Culture Shock, Liberty, Black Star Dub Collective: The Talking Heads, Southampton – live reviewCulture Shock, Liberty, Black Star Dub Collective

The Talking Heads, Southampton

6th October 2013

Anarcho-punks Culture Shock are not only back but they’re back in style, bringing their brand of ska & dub fuelled punk to an enthusiastic audience, all of whom dancing till they drop. They sold out Bristol’s 600 capacity Trinity Centre on Saturday, then moved onto Southampton on Sunday, from where Louder Than War’s Ged Babey reports. With plenty of dates left on the tour (see below) you’re advised to catch at least one of the remaining gigs if at all possible.

Jesus Christ, I haven’t seen so many people dancing at a punk gig for years! Culture Shocks fans (anarcho-punks, so-called Crusties, lovers of ska-punk, hunt sabs, a class of music-lover-and-activist often mocked) haven’t lost it when it comes to letting their feet do the talking when confronted with one of the most modest yet inspirational bands (or family of Dick Lucas-fronted bands) in the UK out of hibernation and on top form.

Culture Shock play with the speed, verve and determination of a bunch of old-gits intent on pushing back the advances of time and age. They just refuse to get old and mellow-out. They are still angry, but with a righteous positivity and inspirational drive to their music. They sweat and the audience dance themselves into the ground in appreciation too. This gig really was about the unity of like-minded people.

Earlier in the evening …. “So which is your favourite of Dick Lucas’ bands?” was the question. Russ Bestley (co-author of the Art of Punk) agrees with me, Citizen Fish encapsulated the wit, tunes and politics perfectly. Others think Subhumans were unsurpassed and the best UK punk band of their era. Even The Mental are remembered with affection as an archetypical wild-punk triumph of attitude over ability. But Culture Shock? Personally I remember them as being merely OK as I was deeply in a gothic phase back in 85. Some of my contemporaries couldn’t quite forgive them for not being Subhumans … In fact they were probably the first hardcore punk band to play ska, even before Operation Ivy ( who begat Rancid). The fact I never rated them at the time meant I was definitely in a minority of one here tonight – the key being  for quite a few late 40-somethings though was that Culture Shock were the first anarcho-punk band they saw play live. (Whereas I had by sheer chance seen the Mental in Salisbury 1979).

Also, in the days before the internet, Dick Lucas would always write back to everyone personally about whatever subjects he was asked about. He senr tapes, letters, recommendations, lyrics all over the world, making you feel more of a friend than a fan.    So this one time only reunion tour was a coming together of the tribes and their kids, many of whom are in their teens and twenties now and just as mad as their parents.

Manchester steppas the Black Star Dub Collective opened proceedings and were absolutely brilliant. If you remember Red Beats ‘More or less Cut’ dub punk epic  and loved Zion Train in their early incarnation then this is a band you really must see.  Deep bass dub grooves, great guitar work, brass section and whoop-whoop noises with songs about life on the margins of society. (Free download here).

Liberty are a good old-fashioned gnarly Anarcho-Discharge style punk band and played hard and fast and with a malevolent glee as they were the promoters of the show and were enjoying the fact that despite being a Sunday night the place was rammed with people from all over the South and South West.

Forgive the lack of detail in this review as I was drinking, chatting and buzzing with the great atmosphere of the night (Why doesn’t the Talking Heads put on more gigs like this?) and friends tell me that Bath and Falmouth gigs were just as great so be sure to catch Culture Shock if they’re playing your area ….

The tour continues…

Tues 8th October  Kidderminster  Boars Head

Weds 9th October  Manchester  The Big Western T

hurs 10th October  Dublin  Fibber Magees

Fri 11th October  Belfast  Warzone

Sat 12 October Glasgow Pivo

Sun 13 October  Edinburgh Citrus Club

Mon 14 October Gateshead Black Bull

Tues 15 October Preston Continental

Wed 16 October Birmingham Wagon and Horses

Thurs 17 October Sheffield – Academy 2, Arundel Gate

Fri 18  October Brighton The Haunt

Sat 19 October  London T-Chances

Find out more from Culture Shock’s website.

Live photo Andie Harrington.

All words by Ged Babey. More writing by Ged on Louder Than War can be found here.

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.



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