TJ's In The Square - Newport, John Frost Square - 10th July 2010 Print E-mail
Written by Darrel Sutton and Phillip Coleman   
Monday, 19 July 2010 06:01

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As anyone who ever went to a gig at TJ's venue will tell you (and I'm guessing that many reading this have been to quite a few), it was a pretty unique place. Which, thanks to the people involved with it, and the stellar list of bands that played there, justified its oft referred to tag of "legendary". One of the things that gave it that tag was the larger than life character that was the venue's owner, bon viveur and general all-round good guy John Sicolo.  His sudden death earlier this year, certainly brought home to many people the phrase "You really don't appreciate what you got until it's gone". And so it came to pass that some 4 months later, and as a result of huge efforts by the event's organisers, an "Anthology of TJ's" list of bands came together to pay one very fitting tribute to John.

 

TJs_in_the_Square_StageI arrived at this gig in a curious triple role, being a punter, a reviewer and today for one day only ...a roadie. You see following a brief conversion with Marc Davies, guitarist with Flyscreen I'd lumbered myself as sole roadie for the return of the post punk four-piece, but more of that later. So, on with the show and as you will already know Uber Rock reviewers and running times are very poor bed mates, so unsurprisingly I arrived at the allotted start time for Goldblade, to see Doctor Bison kick into their set. Ah well, shit happens, and the Doc get my day off to a great start with their Leatherface-like set and providing and early high spot in the shape of  'Ringland Tuxedo'.

 

Next up are Newport punk rock legends Bad Samaritans (or Bad Sams are they are now known courtesy of some pedantic American twats) and you suddenly realise that it really does seem odd seeing frontman Beddis screaming his lungs out from such a big stage replete with 10ft photo pit. Normally he'd be about 2ft away on the floor of TJ's. But nothings gonna stop them from blasting out yet another Grade A set of hardcore odes to everything that's shit about modern life. 'Dicks With Dogs', newie 'Christ', 'Goldtops', 'Cocaine Me' and 'Cars' build up to their homage to the 'Port namely 'I Love The 'Port', leaving plenty shell-shocked in their wake and upping the bar considerably.

 

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After that, you wonder who could follow, and do themselves justice? So a quite inspired bit of scheduling and a reminder of the diversity of music TJ's offered, brings 2Rude to the masses and their "Greatest Hits of Ska" set really hits the spot just as the sun decides to show its face. 'One Step Beyond', 'Too Much Too Young', 'Monkey Man' and 'Night Boat To Cairo' are just a few of the treats that had a fair few skanking their way to the end of the afternoon's open-house proceedings.

 

Sick_LiversReturning after the between sessions break I had to actually bring myself to sort out my shit, and do my roadie thing, which resulted in me only catching the last three songs of Rollerco's set, but that was enough to get me back into the swing as Stiky and his cohorts ripped out a top-notch set.

 

Selflessly doing my gear-humping in advance allowed me to catch the Rumney Rock Machine that is The Sick Livers from the photo pit. Fuck knows what the security guard next to me thought as I started headbanging furiously to opener 'Hell Of A Girl' but who cares, The Sick Livers have that effect on you. 'I Was Born To Fuck You' made sure everyone felt sufficiently abused before 'Rumney Rock City' saw frontman Ginge ultimately venturing into to the crowd to "get down". Not content with blasting their own high octane Punk 'n' Roll they also achieve "god like status" by covering Turbonegro's 'Denim Demon' which should warrant a knighthood in my book.  Fucking Ace.

 

After almost forgetting myself I now had to actually pull off my roadie duties without a hitch, which was a fucking miracle having imbibed copious amounts of smuggled in booze through the afternoon, (it was a dry event you see, as the event was situated in the middle of a usually Flyscreenbustling open air shopping centre) and I get to watch Flyscreen from sidestage. Fuck me if they don't just play like they've never been away. Having managed a mere four practises together and having last played live about 2 years ago they are tighter than the gap between TJ's bog-door locks and the toilet roll holder. Kicking off with 'Video Killed The Radio Star' they get the crowd on their side from the off, not that they needed converting judging by the number of people singing along to 'Chopper Squad', 'She Smokes' and 'Snow Bunny'. 'Pop Song Singalong' inspires just that before Newport County FC homage 'Carl Zeiss Jena' provides a great nostalgia trip.  Sounding pretty fucking awesome, drummer Tony shakes off his homecoming jetlag with a real powerhouse performance. 'UK Manhattan' and the Toni Basil-killing 'Mickey' bring a storming set to an end and Flyscreen leave an awful lot of people with big grins and hoarse throats.

 

Novocaine_100A quick unload of gear and a very swift beer get me back out front in time to catch returning Newport scene icons Novocaine. Now I'll be the first to admit that they never really floated my boat back in the day, but I'll be buggered if they don't turn in an absolutely storming set that really took me by surprise. Despite it being quite a few years since they were in their prime, singer Steve has still got "That Voice" and the rest of the band turn in performances, which do both their and TJ's legacies proud.

 

The conclusion of Novocaine's set sees the stage clear and John Sicolo's daughter Leanne pay a very moving tribute to her father before releasing a cluster of amber and black balloons in remembrance of him, these rather ironically head off in the direction of Clarence Place and the home of the Legendary TJ's.

 

After that sombre and reflective moment it is left to The Darling Buds to resume the festivities with Andrea and band providing what has now become a party atmosphere with it's perfect soundtrack with their heady pop-rock. They're one of those bands you don't realise you knew until they start plucking out those tunes that have been in the back of your mind since about 1991.

 

GLC

 

And then it suddenly dawned on me that there was only one more band to go.... the band that have taken Newport by the bollocks, hurled it at the unsuspecting world, and then sat back and laughed when the world just didn't get it. The one and only Goldie Lookin Chain.....

 

In years to come, when social historians chart the first decade after the Millenium, the social sterotype commonly reffered to today as Chavs will come to be studied as a product of their age, just like say the Flappers of the twenties, and Hippies of the sixties are right now. At that time the Goldie Lookin Chain will be recognised as the Poet Laureates of the chav nation and take their rightful place in the pantheon of social chroniclers, alongside Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. With their tales of soapbars 'n' tracksuits. Mark my words bra cos I knows it. After an intro by Newport's fave M.P. Paul Flynn, the crowd's heroes take the stage. It's a well known phenomenon that the more the Chain are up for a show the more of them there are. Like the vandal hordes descending on ancient Rome they quickly take the crowd captive, as a few thousand slavishly clap and sing along with favourite hits, such as 'Guns Don't Kill People' and 'Duffryn Vigilante Squad'. The banter flows and the clarts cheer as GLC name-check half the fast food outlets of the town. Far too quickly for the frenzied patrons the end came as rain started to make an unwelcome appearance. But what an ending it was, the people of Da Port did Big John proud, chanting their hearts out to 'Your Missus Is A Nutter' and 'Your Mother's Got A Penis' as they wandered off in search of the delights that the ports infamous Greyhound pub could satisfy.

 

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What a day, and what a celebration of one man's life. Newport you did yourselves proud. But the festivities weren't over just yet, as some of us headed off in the direction of Newport's Le Pub venue for a little aftergig.....gig......obviously.

 

 

Photo Kudos to Andy Barding, Emma Corten and Russ P.  GLC words by Phillip Coleman (as Sutton went for a curry)