The Restarts pose for a selfie with a fan!
I may have crashed out sprawled fully dressed on my bed last night (again) but it’s an early start – breakfast at 8.15am! This is because one of our party, a man who has been to every single Rebellion/Wasted/HITS since 1996, is leaving a day early. He wants to watch popular East Midlands football team Leicester City play at Wembley. Unthinkable. He’s on a tight schedule and we’ve never seen anyone eat a bowl of cornflakes with such an air of urgency bordering on panic. It’s hilarious, although you probably had to be there.
With the part time punk on his way we head to Tower St Arena for some fresh air and a bracing blast of Police Bastard. No sign today of on-off frontman and Brummie punk legend Stu Pid, and without him they just sound like metal to me. Plenty of punks love them but then they are called Police Bastard. True story – I once booked them to play a venue next door to a police station, and it only didn’t happen because the guitarist had to work.
On Sundays me and my mate usually go to our local pub quiz. But what do you know, Control singer Iain Kilgallon is hosting a punk pub quiz in the venue. We do very well, but don’t win. Next year!
It’s time to haggle with the German record seller, who is hopefully desperate to shift some overpriced stock by this point. I attempt to strike a deal over a handful of 7″s but he’s not budging. I resort to pleading that because of Brexit I want be able to afford European records again and he agrees to a slight discount.
There’s just time to squeeze in the annual Sunday lunchtime pub session (if you call one pint a session) before I’m off to the Arena for Cress who unsurprisingly sound a bit like Crass, but with a drum machine instead of a hippy philosopher keeping the beat. Plenty of long hair and dreads are in evidence though. I still think it’s a bit weird seeing them here instead of a punks picnic or squat venue, but I’m not complaining.
There’s a Belfast double bill in the Empress starting with the Defects who do an even mix of old and (gulp) new stuff. They play my favourite Defective Breakdown but they have shortened it by about a third and it was only 2 and a half minutes in the first place. (I saw The Exploited play a severely edited version of Dead Cities last year and the original of that isn’t even 2 minutes long. What’s going on?). Defects play the title track of their new album 45 Minutes – presumably it’ll be shortened to 30 Minutes one day. I’m out of cash so I miss the rest of their set in favour of a hunt to find a working cash point, as most of them seem to be out of action. This seems to be an oversight when there’s people wanting to spend money. Maybe they think all punks have Sex Pistols credit cards.
With money sorted it’s back to the Empress to carry on drinking and watch the next Belfast band The Outcasts. They play an excellent varied set. They miss out my favourite Outcasts song Winter but they do play a decent version of my favourite song ever Complete Control, so I’m off down to the front. The drink is clearly working.
I have a quick squiz at Anthrax (UK) and given that their best known song is Capitalism Is Cannibalism it’s nice to see their merch is a bit more affordable than some. I’m lured away by the promise of a bonus “hangover” set from Cock Sparrer in Tower St as a replacement for the cancelled Street Dogs. The implication is “it’s not our proper set, don’t moan if it’s crap” but it’s great and I prefer watching them there to a packed Empress. I got to see Ruts and Sparrer – I can have my cake and eat it! And where else do you see Sparrer perform with Jello Biafra watching from side stage.
Prior to the weekend I had a peruse on the net of bands on the “new bands” stage. Not a lot grabbed me, but Hexed sounded like decent hardcore punk, even if they’re sporting beards. But they are on at the same time as The Restarts – of course! Restarts it is. Before Restarts come on I overhear a skinhead tell his mate “They’re alright but they’ve got stupid views”. Yes, anti bigotry, sympathetic to immigrants, concerned about the environment – clearly they are crazed extremists! They in fact steal best band of the weekend title, and cause politically aware pit mayhem in the Arena (the first band to fill the Arena this year). I get down the front and it’s a bit lively!
More politically aware pit mayhem occurs in Tower St with Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Jello as usual has more than most to say, this time about austerity and rising bigotry , as well as the usual mockery of macho dickheads. And as usual there’s a macho dickhead who didn’t get the memo, in this case an idiot who comes slamming through the crowd and nearly ends up in a scuffle with me. Biafra meanwhile has updated an old favourite to Nazi Trumps Fuck Off which goes down a storm. Follow that Stiff Little Fingers.
And so the 40th anniversary of punk celebration (at least the one not endorsed in London by Boris) draws to an end.40 years of malcontents picking up guitars with little or no experience or rehearsal and saying bollox to showbusiness, professionalism , and cheesy inane pop songs and glitzy gimmicks. Except no one told all this to The Adicts who close proceedings in The Empress . Pure showbiz entertainment and cheesy pop songs aplenty. And lots of gimmicks. And as usual they are brilliant from the intro tape that’s long enough to be an Olympic opening ceremony and Monkey’s entrance sporting multi-coloured wings to the closing mass singalong of You’ll Never Walk Alone while giant Adicts logoed beach balls bounce around. I try to photograph and catch the beach balls at the same time. I’m very drunk.
Back to the B & B and before I crash out (again) I find a massive bruise on my arm that I’ve got no recollection of getting but I’m guessing either the dickhead at Jello or more likely the pit at the Restarts. It still hasn’t gone nearly two weeks later. On the other hand I haven’t fallen asleep during any bands, embarrassed myself (too much) or woken in the middle of the night and torn off my wristband by mistake (a secret fear every year). I have fallen asleep fully dressed every single night – a new record. Another great weekend is over.
Meanwhile Leicester City lost. Worth missing Sparrer, Restarts, Jello and Adicts for I’m sure!