Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Membranes & Friends Live At The Ritz 29th April 2017

After a pre show drink in The Solsbury I ambled over towards The Ritz for this interesting event that has been on my must see list for a while. I arrive inside the venue when the first lot of heads are arriving. A lot of old school punks are already here and the atmosphere is probably one of the friendliest I've seen for a while. A lot of old friends meeting up for a great gig with bands new and old in the line up. First band on are a late addition to the line up and obviously John Robb saw the potential in them. The Empty Page are a treat. I feel like I've been transported back to the early nineties when the likes of the Riot Grrll movement was up and running. They start the evening with Cracks in The Surface which reminds me of an early Manchester I knew called Solar Race. Wardrobe Malfunction comes across with a Hole / Babes In Toyland vibe juggling with Kim Gordon. They only play five songs but totally impress and the brilliant Deeply Unlovable with it's Breeders feel wins over the early punters. A band destined to be big. 
Next up are a band I've been told to keep an eye on due to their incendiary live performances. They hit the stage and belt into Gotta Get Through which has a grungy Doors feel to it. The guitarist manages to break a string straight away which tells you how hard he is playing. 84 reminds me of The Arctic Monkeys for some reason and goes down great with the punters. Ramona Flowers is a cracking tune and brings back the Doors comparisons with it's grungy blues tones. They blast through their set with confidence and stage madness. Their last song Brutus is fucking brilliant. The two guitarists totally assault the drummer with a mass guitar attack which leaves me gobsmacked! Another band with big ambitions.

Dubsex need no introduction. They are that great lost Manchester band fronted by the brilliant Mark Hoyle and do a set for the original fans of the band who followed them back in the day. He howls his way through the tunes with his gesticulating mannerisms mimicking the drum beats and guitar riffs throughout. They have that unique Manc sound off to a tee showing flavours of Joy Division, New Order and A Certain Ratio to their own talent. Their white noise punk sound enthralls the crowd and they end their set with the corking Tripwire to a great applause.
Same goes for the next band The Nightingales. Hailing from Birmingham in the lates seventies they are still as relevant now as they ever were. Fliis the drummer deserves an accolade for her excellent drumming style which is the backbone of the band. Robert Lloyd is funny as fuck. He is like a cross between Elvis Costello and Jarvis Cocker and very entertaining. They have a few belters in their set including Dumb And Drummer which is a standout track. Real Gone Daddy sounds great as does Divorce That Never Was and Too Posh To Push as the closer. Definitely a band I'm glad have reformed and look forward to seeing them again.

Evil Blizzard are not right. They are wrong. They want the crowd to hate them. They really do. But it doesn't work. We actually fucking love them. They come on stage to a massive applause in their weird outfits. You have Blizzpig wielding his machete, Filthy Dirty x 2, Prowler and Side being not normal. Sacrifice kicks off the set with it's menacing punk prog sound hitting you in the face like an evil cult. Stupid People is awesome and the 4 pronged bass machine with the added drum assault sorts your head right out. Early stuff from their debut album is next and just gets the place jumping. Slimy Creatures is brilliant, especially when Filthy Dirty brings out his doll with a theremin in it! Funny as fuck!! They end the set with the amazing Are You Evil which whets everyone's appetites for the last two bands. Evil Blizzard are a unique phenomenon and I'm not surprised they are signed to LTW!

I have always been a massive Fall fan and Brix was on some of their best albums. She comes on stage all glittered up and ready to pack a punch like a 2017 Blondie. Something To Lose marks the set with brilliance and she punches the air like a prize fighter who has just retained the title. Put it one way, I wouldn't like a scrap with her! They air a new song tonight Valentino and it goes down really well with everyone. The Fall stuff gets an air tonight too with US 80's getting the Brix treatment to great effect. Sometimes it's like watching a Fall revival with the best members when they were at their prime. Fair play to Brix for pulling this off and remaining a true talent. A great set to remember and an integral part to the whole event!

And so it ends but begins. The homecoming show for John Robb's excellent Membranes comeback. Whilst writing this review I've been listening to the excellent boxset and highly recommend it to anyone into the post punk scene. I was too young when they were first around so never discovered them until my late teens. The new album pushes the boundaries in experimentation and live they are a wonder to behold. They come onto the stage and start off with the dynamic The Universe Explodes. The backdrop film is amazing as is the accompanying BIMM Choir who add to the punk sound of John and the band. I can't believe how energetic John is. He is like a dynamo running up and down the stage as if he is still a teenager! Dark Energy is a great tune with hints of Joy Division brewed like a teabag in a Membranes mug. Do The Supernova does the supernova and has everyone moshing at the front. Space Junk is fucking great as is In The Graveyard. The Hum Of The Universe is probably my favourite track off the album and comes across as classic with the choir in full voice and the brilliant backdrop. I've only just started listening to the back catalogue and in all honesty didn't realise that the last song was Myths & Legends! Still brilliant though. Welcome back to a great band who have reinvented themselves for a new audience to enjoy! A great night and I hope this becomes a yearly event to showcase old and new talent as it has tonight.

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