Poison Idea live at the Borderline, London

Poison Idea
The Borderline, London
May 7th

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Poison Idea have history right in the centre of London. All of their 90s appearances in the capital exploded in the centre; from that first incendiary performance with the Hard Ons at ULU in ’91, to the legendary Marquee and Astoria gigs, tonight Poison Idea returned to hit the centre dead-on again at The Borderline. With pretty much all of the rock n’ roll now flattened and demolished in Central London, the heart ripped out of it, it’s fitting to have Jerry A and his kings of punk return to the ruins and re-charge it once again with their vital metallically-charged hardcore punk.

As we climb down the stairs into the pit of punks crammed in to The Borderline, the first thing that hits you is the stench of puke and sweat, the deathly aroma of punk. The room is buzzing (and gagging on the smell) with anticipation for the return of Portland’s legendary Poison Idea who are very much back. Their new album ‘Confuse & Conquer’ is the best they’ve recorded since 1992’s ‘Blank Blackout Vacant’ and Jerry finally has a line-up that is committed, settled and does the music justice. Currently three-quarters through the longest and most gruelling tour they’ve done in many years, Jerry’s punished voice may be raw and ripped but from the moment the band hit the stage, they are bone-tight and packed full of power. With ’87 era-guitarist Eric ‘The Vegetable’ Olsen back in the band and stick-thin drummer Nathan Richardson pounding the skins with more power than his appearance might suggest, Poison Idea kill it tonight.

Yes, it takes a few songs for Jerry’s voice to settle in but once it does, it’s as snarled and powerful as it ever was. “This one’s for Nigel Farage,” he says as the band steam into ‘Discontent’ (“listen Nazi, never again,”) and the entire room detonates into a flurry of limbs and sweat. And the hits just keep on coming. They play pretty much every essential song you could want to hear – ‘Just To Get Away’, ‘Getting The Fear’, ‘Punish Me’, ‘Taken By Surprise’ and ‘Give It Up’ , all of which square up well with the sprinkling of new ‘Confuse & Conquer’ tracks the band play tonight.

At the end a woman’s boot is thrown onstage. Jerry picks it up, empties half a bottle of cider into the bottom of it and swills the contents into his mouth. “Tastes like a size 6,” his says before the band wind the set up with a double stab of Johnny Thunders and Avengers covers. A perfect punk rock night. We’re so fucking glad Poison Idea are still here.

James Sherry

Poison Idea

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The Fatal Erection Years
Southern Lord

Southern Lord have come up with a treat on this monster collection of early Poison Idea, that collates their ’83 debut ‘Pick Your King’ EP, ‘84’s ‘Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes’ LP, compilation tracks, and then a 20 song live set from ’83, in their hometown, Portland, Oregon.

The 13 tracks on ‘Pick Your King’ barely shade a minute average running time and are plain fucken blitzkrieg, fire and anger, slashing guitar lines and in singer Jerry A’s a true heavyweight of boiling over barked belligerence…. a genuine classic record… then, now and forever. Period.

P.I. followed up with the snappily titled ‘Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes’ album, 8 tracks of ferocious heaviness that were a step up from their earlier material, and brutally fused the primal energy of The Germs, early ‘Flag, D.C. Hardcore, fused with the filth and power of Discharge and GBH. The encroaching shadow of Motörhead was never too far away, as a creeping metallic edge took root. And the cover of the LP was true a Punk collector’s wet dream, with a stack of guitarist Pig Champions prized vinyl on display.

The compilation tracks are ‘Laughing Boy‘ from the ‘Drinking is Great’ EP, and P.I.’s 3 tracks from the Pushead compiled ‘Cleanse The Bacteria’ album, a 1985 collection of new/fresh worldwide Hardcore. Their ripping Stooges cover ‘I Gotta Right’ was included on a bonus 12” that accompanied the first pressing. I’ve still got mine, righteous vinyl!

And, to close, a live set that is just what you’d hope P.I. would be nailing it like in ’83, rabid and pissed, hateful and loud. It ends with one of my favourite songs ‘Marked for Life’, that would eventually surface on the ‘War All The Time’ album, in ’87.

No shit, this remains some of the most raging Punk committed to vinyl, and the legend of these hallowed records continue to be passed to subsequent generations of young Punks. They’ve suffered tragedies, bust-ups and mishaps along the way, but singer Jerry A is still out there doing it. Not giving it up.

WORDS: PETE CRAVEN