A punk stroll in the Great fucking Britain
The event that I’ve been looking forward to for months has finally arrived. As soon as I saw the flyer, I said to myself: I MUST GO. The main reason is that, after being at the Rebellion Festival for the first time last year, my love for British punk quadrupled. So, as soon as it jumps out the chance to see so many bands together for the small amount of 30 euros, I’ll pack up and go!
I arrived in Manchester at 8pm on Friday, time to get something to eat and I went immediately to the hostel. I checked in and four floors without elevator were waiting for me. I noticed that the toilets were only on two floors, veeery well. I came into my room, I got my things together and I went to sleep without giving much credit to the bugs that inhabited the room…
Saturday morning I woke up very early, although I haven’t slept a wink all night. I’ve heard more sirens in a night in Manchester than in 20 years in Italy.
I spent a few hours before the concert wandering around and eating junk food. At 11.30am, I walked towards the club. There were already a lot of people queuing: average age? Probably 50. I saw just a few youngsters and here my question raised immediately: why, in the home of punk, this genre does not have a young following? On the one hand, it was better this way, at least I didn’t have to suffer the dicks of my age who mosh also without music, just to piss off people.
I came into the club and I smelled the odour of beer-soaked wood that kept me company for 4 days at Rebellion. How nostalgic am I?!
On time as always, the first band started at 12.20am. They were Litterbugs, I’ve never seen or heard them. I didn’t have much to say about them, they didn’t excite me too much, except the last song “I listen to bands” a little faster than the others.
Then it was the turn of Vomit, founded in 1977. I saw them for the first time in Blackpool and I could say that they played much better than the last time. Lee looked really good.
The stage change was always very fast, they wouldn’t take a minute. I wish that were the case here in Italy too.
Then Kid Klumsy hit the stage. I’ve never heard them too, but as their name suggests, it was a band with sounds for kids. A sort of “Californian English” ’90s group. I rather liked them even if, precisely for the sounds, I found them a little out of context.
Let’s continue with Crashed Out, another band I didn’t know about. Not bad, in some songs there was a bit of metal sound that is always a great thing for me. The singer, because of his movements, reminds me so much of Stinky of the Cockney Rejects. They ended the performance with an excellent cover of Ace of Spades.
And now, the fun began. It was about 3:00pm even if you wouldn’t say it, that place was really dark!
Peter and the Test Tube Babies, one of the bands I wanted to see more, started to play. Unfortunately just as Peter went on stage and took the microphone in his hand, he coughed up, in fact, the voice was very hoarse. However, that wasn’t enough to “ruin” the performance. Peter tried as hard as he could to sing well and the set went smoothly away. Despite the voice, it has been an incredible concert.
Now the room was quite full and everything was ready to give space to Dirt Box Disco. For being a recent band, of about 10 years, it was very appreciated by the people attending the show. For the most part, at least, since they threw many glasses on the singer. Their disguises were very particular, especially the orange glow guitar of the singer with the writing “blowjob” on. I can’t tell if I like them or not, they are one of those bands that leaves you a little on the edge and you have to listen to the songs another couple of times to appreciate them.
With the crowd still singing, the DBD left the stage to Subhumans: another band that I really wanted to see again. That crazy of Dick Lucas knows how to get inside your head and never go out. Unwillingly I saw that there were not many people left in the pit and I was a little sad about it. But here they started like mines without leaving space for too many thoughts. They played songs not well known, but obviously, it could not miss “No”, “Mickey Mouse is dead” and “Religious Wars”. I have to tell the truth, they lack something compared to August but still a great show. And I conquered the first setlist of the night!
Then it was time for Discharge, other stage animals. Usually, I can’t get my head around the bands that change the singer, but they are a special case. That was the third time I’ve seen them and they’re always impeccable. Jeff had uncontrollable energy and an inexhaustible voice. On stage, he didn’t stand still for a moment. Among the songs performed there were: “Protest and survive”, “Hatebomb”, “A hell on heart”. After half of “Decontrol” Jeff came off the stage to make people sing. He came right in front of me while I was recording the video and I’ve been swamped by steers who’ve piled up to fight the microphone. They really never disappoint.
A quick stage change and Conflict came up. It was the first time I saw them but I wasn’t completely satisfied. I imagined them completely different. More than anything, I was surprised that Colin was wearing jeans and a shirt when I was still remembering him in the ’80s when he had spikes. Leaving aside my doubts, they played good, nothing to say.
To get the blood circulation moving again I went to get a drink, 5 euros for a bottle of water! Keeping my water like the Holy Grail, I came back to the barrier to enjoy Anti-Nowhere League. Oh my god, Animal was without his vest! Which is an event more unique than rare guys. The third time I saw them as well, and I’ll never get tired. Instead some 40-year-olds ladies took their shirts off to show Animal their boobs, well, I would be better off without them. They started fast with “Pig Iron” and the ladies were already in delirium, and yes, I too as well, maybe just a little. You can not deny the charm of Animal. However, in the playlist didn’t miss anything: there was “So What”, “Streets of London”, “I hate people”, “For you”, and the most beloved “Woman” and well, who has seen ANL knows what Animal does. For those of you who haven’t seen them yet, go on YouTube and watch some videos. The air in the room was hot, but, unfortunately, they missed only the last song “We are the league” with which they leave the stage to give space to the timeless U.K. Subs.
By now, I’m very fond of them: seeing Charlie that, at 75 years old, has more passion and willing to do than the guys of my age fills my heart. To me they are the undisputed kings of the evening. Here they went up and everyone screamed to welcome them. As always in excellent shape, even more than the last time when I saw them in Magenta in February. They started with “C.I.D.” and then continued with tracks like “I live in a car”, “Emotional blackmail”, the mythical “Warhead” where Grandpa Charlie, while I was recording the video, came in front of me saluting in the camera. I’m literally dead. They finished with “Stranglehold”, leaving me speechless for the umpteenth time. Long live to the U.K. Subs! I hope to see them again soon in Italy.
I was sooo tired that I decided to skip Slaughter and the Dogs and went back to the hostel with my legs in pieces.
Overall, this edition of North West Calling has been very good, there were many people and the bands were all very good. If I should find a fault: beyond the drinking they should have provided also the food, ok that you could go out but the stage change was so fast that you risked losing a whole band. Then I would remove two bands to let the others play more, but these obviously are personal tastes.
I came back to Italy enthusiastic about the evening and with a bit of sadness due to the fact that this will be the last trip for quite a time… So I make an appeal: more line-up like this also here, thank you!