FUNGALPUNK GIG REVIEWS
As I scribble down this review I sit in a hospital room, overlooking the achingly despondent leaden, leaking skies of Manchester whilst having a distinct hankering to get 'outta here' and get back to my hectic existence. It is 7 hours after a throat operation and I am whacked out, utterly ravenous and have an insatiable thirst - what no QC in hospital? The staff have been a joy, doing their best in a foul and obscenely abusive system that really does take the piss out of workers trying their best to ease the pains and gripes of others. God bless the NHS, a much maligned gift that is a too stretched, taken for granted and sorely neglected - these good doofers that swim in the wayward waters are worth their weight in gold and I would just like to add that this Fungalised git appreciates all your efforts. The success, as per, is in the doing so take pride dear labourers and anyone with an ounce of sense will respect everything you do. Cheers.
Right now to the Punk 4 The Homeless gig, another bash at defying procedure, exposing underdog vibrology and doing a humble and worthwhile bit for street kids. It is myself, Eagle and Rachel at the helm but for me Scott Cullen Steele and Ged Murphy are part of the package and get worthy mention and equal recognition for their generous and joyous input and solid friendship and support. As per with the Manchester gigs I get a free rein to book the bands, organise the gaff and give Eagle and his missus a less stressful build up which they bloody well deserve. Tis nice to do for the true! And so, on the day we had 13 slots full, time was of the essence, a good DIY mix was the destiny and all approved by your dastardly dabblers and deviants. My head is a bit squiffy, my ‘on the day notes' lost and so, I do this review with no design in mind, with no restraint of the word and just go with a flow that I ruddy well feel like. No order, 'what comes to mind goes' and I shall play by the vibe and produce the most fruitful results I can and continue to flap with untold enthusiasm.
Firstly a sip of tea another kind nurse has given me...
An account of the artistes...
Eeeny, meeny, miny, mo...
'Meet The Robots' are a band that have played one Fungalised show to date, a joint venture with my good friend Andrew Rossi, at a tucked away haunt known as The Jump Club in Barnsley. There, the crew displayed great promise, pleased no end and, as is vitally important to all I get involved with, they proved to be unaffected and friendly chaps with no idiot delusions or obvious ego encrustations - that for me is what primarily matters.
PAUSE - the kind nurse has brought me Chilli Con Carne and jacket potatoes with a tub of vanilla ice cream to follow - by heck and all in my own room with another cuppa - super.
So Meet The Robots, what of the day’s delivery. Well, this was a lesson in smoothness, slick refinement and pop rocking certainty that was gloriously tattooed with thrilling, well-worked talent that resulted in some very worthy and complimentary feedback from the alert onlookers. The songs were zipped through, the players dished it out with focus and the many diverse tastes the punters brought to the fold were all catered for with a very convincing exhibition of noise. The early slot the band were playing had its benefits due to the fact that the crowd were keen, void of too much booze and hungry for some racket, thus as a result the focus was 100% and the resultant critique offered up as lucid as can be. Remember tunesters when vying for a late slot on a gig, more often than not if it is part of an all-dayer, you may be playing to some very jaded, boozed up souls with very warped perceptions and care free outlooks by the time you strut your stuff - think on. So today I was convinced by what I saw and heard, the crew here conjured up a treat and I for one wanna do more to get these boys out there, noted and on the radar. I think they made a few contacts today too that will get them some gigs - I am chuffed up no end.
A look out of my hospital room window and the skies darken and the rain falls - better in here methinks unless of course I am haunted in the night. Spooked by an unsettling phantom many a rumour monger thrives upon. Mocked by a diseased beast who has risen from the grave, relit his cigar and is hell-bent on using my carcass to warm his very fucked framework - oh damn that 'Ghost of Jimmy Saville', be gone thy bleach-blonde bastard from the depths of depravity, may that fingers crumble before they perversely purloin the innocence of my ring...
