In all honesty I was a bit apprehensive about this Punk 4 The Homeless gig. There was so much other stuff going on in Nottingham on the same day, Nottingham Pride, Nottingham Unites Fest, and Nottingham Rock & Reggae Fest (which actually got cancelled) as well as a stack of other stuff. Nonetheless we sorted a ton of vegan curry, cakes etc. (there's a vegan slap up called Peoples Kitchen 7-8pm then gig kicks off at 8pm) and got ready for a belter of a gig featuring some acts I already knew to be great. The grub was fantastic (thanx to all involved) then we kicked in with Keith Hudson.

I hadn't heard of Keith Hudson until recently but the guy is impressive. Tonight he treats us to a 30 minute set of acoustic punk, story telling ballads. He introduces us to characters which he brings to life for us, Shady Ade who gets himself and Mr Hudson into stacks of trouble with the bill but fortunately they enjoy a toke and a joke together. Dave the Dealer who many in the audience seem to relate to and Patsy Daly the digger driver who is obviously stacks of fun to work with. There is a passion in Keith Hudson's stuff which comes from singing songs about his life, several of which are exceptionally funny. However he is not a one trick pony, there are some touching sensitive moments too where he bares his heart and soul. There is also a uniqueness, which is refreshing, in Keith Hudson's stuff in the way he story tells with rhythm and rhyme. At moments he was having to compete with a talkative crowd whilst at others the same people were engaged and absorbed in what he was doing. Audience and performer shared some fun banter which helped keep a friendly atmosphere. Lovely work chum.

The MacGregors have the joint a rocking & a rolling with an uplifting set of madness. The audience and the band were indistinguishable at one point with band members in the crowd and crowd on the stage. Good natured mayhem ensued without missing a beat. This band fucking love playing their dirty punk R & R, their enthusiasm ignites and the place goes ape shit. Fuck yes! Musically think somewhere between Dirt Box Disco, Crazyhead and Obnoxious UK with the craziness of Banana Splits (the lot off the telly from when I was a kid) kicking off. These guys are bloody good fun but also musically tight and catchy. With this amount of craziness going down a lot of bands could easily get lost amongst it but the riffs, hooks and beats remain top notch throughout whilst the vocalist entertains, rolls about, sings in folks faces, gets down on his knees putting 200% of himself into it. Probably the best way of summing up is in the words of Peter Machin from 3 Stone Monkey ‘how the fuck do we follow that?’

So can 3 Stone Monkey top that? Indeed they can! They treat us to an energetic enthusiastic set of punk rock full of the bands own personality. This good natured beast interacted well with the gang of loonies who were responding to the bands noise like swine being fed with swill. They were gobbling it down and wanting more. It sounds to me as though 3 Stone Monkey have sped up a bit with their new stuff but without losing any of that catchiness they drip with. Old favourites which get stuck in ones noggin and refuse to leave were still played with passion (‘Xbox’ and ‘Tick Tock’ will you sod off I am trying to write a review) and conviction. The front guy was good humoured when the mob decided to play human punk buckaroo with him by hanging garbage on him and his strumming implement (a bit like the kids in Crack-a-jack when they had to hold so much stuff including cabbages without dropping anything) and crowning him with a top hat. The band rocked throughout the experience and the evil looking monkey hopped around as usual. Another amazingly fun set full of well-crafted songs fuelled by £2.40 a pint extra stout.

And now for something completely different... Headsticks kick off with ‘World Away’, an intense folk punk number which grips old fans and new listeners alike. A whisper in the ear is often more effective than a shout in the face and Headsticks power is in their clever poignant lyrics of social concern and their ability to work as a tight folk for folk unit. The band have their own unique sound but glimpses of Home Service and The Men They Couldn't Hang can be heard. Throughout the set there were hooks and choruses to grab and keep the punter singing along to songs which matter.

Tracks about injustice, homelessness, war and revolution from a band who give a fuck. The main thing which got me into punk when I was a nipper was the lyrics. Lyrics which matter and lyrics which desire change. Headsticks write those lyrics and seeing the band and audience engaged shines a glimmer of hope. For those who hadn't noticed, this country is fucked and herein does lay the importance of bands like Headsticks. The revolution needs a soundtrack we can dance to. The audience love Headsticks and a feeling of positivity is felt throughout their set. The music is top notch, powerful yet not aggressive, thoughtful and thought provoking. ‘What Do You Want’ has band and audience singing ‘Revolution’, ‘Fanatics’ has us questioning, ‘This Dog Will Have It's Day’ offers hope, and many of the other songs talk about situations which need changing but retain a compassion for the individual. The band finish their set with the rocking ‘Killing Me America’ then they do ‘Go Move Shift’ (one of my favourites off their latest album) as an encore. The band were loved tonight and with bloody good reason. Passionate and compassionate. A band not to miss.

So it's over and a bloody good night was had by all. We raised some good dosh for some very needy street children so thanx to all the bands, Rachel Eagling, The McGregor girls, Harry the sound guy, Jess, Janice, the bar crew, the bands and the punters- see you next month, Eagle.

review by Eagle Spits (1 August 2016)