Rebellion Festival 2011 - Blackpool, Winter Gardens - 6th August 2011 Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H, Ian Bell, Dom Daley and Rich Hobson   
Saturday, 13 August 2011 05:00

BPflyer"That's why anyone who types something into a computer is stupid". This cornflake splittingly outrageous declaration of love for all things IT related, was one of the first things that entered my head on a rather grey and windy Saturday morning, and everything I once perceived to hate about Blackpool came crashing home in all of about 5 seconds flat. Quite why this mobility scootered up 40 year old pensioner had taken such a dislike to computers and internet (the rant went on I can tell you) was obviously open to debate, but thankfully for us Uber Rock isn't ever going to be a must read website for this type of death on two legs individual, but then again I guess neither will be a book.  That's why at just past 2PM myself, Dom and Ian made our way down to the Winter Gardens feeling sort of "educated" you know as were about to catch John Robb's literary review of Steve Bruce's (Cock Sparrer's drummer not the Sunderland Manager) autobiography 'Best Seat In The House' in the company of some much more cultured individuals who Mrs Daily (Hate) Mail would no doubt feel threatened by...Oh the irony.

 

Having interviewed Colin and Darryl from Cock Sparrer at last year's event it was interesting to see what angle a more seasoned professional such as Mr Robb would take. Cramming 40 years of Sparrer history into a little over 40 minutes, Steve Bruce's quietly spoken added insight into the old days was a delight to be privy to, and also with Colin teasing the crowd with glimpse of what next year's fortieth anniversary might bring, this session was another reason why Rebellion is streets ahead of other festivals in its diversity and depth of coverage of the music it champions. I'm guessing this interview will show up in some shape or form on John Robb's rather excellent 'Louder Than War' website sometime soon as it was being videoed, my only disappointment was that there wasn't a Q&A so I could have at least have got the chance to ask Colin which one of us asked the best questions.

 

 

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With this interview session overrunning and a scheduled meet up with the last piece of the Uber jigsaw covering this weekend on the cards, namely Rich Hobson, we'll let the enigma that is the reviewing machine Hobson a man who seemingly never sleeps kick things off as once again he's in The Winter Gardens long before any of us.

 

After last night's utterly amazing show from The Exploited I take to Saturday with much more energy, getting up earlier than usual to eat, visit the beach, wade out into the sea (he's not joking either folks...concerned Ed) I then head over to the main stage for opening act Rat City Riot. It may be first thing in the morning, but US Punk Rocker's Rat City Riot have an absolute boundless energy, and this is reflected both in their music (which comes across as a Wildhearts esque mix of Rock 'n' Roll and Punk) and their onstage abilities, with the band all playing manically, really doing everything they can to shake the cobwebs from the festival goers. The set even includes several reverse stage invasions, as frontman Noah Brickman shows off an inhuman aptitude for Spiderman like reflexes as he jumps from the stage right onto the barrier between the band and the crowd, and then over again onto the main dance floor to join the crowd. This pure burst of energy is refreshing, and definitely provokes the same level of energy from the audience that got in early to catch them, and we can't resist doing everything we can to give the band a warm reception.

 

The follow up act have a lot to live up to, seeing as the previous two bands I've witnessed have easily contended for some of the best displays of Punk energy and skill that I have ever seen, so The Guilty Pleasures had it tough to start with, and today their brand of Green Day-ish Teen Punk certainly feels like a drop in momentum from the previous bands, though they still pull out a set that pleases the crowd. Next up is a beardy assault by US act Authority Zero, a band that pull no punches in getting the crowd involved. 2.35 rolls in very quickly and it's time for my first Ska Punk act of the weekend, Random Hand.  Having watched both of their solo sets yesterday I'm now more than ready to see the band deliver what they do best, energetic Ska Punk with more than a dribble of Metal thrown in. The band's set is a powerful one, and pulls out most of their biggest hits, including 'Anthropology' second song in, and 'British' towards the tail end of the set. The band also work at riling the crowd up, inciting a huge Donington style circle pit, then a frenzied Wall of Death later on to really get everybody giving it their all, despite the fact that this is the third day of the festival. Noticeably lacking from their set though, is what most consider to be the band's signature song 'Play Some Ska', however the strength of the other songs in the set easily makes up for this song taking a miss for once.

