Brighton’s old punks have been spoilt for choice over the past week with some of the class of ’76 popping up all over town. First there was Charlie Harper at The Green Door Store to check out Vic Godard’s Northern Soul set, then John Lydon drew a crowd on West Street while flogging his new book and tonight it was the turn of the band that spearheaded the scene in Manchester nearly 40 years ago.
Steve Diggle’s hair may be thinning but given his age and, if his autobiography is true, the turbulent life he’s led he looks pretty damned good. Poor Pete Shelley though has put on a few pounds and with his beard he looked like a cross between John Peel and Bill Oddie but who cares when his boyish Lancashire twang remained unchanged throughout a set of timeless classics and tracks from the well-received new album.
They started at the beginning with ‘Boredom’, complete with Shelley’s iconic two note solo, followed by ‘Fast Cars’ and a great ‘I Don’t Mind’ with Diggle throwing out flashy flourishes on his Rickenbacker and providing backing to Shelley’s lead vocal, all the while gesturing and pointing his arm out.
‘Keep On Believing’, the opening track on new crowd funded album ‘The Way’ started with a basic 4/4 with Pete showing his capability to play a more intricate solo. The rhythm was attacking but retained their love of melody.
On ‘People Are Strange Machines’ both played lead as Diggle took the vocal on this new psych rock number. Danny and Chris on drums and bass are always going to play second fiddle to the group’s founders but their contribution is vital in driving each song.
The new album’s title track was spat out by a snarling Shelley as he sawed out chunky chugging chords. Diggle took lead vocal on his own ‘Sick City Sometimes’ and ‘Third Dimension’ during which Shelley mostly faced the drum kit, seemingly bored by Diggle’s grandstanding. ‘It’s Not You’ was pure 60s garage while ‘Chasing Rainbows/Modern Times’ was a strange Ramones/Jam hybrid that worked really well and kept the non-stop mosh pit bouncing.
The final third of the show was comprised entirely of songs from their United Artists golden period of pop punk classics including ‘Promises’, ‘Love You More’ and ‘What Do I Get?’. They returned for a heavy-hitting encore of ‘Ever Fallen In Love?’ and ‘Orgasm Addict’ and with the early start time it was all over by a very respectable 10pm.
Concorde 2, Thurs 16th October 2014
Words and pictures by Steve Clements