Friday, April 30, 2010

Show Time!

THE ADICTS - SUSPECT DEVICE - DANGER’S CLOSE, Regent Theatre Bar, Ipswich, UK 13th August 2009
I’m sitting here typing this some six months after the actual show. Not only that, but making this ever more surreal is the fact that I’m typing this while back in the UK on an unexpected visit. Furthermore, the show was staged in Ipswich on the very day of my 40th birthday. THE ADICTS was the first live Punk band that many of my era witnessed and, being an Ipswich band itself, one with which we felt a certain kinship; I certainly remember Murrayside Youth Club in my early teens and the more pivotal Ipswich Corn Exchange show when I was 15. Never, ever did it cross my mind during the intervening 25 years that my 40th would be spent seeing THE ADICTS on home soil drinking the still over-priced slop that Ipswich Borough Council venues consider to be ‘beer’. Surreal becomes an understatement.
Due to pre-show Guinness sustainability, I have to confess to missing the start of DANGER’S CLOSE. Having been out of Ipswich for near-on six years, this was a new band to me and one made up of fresh faces. Good stuff too, if a little tentative looking on this stage. The female vocalist certainly exuded confidence and had a great voice in a vague Pauline Murray (PENETRATION) gone LUNACHICKS/ BLITZ BABIES kinda way. I can’t recall any track titles, but I do remember some well-observed lyrics and a few disaffected social/ political comments.

SUSPECT DEVICE followed. Fronted by ex- RUE DE LA MORT frontman, Johnny Learjet (who also had a stint in RED FLAG 77), SUSPECT DEVICE is a pretty throwaway cover band. There are no ‘cult’ classics, just your run of the mill ‘Sound Of The Suburbs’ Punks on 45 stuff. Oddly, the set consisted of only three bands’ material too - SEX PISTOLS, CLASH and STIFF LITTLE FINGERS. Punk covers maybe fun, but it’s also cabaret and should be left to pubs full of pub rockers.

The last time I saw THE ADICTS was in the back room of a pub during which a minor Punk vs Skin battle kicked off. That was 15 years ago so I got told (cheers for making me feel even older Matt!!). That was also during the time that bassist Mel had left - which makes the band’s claim of being the ‘longest running Punk band with its original line-up’ a bit of a misnomer. If a band splits up in the interim, or replaces members before ‘reuniting’ as THE ADICTS have, surely each reformation of SEX PISTOLS can claim that same crown? Minor gripe yes, but one that kinda irks.

Anyway, from the opening chords of ‘Joker In The Pack’, this was a much different proposition to the band witnessed in the maelstrom of violence of the show above. There was a distinct sense of theatrics throughout with vocalist Monkey going through various costume changes and props. Songwise, it was very much the ‘greatest hits’ with nothing (at least that I recognised) from the abortions that were the ‘Rise and Shine’ and ‘Fifth Overture’ albums. So we got classics like ‘Viva La Revolution’, ‘Easy Way Out’, ‘Just Like Me’ a ‘Chinese Takeaway’ that had an intro so bad I thought it was gonna be little more than a chip-shop takeaway version and a cracking closer of ‘Songs Of Praise’. There were a good few surprises in the set too; I hadn’t considered the likes of ‘Numbers’ and ‘Sensitive’ would be played, nor two of my favourites from the ‘Smart Alex’ album (‘Troubadour’ and ‘You’re All Fools’). It was good to hear the underrated ‘27’ album represented with ‘Fuck It Up’ too.
There were a few new numbers I didn’t recognise as well as the odious ‘Falling In Love Again’ which rankled even more than before given the classic ‘Straight Jacket’ was omitted entirely.
Encores saw glitter fall and huge beach-balls kicked out into the crowd as ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ rang out in memory of the recent passing of ex-Ipswich Town manager, Bobby Robson. Finally, ‘Bad Boy’ rounded off a totally enjoyable night.
I’ve been a fierce critic of THE ADICTS in the past but for pure fun and entertainment, there are few bands I can think of that could pull off such a Punk Rock Party vibe so effectively - even with the swill served from the bar!!
Think you’ll still be at it when I hit 50, fellas??? On this evidence, I no longer rule it out!!