Rebellion Festival – Sunday 4th August – live review

And so we reached the final day; three days of excess, three days of some truly stunning music, and a few moments of…well not so good, but that’s what a festival is all about ”“ and Rebellion with over 240 bands spread across seven stages certainly surpassed itself in 2012 with the choices it proffered.

The old adage that an ”˜army marks on its stomach’ is a damn fine mantra ”“ now I might not be an army, but having enjoyed a wonderful Lancashire Breakfast (though how offering crossiant can be considered Lancastrian is beyond me) I made my way for the final time towards The Winter Gardens; the sun was shining, certainly bringing the warmth back to the ground though even this failed to activate the cider swilling few who every year seem to spend the entire festival sat outside in an unused doorway ”“ the aim seems to be to become as destroyed as the array of local street drinkers who’s weekend is enlivened by people not actually running away from them…anyway as I mentioned drink it was time for a last session of Bingo With Max; quite why his ”˜show’ hasn’t been snapped up by an enterprising TV exec baffles me ”“ actually thinking about it, it doesn’t; there won’t be a TV channel on Earth brave enough to broadcast this. Anyway more ”˜crap’ was prized, more lager sunk and date for next year was made.

The festival was certainly busier than previous days; a few years back organisers wisely introduced the option of day tickets which pending on the headliners can greatly influence the feel and certainly the look of the event. Tonight’s headliners were Rancid ”“ does anything more need to be said? Other than to confirm that Rancid rightly sit atop the pile in punk terms, their ability to harness both hardcore punk with frantic ska has earned them worldwide success; success that was mirrored in the legions of Rancid T-shirts on display, the audience was also younger has to be encouraged ”“ Rebellion is the ideal opportunity for today’s young punks to see a huge range of bands and so breathe new life into the scene.

I briefly caught the Septic Psychos down at Olympia 2 who use the strap line ”˜Not racist, just bald!’ ”“ initially formed way back in 79′ they did well enough to be able to self release their own 7” before splitting, reforming in 2010 for an appearance at Rebellion, having witnessed them this morning it’s safe to say they play traditional solid punk rock which at this hour of the day was all I needed;

And now possibly the trickiest section of these Rebellion reviews; I think it’s appropriate to be upfront with anyone reading this ”“ the majority of you will be aware that LTW boss John Robb is the front man of Goldblade, as such I am effectively reviewing the bosses work, however despite this connection I feel I retain the ability to provide an honest review”¦

Goldblade stepped onto the Empress Ballroom stage at just after 1400hrs, the time had surprised many at the festival as Goldblade have consistently drawn large crowds and the general feeling was that they should have been scheduled for a later slot.

The band benefit from having one of the most engaging front men; Robb is clearly comfortable on stage and instantly engages in banter with the audience, behind him nestled behind his kit and beneath an enormous Goldblade banner drummer Rob Haynes sounded out the opening beats for ”˜Strictly Hardcore’ the rest of this band of hooligan brothers then exploded into action; Robb is all over the stage, a raft of photographers in the pit frantically spinning left to right in an effort to capture the action. Brother Keef, bass slung low stalks the stage left, further out Brother Andy hammers out the rhythms in a classic rock posture ”“ legs splayed, head down; across the right side Brother Pete unleashes the bands trademark riffs. Robb concludes “Jukebox Generation” stripped to the waist ”“ before launching into a couple of tracks from the bands forthcoming “The Terror Of Modern Life” album. Its apparent Goldblade are venturing into harder territory with this next release, tracks like “The Shamen Are Coming”, “Psycho Takes A Holiday” and “Atom Bomb” retain the bands ability to delivers choruses to get any mosh pit chanting along to but also punch harder, there is a new and welcome level of aggression in the material that bodes well for the album release. Today Goldblade cut the excess, there is less banter ”“ minds are focussed upon the job in hand, and the crowd clearly appreciate it keeping the security staff busy as the crowd surfers attack the stage.

After all that activity the calm of the Literary area was a welcome break, John Robb was interviewing former Advert Gaye Black about her current activities ”“ she currently works as an artist crafting resin tiles incorporating animal bones; her stories of returning from the banks of the Thames with a bag full of found bones brought a smile to the healthy crowd watching.

Henry Cluney (SLF) was to be interviewed prior to the bands appearance tonight, but instead I chose to head to the Bizarre Bazaar to catch Captain Hotknives ”“ the night before I had been virtually instructed to catch ”˜the Knife’ described by some as a highlight of the entire festival. It was obvious by the huge crowd sat on the floor that ”˜The Knife’s’ reputation was spreading ”“ that said we were now into the final afternoon of the festival and people were clearly getting a bit weary and so the opportunity to just relax and watch ”˜The Knife’ entertain with his guitar and tales of…well hot knives was just perfect.

