The Ritz, Manchester
Dec 14th 2013
From their opening dub/skank ‘Lay Down Your Gun, Lay Down Your Rifle’* Ruts DC absolutely fuckin nailed it. Bass player Segs ably stepped into the vocal role originally laid down by the talented Malcolm Owen whose premature death from a heroin overdose in 1980 sent shock waves through the band, the international punk community and beyond. Next track ‘Backbiter’ hammered home Owen’s message about drug abuse ‘Backbiter you’re a user. Backbiter you’re a loser’; Dave Ruffy’s toms reminiscent of a thundering police horse charge mowing down innocent protestors in Trafalgar Square.
‘It Was Cold’ was emotional for everyone, as Segs talked about the pain of losing both Malcolm and Paul Fox ;The Ruts gifted guitarist, who sadly died of lung cancer in 2007. (I seem to remember that nobody, ever again, suggested that punk bands couldn’t play after hearing Paul Fox). A packed crowd at The Ritz were right behind the band, eager and emotional for more. Ruts DC stepped up the skank with new track ‘Smiling Culture’ dropping ‘SUS’ into the mix. A personal favourite of the evening for me, ‘One Step Backwards’ showed off the sweet vocal talents of (shame on me cos’ I didn’t catch her name) the band’s female vocalist who expressed how the band are still involved at the cutting edge of socio-politics through their support of UNITED FAMILY AND FRIENDS: https://uffc-campaigncentral.net/ . An organisation set up to support the friends and relatives affected by those who have died in the custody of the police, prisons and psychiatric institutions.
The crowd went crazy as the opening riff of ‘Staring at the Rude Boys’ kicked in, closely followed by ‘Jah War’, Segs E string sounding tighter than the elastic on Prince Fari’s underpants (or should that be Robbie Shakespeare?). The whole set was fucking great and this was, in no small part, due to their sound engineer who pulled out the best sound I have ever heard in the Ritz.
Can’t wait to see Ruts DC play in their own right, even though they were in good company with The Damned this evening. Best gig of the year!
* I may have got that song title wrong as I had just arrived.