Live Reviews

The Adolescents – Live

The Stupids
The Underworld, London
Sunday, August 2nd

There are many people that get a little snooty about the Rebellion Festival – a three day punk festival in Blackpool that features almost entirely old and rapidly bloating and balding punk bands from around the world. Is Blackpool where the once youthful and vibrant spirit of punk goes to crawl away and die, or attempts to resurrect the spark that existed back in the day? Well yes, part of that may be true but one of the benefits of Rebellion is that despite the endless glut of dodgy reformed Oi bands and UK Subs sound-alikes, the promoters have in recent ears taken to attracting some legendary American hardcore bands that have in some instances never been to Europe before and without something like Rebellion, would never get to come to the UK.

And better still, most of these bands have fitted in extra shows around their Rebellion commitments so in recent days we’ve had a glut of great, classic US hardcore shows which can’t be a bad thing. Plus, it’s a known fact that old men play the best punk rock. Give it to kids and they think it’s all about screaming, metal riffs and competing to see how many tattoos they can get Mummy and Daddy to pay for.

Back in the eighties, The Stupids rather unexpectedly found themselves plastered all over the covers of the music press and the UK fell in love with their high-speed and utterly infectious brand of melodic skateboard propelled hardcore. Back with a new album twenty years later, they are now really starting to find their stride since first playing live again last year. With a few appearances under their belts now, they’re tightening up and getting faster and faster by the second. Singing drummer Tommy Stupid is a rapid blur of limbs at the back, constantly pushing the tempo to the max as guitarists Marty and bassist Ross hammer their riffs to each beat in quick succession. ‘So Much Fun‘ as the band themselves would say. So good to have them back.

The Adolescents are genuine American punk legends. Formed in California in 1980, their classic ‘blue’ album was a fundamental part of the L.A. punk sound that influenced and inspired all of the bands, as is often the way, that went on to be huge with someone else’s ideas. Take a bow Pennywise, Offspring and Bad Religion!

Back in the shit-stenched rot of the Underworld for the second time in the last couple of years (someone must be able to do something about that rotten smell in that venue, unreal!), The Adolescents (with most of their original line-up in tact) proceed to tear through a set of punk rock perfection that puts bands half their age to shame.

Frontman Tony Cadena prowls the state, spitting and snarling the lyrics to the likes of ‘Rip It Up‘, ‘No Way‘ and ‘Amoeba’ as the band detonate around him. On lead guitar they have Frank Agnew Jr, the son of original guitarist Frank Agnew, father and son ripping it up onstage together and Frank Jr is a joy to watch, bringing a burst of youthful energy to the band and showing off a naturally fluid punk rock guitar style that must be in the Agnew blood!

Amongst the barrage of classics, the band also played some tracks from their reunion album ‘O.C. Confidential‘ and also slammed through some fresh material from a forthcoming new album, proving that there is plenty of life in the old punks yet. Bloody marvellous!!

James Sherry