Over the last couple of months every gig I've been to whether in the Midlands, Yorkshire or in the North West I’ve seen flyers for the Spit and Sawdust Tour - so even though there’s a gig near me on the tour in about three weeks I blagged a couple of mates to drive up to Blackburn to see what the fuss was about.

Even though we were held up by the usual motorway delays we made it enough time to have a look round before the gig began, a strange venue with one stage inside in the bar area and a large outdoor stage in a courtyard on street level. Must say was pretty impressed with the set up especially as this was advertised as back to basic diy punk.

With the weather pouring down we were informed the outdoor stage was to be delayed for an hour or so , so it was indoors to a pretty packed “young bands “stage to watch the first band The Bobby Dazzlers (great name) The band produced an in yer face assault on the eardrums with a fine musical set. Fast paced aggressive songs like a strung out with bollox!

Second up were a female fronted five piece called Slash Monkeys who like the previous band provided a tight set but in a softer “mingers “ mould.. One song stood out called stranded that showed more than a nod to the old school sound.Despite the singer’s age I would hazard a guess at 15/16 she oozed confidence with her flirtatious encroaches into the crowd . The crowd was growing a good mix of young and old and they were really getting into the bands., but it was hell getting served at the bar.

Next up another young band from Blackburn, Middle Finger Salute , and again they didn’t disappoint. Right from the off the crowd was with this young bunch of upstarts with songs like “wasted youth” and “kill the paedophile”. It’s reassuring to see young bands taking the late 70’s early 80’s punk route and adding their own slant to it. Again a very tight set, definitely watch out for middle finger salute.

After there set finished people ventured out of the boiling inside stage to watch the start of a set by a band called Crouch Mog.Quite accomplished musically despite being in their teens they raised and lowered the tempo at will and drew the gathered hordes in. Hard to describe sound wise (problems with the outdoor pa were emerging at this early stage) but definitely there’s a pennywise influence there. Highlight was a song called “Spit “.

It was back downstairs out of the rain to catch the beginning of the set by Dying for Toto who had the crowd going with their speedy punk/metal crossover, they were good but not my cup of tea, Anyway no time to hang about outdoors to see One Man Stand from Manchester, a band I have heard on CD and seen once before. The band churns out melodic old school punk and on this performance to such a high standard that every tune is quite memorable. Songs like “Black hole “ and “Whats going On” stick right in your head and an appreciative crowd lapped it up, the band finished with a great cover of Blitz’s Nation on fire .

Up next on the indoor stage was Ambush UK, who seemed to be a big draw despite them being only 15 or 16 years old. The indoor area was absolutely packed to watch this young band rip through a set of early 80’s inspired self penned tunes with a cock sparrow and GBH cover thrown in for good measure. The band had the crowd pogoing away and surprisingly it wasn’t just the younger end, and they brought an end to the indoor stage for the day.. Like all bands downstairs the set was extremely tight and taking to one of the locals, all the bands seemed to be associated with the noize anoize label who I know about from purchasing a couple of cd’s in the past. If the inside stage area was a glimpse of the future of punk then its in bloody safe hands.

Once more back up the steps (which were getting harder to climb as the beer consumption gathered pace) to the outdoor area to catch The Guilty Pleasures who have been getting good press recently. Again the sound from the outdoor PA was playing up but this did'nt perturb the band who rattled off some great self written numbers which definitely have a foot in the melodic end of the early 80’s bands camp. Despite the drum pedal breaking half way through the set, the band kept up the tempo. Highlights include “Riot in Hell and “Free Speech” which is apparently their new single.

By this time the rain had stopped and the outdoor area was filling up for Kamikaze Sperm who I had heard good things about.. This six piece from Manchester (including two saxophone players) sped through a set of songs packed with aggression and angst which got the crowd dancing up and down. Stand out songs were “War is waiting “ and the one with the baker street sax intro that I couldn’t hear the name of!.

Again chatting to a few people found out that the previous three bands were all on the noize anoize label ! Have these guys got some hidden production line of decent punk bands hidden away somewhere?

Up next was Day Man Lost who certainly got the crowds attention with their brutal extreme noise terror slant on punk. They rattled off sub one minute song after song to an appreciative audience, think the whole set lasted just over fifteen minutes, and although not my favoured style they were bloody good and added to what was already a great mixture of the various styles of punk.

Again more pa problems delayed the start of the next band Boredom who id seen last year in Derby and was suitably impressed to buy a couple of their cd’s. A band that’s heart and soul is definitely in the late 70’s early 80’s melodic punk sound. The band delivered tune after tune of catchy sing-along punk best summed up by their ep track “lowlife” and it seems the band are not afraid to experiment by bringing other genres into their new songs with a metal feel to “Smokers die” and a ska influence creeping through in “Riot in My Head” By the swelling numbers at the set its obvious the band have a big local following who seemed to know all the words. A Strong set of songs and good crowd participation set the scene nicely for Arthritic Foot Soldiers. On similar par with Boredom in the sound stakes catchy melodic punk . Again heard the cd’s but this is the first time ive seen them live and they didn’t disappoint. AFS didn’t let the pace drop producing quality song after song pick of the batch “guns For oil” and “Anarchy In Argos”? Great Vocalist who seems right at home in front of the microphone and a guitarist who spent the set bouncing round the stage, great stuff.

Unfortunately I only caught the first three songs to Churchill’s set but given the state of the current oi scene at the moment It makes me wonder why these guys are not up there with the front runners.. The band started off with “ No One likes Us” a great rip roaring anthemic number which certainly got a great response from the crowd, then 2 Bent Copper” again its was obvious Churchill have produced a winning formula in their song writing with catchy sing-along oi/punk, unfortunately missed the names of the last number but it followed the same style.

So then we had to set off back on the weary treck to the Midlands but even on the journey back we were still buzzing and safe in the knowledge that we had witnessed some “back to basics “ punk rock and had a bloody good time doing it. If you can get to one of the dates on the tour you won’t be disappointed!.Bring On Retford

by Derby Dave