After the 3 day festival at Stockport I felt that the last SAS gig of the year at the established Royal Oak would go well and have a fairly decent turn-out. Landlord James informed me that pulling the required 80 to pay all bands wouldn't be a problem and everyone up that end had pushed the cause. Several trips to gigs at the Royal Oak had been impressive with sizeable crowds in attendance albeit once again for more established names. Even so hope was flickering so I clung on and looked forward to what promised to be a good gig to finish another year struggling with the tour.

I set off at 10.30am and met Tim 'Punk4life' Davies at Stockport and it was two and a half hours later we arrived at the gaff slightly 'Bronzed Up' and a bit skew whiff after a liaison with Graham Green. Empty and looking bigger than I thought the bands and providers of gear turned up and the slow process of getting all equipment ready took place. The atmosphere was good and bands were mingling with each other well. More beer was drowned and a few hotdogs then The Kirks let rip with the opening set of the day.

Doing the door, bobbing in and out and chinwagging about various punk related themes I didn't pay as much attention to this as I should have done. What I did see was a good band dishing out a good opener and setting a nice standard for others to follow. Cheers fellars.

Again distracted and pulled this way and that Paul Carter was also neglected but again this was a good set. The joviality of Paul and his great delivery always adds a much needed fun element to proceedings and the viewers at the front all beamed as this one man show did the job.

Still a lack of punters, still missing far too much for my own liking and still swilling beer The Fractions were paid more attention and the usual high, quality set was drilled out with expected zeal. A good outfit this who may have the 'Final Laugh' (ha ha) as far as critics go though I personally think this is a drastically hard done by group of geezers. With a shite turn-out the guilt began to rise as did the attitude of 'Fuck It'. Just enjoy it fellar - just enjoy it!

As keen as ever - The Fractions knock out another good set

Pissed as a fuckin' fart by now I attempted to watch Suspicious Stains through hammered eyes. This was the Stains final performance and for me it was a sad moment. I have always enjoyed this band and always stood their ground when 'knockers' have said their piece. The Stains approach is fun, melodic and very listenable and the latest CD had the potential to bring them a hoard of new fans. Unfortunately the shitty punk attitude and personal desires have brought to a close a band I for one am glad to say I was a fan of. 4 nice people too and always welcome to have around at any gig this for me is a void difficult to fill. This was good anyway and with the usual Elvis insanity taking over it was all a Stains fan could want. I hope they stick around supporting the scene and several phone calls will be made for special guest performances here and there - we shall see.

Barnyard Masturbator are a taste you either love or loathe according to the feedback I get. Personally I like it and as a unit the on-stage comfort and pleasure this lot get from working together is enough for me. They have a couple of numbers I could leave out but in general its always a good watch. Bloody nice people too who have put some hours in on the SAS tour watching and supporting other bands. It may not sound like much to the indifferent punter but to me its what punk is all about. If you can't support each other on a gig then you are fucked. Many thanks to these lot for commitment.

The Bullet Kings next and despite a few snifters of Champagne, more cans, another brief talk with Mr Green I was clear headed enough to see this and enjoy a band on an obvious upwards curve. An abundance of sing-a-long tunes with all 3 players clearly upping their game to compete with the other 2 this was a solid set.'Terror Holiday' is a peach but you'd be hard pushed to find the black banana in this fruit basket.

Next Revenge of the Psychotronic Man and with Matt Woods the latest recruit this was a case of just steadying the ship and getting to grips with things. This was still good and the crowd interaction, the darn fine effort and commitment as well as some stonking tunes the ROPM machine is not that far away from blasting on all cylinders. Matt is a talent and with the 3 other quality geezers in the band to pull him along this is going to be one helluva outfit in a few months. Again the support and dedication to the cause has been admirable and more gigs will come.

With a new member Revenge of the Psychotronic Man still did the business

Skint, tired, disgusted at the turn-out but proud of this bunch of merry men one of my fave bands hit the stage next and turned in another spot on show. With 'CrackRock' Paul fronting this quintet of quality Most Likely To Fail kicked arse in melodic, unashamedly well practiced style and just made my heart swell with pride. Fuck the ones who weren't here - them fuckers were missing a class day and this was as good as it gets. Andy Psychotronic looked my way a couple of times and gave his nod of approval and believe me that speaks volumes in my book and really tells you how good this lot are. 'Weekend Rebel' and 'Innocent Eyes' along with 'Most Likley To Fail' where memorable but so was the whole set. Great stuff.

True supporters of the SAS
With the day nearly over and time ticking on and with a belly full of booze and burgers I settled back to admire the set of Faintest Idea. And what a pleasure too! Fuckin' lovely to just forget the presuure of money (already skint) and pulling a crowd (a lost cause) and just watch a damn good band play a real enjoyable set. 'See You In The Gutter' is my personal fave by a band who are just going to get better and better. Always a pleasure to involve and a must for all ska/punk crossover lovers.


Faintest Idea - cracking punk/ska band from Norwich

And lastly One Man Stand with new bassist Chris from The Spittin' Dummies. If you want to see a top notch bass player in action then this is the guv'nor. Pure fuckin' class and the One Man Stand music machine has gone up several gears since his inclusion. After 3 songs it was evident that OMS are a different prospect and I was really admiring this huge step up in class. Unfortunately the landlord was more concerned we didn't over run and after two more songs told me to cut it short. As if the day wasn't bad enough the final band had to be pulled off way too soon. I tried to get three more songs but it wasn't to be had so the finale was played and it was done. Another sour sensation left to embitter my twisted perception.

Drained and with an empty SAS pot as well as an overdraft and impending large phone bill the tour this year has took no prisoners and has carried on from its up and down journey last year. I realise the cause is a hard one as today we live in a society where people are overpampered and have too much easy musical access without breaking sweat. As we laughed at the aging teddy boys in our youth many of the older punks of today have become the same. The youth have a deluge of music at their feet and the quality now is way ahead of what it was 30 years ago. Unfortunately the attitude is worse and after 3 decades of going down the shitter and living in a fishbowl the SAS Tour may have more on its plate than it bargained for. The ones who mean it are few and far between and I consider myself fortunate to have met quite a few who are genuinely in there for the love of it rather than for a way to feed an ridiculous ego. True they are in the minority but they are the ones who matter.

Personally I despair and my wife and little un's faces has they walked into the venue at Poulton broke my heart. They said it all - all that work for this? Fortunately they understand my motives and realise what a stubborn and stupid swine I am and why the questions I ask are necessary. Its punk and I love it and when stripped down to its barest bones it has an ethical message second to none - 'Be straight, Be honest and be good'. Thats the way I see it and to see it divided so is a travesty. Time for a break now before the next venture and well deserved it is if I don't mind saying so myself.

Eddie Starr and me - the perils of being pisspots

Thanks to all who came, believed and supported and stick at it - every dog has its day and patience is indeed a virtue!

review by OMD (25 September2007)

Photos by Tim 'Punk4Life' Davies