 

And then finally after two days of trying relentlessly to meet up with the others from Uber Rock me and the rest of my mates from Dudley head over to the Arena to soundtrack the rest of our afternoon with the Punk Rock beats of The Radio Dead Ones and Control, as Dom Daley is about to tell you.

 

RDO_1That brief sit down listening to the interesting Cock Sparrer interview was certainly a pleasure as for one of the first times this weekend I got to take the weight off my plates, but that was soon over and it wasn't long before it was time to hot foot it over to the Arena stage to catch Berlin's favourite sons and Uber Rock squeezes Radio Dead Ones, who were holding court in the sauna like surroundings, and it was only mid afternoon!!!!  Beverley, Rik and Andru jerk and sway around the stage without a moments pause, they waste no time in winning over the crowd and simply use their time powering trough the best tracks off the 'AAA' album with 'Into The Sun' and 'Emerging Market' sounding fantastic.  What impressed me was they even managed to squeeze in a glorious medley of 'Smash It Up', 'Trash' and 'Dancing With Myself' as well as a few bars of 'Eye Of The Tiger', with the waif like Johnny Thunders look-alike Rik slinging out the riffs and licks like his life depended on this performance. The band are on the crest of a wave right now and to catch Radio Dead Ones in such fine form was an absolute pleasure, so if you get the chance take it with both hands. This is living breathing proof that sleazy Punk Rock is thriving and bands like Radio Dead Ones are keeping it real and delivering the goods both in the studio and on the stage is heart-warming life affirming fashion.

 

Next up after a quick stage change were hooligan punks Control and their no nonsense brand of Streetpunk.  Still smarting from the Radio Dead Ones performance Control were a band I was looking forward to seeing after being impressed with the recent album 'Punk Rock Ruined My Life'.  I did think they took a few songs to warm up, but when they did hit their stride they really did heat up and by the time they played the controversial 'Ian Huntley' they sounded absolutely brutal. Control had certainly won the audience over and seemed to be really enjoying themselves as  'Another Mothers Son', 'He's A Skinhead' and 'Job To Do' turned up the tempo in an already ridiculously hot atmosphere.  Their job was well and truly done by the time they got round to set closer 'High Time I Hung Up My Boots' and frontman Iain cuts an imposing figure giving an utterly convincing performance that just got better and better. Ones to watch no doubt about it and it wasn't even half five in the afternoon.....Oi! Oi!

 

After the emotional Uber Rock meet up in The Arena (the guys wanted me to watch some 'decent' bands for a change apparently... yeah right) we go our separate ways, with my bunch choosing to head upstairs to the Bizarre Bazaar to pay tribute to the late, great Poly Styrene, of the band X-Ray Spex. The tribute comprised of video footage of X-Ray Spex last ever show, speeches from people who knew her (including a tearful speech by Rubella Ballet members Sid and Zillah, which leaves even the most hard hearted punks touched, aside from one mouthy fucker who decides to yell "So Fucking What" during the speech - which only strengthens the resolve of the speaker, and causes a quickly-broken up scuffle at the back of the room) and performances of the hits 'Identity', performed by TV Smith and 'Germ Free Adolescents' by Zounds. After the guest speakers, members of the audience are invited up to the stage, and though at first there aren't many takers after one particularly young lad (well, I say young, comparatively...) gets up onstage, several more people join him in eulogizing the great singer.

 

After that emotional tribute is paid I head off to go see Belfast's The Defects, in The Olympia who help to lift the spirits of anybody who'd been at the Poly Styrene tribute with an energetic and pogo-friendly performance.

