I was really looking forward to this gig as The Witchwood was, and still is, a top venue that has given me some very happy punk rock times. The first few gigs of this recent punky renaissance I have missed out on due to being elsewhere watching underdog bands and peddling the cause but, knowing that the UK Subs were headlining tonight I made every possible arrangement so I could be in attendance (I'd even reorganised a mothing event for the public - now that’s keen). Prior to the gig myself and good lady chatted about the faces who would be there and as it transpired we weren't far wrong. Punk is now so predictable and fractured you can really have a good guess at faces who will be there and who won't based on the style of band on show. Tonight it was a case of enter the nostalgia nut - the ones who only turn out for the big retro name. This is both a good and bad aspect - good in the fact that this crew show their loyalty to old favourites, bad in as much as the new bands get overlooked and sink as a result. We can but try!

Firstly a confession. I bought a DILE CD! Yessiree I purchased a disc from frontman Dennis after volunteering to do so without the use of drugs or torture ha, ha. In truth getting one of these albums has been long overdue and after the good fellow agreed to let one of my fave bands open tonight’s show it was the least I can do. There - confession over - conscience clear!

So onto the main event. The punters came in a steady flow and it was great to catch up with many faces and discuss how things were going. I spread the word about the opening act and enthused about what a great band they were and how they deserved to be supported. Time passed and chins wagged and the band I had pushed were up and ready to roll.

3 Black Dwarfs are a class act and with each performance the confidence is growing and thus the impression left is greater. This is punk’s future and the whole noise tonight was warmly appreciated by a fair crowd who really didn't have the chance to knock this fine outfit. After sorting out this last minute slot for them they were really buzzing and I hoped that nerves wouldn't get the better of them. The fears were totally unjustified and the 3 Black Dwarfs aka 5 White Lads of Average Height (no not as catchy is it) did the business. Bobby the frontman gave the crowd plenty to think about and produced a great performance as did every other player. The songs are technical but not overly fussy and so can appeal far and wide with a powerhouse drive that occasionally erupts into a sonic upheaval of decimating discordance that is just a pleasure to behold. From the subtle to the 'in yer face and up yer arse' the whole set covers a wide spectrum of shifting sounds and that is one of the bands greatest assets. Add to this they are a tight as fuck unit with a gritty determination to do their own thing I truly hope 3BD get the praise they so justly deserve. After the set the feedback was all positive and I was more than a little proud of the application and attitude. Best song - fuck off - there wasn't a bad one so you decide for once. The only gripe tonight was the band had no merch - aaagghhhh - a kick up the arse for that. I know a few things had gone tits up on that front but even if they only had about 30 CDR's with a DIY cover to throw into the crowd it would have been better than nothing. It is always essential to give the chance to the ones who are enjoying you something to take away - think on ya buggers. Other than that 10 out of 10 from Fungal and a thousand thanks for making me smile so contentedly - brilliant.

The Crash Mats next and the crowd lapped this up. Skank and traditional punk were all intertwined to make a nice end sound that perhaps lacked a little meat on the bone but still brought a good response to the healthy supply of punters. In parts it was a little loose and yet in others shone bright and the overall feeling I was left with was of a band who will appeal to the more 'passing by' kind of punk, those on the periphery who just want a nice tune to jig too and nothing too threatening. I reckon this would be good 'punk wedding' material (no insult intended) and should, as they did tonight, put a smile on a few faces. Personally I'd like a bit more 'ooomph' but perhaps I am in the minority (it wouldn't be the first time).

Finally The UK Subs. Come on now what can I write? I have always been a Subs fan from the early days and despite an obsession with the underdog have always rated the UK Subs has the best punk band ever. Ok many will disagree but the fact remains the Subs are the most prolific band (both in terms of material released and gigging) out there. They have always retained their street/gutter roots and always give a darn good show. Even when the crew are below par the set is still enjoyable and that shows quality. Is there anyone more dedicated to the cause than Mr Harper - I think not and his band of merry men always do the business. Tonight was exceptional and was a great moment in time that just reinforced my belief that punk rock is forever and a genuine in-built attitude. The songs tonight were all familiar and dripped in nostalgia as well as modern day relevance. 'Riot', 'Crash Course', 'Tomorrows Girls', 'Squat 96', 'Emotional Blackmail', 'Warhead', 'Left For Dead', 'Teenage', 'Stranglehold', 'I Couldn't Be You', 'CID' etc. etc. etc. It was all there and all played with fun, passion and fuckin' total confidence. Everyone loved this and well they might and with over 130 punters in attendance I thought the night was a total success.

So in summing up - The Witchwood needs to carry on punking, the punters need to support the underdogs as well as their old faves and the bands just need to keep true to themselves and have belief in what they do. The Subs have set a strong standard and the new school dudes need to take note and keep up to pace - can they take it? Well 3BD certainly can (and will) what about the rest of ya.


review by OMD (19 July 2009)