Live Reviews

UK Subs – Live

Free Butt, Brighton

There’s a crap awful band playing when I turn up. I take a quick look then retreat to the bar where thankfully they have ice cold bottles of Weston’s Organic Cider.

H8BALL from Eastbourne are up next, and hampered by very low guitars for their opening numbers, it’s all drum ‘n bass, oh cripes! The soundman thankfully turns up the appropriate knobs and normal service is resumed, with some energetic PunknRoll that sees the boys working the stage and shaking the limbs of the sunbaked Bank Holiday crowd. There’s a rowdy interpretation of Clash standard “Bankrobber” towards the end, and call me a stick in the mud, but I don’t think any cover can ever touch the original.

Now here’s a thing… bassist Alvin Gibbs is back in the UK Subs for a UK tour for the first time in a long (long) time (he usually just does their overseas dates) and the last time (and only time in fact) I saw him in the Subs was in a backwater town called Hailsham in early ’82… and the support band that night was Criminal Damage, from nearby Polegate, whose drummer Tezz is now in H8BALL… nice to see we’ve all found better things to be doing with ourselves… hahaha…

Completing the UK Subs tonight, alongside Alvin and singer Charlie Harper, are shit-hot drummer Jamie Oliver and firebrand Japanese guitarist Jet… he of the mega-quiff. And I’d have to say that this is one of the tightest line-ups I’ve seen from these veterans in ages, as they blaze thru 45minutes of prime cuts from their immense back catalogue… kicking off with “Young Criminals” and touching base with all the best-known standards… “Teenage” “Stranglehold,” “Tomorrow’s Girl“Left for Dead” and of course no UK Subs set will ever (ever) be complete without the rumbling anthem “Warhead“, which sounds as powerful as ever with the audience joining in for a full throated chant of the chorus of a song whose subject matter is as relevant as ever in 2008…. “There’s children in Africa with Tommy guns, Getting ready, While the Islam armies are beckoning on, They’re getting ready…

With Alvin on board we get a rocking rendition of “Down on the Farm” (from the “Endangered Species” album) which he penned, and Guns ‘n Roses infamously covered, plus there’s a dusting down of “Police State” off the “Shake Up The City” EP… an often overlooked record that I always dug.

You can say what you like about The UK Subs, but they have never been away, never thrown in the towel, still kept at it, and refuse to lie down and die. On tonight’s evidence there’s still plenty of fuel in the tank.

Pete Craven