Pop Will Eat Itself – live review from Beautiful Days FestivalPop Will Eat Itself
Beautiful Days Festival
Live review
August 2011

The return of Pop Will Eat Itself could have been a tricky affair.

The band have have been missing presumed dead for a long time and were very much of different time and mindset of the late eighties. A time between indie and acid house, a time between cheap lager and ecstasy, a time when hip hop was a new form of music, samplers were going to destroy the music industry, doc martens were beginning to give away to horrible white trainers and there was little left to do with the three chord trick of guitar music.

At the suggestion of the NME the band swerved from their greatcoats and post Ramones buzzsaw guitars and started looting the sampling cupboard and found they were very good at it- grabbing a clutch of hits becoming a big influence on the likes of Nine Inch Nails before falling apart with Clint Mansell going off to become one of the key writers of film soundtracks of these times with some brilliant work including ‘Moon’.

Clint had moved to New York to be with a girl at the tail end of the Poppies career but was left marooned by the band splitting and getting dumped. With nowhere to stay he slept on the kitchen floor of some friends who introduced him to a young film maker who needed a soundtrack for a project he was working on and was a PWEI fan. Clint wrote the score and the film when it was released was called ‘Pi’.

Clint has never had to look back since then.

Meanwhile a couple of decades later fellow Poppies singer Graham has reconvened the band for some festivals and a UK tour. We ran a news story on it a few months ago and there was a lot of interest as well as a lot of head scratching over who was in the band and what it could sound like.

Tonight the answers to all the questions come thick and fast as the new look PWEI take the stage with only Graham from the original line up.

On paper this should not work, there was something charming about the original crew but this is no attempt to recreate the past. With a bunch of rock droogs who look like extras from Mad Max and a totally killer drummer who has worked with Killing Joke Graham hAs reinvented the band as some kind of heavier, more industrial machine and it really works. swerving the mainstream this is a noisy underground noise machine, a stomping aural geurilla with a bilious electric noise rage with Graham and Mary Mary formally from the Gaye Bykers On Acid on vocals.

Mary is a great choose, he’s been living in Brazil for a few years and the man who I first met on a train years ago before he was even in a band and was reading a Membranes review in the music press before turning round to introduce himself, is as engagingly charismatic as ever.

They play lots of the old hits but with that added grind that makes them contenders instead of re- hashers. It all augers well for the band that they are still flexing their creative muscle instead of faithfully recreating and unobtainable past and the autumn tour could well be a victory.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. […] reformation of Pop Will Eat Itself is a strange one, as it\’s not so much a reformation as it is an evolution. Now the new incarnation […]

  2. […] the end of last year I became aware that there was to be another incarnation of PWEI that had been put together by one of the vocalists Graham Crabb and was to feature non other than […]

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