 

I then retire again to the Arena for a while, to get suitably drunk for the mighty Splodgenessabounds who, for the second time this weekend delivered a rousing fusion of Punk Rock and Monty Python humour. The show included many of the classics, such as 'My Sock's Gone Down My Shoe', 'Michael Booth's Talking Bum' and the finale of a cocaine-charged rendition of 'Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps Please'.

 

Talking of which after some late afternoon refreshments back at the makeshift Uber base camp it was time for Dom and Johnny H to return to The Almost Acoustic bar to sample the gentle tones of Honest John Plain from The Boys flying solo, as Dom Daley picks up the evening's Uber coverage.

 

John_PlainAlmost Acoustic in the bar was the totally acoustic Honest John Plain belting out a short and sweet set of covers and originals. I used to love watching Johnny Thunders play his acoustic sets back in the day, and always love listening to great balladeers like Tyla pouring out their hearts using just a six string and a microphone. This afternoon Honest John Plain picked up the gauntlet and was sitting hunched over his guitar wearing a pair of shades and a smile. It's short and sweet with highlights being some great renditions of 'Tell Me', 'Backstreet Girl' and the rousing 'Where Have All The Good Girls Gone' before treating the packed room to a wonderful 'Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory' and finishing up with  'The First Time'. I wasn't too disappointed with the all to brief showing because in only a few short hours he'd be back on the main stage with the Boys. Honest John Plain is 100% Rock 'n' Roll no question about it and I'm loving this festival like a pig in shit...Eh H what do you say?

 

In preparation for Honest John's main band back in the Empress we took up some balcony sets for the first time to witness the end of Capdown's set.  The guys from Milton Keynes were certainly making the security work double time to their brand of Ska-core as they seemingly had the whole auditorium either dancing like mad men or women or throwing themselves over the barriers like mohawked lemmings. None of us older Uber Rockers are really what you might call 'fans' of this type of stuff but the crowd loved it and the passion of delivery certainly seemed genuine enough to these ears.

 

The Boys are a band that one if us had been waiting a very long time to see live and with Duncan 'Kid' Reid about to retire from the band he certainly had picked the ideal time cross them off his list as The Kid's last time would be Dom Daley's first time.

 

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It's funny how some band you always seem to miss and as H points out I've never managed get to be in the same place at the same time as The Boys until tonight.  Jim has certainly fixed it for me to not only catch Honest John Plain spank the acoustic plank but also catch the Boys play a prime slot on the main Empress Ballroom stage. Having watched videos and DVD's for many years and many different sets I was pretty open minded as to what Boys were going to turn up with but from the off you could tell they were here to do a job and before 'TCP' had finished there was no time for fucking about.  As they warmed up so did the audience the one feeding off the other and the security just like for Capdown had their hands full pulling bodies over the barrier at an alarming rate. Before crowd pleaser 'Brickfield Nights' got a well-deserved airing the audience were asked for a round of applause for Swedish drummer Martin for playing the set with a broken foot! Not that anyone would have known mind as his performance was faultless. I thought The Boys sounded fantastic tonight and as tight as Honest John Plain's trousers, and on tracks like 'Box No 99' they were simply rockin'. After an audience demanded encore the band returned to knock out a blistering version of 'Beat On The Brat' and before it was Kid to say "adios amigos", 'Sick On You' was knocked out as fresh as the day it was recorded by Holly wood Brats all those years ago. As The Boys bowed out my day was complete, wicked band, wicked performance. I'll promise not to let it be so long before I catch The Boys again with their swashbuckling Punk Rock 'n' Roll. Definitely a very "good time" band and long may they continue even if they won't have Duncan on vocals for much longer.  Johnny H picks up the story of what happened next as we collectively had the biggest shock of the weekend

 

The_DickiesAnd then we come to perhaps THE surprise package of the entire weekend for all of us at Camp Uber Rock, The Dickies. Perched high up on our balcony seats like the grandchildren of Statler and Waldorf, The Dickies collectively made all of us shut the fuck up and listen to their music, with a fun packed set of tracks from their extensive back catalogue. It may have been the opening sucker punch of 'Killer Klowns' or the mid set run through of 'If Stuart Could Talk' segueing into 'See Me, Feel Me' complete with a huge cock and balls glove puppet singing Roger Daltrey's vocal parts, whatever it was not one of us was expecting The Dickies to be quite as fantastic as they were, and the encore of 'Banana Splits' as always is perfect way to act stupid and still remain cool. Tonight The Dickies were simply superb, 'nuff said.

