Adam And The Ants live at Brixton Academy

Adam And The Ants
Kings Of The Wild Frontier at Brixton Academy
Friday 10th June

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I was ten years old when Adam Ant mania first swept across the nation in 1980. Girls loved him, boys loved him, he was beautiful, a dandy man, a pirate, an original punk. I loved him because I was completely captivated by those Burundi Drums; the ferocious tribal rhythms that propelled Adam And The Ants’ second album ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier’ into the world’s pop consciousness. My dad had a small African drum that I endlessly tapped and whacked, imagining I was part of the ants tribe. I so badly wanted to play drums. And that all started with Adam And The Ants.

The first time I saw them live was on The Prince Charming Revue tour in 1982 at the Hammersmith Odeon. My parents took me and it totally blew my mind. He had a huge pirate ship onstage and those tribal drums and the whole spectacle electrified me (my mum less so, she stood up in the interval and tried to go home thinking it was the end of the show. She now says she wasn’t bored, she was just gagging for a smoke).

Fast forward thirty-four years and I’m standing at Brixton Academy once again waiting for Adam Ant to arrive onstage and do it all over again, playing ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier’ in its glorious entirety. I’ve seen Adam Ant a few times in the last few years since he returned to the stage. Whilst at those gigs he’s mainly focused on his incredible punk-era material, reinstating his position as one of the original punks, he’s only dipped his toes into the sparkling waters of his mainstream pop years. Now, however, it’s time to revisit the record that for a brief moment in the early 80s, made Adam one of the most iconic and recognisable names in pop.

With two drummers perched high on two risers, Adam strutted to the front of the stage, looking every bit the star he was back then (if he doesn’t take off his hat he looks much the same) and as the band kick into the album’s opening track ‘Dog Eat Dog’ the whole venue detonates in a rush of adrenalized nostalgia that melts away the years and resonates with every individual who was touched by this glorious sound. The sound is fantastic, the impact huge and before we’ve even had a chance to draw breath here comes ‘Ant Music’, another huge hit from the album that has the entire crowd chanting along with every word (“cut off its head, legs come looking for you!”).

As the album plays out and Adam throws himself into every word, note and beat, for such a huge mainstream selling record at the time, it becomes clear how strange and unsettling much of the album is. Although written with an entirely different band to Adam’s debut ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’, ‘Kings…’ was crafted with punk still beating in its heart, a long way from the pop sheen of ‘Prince Charming’ and what came after. ‘Ants Invasion’ particularly, sounds utterly menacing tonight; that creeping riff crawling across the venue, biting all in its path, Likewise ‘Killer In The Home’ is moody, bleak and immensely powerful.

With that sophomore played in full, a few short breaths to recover, the band are back to plough through a selection of tracks that cover Adam’s entire career. Early punk era-tracks like ‘Beat My Guest’, ‘Never Trust A Man With Egg On His Face’ and ‘Cartrouble’, despite their age, still sound utterly contemporary, such is their influence and the forward thinking nature of their writer. These, mixed with moments from his mainstream pop years (‘Prince Charming’, ‘Goody Two Shoes’, ‘Stand And Deliver’) make for a joyfully electric set that should give Adam the respect he deserves. His wilderness years behind him, it’s great to have the ant army back.

James Sherry

As an extra bonus, enjoy these scrap book Ant raps from when I was a child. :)

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Special Brew and Pink Speedos – Lemmy RIP

Illustration: Word Repeats

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Lemmy touched a staggering amount of people’s lives in his 70 rock n’roll years on Planet Earth and almost all of these experiences were positive and genuine. Sure, he could be a cantankerous bastard and equally told as many people to fuck off – but they probably deserved it. He was a man of rare integrity, conviction and passion and he compromised for no one.
 
When news broke of his death the outpouring of affection was vast and overwhelming. Everyone had a story to tell, a memory to share. From punks to rockers to every aspect of alternative culture, to the mainstream who held him high as a figurehead of rock, his influence is far-reaching. But the stories keep coming back to what a gentleman he was. He always had time for people and didn’t fall into the rock star ego trap. His manager Todd Singerman recently stated: “He was one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. The proof would be to go ask his fans. He never denied someone an autograph, he bought the fans drinks instead of them buying him drinks”.