'The Ghost Of Jimmy Saville' is a song, as you should know by now, that falls from the cheap whoring loins of the wonderfully immature idiots known as Hung Like Hanratty, a crew who delight in appealing to the lowest common denominator of decency, a group who seem to attain sexual arousal by riding the troubling waves of controversy and who (thank goodness) do things with bare-arsed honesty and heart-warming cuteness. Many like, some loathe, a few hopeless cases love and as long as these guys keep tinkering in the way they do they will stay in my dark and severely unembarrassed thoughts (no shame). The offal flung outward isn't the work of overworked intellects, the aims are not those of technical-soaked twats obsessed with trickery and the ethos is certainly not slanted on earning flimsy kudos points. No HLH want to have fun, want you to join in and want you to appreciate some straight strung shizzle. Tonight they did the business (yet again) and in their crude and forthright way dealt up songs about fat wasters, thieving gyppo's, twisted transvestites, dick dabbling DJ's, dodgy cuntstables, molesting men of the cloth and mithering religious sects - all tossed about in a piss-stained pot from which anyone with a care can partake - and why not! Smiles were had, jigs encouraged, encores achieved. The band justified the headline slot and added a light relief to a long, quality riddled day. Look if you want rocket science go spend a night at a Travel Lodge with a 'Sky at Night' porn mag and a life-size blow up Buck Rogers doll (and buck he does) - you get the drift I hope.
Oooh another cuppa - slurp, slurp...
Back to the overviews - hip, dip, dash, I need a slash, pissing dirty water, in the hospitals cup and saucer, hip, dip, dash...the next band to be dealt with is...
Stubborn Bastards hit the stage, stuck to a tight deadline and gave a double ended vocal ravishing that absolutely stunned me. Simple formula - twat happy sticks, nimble and concentrated bass, crafty adorning and attacking guitar and two uptight gobbers at the fore - easy as it seems. In truth nothing else was required as an absolute pearler was knocked forth with song after song tonally tense, orally mixed and matched with authority and delivered with such in-the-know well versed belief that this long term cacophonic cruddite and victim to violent noise was wonderfully stricken. To top this I resolutely felt that the third song in regarding religion (the name was missed and questioning of the bassist shed no light) was the song of the day and decapitated my senses with aurally captivating and elevating acuteness I could in no way escape from. It was part of an all round authoritative set that left me joyous in the knowledge of another bang on outfit doing the rounds. I loved it!
Another pause - blood pressure check and a chat with a male orderly about music and in particular the brilliance of Buddy Holly. A master, a genius - when I get back home I am gonna spin some of his tunes for sure! I be enthused. Tis still raining here, but not in my heart!
Who next then ...Mammoth Tank methinks! The opening act, on-stage at 12.15pm and with a few punters in (God bless ya) it was good to see a good effort rewarded with good praise and keen desire. The remnants of The Drastics here, the debris of other happening bands and all brought together under this worthy guise that reveals another down-to-earth band I reckon I will be doing a few gigs with along the way. Tony, the main contact, is a good chap, gets on with things and brings good rhythm and reliability to the tuned table rather than many headaches and much tossology. I was more than satisfied with this opening gambit and with the songs rocking and registering, especially 'Venue Warfare' (good point made chaps). A few eager beavers wanted a CD by the band but the cupboards were bare and that is the only criticism I could offer up today of an able-bodied, acoustically happening crew. So think on chaps and get recording as soon as. Next gig should be a sell-fest I reckon, target set!
Cripes I'm thirsty - oh matron liquids please! I wouldn't mind a bit of Hospital Food too - and as if by some detached coincidence...
