THE SAS TOUR
LANCASTER, THE YORKSHIRE HOUSE - 24th February 2007
Sit back and relax for this one. I have a tendency to tell the full tale at times and this is one of those occasions. To capture the essence of what one tries to achieve and the arsing about that goes with it can only be portrayed by revealing as much of the picture as possible. Here we go.
I awoke at 5.45am and after the previous days pissing about with late pull-outs (again) I was in no mood for this one. Sorted and out for 6.45 I was on the train to Lancaster by 7.30am. Tired and loaded down with back-drops, sleeping bag, food and drink supplies plus binoculars, book and telescope I met Ian (father of The Guilty Pleasures lead lad James) at my destination to be relieved of the cargo. The reason for the optical equipment was that myself and Ian decided to have a morning out and about with me showing him some ornithological delights and the odd mushroom or two. The sleeping bag was for kipping over at his abode later that day provided my mental state was up for it. Anyway about 5 hours later after a good mornings mooching and a soaking with some good stuff seen I was dropped at the Yorkshire House with mud covered boots and an uncomfortable chill. Apparently I was two hours late and so I apologised for my bad time-keeping and shook off the cold reception and headed upstairs. Kev greeted me in usual amiable fashion and we nattered about this, that and the other whilst awaiting the first of the bands at 3pm. AFS drummer Rob arrived, set up his kit and left for his weekly shop at Tescos. Punk rock or what? Time passed and still no bands! James GP arrived with Ian and looked bemused by the lack of people. Getting quite pissed off at this point I offered a resigned look and made promises of various arson attacks. By shite this was going to be another of those days. The Fractions arrived and after a ticking off from landlady Ally about the lack of organisation I made the decision to get James up and at it and hopefully more would show and we could get the gig flowing. It’s quite bizarre really how the promoters gets the shit end of the stick when bands fail to show on arranged times or if anything else that is completely out of their hands goes tits up. And yet if all goes well then that’s just good fortune.
My SAS partner in crime Andy arrived before James’ set and looked tired and equally disgusted by what had been transpiring in his absence. What can you do?
Anyway we kicked off at 5.10 with James GP given full instructions to spin it out and play a cracker. What a star he proved to be! Great time-killing tactics, some excellent banter with the now swiftly attending punters and a marvellously precocious set that showed a large helping of confidence and a small almost unnoticeable crumb of inexperience this was good through and through and his self-assured approach won the favour of the crowd and their appreciation was warmly given. The Guilty Pleasures’ songs were played excellently and only the odd vocal blip marred an impeccable performance. The cover of ‘American Jesus’ was finely dealt with and this got the day off to a great start in typical SAS fashion.
The Fractions just seem to grow in stature every time I see them and this was no exception as for me, and many others whom I spoke with, was their best performance to date. What a bit of class! Tight, well structured, enthusiastically delivered and rammed with explosive power that just alarmingly cut short into some fine tinkling ska-guitar this was a fascinating spectacle to behold. ‘Final Laugh’ is a beauty of a song that encapsulates everything the Fractions are about. I really do like this band and appreciate the effort they put in to getting up and at it within a somewhat over critical and unaccommodating older punk audience. More punters arrived and the day was beginning to gain its footing and turn into another SAS classic exhibition. The pre-gig fuss dissipated in a vapour of appreciation for some fine musicianship as this outfit played a belter. I wandered to the back of the room to appreciate the Fractions from all areas and no matter which position I took this was solid. Whilst watching the final few numbers I was informed that 'there’s a band just arrived' and no-one knew who they were. Interesting!
Imagine my shock when in strolled the Sounds of Swami. A band I had called a week earlier and got no reply from and who I called two days prior to the gig only to receive the same answer message. A message was indeed left informing the band that if they didn’t get back before 9pm of the Thursday that I will take it as they have pulled. These guys were originally due to open! Unbelievably the 4 ‘erberts sheepishly showed up and asked ‘Are we late or what’? In-fuckin-credible sprang to mind and after a couple of rants about petrol and individual burning of members I said that if they went up as soon as The Fractions finished it would be OK. They agreed and to be honest to turn up and go straight on is no mean feat and the lads did just that. Anyway the Fractions finished a stirling set and the Sounds of Swami got underway.
Far from traditional punk rock and with definite leanings towards the more heavy rock genre this was a nice change to the evening’s entertainment and added a new ingredient to proceedings. I love the pick ‘n’ mix approach and was very pleased indeed with SOS’ contribution to what was proving a great gig. Very organised and rammed with power chords and high octane energy this was a good offering from 4 lads who are obviously talented. Perhaps a few short songs need throwing in to gain a better appreciation from the punkier crowds but all in all this was good. I paid and thanked them for the set and informed them to be there 6 hours in advance of the next gig – hopefully they should just get there on time.