I first met Lemmy when I was ten years old at a charity football event that my father took me to. I’m pretty certain that Motörhead’s legendary frontman wasn’t kicking a ball around but he was there, I got his autograph and he patted my head. I thought he was cool as fuck. Then in my early twenties I interviewed him for Metal Hammer magazine around the time of the release of their ‘1916’ album. He turned up at the offices at 10.30am with a four pack of Special Brew, sat by my desk, drank the lot and churned out pearls of wisdom after wisdom. I was in total awe of him. I had to do the ‘single’s reviews’ and played some of the latest rock releases on a turntable by my desk for him to comment on, one of which was ‘Sliver’ by Nirvana which I was raving about. “ Yeah, I like that one”, he said. “It’s really interesting and they’re having a go at something by themselves and not just copying someone else. Good one.” It’s fair to say that drinking Special Brew and spinning vinyl with Lemmy on a week day morning is a memory I’ll cherish.

Ph: “Despite my appearance, believe me, I am a gentleman”

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My wife has a fantastic Lemmy story that I want to share. Her and a friend were nearing the end of a US road trip in the early 90s, ending up in LA. They were staying at a rough motel at the wrong end of Sunset Boulevard and a gang had tried to break into their room the previous night, so they were scared to return. They were at The Rainbow and started drinking with Lemmy who was famously a regular, and told him their story. He showed concern at two young vulnerable girls with little money and invited them back to his apartment rather than return to the motel late at night. They agreed with some trepidation given Lemmy’s reputation with the ladies, but his behaviour was entirely chivalrous. They spent a fun-filled 2 days hanging out in his apartment, drinking endless bourbon and cokes being regaled with debauched stories from a life of hell-raising. He played them new tracks which were to feature on ‘Bastards’, the album he was working on at the time, allowed them to nose through his collection of Nazi memorabilia whilst he sunbathed in bright pink speedos, and (at their direction) posed for some hilariously inappropriate souvenir polaroids. 
 
The stories go on and on. It’s been heartbreaking over the last year to see Lemmy looking so frail and ill. We all wanted him to live forever. If Lemmy is around still, then all is well with the world. When they played Hyde Park in 2014 with Black Sabbath, Lemmy really struggled and they weren’t on good form. It was so sad to witness. But then a few months later Motorhead played at Wembley Arena with The Damned and they were back to full power and awesome again. That night they were incredible. The greatest rock n’roll band of all time, one more time.

Ph: Rummaging through Lemmy’s dressing-up box



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Slash declared “People who live, sleep and breathe rock n’roll, the lifestyle and the attitude. There’s only a handful of guys who are still alive who represent that. And Lemmy represents that to me.”
 And now he’s gone, taking the loudest band in the world with him. My absolute hero. A benchmark in integrity and passion, principled, opinionated and unapologetic, “I don’t regret much. Fuck ’em.” We will never see his like again. A true rock n’roll warrior. Rest in noise Lemmy.

Words: James Sherry

NOTE: It’s well known that Lemmy collected Nazi regalia but essentially he was more an anarchist than a fascist. Worth noting that both women in these polaroid photos do not support Nazi fantasies.

Crossfire Halloween Massacre Boat Party Gallery 2012

Photos thanks to www.joebrady.co.uk

This year’s fully sold out Crossfire Halloween Massacre boat party in London was a scorcher! Some serious efforts went into this one in terms of fancy dress with a selection of nautical treats arriving down the plank! Zombie Sailors, Pirates-a-plenty and even a bloke dressed as a BOAT were present. I’m amazed how he managed to get that huge wooden creation all the way to the Battersea Barge, which was not easy to find on the night.

The deadly rock duo that is made up from the DJ presence of Planet Rock’s Phoebe Winter and Total Rock ‘s Talita TwoShoes kicked the night off with a selection of classics before handing over the decks to Johnny Doom and Matt Stocks. The Kerrang! Radio duo had the dance floor rocking as fiends fell through the door, some of them already bitten by the cold weather, Thames rats and South London Vampire’s. The beats dropped like bombs from XFM Remix Show overlord, Eddy Temple Morris whose mash ups had the roof raised alongside the demonic DJ skills of Stereo:Type.

