Sunday 13 January 2013

Recent gigs, Part Two: Penetration, The Twang and more...

As part of my continuing mission to cover gigs I forgot to blog about in 2012 ( remember that far-off year? ) I've now reached the 14th of September and Punk legends, Penetration, at Bristol's Fleece. Pauline Murray's band were one of those idiosyncratic outfits that the Punk scene produced in its early days, before things became too standardised. They had some highly intelligent lyrics, memorable tunes and Pauline's breathy vocals all going for them. They also had a suspiciously trad rock / HM guitar sound, courtesy of future Tygers Of Pan Tang guitarist, Fred Purser, which upset the purists at the time. ( Personally, I think it's cool in a sub-Jimmy Page kind of way but things were far more polarised and ghetto-ised back in the day. )

No upsets tonight, though. Penetration start the set with the first two tracks from their excellent  Moving Targets album  -  Future Daze and the wonderful Life's A Gamble -  both minor classics, with the latter being one of my all-time fave Punk songs. A great, kick-ass intro if ever there was one. Even though Pauline seems a surprisingly hesitant frontwoman and the band are fairly nondescript, they produce a fine, tight performance, very direct and melodic, with their cover of Patti Smith's Free Money being another highlight. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Pauline has kept her distinctive voice in good condition, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when she launches into the "Painted puppet / Clockwork clown" lyric of Lovers Of Outrage. As is usual for the Fleece's audience, most of the the old-skool Punks play it cool until the band wheel out the big guns, namely classic singles Firing Squad and Don't Dictate   -  then the place erupts. Penetration apparently don't play live very often, but I'd definitely like to see them again.
"Sometimes I'm optimistic then you disappoint..." Not tonight :-)

Also on the bill were local legends Noise Agents ( yes, them again ) giving their usual passionate, committed Street Punk aural assault...

...and the mighty Chinese Burn, killing the Fleece yet again with their pop-Punk excellence. ( Ed's bass wasn't actually on fire... but it's a great image. Anyway, he's more into blowing up amps... )

And here's some of the Rock 'n' Roll debauchery going on backstage :-)

Back to August now... and back to Gloucester Guildhall. I'd just been in the venue's cinema, watching insane Belgian animation A Town Called Panic with my mate Tom ( of The Sensitive Bore fame ) when we saw crowds of indie kids heading into the main hall and thought we'd join them. The band were The Twang, a Birmingham-based gang of scoundrels on the comeback trail after being flavour of the week for a while, but now unfashionable. ( The NME had compared their second album to, er, dog excrement. Which was a bit harsh. )
I didn't know The Twang's music at all, but they turned out to be a hard-partying, funky second-cousin to The Happy Mondays in their prime. With two very enthusiastic frontmen and highly danceable rhythms  backing some monster tunes, they pumped out an irresistible indie-dance ( that phrase again! ) groove. Somewhat dated, admittedly, but good fun and well worth checking out when they come round again.

A couple of smaller local gigs to finish with, now.

This is Wayne, otherwise known as Lost Soul, a one-man-band Punk protest singer, from Burnley via Berlin, playing at Gloucester's Cafe Rene. Wayne used to be lead singer in a band called Kings Of The Delmar but now tours incessantly around Europe on his own, spreading his firebrand gospel of anti-racism / sexism / homophobia, telling tall tales and dropping names. Wayne is a 100% committed, passionate singer with cracking, anthemic songs in an early Billy Bragg-stylee and a neat line in banter. Check him out if he comes to your town... just don't mention the nuns...

Wayne was supporting Gloucester's legendary Demob who played a storming set of old skool Punk and turned the small pub into a seething mass of bodies and spilt beer. It got very messy, with myself and my mate Glenn yelling out backing vocals to the classic No Room For You... into an unplugged mike. See below for a pic of me wearing a pint a bloke called Graham had spilled all over me. It was one of those nights...

We had an amazing night, carrying on the party in the venue's underground bar long into the early hours of the morning, getting back to Chinese Burn HQ just as the sun was coming up.

And finally, Esther, another gig from August  -  the very scary Isolation at Gloucester's The Brunswick...

Seemingly fronted by a Metal version of Hannibal Lecter, Isolation are one of the heaviest, loudest bands I've seen in a long time, with a bruising, punishing sound and killer riffs a-go-go...

And here's my mate Cliff rockin' out on bass. Isolation probably aren't the kind of band I'd sit at home and listen to ( not without earplugs, anyway... ) but live they are a different proposition: a crushing, black wave of  noise which you can either choose to be pummeled by... or run away from. There's no other option ;-)

So that's it for my "forgotten" gigs of 2012. I've got my first gig of 2013 lined up for this Friday: Chinese Burn ( who else? ) and The Sex Pistols Experience at the good ol' Fleece. Looking forward to it.

*Update: the gig at The Fleece was postponed until April because of the bloody snow :-(

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