Punks young, old and in-between rolled into town for an high-octane night of throbbing, sharp as shrapnel, spiky glory, and Getintothis’ Paul Fitzgerald was happy to tap his foot along to just about all of it.
John Robb brought The Membranes to town for the first time since their blistering set with Buzzcocks in The Kazimier last year, and powered through another triumphant and exuberant ride of dubbed up post-punk. They arrive onstage in The Magnet, almost accidentally, almost knocking the amps over, and Robb is bass-aloft before he even begins.
Charged up, full of flu, sweating it out up and down the stage, he’s characteristically wide eyed and all over the place. Pure frontman. Pure theatre. He wields his bass like a jackhammer, and plays it like one too, its filthy, guttural sound punching through the skull, and the ruthless counterpoint of it opposing the spiked dissonant guitar lines at every turn is a heavy joy.
Hitting us with some of the highlights of the Dark Matter / Dark Energy album, songs like Do The Supernova, In The Graveyard, and the dirty glory of Space Junk are no worse off for Robb‘s sore throat. At times, they just dub it out to give his throat a break, while the audience help out with the vocals on The Hum Of The Universe.
The band are as tight as ever, and buzz off each other with natural ease, never letting go, and the dynamics and delivery of this short-ish scatterbomb sucker punch of a set draw the crowd ever nearer throughout.
There’s new material on the way from The Membranes, “We’ve got new fans, we need to keep making new music”, and if the final, as yet untitled song is anything to go by, they won’t disappoint.
Robb‘s request for a question from the audience brings several, and the answer we’ve all been seeking. It turns out that the meaning of life is Wrexham. Who knew?
Thanks to the magnanimous Membranes agreeing to go on earlier, to accommodate the transport needs of some of the crowd, the final band of the night was Super Fast Girlie Show, a tight, pacy and urgent threesome of drums, bass and analogue synths, with just about as much edge as any man could muster, they powered through a shortish set which could’ve benefited from better sound. At times the bass sounded like angry bees trapped in Tupperware, which became something of a distraction, but they did what they came to do, they did it loud, and they did it fast.
Local post-punk threesome Decibel played just before John Robb‘s band of Blackpool rock. With respectful nods to early Cure, Buzzcocks, and Siouxsie and The Banshees, their songs were short, sharp and solid. Edgy Stratocaster screams, heavy on the treble, punched out over a powerful, tribal rhythm section, we were left wanting more. Never a bad thing, that.
SPQR played earlier, and, as tight, unique and energetic as ever, played what turned out to be bassist Nick‘s second to last gig. Quite where this will lead them in the future is anyone’s guess, but the new material we heard speaks of a positive outcome. We certainly hope so, as recent months have seen these innovative rockers become a firm local favourite.
Our own transport problems meant we arrived too late to catch the start, but we’re reliably informed that the night began with a characteristically messy Salt The Snail set, featuring much shenanigans and the handing out of Werther’s Orginals “No-one leaves a Salt The Snail gig empty handed”. Nice.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Chris Flack: