Posted on September 2, 2010 - by Editor
Rebellion Festival has firmly been established as one of the iconic global punk festivals with punks making the journey from all corners of the globe to attend this four day fiesta of punk rock on the sleepy seaside town of Blackpool, UK. Distorted has been proudly covering the event for the past few years, we think more thoroughly than any other media. It’s on this bitter sweet note then that our selected review (Ayisha Khan) of bands that performed at this year’s festival with an extensive photo gallery (Imelda Michalczyk & Emma Stone) is our final feature before Distorted goes on hiatus. Thanks to Rebellion Festival, all the bands who performed and of course the contributors. We hope you enjoy our final output.
The Rezillos last played Rebellion in 2008, but have been off the radar since touring the UK that same year, more recently doing shows abroad. So their appearance at this year’s festival was a golden moment to recapture this seminal-ephemeral band. Original members, Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife, have been the constant vocal epicentre and battery behind the band since its start, and the overseers of its continuation into its own spin-off series, The Revillos.
The set list was a close repeat to its 2008 version; with all-time classic punk album “Can’t Stand The Rezillos” aired live, almost in its entirety, signalling this was a homage to the original band. They played their most well-known songs in the form of ‘Flying Saucer Attack’, ‘Top of the Pops’ and ‘Mystery Action’. Alas, those days of Flintstone regalia and spacesuits are gone, but Eugene and Fay didn’t fail to light the stage with theatricality.
Beyond sci-fi space rock, there’s a 60s divergent, tangy twist of bluesy-rock ‘n’ roll (throw in some metaphorical glitter and outrageous shaky dancing) from the likes of Dr Feelgood, that touched both the raw nerve of a throbbing punk membrane as well as shades of punchy new-wave cooling down their power-poptastic bite, the latter a certainty delivered by Fay’s vocal strenuousness.
It’s too beautiful to be called by sleazy terms such as glam-rock, and too animated to be pastel new-wave. Songs that particularly break with any stereotypical cosmic rock band are ‘(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures’ and Tina Turner cover, ‘River Deep, Mountain High’. They finished on punk number ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’, a mop up cover of…can I say it? Fleetwood Mac. Pardon my French.
If I’m going to be completely honest, I love The Rezillos. It’s just a shame that the only thing compromised was the sound quality, fairly noticeable in ‘Destination Venus’ and general incomprehensible stage talk in between songs – the vocal acoustics were “echoey” to put it in Fay’s own words when I spoke to her backstage afterwards. The sounds men at Rebellion surely failed, but that was no hinder to what was a classic, fiery Rezillo set.
Known fairly well on the Rebellion set, The Varukers took to the Olympia 2 stage for a late night thrashing session. They began with ‘Protest to Survive’, which brings in elements of household bands such as Black Flag and melting, breakdown guitar riffs that space out their fast-paced agenda, displaying crossover thrash as more than shouty vocals and heavier influences. The Varukers are fronted by Discharge vocalist, Rat, who twitched his limbs to the D-beat Discharge rhythms that The Varukers have become famous in engineering.
Crossover was born out of an aim to redesign puerile street/oi by layering heavier guitar sounds against a bland but powerful drum beat (I can’t emphasise the incredible effect of D-beat), whilst maintaining the anarchical mandate that spawned the hardcore movement. Raw acrimony was styled in the way of ‘Fucked It Up Again’, and nihilistic, dark riffs are shed in ‘Led to Slaughter’ and ‘Murder’.
The Varukers are surprisingly seeded from humble 70s punk rhythms (noticeable on their studio versions of early tracks) such as appear in ‘Nowhere To Go’ and ‘Die For Your Government’; they aren’t even that far off their softer anarchic counterparts, like Subhumans. They ended their set on ‘Soldier Boy’; an upbeat anthem that is their equivalent to Sham 69’s ‘Hersham Boys’.
999, despite any tip of modesty from lead singer and guitarist Nick Cash, were one of the first English punk bands that spouted on the scene, and specifically from the pub rock scene at the Hope & Anchor in Islington, where they first started out. Their earliest hits, ‘I’m Alive’ and ‘Emergency’, are secured in the punk rock classics collection of all time.
The set list, played out on Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom stage, was comprised of a mixture of the old and new; their earliest self-titled album ‘999′ delivers tracks like ‘Hit Me’, stringed loosely with the latest releases off their most recent album, ‘Death in Soho’. Their newest material is just as eminent as its earlier counterparts, featuring their most recent single ‘Gimme the World’ and the epic ‘Last Breath’.
‘Feelin’ Alright With The Crew’ and ‘Homocide’ are possibly two of the best songs they’ve ever written, both off their second album, “Separates”. The former is a jazzy, funk-based track that encompasses 999’s crowd incorporating aims, adding to the layerous flavour of soviet-style guitar riffs that make them sound like all real ‘77 punk bands should. Their breakdown riffs are addictive; ‘Dont You Know I Need You’ puts good perspective on this.
It’s again difficult to place 999 in any genre bracket, although this somewhat defeats the object of their chosen identity, but like all ‘77 bands they have their own blur of sound that can’t be imitated again – melodic punk tunes that contain an under-sewing of unpolished but polished guitar layers, making for a more credible finish. Hence 999 have successfully filled “35 years of punk rock” with exactly that: straight-forward complexities to avoid simplification.
Peter Murphy’s 2010 Dirty Dirt tour aimed at promoting the autumn release of his ninth album, appropriately titled “Ninth” (we’ll not say that his cameo appearance in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse has also served the same purpose), hit Rebellion Festival for a memorable set on the Bizarre Bizaar stage. It was a give-it-everything from a man that aims to move away from Bauhaus and cheekbone stereotypes: this was the fleshed out creature himself.
Stale attitudes have changed at the success of his solo career after the release of two very important yet contrasting albums, “Deep” and “Cascade”, which were loosen on the world and peaked in the US in particular. He has filled his recent touring with a mixture of cover tracks, new material and Bauhaus classics. This has let in variation at the cost of troublesome struggles with poignant, emotional vocalisations that show a frustrating side to Murphy than ever before. He teams sexual transcendence with flirtatious alternative, kinky funk and slightly-off acoustic tracks.
Murphy made a strong entrance on a cover of Iggy and The Stooges’ ‘Raw Power’, extenuating his mascu-sexuality, which continued into a new post-punk track (“Crack open your love, from the seed to the tree”). Murphy preserved his darkwave gothic heritage in the shadowy scrapings of ‘Subway’, which was nothing short of outstanding in instrumental mastership. He then tempered down with a couple of acoustic numbers: Bauhaus’ ‘All We Ever Wanted’ (‘The Sky’s Gone Out’) and ‘A Strange Kind of Love’, the latter of which was hugely problematic for the set (I frankly don’t like it that much).
Murphy struggled at times with the practicality of his vocal capacity to maintain timbres that matched his past Bauhaus performances, such as is evident in ‘All We Ever Wanted’, where he tried too hard at high pitches. But aside from little glitches, his performance of ‘Stigmata Martyr’, ‘Dark Entries’ and ‘Cuts You Up’ were fantastic, even when he didn’t resist the temptation of powering into Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’; having constantly collaborated with the band it’s only fair, but it upset the balance of the set.
He magnificently ended on Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ in true showman fashion, able to thrill and abase simultaneously as the multi-faceted artist he is, before disappearing onto the floor and taking a bow during ‘Ground Control to Major Tom’. Murphy’s new album has already hit the spot in its live existence with such exuberance that signals a move into newer territories than ever before, and with new post-punk songs like ‘The Prince and Old Lady Shade’, we can only expect greater things to come.
Having completed their UK tour in the earlier part of this year alongside Stiff Little Fingers, Penetration are out to conquer the festivals – Rebellion and next month back in their home town for the Durham Punk Festival. Pauline Murray and Robert Blamire, original members of the band, have kept the tardis of new wave going since their first appearances back in the day alongside The Stranglers, Buzzcocks and The Vibrators.
With songs like ‘Life’s a Gamble’, it’s little wonder that these guys have had so much recognition, even managing to penetrate the charts in the late 70s (if you excuse the pun). When Pauline claims Patti Smith as her No. 1 influence, it’s clear in every thread of her vocal capacity and so similar in strength and velocity alone. There’s a breakthrough to the higher ceiling of the pop tune, whilst allowing so much definition and fibre of instrumentation to guise this down. It’s evident in songs like ‘Lovers of Outrage’, and Pauline’s cover of Patti Smith’s ‘Free Money’, both off their critically acclaimed debut 1978 album, “Moving Targets”.