 

Stretching our collective legs over to the Bizarre Bazaar for the Rebellion approved fuzzed out rock of Wigan's The Shook Ups, it immediately became clear that every man and his dog (on a string) appeared to be heading the other way into the Empress Ballroom.  With the prospect of some MC5 influenced garage rock on offer we weren't about to be put off throwing some cool cat shapes by the possible 3,000 odd cap on capacity for tonights headliners were we? Well hell no, so we waited, and we waited and we waited, as members of The Shook Ups played around with various leads and amp heads all trying to make an ancient piece of equipment function, and all failing, then just as we decided that we couldn't leave it any longer and risk missing Cock Sparrer a glorious wall of sound started to emerge from behind the Bazaar's screens, that sounded like the perfect soundtrack to a sixties swingers party.  I wanted to watch more, but with no songs about wizards to keep some of our contingent happy, we instead caught the last few songs of Pennywise back in The Empress Ballroom, who although I am happy to admit to liking on album, struck me as being about as Punk Rock as Iron Maiden live...Hmmm now I bet that comment will upset more than just a few people.

 

Tonight though was only ever going to be about one band, and that band was Cock Sparrer, so at a time when he'd normally be relaxing with a nice cup of hot chocolate Ian Bell took out his notepad headed for stage front and centre ready for yet another night out with his (and what seemed like the rest of the world's) favourite Streetpunk/Oi! Band.

 

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Ahhh....at last, the main event, the geezers of the moment, the band 40 years on bigger and more revered than they have ever been are about to show us why they really do deserve their headliner status. So after the 125+ warm up acts at Rebellion 2011 the five guys from London finally bounce onto the stage with the familiar police sirens ringing out to as the inevitable 'Riot Squad' well and truly kicks things off.  The welcome from the masses of Punks, Skins and whoever assembled, all crammed in the Empress Ballroom can only be compared to the likes of being stood in the away end watching your team score a last minute winner against the promotion favorites on their home turf.

 

Sparrer_ColinOnly in the the wonderful world of Cock Sparrer could a band have a stop/start career for nearly 40 years, and who in their own words consider themselves far from "major headliners" go on become the biggest draw on the Punk Rock circuit selling out every venue they choose to play all over the world. It's been well documented in previous Uber reviews how I discovered this band and it's a familiar road of discovery for many, the Sparrer brand shifts more tickets and shirts than many major charts acts on radio and TV and it's as if Cock Sparrer remain our little secret you know. As they pretty much always be overlooked by the mainstream media and whatever airplay they get will certainly be on specialist shows not Steve Wright In the Afternoon, Cock Sparrer must be the biggest word of mouth act out there, which in my opinion is absolute travesty. But you know what... should we really care?  The band I sense don't, as they can pick and choose their massive gigs around the world wherever and whenever they feel, and those of us in the know can have "special occasions" such as tonights show without the corporate world breathing down our necks and robbing our wallets in the process..

 

Anyway back to the show and 'Riot Squad' is quickly followed by 'Watch Your Back' and as with every song there is that amazing uplifting football chant chorus that demands to be sung along to and sticks in your mind for days after, 'Teenage Heart's up next and this stomping number takes us into the much loved tale of working class woe that is 'Working'.  Which then segues rather conveniently into 'Working Part II' or as it's more commonly known 'I Fit Central Heating'.  Now that's  the sort of song title that only Cock Sparrer could get away and still make the song a bloody anthem...I really don't know how they do it.. 'I Live In Marbella' brings the 'Working' mini rock opera to a close whilst also attempting to bring a touch of glamour to Blackpool beach.  That is if only you could get across the road and actually on the beach what with all the 'regeneration' going on in the town at the moment.  Its around now that the band's affable frontman Colin McFaull asks ''do you want to sing one then?'' and the band launches into 'What's It Like To Be Old' the house lights flicking on to put us the audience under the spotlight as we all as one scream out the chorus.

