"THIS AINT THE SUMMER OF LOVE" claimed the posters advertising this mini punk rock festival at huddersfield. "Too right" I thought so I went, me and ageing (but still young in the head) Steve Dixon got our pens out and reviewed the bands on the spot. I know it’s a bit late in coming out, but the concert was a day late to be included in New Pose 3. But it was worth waiting for I suppose….
On first, were the Jerks, hailing from that faraway township of Mirfield, and true to form, they are one chord wonders, may be not even that, half chord wonders. They have a blond haired singer who wails negativley at the audience like he's been kicked in the balls. The band lag behind slightly, as he crouches in front of his microphone, seeming only slightly involved in whats going on. They were OK if you like that sort of stuff, but they weren't really my cup of tea. What they do need is some more gigs and rehearsals to get themselves together, this gig I'm reviewing was only about the the third they've done.
The whole image of the next band on called Penetration was an unnerving experience, slightly menacing, Pauline a small bird who does all the singing, stares wild-eyed at her audience like they were her captors, replete with black spiky hair and matching bondage suit, she looked like a masochists dream at one point in the set she disappeared into the teething masses as the front only to return seconds later to finish her song, the band not stopping once to help her. Could it have been planned?
Another question nagging me for a while was her voice, who did she sound like? The answer came when she dedicated a number to the "Patti fans" in the audience, what followed was an almost exact Patti Smith soundalike, so that's where the roots lie" Pauline flitters around the stage like a string puppett who's having withdrawal symptoms, stopping only occasionally to catch her breath and have a drink of water, she could go thru a set of vocal chords a night the way she sings.
As a band, Penetration have got their own thing together and they perform really well, obviously not new to the music scene, and also not new to each other, they had that "togetherness" which is lacking in a lot of new bands, and the lead guitarist was particularly good, stopping only once to retune his axe, (and not taking 5 minutes over it either!) So at least it shows that they care about their music, which I'm sure is another good thing. Penetration have joined my small list of favourites.
The third band is introduced, and on comes a little guy called Elvis looking like Holly. With those kinds of references you gotta be shit-hot or shit stupid. Costello hot. He reminded me of Ian Dury of the old Kilburn and the High Roads (I always felt Dury, who wore a razor blade in his ear four years ago was the spiritual founder of the London rough kids loudmouth punk attitude — more than the New York Dolls pretty boy glam-rock poutings).
Costello sings staring over the heads of the audience like Huddersfield didn’t exist, the look of a scornful lover — hot red eyes refusing to meet as he points his accusing finger at an imaginary girl-friend who is walking out on him. O yeah, Elvis sings love songs. I guess even punks fall in love and bleed when cut just like normal human beings. Elvis bleeds in style, songs bitter like lemon drops when you bite through the sugar coating and the sherbet fizzes on your tongue. (Jeesus — ED.) He did "less than zero," a great single lyrically the most perceptive of the new writers, and he did two numbers called "Watching the Detectives" and "Lip Service" that cut even deeper.
It’s not all love songs, though, he does the kinda dance/romance/good times things that Brinsly Schwarz used to do so well, good to see Nick Lowe's shining brightly on the production chores. Anyhow considering he's kinda esoteric and sophisticated like, and this is Huddersfield he goes down great, and is called back for an encore. It's a pity a few cretins tried to foul his set by gobbing etc. Costello's not claiming to be another Johnny Rotten, but he is trying to be honest, and that's what it's all about. Like he said "To those who understand — Thanks and Goodnight, to those who won't — FUCK OFF!"
It was about 12:15 in the morning when Generation X finally got onstage, half the audience having already gone home to bed or the late night movie, but more to the point having seen the legendary Elvis Costello, which I suspected was why most of the people were there in the first place. But the true fans of decent rock 'n' roll were gonna stick it out until the end, movie or no movie.
The large E. Costello posters (Stiff aren't joking when they say they're hyping Elvis u know) had thankfully been removed, or had they? I was too tired at the time to really take notice of irrelevancies such as that. Anyway, opening with "Day by Day", their token "song with a message" a strong sentiment expressed about the pressures of working and living in London, Generation X prove to me once again, that not only are they one of the fastest/angriest/best bands around, but also that given time, and a record company , they could develop into a musical style that could change and help the state of punk as it is, at the moment. (I'm a biased cunt when it comes to this band, but I don't care, its my fanzine and I'll put in it what I like). What I mean is that theres so many people bringing out their own stuff on their own labels, just to jump on the bandwagon. So there's bound to be a credibility loss as a lot of these singles go. Gen. X, for some reason haven't been caught up in this rush, so their music remains a form of expression, instead of a device to make money and get famous, so they have to be good! It's simple when you think about it.
Billy Idol, the lead singer, to some the ultimate poseur, has a method of vocal attach not unlike a starving man trying to grab some food that's just out of his reach behind bars, and he pulls the faces that go with it. Yellow hair and babylike skin, he pulls allsorts of uglinesses, and pouts on that clock of his while singing Tony James hammers out the bass nearly literaly Bob Andrews looks a bit lost but plays his guitar relentlessly "from the heart" and their new drummer (not ex-Clash) has shaped up just fine in the stool once occupied by John Towe. So in the face of the harsh spotlights, Gen X play very basic stuff, not raw, but very fast (and good) theres no fancy extras, they pump it out for all their worth.
Onstage Billy is the one that attracts most of the attention, mainly due to the fact that he does most of the choreograph, if thats what you can call it, also his hair makes him stand out a mile. A lot of people call him a poseur, but I don't agree, he has an image but christ, he doesn't stand still in one place for long enough to do any posing. He reminds me of James Dean, Billy Fury, Heinz and one of those blond haired kids out of an old film called "Children of the Damned" or something.
Back to the show though. Their set consists of a lot of goodies all performed with that certain amount of fire mentioned earlier, "London Life" is another, like the first, a song about the shit we live with their soon-classic "Hey Listen", and also a couple based on stuff in the sixties, "Ready, Steady, Go" is great, remember watching it on T.V., when we were kids? Plus their first single"Your Generation" which when it's sung I'm sure is directed at the last decades rebels who do nothing now but sit around and get stoned, doing nothing to try and change anything. Besides that though the song is an answer to that sixties classic by the Who, YOUR GENERATION DON'T MEAN A THING TO ME! It should be in the shops by the time you read this, buy it.
It's sad that they had to come on that late, the audience response who a little dire to say the least but I was partially wrecked myself, I think their last song was "Youth Youth, Youth." on this one the singer pulls one of his real puts and he went into some kind of super tantrum, shaking the mike around so hard, it was like it was stuck to his hand and he couldn't let it go (If he had, it would have probably gone through a window) He looked like a little baby who'd been having a picnic in the medicine cabinet.
It was well past one when the show ended, they did come back for an encore they were probably as fucked as we were, but they showed that they were prepared to get onstage and do it even though half the people have gone home, which is what it's all about, ain't it?