The O2 Academy, Liverpool
Friday 31st March 2017
The Ruts, another of a select grouping of bands to have emerged, then survived the initial fires of UK punk, let’s not forget that for The Ruts those fires burnt with molten ferocity, they have dealt with personal tragedy; the well documented death of Malcom Owen in July 1980, the loss of Paul Fox to cancer in 2007 – so many bands would have just burned out, ground down by the pressure…
Not so Ruts DC; tonight, they delivered with a sense of modest triumph a career spanning set stretching back to their earliest links to the legendary People Unite label and forward to the current triumph of ‘Music Must Destroy’ encompassing traditional punk tinged rock, dub reggae, glimpses of the blues and even psych on the way.
Having stepped out onto the Academy stage, instead of settling himself behind his drum kit Dave Ruffy stepped up to the microphone, drink in hand; flanked either side by Segs resplendent in a fitted grey jacket, topped with a black fedora, and ‘new boy’ Leigh Heggarty in similar headwear and contrasting red Converse Hi-Tops; the huge smile from Ruffy is genuine, he pauses for a moment to survey the waiting audience, raises his glass and voices his thanks for the crowds support which generates a huge cheer then hands over to Segs who tells us “this is the story of The Ruts” before launching into ‘Vox Teardrop’ from the current album; the sound is clear, strident and instantly engaging, Segs barks out in Jamaican patois a dedication to the missed MC Tenor Fly as the sweet dancehall vibes of ‘Mighty Solider’ wash over, Segs battered Fender bass delivering a chest rattling refrain, before pausing to describe the titling of the current ‘Music Must Destroy’ – the inspiration coming from a Fela Kuti quote “Music Is the Weapon of the Future”
Ruts DC are clearly having a ball, the interaction between them on stage is both heart- warming and the key to their ongoing resurgence which clearly demonstrates that The Ruts were always so much more that a run of the mill punk band – that said those punk anthems sit perfectly within the set…Ruffy calls out ”Give us a riff Lee” before they fire out ‘Starring At The Rude Boys” – the entire audience explodes enthusiastically chanting “never surrender” like it was 1980 all over again.
Segs takes us back further, ‘Jah War’ with its cavernous dub groove and life affirming love and peace message which is intrinsic to the Ruts DC identity, remains as vital as ever – sadly the message remains as equally vital; fast forward to the roar of ‘Kill The Pain’ a ball of energy, a snarling vocal “pleeese” that has the crowd slamming into one and other before Segs hurtles into ‘In A Rut’ which segues into Dr Feelgood’ 1975 classic ‘Roxette’ before returning as Segs spits out “Gotta get out of it”
With ‘Babylon’s Burning’ you think it can’t get any better, that instant recognisable intro, the urgency, the rabble rousing chorus, but Ruts DC hit us with the hammer blow of ‘Psychic Attack’ a swirl of ominous anger, and a nagging riff that has a nod towards both Judas Priest ‘Breaking The Law’ and the Motorhead & Girlschool classic ‘Please Don’t Touch’ by which point Segs and Leigh are kneeling towards Dave Ruffy who is thumping his kit like his life depended upon it.
Tonight, Ruts DC captivated their audience with their perfect mix of past, present, and more importantly future glories.