August 11th 2013
Two years ago Jello Biafra quite literally burst back onto the UK punk scene with a stunning appearence at Rebellion festival which was so good that it resulted in his return to the bigger Empress stage this year.
The line up of his band may have changed but the fire and the fury and inventivness of his music hasn’t. With two albums of the Guantanamo School Of Medicine stuff to choose from the arch prankster has plenty of material to call from Which made for a stunning set of inventive music that traded on all the classic hallmarks of his long career. So we got music from the full throttle thrash to the twanging surf madness and to the neo Beefheart blues weirdness – all of which are hallmarks of his sound.
There is nothing lazy here and it’s all high IQ punk rock action sprinkled with those familiar helium vocals and prankster lyrics that poke fun at and make serious points about the way things are.
Biafra has always been a sharp political commentator and his rcent work has underlined this. He now also has the music to match and this is his best work since the glorious days of the Dead Kennedys. Of course there is no love lost beween him and the old band (who get a mention in one of his asides) but when he plays the old tunes like Cambodia, California and too drunk Too Fuck it genuinely sends a shiver up the spine and it’s a real measure of just how good the new material is that the Kennedys classics sit very well in the current set.
Biafra himslef is as charismatic as ever, whether dressed like a leering joker from the Batman movie as he was at first or stripped to the waste complete with furry moobs for the sweaty climax, his shape shifting personae and sharp political mind and sense of surreal humour are as strong as ever and it’s great to have one of the heroes of the movement back in action and as sharp as ever.