10th May 2013
It has been a long wait for this reviewer to see this band. I was slightly too young to see them back in the day, but make no mistake; this is not the Ruts. I arrive with my good mate Jeff at the Camden Underworld to find a great small club venue. The first thing that strikes us on ordering 2 excellent Polish beers, is that we are handed the bottles; no plastic here and something that will play a part later, unfortunately.
8.45 on the nail and Ruffy, Segs, Leigh, Seamus & Molara take to the stage to the sound of Smokes voice of Misty in Roots. They launch straight into Whatever We Do quickly followed by One Step from their brand new LP. We are straight into Fools from the excellent much overlooked Animal Now LP.
Its clear from the outset that this is a band that are match fit and tightly rehearsed. With the groove now locked down, the assembled punks present are given their first taste of Ruts material with Backbiter and a totally shattering rendition of It Was Cold. The sheer power that is being unleashed is staggering, with Segs firmly in control and providing great lead vocals. What really penetrates through with these songs is the sheer emotion from the band; Molara is just an immense presence and her vocal harmonizes with Segs perfectly. She brings something very special to the fore, never stopping dancing for a second.
Leigh’s guitar is sharp, spiky and played brilliantly, doing a fantastic job of filling the shoes of the late Paul Fox. You get the feeling that they are really enjoying themselves; a trip down memory lane this is not. Another new song Smiling Culture and we are joined by Larry Love of Segs ‘other’ band, Alabama 3. A brace of tracks from Animal now follow, then classic Ruts with Staring At The Rude Boys. A personal highlight; the beautiful Love In Vain really showcases the depth of this band; always the best of their peers, there is no doubt that they were equal to the Clash and who knows what would have happened if it were not for Malcolm Owen’s untimely death.
Its easy to see why comparisons to Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare have been made; they make it look completely effortless. Tenor Fly appears to provide vocals for the epic Mighty Soldier which sounds like a distant cousin of the famous Stalag 17 rhythm. Segs jokes ‘how do you follow that?’ In truth though it is simple when you have great songs from which to pick. A fantastic Jah War shows old & new tunes slip together seamlessly. Dope for Guns next and somewhere around this point we get a throwback perhaps to the punk days of old, and not in a good way. Someone throws a glass which hits Molara straight in the face. It clearly throws the band and puts an unwanted edge to the evening. West One (shine on me) and Babylon’s Burning close what was a euphoric, homecoming set. Ruffy & Segs rightly make it clear the band are not happy about things being thrown at the stage.
They return though for rarely aired track ‘Generations’ written By Segs, Joe Strummer & Rat Scabies, with Segs telling us a funny story at the time the song was conceived. We end with super-charged versions of In a Rut & Something That I Said, perhaps fuelled by a slight anger at the throwing incident.
In summary this is the real deal, no gimmicks, not trying to be cool; just raw talent, emotion & great songs. Any young band starting out today should go and see Ruts DC while they still can. This really is one of the great bands of an era long gone and a serious masterclass. We are lucky to have Ruts DC. long may they continue.
A stunning punky reggae party; and ” its alright”