You came, we saw. Your outfits were sick. The boat was one huge mash-up! Joe Brady spent the night taking these amazing photo’s of you all. Enjoy them, share them and thanks for coming down if you were there.

Thanks to Paul Parker for his incredible artwork, Joe, Chloe, Nic, Holly and the Battersea Barge for their help on the night, and all of the DJ’s mentioned above for their amazing work on the decks.

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Thanks to you all for making this party amazing!

UK Subs Live at 100 Club, London

UK Subs/Anti-Nowhere League/Discharge
100 Club, London
31st July

Part of a series of gigs that Converse are promoting at the 100 Club (the tickets are free to those who could grab them first online), tonight was the brand’s homage to all things spiky and snotty, bringing together three UK punk legends under one roof. And not just any roof at that – seen by many as the birthplace of UK punk (the 100 Club hosted the first punk festival in 1976) this is, as Captain Sensible put it whilst having a beer outside – ‘the scene of the crime, this is where it all began.’ He explains as the doorman tries to move him away from the entrance with a shove. “Can’t believe I’m still getting into trouble here all these years on,” laughs Captain.

Inside the venue is a funny old mix of gnarled old punks mixed with guests and staff of Converse, but there’s a great atmosphere and energy in the room at odds with what some more cynical types may refer to as ‘penshioner punk’. But as Charlie Harper once said, ‘born a rocker die a rocker’ and nothing is going to stop these old punk bands from continuing to play, not even nuclear war – something that Discharge have been shouting about since the early eighties when everyone thought the bomb was about to drop at any second. Discharge’s paranoid anthems of war, death and destruction inspired a whole new generation of punks (as well as many metal heads too, their then ultra-raw and fast punk was a big influence on the likes of Metallica, Anthrax etc). These days, Discharge are fronted by The Varukers frontman Rat, original singer Cal having parted with the band long ago. And considering the dodgy metal direction Cal took the band in before, this is probably no bad thing. Discharge are a harsh, bellowing, distorted mess of noise. Bones’ guitar tone makes your teeth rattle and all in all, they make a horrendous noise, that somewhere underneath lurks classic punk anthems like ‘Protest And Survive,’ ‘Fight Back’ and ‘Never Again.’ All good fun!

Next up, Anti-Nowhere League (made most famous for Metallica’s cover of their filthy-anthem ‘So What’), take the stage, fronted by the snarling, towering biker-punk monster that is Animal, an apt nickname if ever there was one! He stalks and prowls that stage like a caged lion (he has quite a mane of hair to boot!), spewing obscenities out of his mouth to songs, mainly drawn from their early eighties debut album ‘We Are The League’. Tracks like ‘Streets Of London’, ‘Woman’, and of course, the revolting ‘So What’ all provide dumb, drunk, moronic punk fun that’s certainly not meant to be taken seriously.

Tonight the UK Subs are a revelation. So many musicians, both good and bad, have passed through the bands ranks over the years that their live shows can sometimes be a hit and miss affair, depending on who is in the band at the time. The band that frontman Charlie Harper can proudly call UK Subs in 2012 is shit hot. With original member Alvin Gibbs on bass, Charlie is joined by drummer Jamie Oliver and guitarist Jet who both inject a massive dose of energy into the barrage of classics that pile from the stage.

It’s a complete mystery how Charlie, now well into his sixties, keeps going with such rampant energy and enthusiasm. The man is an absolute inspiration for those that never want to give up, and just keep on going. And it tonight’s gig is anything to go by, let’s hope there’s many more years left in the UK Subs yet. The set is back to back absolute classics – ‘Warhead,’ ‘C.I.D.’ ‘I Live In A Car,’ and many more are all played with total conviction and passion from a band who deserve far more respect than they get. The UK Subs are the kings of UK punk and long may they reign over us!

