Live Reviews

Peter and the Test Tube Babies – Live

Engine Rooms, Brighton

Self proclaimed “local heroes” Peter and The Test-Tube Babies take to the stage and launch in to “Moped Lads” from their debut seven inch (on No Future Records) – probably the funniest ode to teenage revheads on 50cc’s that anyone’s ever bothered to commit to vinyl. Singer Peter is the only original member at present, with guitarist Del away on tour managing duties, but his place is taken by brother Walnut, and augmented by second guitarist Andy “Aggro” another long time fixture on Brighton’s music scene, and their dual guitar attack works really well, adds a heavy edge.

With the exception of two songs from their most recent album (“Footfull of Bullets“) the 45minute set is chock full of pissed ‘n proud blasts from the past… “Up Yer Bum” “Run Like Hell” “Never Made it to The Bog on Time” “Banned from The Pubs” “The Jinx” “Blown out Again” a very theatric “Maniac” and the ace… “Spirit of Keith Moon“… the songs of my youth, and still sounding a lot of fun in middle-age! The Test-Tubes are often maligned for their ‘comedy punk’ and less than serious subject matter… but lets not forget, they’ve been at it now since ’78, and will leave behind a legacy that a zillion sobersided and more business minded acts can only dream of.

With singer Animal the only original member of Tunbridge Wells bikers Anti-Nowhere League, it occurs to me that this bill could have been a ‘One Original Member presentation’… but all things considered the frontman is looking in terrific shape and stalks the stage in the same menacing fashion, howling and growling at the moon. Back in the day I went as far as their debut LP (“We are The League“) plus early singles… up to “For You“. And it’s from those very records that a bulk of their set is drawn. I’ve not heard these songs in ages, and they still sound pretty ok with the band banging out their Punk Metal to a mighty appreciative crowd. Of course it’s “So What” their most notorious song, and – Animal as good as admits…his meal ticket over the years – that gets the wildest response, along with the track that accompanied it on their first single, “Streets of London“… gawd knows what Ralph McTell made of it all! There was a latter day song called “My God’s Bigger than Your God” which managed in a raucous 3minute rockNroll number to pretty much nail the idiotic nature of organised religion. I say Amen to that!

True Story; Last time I saw these two bands on a bill together was in 1981 at Brighton Top Rank, just a stones throw from tonight’s shindig. I headed home feeling Jurrasic…

Pete Craven