On the razorblade edge of a niggling virus did I ride down into the squalid grimness of Fairfield Street where lasses of the moon dawdle in the hope of cash gain liaisons. Snotted up, burdened with aches, awash with the usual angst I hit the venue and indulged in gossip, ale and an attempt to settle my restless soul. The gig looked set to be fair, the crowd looked full of promise, the noise of varied sorts - and then again perhaps not so. A young chimp strummed away in the lower vault of this acoustic and ale soaked building and as my head filled with the tones of the said player and the nattering crowd I felt quite relaxed (I say quite as that is as best I can manage in my current tortured, coiled state). Enough of the merry banter and idling toss - up the back passage of the gaff proper into the inner sanctum of the rhythmic bowel where many minstrels pour out their noisy excreta and many hungry deviants partake of a foul mouthful or two.

As I ascended the stairs I was passed by local postcard collector Noz who enthused about his latest 6 card purchase from Mozambique. The cards apparently celebrated the success of nipple transplants in the said country and each one portrayed an example of the various nipple options on offer to those willing to pay the extortionate fees set up by the country's medical board (20 grand a nipple - outrageous). I duly feigned interest and Noz (otherwise known as Adam Thimble Squasher the 3rd) gushed on with eyes rolling and hips almost gyrating with utter relish. A cough, an excuse regarding my piles being about to burst and I left Noz behind, muttering to himself whilst gazing at the pap based piccies.

The Red Eyes first and a Scottish outfit who throw off the wrist a series of poppy punkoid snips that take on a mid-tempo style, are loaded with regular riffs, overlain with showy intricacies but which will not fall foul to any unnecessary thrashiness or messy mayhem. The band like to keep things very steady indeed which could be a dire error if it wasn't for the fact that they are so good at what they do. 'Wake Up Call' seemed a fitting way to start a gig and was well applauded, 'Kids' continued the flow with easy mannerisms and 'Say Something, Do Something' boosted the impetus and got us well and truly underway. If this band where nothing more than a rubber breast then the milky latex dripping forth from the exposed teat would taste mighty sweet I am sure and there wouldn't be a drop to spare all night. Fine song after fine song came forward and since their last two jaunts on some Fungal SAS gigs I did wonder why, once again, this band had slipped into relative obscurity (at least as far as this part of the country went). It is a small scene and yet a scene where one can easily disappear - one day applauded the next day forgotten - I see it all the time. We moved on and despite frontman Alan struggling with the flu we got a good, honest set with 'All Dressed Up' and the ever wonderful 'Norah Louise Kuzma' great moments. The closure came with the Dogged 'Situations' and we were done. Good to see the gang still hitting the right notes - 1 success down would it be 3 to go?

Down for a piddle, a wander outside to clear the fuzzed head, to stretch the wobbly legs and to slurp the remnants of my can. A chat with a few faces and a shock to see Anthony Backhouse (Boggy) breastfeeding an elderly tramp in return for some Green Shield Stamps. Why Mr Boggleton, why? The fact that breastfeeding tramps is now illegal was bad enough but to do it whilst wearing an 'I slept with Norman Collier' T-shirt really sickened me no end - it is such a shame.

After a go on Graham Norris' sexual pogo stick (I didn't want to but he insisted) and throwing a brick through a bus window I went back in and peep-holed a performance by the ever entertaining Crackshot. A band with something to say, a band made up from the scraps of the punk scene (nice scraps at that) and a band that keep things fluent, entertaining and very fuckin' active. The 'active' element is perhaps the bands greatest asset as well as the confrontational wordage and catchy songs. It seems each and every ditty is easily indulged in and with numerous punked trimmings, a quality stick merchant, an ever-improving stringman (and homosexual slurper of satanic jellies) and a quite excellent frontman who puts in his entire soul you really do have a recipe for - disaster, danger or success. The banter between songs is always choice (although can be distracting - watch it lads) and as the set progresses the crowd are more and more embraced. The new bassist seems settled and once he becomes even more sanguine and starts to compete for attention with the other three noodles we will have a complete unit punching its full weight and at last, making those long awaited 'bigger' waves. The set culminates in a 'get up and join in' episode known as 'Die Hard' - it is a treat and all these buggers need to do now is get a good release sorted and start getting some merch out there and confirming their fan base. Good stuff as usual!