WORDS: James Sherry

D.R.I. Live at The Dome, London

D.R.I.
The Dome, London
26th July 2012

Sadly The Dome is dishearteningly only three quarters full tonight for this rare London gig from classic Texan hardcore outfit Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, touring to celebrate thirty years’ service to hardcore punk and thrash. D.R.I. are, without doubt, one of the most important and influential hardcore bands to have spewed out of America in the early eighties. So where was everybody?! Their first EP released in 1982 crammed twenty-two songs onto one 7” EP and it redefined hardcore. The songs were intensely short and fast, bristling with anger and venom. Likewise, their first full album ‘Dealing With It’ came armed with a better production but was just as pissed off and vengeful.

After that the band, like most hardcore bands of the early eighties, started incorporating more metal and rock elements into their sound. Some did this more successfully than others and thankfully, D.R.I. made the transition better than most, alongside bands like C.O.C., Ludichrist and The Crumbsuckers, they spearheaded the ‘Crossover’ movement within the thrash metal scene and combined the socially aware lyrical content of punk with longer, more complex songs influenced by the first wave of thrash bands such as Metallica, Exodus and Anthrax.

Tonight’s set is drawn from every era of the band’s long career, although thankfully it leans heavily on their early material, which despite some good moments on later albums, it’s still the first few recordings that pack the most punch. Tonight, with original singer Kurt Brecht still pacing the stage and spitting out the lyrics with the attitude and venom of a man half his age, D.R.I. play for over an hour and half, a set that includes god knows how many songs all played at hyper-speed and with ultimate precision. Not bad for a band in their 30th year. On top of that, original guitarist Spike Cassidy has recently made a full-recovery from a terrible brush with cancer and plays every song with a look of pure joy on this face. This is a man that probably never expected to get to get the chance to play these songs again and his happiness infects the whole room.

Despite the venue not being as rammed as the band might have liked it to be, those in attendance go completely crazy and and respond to classics like ‘I Don’t Need Society’, ‘Couch Slouch’ and ‘Snap’ with a tornado of energy at the front of the stage as the band feed off the crowd’s lunacy and respond accordingly.

Still dirty and rotten after all these years. Long may these imbeciles reign!

WORDS: James Sherry

A Celebration Of British Punk Rock is coming…

Written by James Sherry

As we approach the 35th anniversary of the Sex Pistols incendiary and landscape changing ‘Nevermind The Bollocks’ album, expect to see lots of nostalgia and media coverage of what is still to many the most exciting musical and cultural youth explosion to ever detonate across the UK.

We’ve all heard the story before, seen a million documentaries, wheeling in the same talking heads, the same archive footage. Thankfully, the forthcoming three-part documentary ‘Punk Britannia’ digs far deeper than the usual punk programming affair. Part one deals with the pre-punk years of ’74-’76, focusing on the ‘pub rock’ explosion that saw the start of the musical landscape shifting away from the bloated prog years and moving back towards short-sharp three-minute power pop songs – out of the stadiums and back into sweaty red-hot back rooms of pubs, with bands like Joe Strummer’s first band The 101ers, Kilburn And The Highroads, Dr. Feelgood etc and looks set to be possibly the most interesting programme of the three as this is an era that hasn’t been detailed as much and is easily as exciting.

Last night Crossfire was lucky enough to attend a private screening of the second part of the series at Soho House in central London. Rubbing shoulders with such essential punk players as The Damned’s Captain Sensible and Brian James, Gaye Advert from The Adverts, John Cooper Clark and Mark Stewart from The Pop Group, among others, free BBC wine was necked and all the old punks piled into the cinema for youths and memories to be re-lived. And whilst in this second part the story does focus on the already very well-told story of The Pistols, The Clash and The Jam etc, what is refreshing about this show is it does spread its wings further and the equally important likes of Sham 69, UK Subs and Stiff Little Fingers also feature heavily.

The third part, however, charts much previously unexplored (by the BBC at least) territory and focuses on the post-punk years of The Fall, PIL, The Pop Group, Crass, Joy Division etc and looks set to wrap up a very worthy look at all the different aspects of the original punk explosion. Don’t miss it!