003, and they've never disappointed: Jaz Coleman seems to get angrier with age. For them to be headlining the final night at Rebellion is pretty fucking exciting. It's a great way to end the festival.

Other must-sees at Blackpool include local boys One Way System, whose festival-closing set at Rebellion 2007 was probably the highlight of the weekend. The other contenders for that honour, English Dogs, are also playing again. They've given up on their cheesy thrash metal phase and gone back to early-eighties classics like Psycho Killer and Max The Millionaire. At Rebellion 2007 they handed out dozens of assorted hats before Fall of Max. See if you can spot me in the video - I'm wearing a lady's cream wide-brimmed sunhat. To my mind, this is perfect punk rock: yes, it's angry and political but above all it's a fucking good laugh. I'm also looking forward to the UK Subs, the Damned, Drongos for Europe, the Exploited, Subhumans, Abrasive Wheels and about 100 other bands. Got your tickets yet?

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