Cockney Rejects
Glasgow
Barrowland Ballroom
December 2nd, 2012

Classic Oi! band, the Cockney Rejects stole the spotlight from Rancid at their Glasgow show. At least that’s how Louder Than War’s Joe Whyte sees it.

Following the release of career-defining album ‘East End Babylon‘ and the warts-and-all movie of the same name, The Rejects are out tonight supporting 20th Anniversary boys Rancid.

I’ve seen Rancid before and not being impressed then by their cartoonish wannabe take on whatever part of 70’s punk Lars is currently getting excited about, we left before their appearance in front of a rabid sell-out crowd.

The Barrowland Ballroom hasn’t changed, it seems, since its heyday in the 50’s. Faded glamour, sticky floors and security that could best be described as no-nonsense set the scene in a venue I’ve weirdly not been in for years.

I caught the last couple of songs from Control who are a tightly-drilled, mean and lean punk machine. Definitely one to watch from the short burst that I witnessed.

The Rejects nowadays travel “econo” as they say. The band and tour manager make up a small touring party, with no techs or security. “Ryanair rock and roll”, Jeff Turner quips to me before they take the stage.

It’s clear straight away that many of the crowd know The Rejects of old. As soon as Mick Geggus hits the opening power chords of ‘Flares and Slippers’ the front dozen rows erupt in a flurry of pogoing and chucked beer. Turner sprints from left to right, his trademark three-punch combination shadowboxing keeping time with the pummeling drumming of Andrew Laing.

Despite the good press reception for album and movie, The Rejects stick to early songs and singles due to the truncated stage slot they have. ‘I’m Not a Fool’ sees Geggus’s slashing guitar mesh effortlessly with Tony Frater’s looping bassline.

‘Where The Hell Is Babylon?’ sees Turner open with an ad-lib rap (yes, really!) before the band ease in with the calypso/reggae-fied intro that gives way to the speed-thrill of the song proper.

Turner is an engaging frontman. Interacting breezily with the crowd (who by this time, are ALL paying attention), he starts some call and response before announcing, “The Rejects? We run the gaff”.

Glasgow is a city defined and divided by its football teams. Turner casually guides the band into ‘War On The Terraces’ by stating “Wherever you’re from, support your football team,” to enthusiastic cheers from the audience. Easy as that.

 

Turner introduces Geggus by way of the intro to ‘Bad Man’. “The best rock and roll riff played by the best punk guitarist. I love you, bruv”. It’s clear that the years have not dimmed the light between these two and their fraternal bond extends to their two band mates.

Despite a couple of false starts due to a “bass malfunction” ‘Bad Man’ remains the classic two-and-a-bit minute punk single. Anthemic, exciting and a real rush, it sums The Cockney Rejects up perfectly.

 

There can only be one end. “Freedom? There ain’t no fackin’ freedom!” is echoed by the crowd as ‘Police Car’ hurtles the band to the finishing line.

Turner describes his band as “The Godfathers of Oi!” during the set. The Rejects have always been so much more. Geggus’s effortless lead that recalls Brian Gorham at times, Turner’s quick turn of phrase, the clever songwriting. Tonight it’s clear that The Rejects have all the qualifications of a classic rock band with a genuine punk rock background and they should have been so much bigger.

Tonight, they’re just perfect and for now, that’ll do fine.

All words by Joe Whyte. More writing by Joe on Louder Than War can be found here.

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