The Empress was rammed for the arrival of Neville Staple, the former Special appeared somewhat fragile, his previous routine of bounding about the stage was replaced with a more measured approach as he effortlessly delivered both Specials material and classic ska tunes, he was rewarded with the entire venue breaking out into mass skanking, the crowd threatening to drown out the sound with the repeated chants of “Rude Boy, Rude Boy”.

As I said, it was the last night; now just a few hours left of Rebellion 2012 ”“ with Rancid being tonight headliners people were openly discussing which bands they were hoping to catch and just quite how early you would have to get in to the Empress to ensure entry…we stayed put and therefore saw The UK Subs; Charlie and his crew are rightly legends ”“ is it possible to find a nicer more engaging bloke on the entre punk circuit; maybe next year we could have a Rebellion comp TV Smith Vs Charlie Harper ”“ Who Is the Friendliest? style competition. Anyway the Subs with Alvin Gibbs back in the line-up did what the Subs are acclaimed for doing ”“ delivering a truly storming set, that visited all periods of their long career from “Warhead” to “W “. I’ve seen the Subs many many times, I reckon that they are currently enjoying one of their most fertile periods, they are playing with rekindled energy and were the ideal set up for Rancid.

Quick jog downstairs to the Olympia for the arrival of Stiff Little Fingers, whilst risking a torrent of abuse I will declare that I personally don’t think SLF ever bettered “Inflammable Material” I have seen them countless times since and generally wait for the obvious (to me) highlights ”“ tonight however Jake and the boys did seem to raise their game ”“ the return of Ali to the fold has had a hugely positive impact on the band…the traditional theme builds the eager crowd to a frenzy so when SLF step out onto the stage they are greeted like returning warriors. SLF did not disappoint, Burns seemed more up for the gig than on recent showings, Ali is like a kid in candy shop bouncing between the speaker stacks, and yes I was rewarded my own highlights were played.

And so to the end; Brother John has previously reviewed the Rancid set, myself I chose to head to the Opera stage for the arrival of Altered Images, we got there early and were treated to the pure folk sounds of Spiral Scouts; I doubt they have ever stepped out onto such a huge stage, and folk music performed within such cold impersonal environments can suffer; however they performed well, and are certainly worthy of further attention.

Managed to get some fresh air prior to Ms Grogan, as I exited the Opera I literally had to fight for space amongst the throng who had failed to get in for Rancid ”“ I have never seen such an enormous crowd waiting to get into an already to capacity venue; it was clear they were never going to get in ”“ who walks from a Rancid gig?

And so to Altered Images, I had not the once critically cool Images for a very long time ”“ I remember in their early days they were revered along with The Banshees, but somehow managed to morph into bona fide globe conquering pop stars; the question tonight was which era AI would we get?

As the swirls of dry ice cleared Altered Images were on stage ”“ that said I didn’t recognise any of them; it’s all gone ”˜girl power’ the entire band are women, and just as I was assimilating this fact Ms Grogan sashayed onto the stage resplendent in a Greek Goddess off the shoulder style dress complete with acres of train; her broad Scottish accent welcoming everyone thanking us for coming to the show and advising that they are in “un-charted territory” before opening with “Insects” pausing momentarily before “Don’t Talk To Me About Love” ”“ this was pure majestic pop, but not the sort of pop shite churned out on endless mirror image radio stations this was pop with panache and the audience lapped it up ”“ the band initially somewhat nervous were perhaps encouraged by the reaction, and relaxed somewhat before delivering all the hits from their entire catalogue, yeah we got “Happy Birthday” which despite the over-exposure its title ensured remains a great song. What was nice to witness was just how much enjoyment Clare and her band were getting from performing; this was not a band going through the motions; Altered Images in their current guise are a formidable prospect; we hear the buffoons on X-Factor and The Voice talk about “gaps in the market” when they try to foist yet another rag bag of no-hopers upon us in an effort to plug the Girls Aloud void ”“ look no further; Altered Images are Girls Aloud with real attitude, real self penned tunes, and real life experiences ”“ the question is whether they choose to plunder their back catalogue or forge a new path with new material ”“ the later is a tasty prospect.

And so Rebellion 2012 concludes ”“ 4 days, 5 stages, over 240 bands, an art exhibition, a literary stage, meditation, tattooing and none of it affected by the weather…but what I drew from Rebellion this year was the very real sense of community that has developed amongst the attendees ”“ the punks, the skinheads, the rockers, the psychobillies, the indie types of all ages all most importantly of all colours and creeds, and for that a huge congratulations goes out to Darren and Jennie and all the Rebellion crew, to the Winter Gardens staff from security to hospitality ”“ everyone played a part in making this festival what it is today; the biggest punk festival in the world.

