FUNGALPUNK GIG REVIEWS
It doesn't seem like 6 years ago when me and my good lady wife attended the first 'Holidays in the Sun' extravaganza. A great do it was with some good bands on show. After all this time the line up contained quite a few originals with a lot of new stuff, so with family commitments the priority I had to pick my one days viewing carefully. I opted for the Saturday and all the old faves, with US Bombs and Glueball giving me the chance to see some new good stuff.
First up was The Pink Torpedoes. A great start to the day with their rendition of 'Too Drunk to Fuck' being covered brilliantly and highlighting good musicianship. A chirpy act with loads of quirky banter the Torpedoes are always entertaining. And you can get your walls plastered by the drummer - apparently!
Antidote were up next at the recommendation of 3CR's drummer Keith. Well suggested that man because this lot were very good. Previously unknown to myself I was more than impressed by what I witnessed. The big geezer with 'Fat Punks not Dead' emblazoned across his leather was quite a performer and certainly looked a little more than furious. Great solid stuff and highly commendable. I look forward to seeing this bunch again.
A quick dash across to another stage and it was the turn of Glueball. A good manic band this whom I can understand are an acquired taste for some and almost unpalatable for others. Personally I like them but this performance struggled due to a piss poor PA system. For an occasion such as this the sound quality should be spot on and do every band justice. A disgrace really and something that needs to be corrected for future concerts. Overall I enjoyed the set anyway with 'Fuck You', 'Chainsaw' and 'Speed Slave' the highlights. Good yet unoriginal use of a megaphone too, but as said, you need a proper sound system to deliver the goods. Definitely a band for future scrutiny in a much more apt environment. Good stuff anyway.
With the price of beer being so extortionate it was time for a tootle around town for an off-license. 4 quick cans of the amber nectar and it was outside the Winter Gardens for a chill and a chat. Usual poseurs as expected with one or two idiotic big gobs, but in general a decent crowd. Back inside then for the main bands of the day.
Despite the poor quality sound system The Vibrators produced the usual, firm and professional act. 'Automatic Lover' is a superlative number and always sounds great. A wonderful opener guaranteed to set the tone and get the crowd swinging. 'Judy Says', 'Destroy' and the sing a long 'Baby, Baby' all were well received as were everything else The Vibes had to offer. Always polished and capable of awakening an indifferent crowd this outfit deserves its fair share of accolades. Pleasingly comfortable and dependable.
Next were the mightily impressive US Bombs. The heavily tattooed Duane Peters strutted his maniacal stuff to a tremendously impressive backing rhythm. New to me, I couldn't tell you a name of any track they played other than they did sound pretty good. Watch out for a future review because I will certainly be seeing this crew again.
The UK Subs were on at the same time as TV Smith which to me poses a really problem. Two of my all time faves clashing like this. What a disgrace. But my loyalties have always been to the UK Subs so its them I'll see and try and squeeze in the last dregs of TV.
The Subs struggled early on in the set and seemed ill at ease with the PA. The crowd were pleased with what they got and halfway through the tempo increased to a good old final flourish. There's not a lot I can add really to the performance only that it was what I expected of the Subs. All old songs though this time denying some of the fly by night fans a chance to hear some of their recent good stuff. Still good enough for me though.
A mad dash and TV Smith was just finishing his last few numbers. As always filled with energy and enthusiasm but in this setting a lone man with a crap PA did seem slightly lost. Too little seen to judge really but its TV Smith so it can't be all bad.
999 are a good band but never impress me on CD as much as when playing live. The live stuff is edgy and has a raw quality whereas in the studio it all sounds a bit too tidy. It was at the very first 'Holidays in the Sun' that I last saw them in an arena so big and they were very good. This is where they excel and play the crowd beautifully and honestly, interacting on a genuine basis. Tonight they were fantastic with all the greatest hits pouring forth. 'Emergency' and 'Homicide' are timeless but for me 'Inside Out' is a hidden gem. Catchy and upbeat it really lifts the tempo for the die hard 999 fan. Nicky Cash is a man of the people and gets stuck in there whenever the opportunity arises. A simply brilliant showing.
As coincidence would have it ANL were on that very first HITS festival and was the last time I saw them. On that night they were also on top form so I very much anticipated tonight's performance. With a varied set list the aggression and antagonism didn't seem as venomous tonight. Animal spat and cussed his way through with consummate ease and looked the established poser that he enjoys being but that vital spark didn't ignite the true fury. 'Snowman', Lets Break The Law' and 'We Are The League' were the highs and in general it was an adequate performance. It just simply wasn't enough. Hey ho.
Peter and the Test Tube Babies were always a band that had evaded me. Never a great fan I always seemed to be doing other things when these geezers were in town. Well tonight I had my opportunity to view these elusive pimpernels and judge for myself how good/bad they are. 'Run Like Hell' and 'Banned From The Pubs' stood out like sore thumbs from an altogether average set. Like I said these are not my flavour of the month but I can understand what people do see in them. The crowd liked it and fell for the provoking bait like empty headed fish. Good luck to them but I've seen this all before. It lacked conviction and is not my kind of punk but is for the casual passer through. They are certainly not a bad band and I will no doubt go and see them again but I can't help feeling over critical. But critical is what I am so I'll just get on with it.
I spy with my little eye something beginning with 'S' and something else beginning with 'S'. Answer 'Shite' and 'Shite' which exactly sums up the performance of The Exploited tonight. The PA (again) didn't do them any favours whatsoever and they were severely affected by this. Disjointed and as slack as a homo's anus the first 3 tracks sounded horrendous. Wattie looked very disappointed with the whole sound and marched from one end of the stage to the other in annoyance. After a long day punking you need something very special to end on and this wasn't it. Me and my good lady left them to get on with it reflecting on quite a good day.
The whole HITS shenanigans is now a commercial venture and looks as though will be milked dry by the fat cats in control. Rumours were afoot that 3 days will be 4 and more bands than ever will be in attendance. Fine but I just think prices need to be kept to a minimum and a more structured format needs implementing. With good bands clashing and poor sound systems it won't be long before the general punk populace will get very disillusioned with the entire fiasco. A suggestion would be to split the 4 days into a six dayer consisting of 3 * 2 day events on 3 well spread weekends at maybe 3 different locations. It will give people more to look forward too and a chance to not miss out on as many bands. Most of the people who I know tend to go because its a done thing and just spend the time shitfaced gaining the opportunity to say 'I was there'. Yes you were there and saw fuck all - great value or what? Personally I like to go a gig to see bands and love the chance to see established faves with good new stuff. But over the course of 3 or 4 days I would feel that I always missed something and that really gets me. Well that's my little rant and my opinion - and you're entitled to it.
Review by Fungalpunk/OMD - (21 July 2002)