Call me Russ L

“At least the pessimist is never disappointed, I’d like to be a loser but I can’t see what the point is” – ‘Positive,’ Intention

Posted in Music by Russ L on 7 January, 2006

Originally posted on 24/10/4.

Firstly, the site for which I write has had a revamp courtesy of his technical wizard-ness Steve, and now looks somewhat spiffing, I have to say. Go and have a look: www.TheCommunion.co.uk.

I don’t really write live reviews there much anymore, in part because quite a few people seem to be objecting to the fact that I have opinions about local bands. Sod ‘em, then; if they don’t want anything negative then they shouldn’t expect anything positive either. I’m just as happy to waffle here, and stick to reviewing releases that people have sent in (ergo specifically asking for a review) over there.

Last night I went to a gig at the lovely, lovely Royal George in Digbeth, Birmingham. It’s the sort of establishment that would euphemistically be described as a boozer, rather than a pub. If you wanted to be fully accurate it would be described as a shit-hole, rather than a pub.

It was, anyway, a benefit for www.Strummerville.com, helping the yoots dem do music an ting. Apparently £140 was raised, so that’s not bad.

First on were Intention. They’re back. I’m glad they’re back. About a year ago they were struggling against a tide of apathy and internal dissention; now with a slightly revised line up and a happier air about them they’re ready to resume their ridiculously prolific gigging schedule. I honestly think they’re one of the most under-rated local bands, so I’m most pleased about this.

Last night they were on form; tight as a hipster’s trousers and Ian is always a great frontman to watch (even if an exploding matchbox did nearly take his finger off beforehand). Crucially, they have songs – great big catchy memorable things, which gain an extra level when you find out they have intelligent, well-written lyrics. ‘Positive’ and ‘Stop The Rot’ always rock the hizzay, and of the ones I’d not heard before ‘Firewater’ sounded great too.

They were the only band I’d seen/heard before of the night. On second were The Devil Rides Out, who caused me to rack my brains as they were playing – who did they sound like? They were exactly like someone but I was damned if I could put my finger on precisely who. They got as far as doing a Misfits cover and at that point realisation naturally dawned. This morning I noticed that the email sent out to advertise this gig actually described them as ‘Misfits-style horror punk,’ and so what we’ve suspected all along was proved – I am in fact a complete div.

I was a bit fed up with them by the end of their set, anyway. They played tremendously well, stopping and starting on a sixpence, and some bits of some of their songs sounded quite interesting, but… they just went on a bit, and they only played for half an hour. If they’d stopped about half or two thirds of the way in I would have probably been left with a much happier impression.

Red Flag 77 were (for me) one of those names that have been around forever but you’ve never managed to go so far as seeing them or hearing anything by them. I’m sure you know what I mean, everyone has bands like that. I have thousands, because I’m crap. It’s a shame I hadn’t got around to them earlier, though, because they were indeed very good. Traditional punk rock (a bit UK Subs-ish, perhaps? Force me to make a comparison and that’s what I’ll say) with some corking songs. Vagueness is again my bane but I’ll say I really liked the one that had a chorus running something along the lines of “I’m just giving it my all, every single day.” Good stuff, anyway, go and see them.

Lastly, Bleeding Hearts. I was intrigued to see this band. A couple of years ago I was involved in promoting a gig (featuring Intention, funnily enough) at The Flapper and Firkin, that we were forced to change the date of (after printing and distributing a load of flyers) because the venue was getting their mixing desk serviced. I was much chagrined to subsequently find that another gig turned out to be happening on the night we originally booked – headlined by Bleeding Hearts (every time I type their name I get an urge to put a ‘The’ at the start). After marching down and demanding an explanation from the venue it turns out that they’d been able to supply their own mixing board and no skulduggery was afoot, but I still think it was fairly bad form on the part of the pub not to let us know what was happening. What were we expected to think?

That, anyway, is a somewhat unusual and roundabout way of becoming interested in what a band are like, but there we are. Due to late runnings (they started after eleven. Few, few people seem to be happy about gigs that go on that late, so why some promoters insist on doing it I do not know) I only got to see three songs, and these were entirely bereft of the folky elements that the songs you can hear on their website have. They sounded like (if anyone) Greenday, and didn’t really strike me as anything impressive.

There was a raffle. I didn’t win. Bah.

– Russ L

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