Nice n Sleazy Festival
May 25th 2013
Onstage there is a genuine legend, the closest that the punk scene comes to those stories of blues men who defied everything to carve out a space out for their art. Charlie Harper is celebrating his 69th birthday tonight and is a symbol of the indestructible nature of punk rock and conversely his band’s back catalogue that owes as much to the pumped up R n B of the early Stones as it does to punk rock itself.
Charlie was there when the Stones started. He was their first fan and has remained on the trail ever since then, a symbol of the roots rocker rebel music that the Stones were playing before they became a celebrity rock band. Charlie has stuck to his guns, cranking the urban blues through a full throttle, punk rock, crank pedal as the Subs are remarkably, yet again, on fire tonight.
Nice n Sleazy itself is a great punk festival.
It’s like Rebellion boiled down to its rudimentary core with 500 punk types packing out a venue in Morecambe and celebrating the form.
Of course having the UK Subs on helps as the band that have become the epicentre of British punk continue whilst on their never ending world tour and somehow managing to sound more urgent and vital than ever.
Tonight, as we mentioned, it’s Charlie Harper’s 69th birthday and there is not a dry glass in the house. The band have been touring non stop and that comes in handy this evening as an initially rough sound is transcended by their razor tightness. Guitarist Jet has come into his own now and is a key part of the most stable line up the band have had for years. His black and white quiff may have wilted but he throws himself around the stage pealing out the flurried guitar solos and the chopping rhythm that is so much part of the band’s sound. He is joined by legendary bassist Alvin Gibbs and drummer Jamie creating a tight and very energetic rhythm section for the frontman to deliver over.
God knows how Charlie does this.
He is he same age as the Stones and these small gigs are physically tough to play. He still tours in a transit van around the world, trying to sing punk rock through terrible monitors and a fog of sound worldwide without wrecking his voice which still retains its punk rock bray from years ago.
They play plenty of new stuff from their recent and best for year’s current album, XXiX. The new songs sit well with the classics which cause the suffocatingly hot room to go into meltdown. It’s classic punk rock from a band that can set up and deliver anywhere and the classic catalogue is never dashed off but treated with the riotous respect it deserves whilst the new stuff sits in well.
Meanwhile Charlie withstands the heat and the sound problems and delivers like the blues man that he his.
The UK Subs- the eternal band…