Live Reviews

Subhumans – Live

Engine Room, Brighton

The dateline on my digital devices informs me this is 2009, but during August I was firmly strapped in to the wayback machine for some serious musical time travelling, and (in some cases) more nostalgia than you could shake a walking stick at. And to round it off – Subhumans.

Make no mistake; unlike some other outfits from the past I’ve seen lately, Subhumans are as relevant today as when they emerged from deepest Wiltshire at the dawning of The Eighties. Although they were soon aligned with the burgeoning Anarcho-punk movement/bands, musically they were quite a different proposition to many of their peers, with a much more upbeat and driving melodic sound, coupled with some incredibly clever and not (so) obvious lyrical messages. These guys could play. I guess I first heard them in ’83 and was immediately sold on ’em. I’ve seen them countless times since…

A testament to said relevance of Subhumans is that the packed crowd is made up of young punks and old gits in fairly equal measure who all hit the floor dancing when The Subs launch in to opener “Apathy” (“Drink, Sex, Cigarettes, Ford Cortina, household pets… Bombs? War? Famine? Death? An apathetic public couldn’t t care less”) – yep, up and running! There’s songs from their most recent studio LP “Internal Riot” and they trawl all the way thru an extensive back catalogue to the “Demolition War” EP (1982) And when they break in to the slow burning reggae tinged punker “Human Error” (from the latter record) – well here’s a classic point of their timeless relevance… where references to Belfast and Vietnam can be easily replaced by Baghdad and Afghanistan, and America’s interminable grip on the war machine.

Elsewhere, there’s plenty of talk from singer (and for my money probably one of the smartest people in punk) Dick Lucas about the credit crunch and the greed of the filthy rich bankers and politicians who have lied and deceived for so long. It would be easy for Dick to sound a little smug, as he and his cohorts have been warning about the ills of capitalism for… err… the past 25 years and then some!! But it’s no laughing matter. People’s jobs, savings and lives that are being sold down the river and the corporate media sound a little surprised. But first the Weather…

Anyways where was I… oh yes… red hot political punk in the furnace-like confines of The Engine Room. I believe the main set finished with “Mickey Mouse is Dead” and “Black/White“. After taking on fluids, the band throw together a cracking trio of songs to close… a cover of The Epileptics/Flux of Pink Indians standard “Tube Disasters“, followed by anti-animal testing anthem “Evolution“, before leaving us for dust with the almighty “Religious Wars“. Seriously, how fuckin’ constantly topical is this songs message… where everyday people are being shot, blown up, tortured, raped and imprisoned, in the name of what? A God? “Religious Wars no reason why, What a glorious way to die”…

Pete Craven