Rebellion 2013 takes place at the Winter Gardens 8th-11th August 2013 ”“ I have spoken to Jennie and am aware of some of the bands she is after for next year; I am sworn to secrecy, but rest assured you will not be disappointed.

Rebellion X-Mas Bash takes place on the 8th December in Birmingham, bands include Cock Sparrer, Rancid, The Exploited, UK Subs, Goldblade and loads more ”“ tickets are on sale now £42.50

11 COMMENTS

  1. As someone who knows fuck all about punk music, I find your review entertaining and enlightening . I wandered around for 3 days wondering who to see, since none of the bands were known to me apart from Goldblade and The Boys. This comes from a life on Mars (..read Oslo) and lack of interest in the punk music genre in general before getting into it lately. However Rebellion was a great experience and I would love to come back. Phil, can you write before the festival so I will know who to look for, because it’s a huge event and even though I’d researched, there were some surprises. Vice Squad were excellent. The Boys, great as usual and mates of mine so…excellent obviously, not just saying that…they are !! Goldblade filled the Empress Ballroom to the same extent as PiL, but they gigged on sunday afternoon. Imagine what it would have been like with them on at stage on an 8 pm slot on saturday instead, tearing the place down??? PiL disappointed and I’m suposed to write a review for a huge site and I am seriously struggling because I dont ever say anything bad about anyone but I got relly bored…. John and Rambo, if you read this, sorry but it was too long and monotonous…. Rebellion is defintely something I am going to catch next year. Great review :)

  2. Goldblade deserved a later slot but either way they are one of them bands I always enjoy, bit like the Subs. Thought the highlight of Altered Images was Dead Pop Stars but after 4 days of diverse but noisy bands it was most relaxing to sit with a couple of free veggie burgers and listen to some decent pop songs anyway. Which they did very well I may add. A couple of ‘new’ bands I would like to see next year would be the Toy Dolls and Cook and Jones’ The Professionals who have been close to reforming over the last couple of years for a few dates. If not maybe Adam Ant (if he doesn’t pull out again). The return of Sparrer, Anti-Nowhere League and Subway Sect are always welcome though as are The Cockney Rejects. Did get told off a man-in-the-know that one band who will be approached will be some grebos with an ever changing line-up bar the singer/bass player and sing songs about fists and playing cards…

  3. i went to see SLF and i certainly did not see Henry Cluney playing with them, did he come on for the encore ? i was shattered by the conclusion of the set so i left before the encore so maybe he came on for that but there was definitely no sign of him during the main performance. I agree, SLF never did better Inflammable Material which in my opinion is the best punk LP ever alongside Bollocks, The Clash and Machine Gun Etiquette.

  4. I wasn’t at Blackpool this Year , I went there in 1996 with The Buzzcocks, but I don’t like the way Punk seems to have Mutated into a sort of Sun readers,Bald People, Cider, Fried Breakfasts, Oi type Mentality. I mean no one really liked Cocksparrer in the 1970’s believe me, they did 2 Singles on Decca and were dropped. I mean P.I.L. have been getting Rave reviews everywhere else, so why were they so “bad” at Rebellion? Possibly because they didn’t have an American Hardcore Punk Guitar Sound? Punk was about breaking new Ground not Untunefull Thrashing with basically bad or No Songwriting and Tattoes.

  5. good point about Cock Sparrer, i’ve always thought they were a good band but i am at a loss as to why they are so venerated nowadays. In 1977 they were absolute also rans and their ‘football hooligan’ following didn’t do them any favours. The Oi ‘mentality’ does seem to have taken ‘punk’ over today, personally i don’t really think it matters as in my opinion punk is just another rock genre, albeit still a bloody good one. I think maybe because punk is no longer a ‘threat’ and is now so integrated into the general rock scene, perhaps this is why a band like Sparrer thrive because they fit in much better than they ever did before.Also, to give credit, Sparrer are a damn hard working, professional outfit and they seem like decent fellows.

  6. Paul you sound like a bit of a snob, and an uninformed one to boot. Even Tony Parson liked Cock Sparrer back in the 70s and he only really ever loved the Clash.

    I agree that Rebellion is a bit samey and that the Toydolls would brighten it up, so would the Gonads and the East End Badoes come to that.

  7. An excellent live band, Sparrer are one of the very few who I will go see anywhere (time and money depending!) Their early stuff, apart from a few of numbers, was either bluesy or sort of glam but when they reformed in the 80’s they released Shock Troops which had some great singalong anthems and did it again a few years back with Here We Stand. PIL were excellent at Rebellion this year as I have posted elsewhere. They did half empty the place but there were still plenty of people enjoying them.

  8. interesting point re. Goldblade deserving a later spot. 999 seem to get earlier each year too with lesser known bands like Hardskin and The Slackers following them. The reason is simply to ger more people in in the afternoons- and it worked for 999; it took ages to get out of the ballroom after their set.

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