Hospital Food came from across the sodden moors, got on board the awaiting Star and Garter stage (yeah we did it chaps) and produced a set, that once more turned things up a notch and proved what an unstoppable, resolute and rewarding band this lot are. I have followed them since day dot and have seen numerous line-up changes and have given them gigs in Stoke, Hoyland, Bradford, Wakefield and now Manchester. There may be more, I suspect there is but the grey gunk is a bugger a times - drat! The package presented on the day seemed at its most complete and sonically settled with the honest rewards of praise that past my lugs decently earned. The opening 'DIY Punk Band' was a stout start and radiated initial belief and dogmatism I genuinely applauded. From here the set escalated with one wholesome number chasing another. 'Jimmy' is noteworthy, 'Man U Haters' a song to please lovers of the game and loathers of the scum and the 'Tomorrows Girl' cover enjoyed by the older farts in residence. Hospital Food have had their doubters, had their share of internet bullying and bullshit but they survive, they lug more muscle with each and every outing and as the band say themselves, 'Punks Not Dead', and as long as we can keep people like this enthused, it never will be.
I have a guest. I have the joy of witnessing the leaden skies waft away and take second stage for the most precious rainbow I have ever had the pleasure of bathing in. Enter Gillian Higginson-Tranter - the love of my life, my bestest friend, the one who believes, loves and supports this blemished bastard and takes me for what I am - a very faulty creation on a mission to failure with flags of honesty flying, a trier of many waters, a dog who is happy to be lowly and who has a heart that beats with passion , be it sometimes regular or waywardly palpitating. The visiting time was glorious - chatting with my lady, just going over the day’s events, adding in the usual nonsensical titbit and enjoying each other’s company. Gill's time was rewarded with several flashes of my in-house, see through undies, a chance to listen to my several toilet visits and my constant ramblings on many subjects. I got great company in return and some ginger biscuits too- deal! The visiting time though fluttered by, kisses were had, in a bit 'Iggi'.
More tea and back to the review that I thought would be fleeting but which has seen my gusto zest win the day. I really do need to purchase a verbal leash.
Due to writing this review in an upstairs hospital room I do ponder the opportunities of manifesting my member to the passer-by in a way design to kill the time and kill any sense of normality - some things never change! Rather than opt for the crime I shall avoid a potential conviction and deal with the next band...ahem...the hardcore wonder of Manifest.
A local trio to me, made up of 3 of the sweetest scene residing gents it is my high pleasure to know. Darn fine peeps, who I am always glad to be in the same room with and who deserve every ounce of transparent diatribe they get from this discordant munching devil. Shite, bright, a blight or just right - I can offer up only my genuine opinion and tonight, with mitt on ticker, I thought they sucked. Yes, you heard me - sucked the arse right out of any negativity I may have had prepared and gave me instead a pure treat to only praise and pontificate about rather than prickle and punish. A cracking set that had a cohesive, all mates together unity that emphasised the impact factor, the organisation and the charge and change thrusting that is key to the whole fiasco. Matt is a quietly accomplished tub tickler, Andy a lovely irate, gobby adept bass masturbator and Bartek a sprightly pinging stringing joy who certainly contributes a good share of forcefulness. I loved it today, I was in the mood and this 'Ordinary Man', does indeed pick the song of the same name as the sets zenith - spot on!
Hand back in the lucky dip hat - a ticket labelled PMT is produced - Post Meddled Throat perhaps, Pretty Marvellous Tea is more to the point (swig) but I am looking to the next band here and my appraisal is as thus.
This was a fiery affair, a tumult of foul, full bloodied irritation delivered in a no-nonsense, highly challenging way with numerous facets of articulation that was clouted at the crowd. My first viewing of these cacophonic connivers and it won't be my last I hope, the main reason being that I believe many a gig is all the better for a burst of unaffected chest clearing, stress busting. You know the kind - that brutal discharge which squirts from the 'in zone' pustules who just want to inject and infect (or indeed erect if your prefer). I lapped this up, it seemed to come and go in the twinkling of a dewdrop - this review shall be continued somewhere near you very soon.
Excuse me - I need a tinkle - I must be setting a new urinating record here - push, gush, flush!