Did you known if one inserts 54 Jacobs Cream Crackers into ones conker brown tube way and attended a gig of 4 bands the resulting expulsion will be 86% drier than a normal bowel movement and can be dried out and moulded into a very attractive tea coaster. No I didn't know that either and thanks must go to Steve (No I didn't molest her it was a pigeon in her knickers) Isles for his willingness to part with such fascinating and invaluable information.

4 Past Midnight next (no not the time after 3 Minutes Past Midnight and 59 seconds) and yet another crew I haven't seen for quite a few years. On past occasions this band has always impressed and I hoped the long road from Scotland would bring more of the expected quality. The aforementioned Noz stated after the gig that during the review I should mention certain clichéd things like Fried Mars Bars and Haggis but I refused - what kind of idiot would I be to sink to such facile levels? Anyway lets get on the road with the review of these Jock, ginger pubed, McEwen’s Export Swilling, Tartan undie wearing, All called Jimmy wankers underway with a big 'Och Aye The Noo and a fuck a you'. The verdict of tonight’s escapade - fuckin' marvellous and perhaps the best yet! Raw, energetic, well-rehearsed, adhesive, tight, red-light, saturated and smash and grabbing. 'It's Not Right' rockets upwards and explodes in a glaring flash of passion, '4PM Boys' is a strong steady element that proclaims the bands arrival and '4PM Crew' is the pinnacle where all things reach the obvious zenith. Always a reliable band this but it seems the chaps have a new desire with their best army to date and look to really be building on those concrete foundations lain in the past. The string men looked tidy in their application and work well together on the scaffolding provided by Pete on sticks at the rear who slaps and tickles his dustbin lids whilst hollering away with resounding spirit. I like this band a lot - and so should you - end of!

A quick beer, a ride on a blow-up Unicycle, a quick go with Keith Willock's human skin catapult (a pity Travis McTucky lost an eye but there ya go) and up for the headlining Dogs that are, it seems, English. Back to the 80's, a rummage through the rhythmic dustbins, a wander down a backstreet and right back into the modern day - this was raw, nerve-jangling, high velocity stuff interspersed with tongue in cheek between song banter and beer hurling activity. Many in the parade were up and ready for the riot and English Dogs didn't disappoint. It felt like the old days, the careless post-punk nausea when things got really dirty, slightly more natural and unprocessed and where some bands made a mess to be forgotten and some made a grubby mark in the sonic subway shithouse. Post apocalyptic mayhem it seemed with the dust never left to settle as these rebels sought new sonic sanctuary amongst the rebellious wannabe's. Guitar storms were executed quite finely, drums bished and bashed with controlled organisation and vocal duties were excellently gravelled from a spasmodic man on the brink. The swap over in gob work worked wonders to keep the set alive and the crowd seemed taken. More sprayed beer supplies, a bit of crowd indulgence and we were left for dead (which seems apt as 'Left Me Dead' was a fuckin' great moment).

Done, dusted, feeling shitty and out into the wank rainy night I went. Punk is on the up in Manchester it seems with several gigs in one small space all doing the business. It is good news indeed and long may it continue. What has brought about this current resurgence and will it transcend into the depths where the underdog lies? Sometimes there is no answer and these things just happen - enjoy it and keep it moving along - it matters.

On the way home I saw Noz from the car window jumping up and down in the street sporting a black eye, wearing nothing more than some rumpled skin tight see-thru polythene undies and singing a rendition of Hot Chocolate's 'It Started With A Kiss'. What the fuck - I love this guy but my pills were needed - gulp, gulp - next time people!

review by Fungalpunk/OMD (26 November 2012)