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