Todge back in those glamorous netted duds (now, now ladies and Mr Cullen -Steele) and back to the scribbling board. I roll the deciding dice and the result is made, I resume with...
Potential Threat, a band from way back yon, a band from the immediate here and now, a band not looking to re-fashion themselves or adopt a self-conning guise so as to win new passers-by. No, this is a crew doing it one way, the only way that matters...their way. Again I had to gently advise on the constraints of time and the band notably complied and battered out a more accomplished set than I saw last time out. They looked more in the mood, were all more in line along their chosen groove and attacked each song with well pushed sinews of cohesiveness. As ever, when a band sing from the same hymn sheet it resonates with the onlooker both in aural and optical appearance and Potential Threat were definitely in harmony tonight. My pick of the donations was a cracker called, oh bollocks the head is fuzzed - bear with me, it may reveal itself in good time. I did mention it to the bassist afterwards, the problem is now in his lap - please message me mate! Yeah a good do with a chosen pinnacle - the gig is still succeeding!
Another piddle, I tried to turn the light off to save energy and money - bah, I pulled the alarm by mistake - no panic Nurse Jones, Fungal is a fool with a very busy tool.
I am nearly there with this review, a few to go so how about something very welcome and very pure to keep the tick in the assessing clock consistent. D-Liberate are right up my audio alleyway (as opposed to my back passage) and come into the fray with something that practice, cheap imitation and well-rehearsed ponsing can never buy. You see, D-Liberate are wholesome fodder, roasted in years of pitted punkery that is as real as I darn well love. The dudes are draped in discordance, in fact are soaked through and have no reason to prove anything, piss arse with pretence or plant insincere kisses on apparently notable arses. What comes is lucid, grabbing and of choice naturalness with an intrinsically basic design (a compliment I shout) that throws an inescapable net over the punk soul and makes ones undeniable spiky inner core take heed. After today’s treat I need not add more, I need to suggest you see the band 'live', make judgement and take note of a particular favourite song of mine 'Let's Start A War'. After that just buy a CD and see what we ingrained, tried and tested victims of noise are addicted to and offer no sympathy whatsoever - because we love it!
More tea, the belly swells, the pipe is prepared to piddle some more. The next visit is numbered 4129 so it feels and as a matter of course I deal with the 4130's after that!
So what did this pissed on, pissed off crew (who have already split and are just playing their last few shows) bring to the awaiting tuned in table. Well, I am not one to throw bullshit to the breeze, I will not waste my time wanking and wheedling, these were my emotions on the night. Disappointment, frustration, anger and gob-smacking joy to be truthful. Disappointment because the band are calling it a day. Frustration because a band of such quality is folding because of petty politics and spiteful agenda. Anger because the scene is letting another stunning band slip through its careless and lethargic hands. Gob-smacking joy because the set was a free flowing triumph of UK/US hybridisation that struck the skater marrow, jarred the pop-prickled bones, rotated the rhythm sensitive bonse. The band looked the part, jacked out a consistent tuneage that was animated, liberated and of a more practiced level. I stood agog, absorbed in a whip-up of excellence and after so much promise and temptation by the bands CD releases I was overwhelmingly brought to my knees by a performance to savour. I have liased with frontman Ben for some time, was surprised at his gentle shyness and missed saying adios at the end of the gig. Ben sir and you other blasters - fuck the doubters, face up to the down shouters and remember success is in the getting up, doing it and believing it. Defiance doesn't come easy but life will breed it - take this from a dog and hang in. This was a stormer, there is plenty of gas in the tank - don't blow it the wrong way.
Another blood pressure test - I appear chilled, unfazed and still desirous of a drink - tis al true!