 

What is obvious as has been every time I have seen Cock Sparrer live is how the band are all enjoying themselves, this may be due to the fact that there is absolutely no pressure on them as a band, they have no management or agent trying to make them dance to the industry tune, they don't have to slog it out in a studio as they all have a very healthy life outside the band where they remain close drinking mates and family comes first as they were back in their school days.  The simple fact of the matter is Cock Sparrer don't have to prove a thing to anyone anymore, for them this is all  done simply for the love of the music they play and the fun that they have playing their songs to an audience, they feel are a part of their extended family, and what a privileged position that must be as a musician, Maslow certainly has a case study for his hierarchy of needs right here if he ever needs one.

 

Sparrer_Colin_2'Last Train to Dagenham', 'Sussed', and 'Get a Rope' keep things going nicely before 'Argy Bargy' dedicated to guitarist Daryl Smith who was suffering after one lemonade too many after his performance the previous night, not that it was showing in his performance though, as with the entire band they are as tight as the proverbial. Next up a bit of a treat as the band play 'Price Too High To Pay' apparently for the first time ever live, 'A.U'. follows and an uninvited guest dressed in a kilt joins the band from the crowd to assist with backing vocals.  Now how many bands I have ever seen who would have sent in the gorillas at this point and taken the guest out in an unfriendly manner.. well I've lost count.... but not Cock Sparrer, they let him enjoy the moment and it naturally ends with the kilted man jumping back into crowd. No harm done and the shows continues none the worse, mind you I'm not so sure any of the band bar Daryl even notices, he has the unfortunate full frontal experience etched into his mind to this day I would bet.

 

With a back catalogue as strong as Cock Sparrer have the top drawer tunes keep on getting batted our way, 'Runnin' Riot,' 'Chip  On My Shoulder', 'I Got Your Number', and 'Because Your Young' keep the Blackpool masses bouncing as 'Take 'Em All' (the only song that makes you feel like punching someone but still with a smile on your face) raises the roof like no other song before it tonight as pints fly through the air in some weird celebration of great songwriting.  'Where Are They Now' closes the main set out and curiously leaves me thinking what might have been if the band had continued with their a glammed up dress code on the early tours with The Small Faces and The Heavy Metal Kids, difficult to imagine outside of the 'We Love You' video perhaps and maybe that's why it took so long for them to be accepted, the street ware image not quite matching the punky/glam rock of the band's music, and hence causing confusion with the average Joe Public until a point  came a lot further down the Cock Sparrer time line.  Right band wrong time back in the day, but their time is here tonight for sure.

 

Returning for their well deserved encore of 'Suicide Girls' from the band's last album 'Here We Stand' (which is now four years old. where does the time go?) up next arguably the most misunderstood song in the band's repertoire 'England Belongs To Me'.  If anyone had made the effort to watch Colin and Steve being interviewed by John Robb earlier in the day they would that it started life as 'London Belongs To Me' and is about nothing more about having pride in your country and where you come from, whether that be Germany, Brazil, Russia, Wales or wherever.  Its not got any darker context as it has been afforded by some sectors on the lower end of the IQ scale, it couldn't be more simple, just replace the word England with your home country and sing your heart out.

 

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Tonight closes with 'We're Coming Back' and it's all over promptly for the 2AM curfew. On drifting out of the venue with all the other smiling faces I'm really left one happy man having witnessed another special gig with the promise of something special next year to mark 40 years of the band.  Colin McFaull, Mickey Beaufoy, Steve Burgess, Steve Bruce, and Daryl Smith, it was a pleasure.