Cock Sparrer live review from Rebellion
Cock Sparrer do their famous boy band pose...

Cock Sparrer
Live review
Blackpool Rebellion festival
August 2011

Cock Sparrer live review from Rebellion
Cock Sparrer do their famous boy band pose…

The heat in here is insane.

Cock Sparrer is one of the great stories of punk.

Formed in 1972 as a street rock band- a blitzkrieg version of the Heavy Metal Kids or one of those proto punk bands. The sort of rough and rudimentary end of glam rock like Alex Harvey, they tell it as it is- street heroes who understood the reality of life and sung about it in the guttural voices of the smoke stained pub with anthemic football choruses.

When Cock Sparrer play Rebellion it sells out. When they play anywhere nowadays it sells out. The band who formed nearly 40 years ago and survived against the odds are one of the most loved bands on the punk circuit armed with a battery of insanely catchy songs that define street punk.

They also have that sort of indomitable spirit that defines this community, that sort of outsider spirit that defies the fashionistas who dominate the musical commentary and business. They are just a bunch of burly blokes who have been mates forever and who have the knack of writing great songs that are all inclusive. And surely that’s the key here, everyone is involved- there is no star tripping just a real sense of community.

The band spent the seventies playing local youth clubs, mates playing rock n roll because that’s what mates do. Somehow when punk came along they were already there, in 1976 Malcolm McClaren had a look at them thinking about managing them but perhaps the whiff of the real deal was too much.

They got signed to Decca, staggered through punk and then fell apart and then were picked up as some sort of seminal influence by the Oi! Bands before they fell away again. Still mates they still occasionally played together before the strangest and coolest thing happened- in the nineties they became one of the biggest punk bands in the world.

It’s a great story and one that underlines several key points about the punk scene- it doesn’t give a fuck about the rules, this is not X Factor world- if a bunch of older guys sound great then that’s cool- who cares about their age/history/fashionability?

Punk has no respect for ”˜normal’ music careers’, Cock Sparrer are massive because they have the right songs, the right sound at the right time. Admittedly they had some history, they were actually around in 1977 and a seminal influence on Oi! But it was only ten years ago that they were fully recognised. It’s like the world caught up with them and they got the respect for never trying to catch up or be in fashion. They were the best mates who played the music they loved together, if that didn’t work out they would sit in the pub and have a laugh like best mates do. The band was never a career option. It was something they loved doing and that genuineness oozes out of them. There is no pretence, no bullshit- just great songs and pure hearts.

They meltdown the Empress Ballroom. I’ve seen the Stone Roses classic 1989 breakthrough gig in the same venue- the night that a whole generation changed and that was an incredible atmosphere. This is no different- there is something seriously going on here- the mainstream music world of the Mercury Awards/the charts/music press/’alternative’ radio could never understand this and perhaps this is the true power of Sparrer- they are the alternative to the alternative, this is the real underground, the real ”˜independent’. The real alternative music that is not hyped or ”˜sold’ to you with the pretence of being undergound- you know those so called indie bands on major labels with expensive radio plugger and PR’s who make them seem like the real deal.

There are punks of every hue, shade, colour and dress code in here, united in singing along to the band’s much misunderstood ”˜England Belongs To Me’ anthem. It’s a song of feeling good about your country and your community (it was originally called ”˜London Belongs To Me’) everyone sings along no matter where they are from or where they are going, there are no rock stars here- just a huge, packed, ornate ballroom packed to the seams, drowning out the band with their impassioned singing.

Cock Sparrer are punk survivors and the kings of the scene who are down with the people who pay to see them.

It’s the last great story from 1977.

2 COMMENTS

  1. the real deal ? what the fuck are you on about john ? were the Pistols, Clash and the Damned not the ‘real deal’ ?

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