Penetration have managed to cater to the wider tastes by offering addictive and passionate rock choruses, such as those in ‘Guilty’. When they switch to ‘Sea Song’, a heavy drudge is diluted by Pauline’s scaling vocal wails. It all makes for an eerie and transparent, luminous effect. ‘Silent Community’ has some of the best breakdown riffs they have ever written, which fill the entirety of the palatial Empress Ballroom. The end of the song feeds directly into the fast-paced beat of ‘Don’t Dictate’, their first single from 1977.
Penetration’s live sets are like nothing else: they manage to capture every nuance of new wave, post-punk and classic punk rock in one stream of colour, which lifts them off the two-dimensional vinyl. There really is no other band out there that can possibly compare. When they finish on ‘Nostalgia’, there’s a definite nostalgic certainty that they have managed to capture to an extremity the sound of the 80s.
The UK Subs are frequent visitors to Rebellion, and probably one of the most popular bands at the festival. Charlie Harper needs no
explanation or introduction: as an epitome of punk itself, he’s an old-time punk veteran and the master of his own genre – his band is several fingers off the three-chord persona and typical ‘77 punk bass line, and use heavier crossover influences that lift them from mere street punk to a verging-on thrash band.
Charlie, at 66, is still as virile as back in the day, and was joined on the bass by other original founding member, Paul Slack. The band breaks open the set with ‘CID’ and ‘I Live in A Car’; distorted, haywire guitar was disrupted by ever-changing drum bashings. Charlie then puffed into his harmonica for ‘I Couldn’t Be You’, mellowing out with a bluesy tint.
‘Rockers’ was a propulsive chant of “Born a rocker die a rocker” mayhem. There weren’t a lot of bands at Rebellion that managed to evoke a crowd atmosphere quite like theirs, the kind that has now become so much associated with every UK Subs performance. The backstage alone was on fire.
One of the best songs of the night had to be ‘Bitter & Twisted’; an anthem of melodic punk rock, with plenty more of the kind played out in the way of the classics that immediately followed: ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’, ‘Teenage’ and the dub-spiked ‘Warhead”, the latter of which set off a crowd chanting interlude before the song came to an end.
There’s little time-wasting about these guys; they powered through a twenty-song set list with little verbal decay in-between. Their stage presence and overall sound was epic: it hit with cataclysmic effect, on the scale of a macho, pumped-up rock ‘n’ roll band, but without the flag-bearing ego. And this effect has rubbed off on others. Having played alongside more modern bands such as Rancid, they’ve diffused their influence virally.
Following ‘Limo Life’, they arrived back on stage for an encore of ‘Party in Paris’. Charlie Harper has managed to turn puerile punk into full-blown out street punk rock, spread over a wealth of albums. There’s more to come soon in the form of their new album, “Work In Progress”, due for release fairly soon. Keep up the good work boys!!
Discharge opened with ‘Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing’, also the title of their second and best-known album. The band have utilised at their core D-beat (Discharge beat), notably the drum rhythm that they developed within the punk genre and brought to fruition by themselves and their associated acts (such as The Varukers, which I mentioned has Rat as the lead singer). At 2010’s Rebellion Festival, they powered through a twenty-song set list in as little as 50 minutes, largely taken from their first, second and penultimate albums.
You could make the mistake of claiming that Discharge have no melodic structure to their playing; angsty and bitter as their lyrics, but you’d be wrong. The exact opposite is evident in tracks like ‘CCTV’, which were also intertwined with prickly guitar seeping through the interludes. It’s all based with that unmistakable, cellular and primitive bashing that drives the brain mad with its imprint.
‘Corpse of Decadence’ is off their 2002 album, “Discharge”, as Rat explained. It teamed with impending riffs that were squirming to become free from the fretboards – by far one of their best songs. ‘Protest and Survive’ is one of the band’s much covered tracks, with its densely dark riffs, also featuring in ‘Cries of Help’ and ‘Decontrol’. Their menacing, war siren guitar was followed by the recorded intro to ‘The Possibility of Life’s Destruction’, which is taken from the 1965 docu-drama, ‘The War Game’. Enraged vocals then scaled up for ‘War is Hell’.
They also played the old school and heavy-chorded ‘Fight Back’. Discharge’s overall lyrics are anarchical shouts at political decay and the brutal truths of war; they mix the dry cardboard of negative political sentiments with the raw realities of modern day flesh and blood societal suicide, recognisable in the language of their tracks: ‘Corpse of Decadence’, ‘Massacre of Innocence’ and ‘The Blood Runs Red’, the latter of which describes machine gun massacre. Discharge are surely one of the most frightening bands about, sonically and lyrically.
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