Next and to the 4 invaders of the day - namely Ged Murphy, Scott Cullen-Steele, Carol Hodge and Eagle. All part of the days tattered and unprocessed package with all adding their own vital spice in a real patchwork dish. Ged and Scott are both lovable rogues, dripping with cracked character and energised gusto - they come, introduce acts, throw in their spoken word and add an adhesive embracing quality to the gigs that is totally appreciated. They recognise the struggle, the profitless passion that, in the grand scheme of things, goes unnoticed but most importantly they bring a smile to mine and others faces. Today was as per, essential fare, much welcome and lapped up. Scott delivers poignant poetry, laced with a bit of anger and a bit of the old tongue in the cheek (amongst other things the little bugger). He his an elfin tinker, does what he does and is a fine addition to this punked pit. Ged is, on the other wanking hand, a drunken bastard. A diseased deviant with too much time on his warted mitts and who floats about in a half arsed way demanding 3 ton a gig and numerous sexual requests - but David loves him! Seriously though Ged is a mate and when he gets up and nails his ditties they are precious moments. 'Security Guard Love' was memorable, a murderous moment that was on the ball. No sooner was this hammered home than another kick out was taken, this time though the ball was punctured, deflation came but the moment was equally noteworthy and despite the thread being lost the crowd took it in good heart and applauded our hero off the wobbling stage. We don't look for polished turds, we are not professionals - we are in this together - suck on it!
Carol Hodge and Eagle counterbalanced the previous two included artistes with their own style of delivery both different and yet both on the same wavelength. Size, stature and common sense were poles apart and this duo did the business and brought many a wee bonus for all. I work with Eagle for many reasons, respect for the dude, belief in his output, appreciation for his like-minded awkwardness and love for the man as a person. If you wanted me to define punk rock I reckon a picture of this git would suffice - are you with me? He did his bit today, rattled off some fast, acute ravings with a defiant stance taken, introduce several bands with his dulcet tonnes and mingled with the masses throughout the day - it would have been a poorer event without any of these donations - cheers bro.
Carol Hodge is best described as a discombobulating conundrum, an acoustic scarlet pimpernel who jumps from sonic pie to sonic pie never to be found in any particular generic gravy for too long. I like that! She has a wonderful work ethic, throws herself into matters with gung ho sanguinity - I like that too. She has an abundance of talent, a sweet smile and a quite choice manner - now this is just getting annoying! And to add, this lass can't half hold a tune - talk about fuckin' showing off - bah. Today she did several stints - just her fine self sat on a stool, manipulating the plugged in ebonies and ivories and lyrically leaking with stunning clarity. The early sets were absorbed by a very appreciative, considerate and understanding crowd and again, feedback given was all spot on, glowing and generous. The latter set was played to a more sozzled bunch who waffled rather than watched and a slight frustration niggled my noggin. Nevertheless a point was made today, Ms Hodge proved what many of us already knew and earned a score of new admirers too - hey and I noted she hung around all day too and enjoyed what transpired - good stuff lady!
Bog break - it be a consistent leak that runs this way.
The last band to get the shroomed scrutiny are Government Death Epidemic, a crew whom today gave the usual expected consistency and brought a cultural diversity into the mix with old and new angles clashing to create a regulated and slowly improving reliability as well as new found peek at future promise. They have many options at their beck and call, the reggae cum skanked route perhaps the most mouth-watering gateway for the band to possibly walk through. Today these glimpses of greater ground were paraded amongst pastures well-trod and both combined to re-enforce mine, and Eagles, opinion of a band on the move. The advance is forward, there are a host of good songs here to savour and when the foot is off the gas and the crew are thinking more the bright light shines brightest - I remain intrigued.
A final trip to the loo my darling and now I sign off.Thank you to all that made the effort today and chipped in to an event that came, went and did what it set out to do - showcase underdog noise, share some passion and raise some conkers for the needy. There is much I can add at this stage but I am flagging, my neck hurts, I am running dry and I need to get my head down for a bit and recharge some fritzed batteries. Cheers all and see you at the next one - we hang in because we believe - the formula is really that simple.
review by Fungalpunk/OMD (9 February 2016)