The Scabs are a quality outfit that hail from Penrith. They bring a retro feel with an abundance of angst and aggression thrown in by lead singer Geeza who when in the mood can be an imposing figure that seems a trifle unhinged. With 2 excellent 6 track ep’s under their belt and a stage performance that is slowly and steadily making that curve go upwards this lot are a force to be reckoned with. The set is awash with hard powered sing-a-long examples of fury and disgruntlement. ‘Blades Beat Fists’, ‘Nation In Sedation’, ‘Barb Wire Baby’, ‘Plastic Doll’, ‘Sick Society’ and ‘Generation Terrorism’ ooze emotion and tonight ‘Bully Boys’ was my favoured choice as bassist Mike really got into the part whilst exchanging threats with Geeza. A treat to see and it really put an edge to proceedings that can only help the cause. All 4 members are doing their bit here with Ben the drummer setting a nice tempo throughout and Guitar maestro Steve adding the subtle and provocative riffs that identify the Scabs sound. As good as ever.
Confrontation jumped up and despite having very few rehearsals with the new line-up were persuaded by yours truly a couple of hours prior to the gig to get up and have a go. I’m fuckin’ glad they did because despite being a bit loose in parts which was only to be expected they had some great moments and the interaction with the crowd was inspiring as they antagonised the punters into action. ‘Garageland’ really hit a high and Confrontation put in a good un'. They looked quite pleased with themselves and so they should. Excellent SAS spirit and a good contribution to a great nights entertainment. Thanks lads.
Barnyard Masturbator can conjure up various images which can be pleasant or downright disturbing dependant on your frame of mind. Visions of deviant country yokels interfering with their genitalia in remote straw-filled barns are not worthy of mention but I have anyway so theer. Musically the title could mislead you into think this is a piss-taking outfit that have no serious value. Wrong! This is a bloody good outfit with a good repertoire of songs that most punks should enjoy. With a new bassist, a solid guitarist, an ever improving drummer and a feisty femme fatale at the front this is always a pleasure. They have a great 3 tracker to their name that screams out for further recording time to be done and these gems were included in tonight’s set. More dates on the SAS are well deserved and hopefully they can keep this happy-go-lucky spirit and excellent stage vibe going. Wank on!
Headclinic knocked out another fine set next that consisted of the technically brilliant songs I have come to expect. The screaming front lass did her usual off stage antics and was joined by a rebel rousing ‘erbert who obviously enjoyed what was going on. A set full of great tracks with the Cocksparrer cover an annoying nonsense that is best forgotten despite being played to perfection. And yes I ain’t a Cocksparrer fan! These lot should be making greater waves real soon provided the sometimes mono-attentive crowd takes them on board.
AFS ended the evening in fine style with another mighty performance. Consistently knocking out a good set is no mean feat but these guys do it with such aplomb it's almost worrying. With a set list of superb songs and a frontman with a distinctive vocal timbre that is an aural delight you think that would be enough for any decent band. Not these greedy fuckers – they have to have a great guitarist, bass player and drummer too with a prolific song writing ability second to none. Bastards. You can’t criticise em’ though only in the facts that the guitarist is a bald, ginger twat, the bassists quiff is outdated, the vocalists chest is ludicrously hairy and the drummers a cheap jack who won't indulge in a new kit. Besides that alls well with me and track after track was delivered with brilliance incarnate. Even though the sound was slightly skew-whiff this was still remarkable. ‘Dead Man Walking’, ‘Minimum Wage’, Burn The Flag’, ‘Nobodies’ and the delicious and sarcastically appropriate ‘Happy People’ were moments to cherish from one wonderful set. Bloody great!
Well another great SAS day that the masses missed out on. For the ones who made it respect and thanks is yours in abundance and tell your friends. For the ones who didn’t well I’m passed caring. One day you may just get it but if not then it’s a special fuck off cake just for you.
A lift home with Andy NA was fun and we chatted about the tour in general and how we try and crack this very tough nut. Pop and crisps from a garage was more punk than you better believe and the day ended with Andy driving home at 2.20am and me getting into bed shagged out and stinking. Oh that lucky wife ‘o’ mine.
A hard but good day and worth it for the few – will we carry on is a question that needs an answer. Lets just wait for now though.