UK dub/ska/punk ‘super-group’ collective return along with the re-union of one of Essex’s finest exports.
By Phil Micallef.
Due to a concoction of rushing into London straight from work and somebody’s ingenious idea to shut down the Victoria line (for arguments sake, let’s just blame Boris Johnson – it’s easier that way), I unfortunately only managed to catch the last few songs from opening band Mouthwash. From the small portion of their performance that I did catch, they sounded as tight as always. The decent sound in this newly refurbished and now energy drink-affiliated North London hotspot (officially re-christened as the “Relentless” Garage) complimented the band’s solid sound, which they have been perfecting for well over a decade. A cover of Minor Threat’s I Don’t Wanna Hear It rounded off the set very nicely, which seemed to please the hordes of punks now assembled in the audience.
Up next was The Grit whose lively psychobilly added a nice mixture to proceedings, what with all the ska-punk on offer throughout the rest of the evening. They played a thoroughly entertaining set full of energy and even threw in a bit of Geordie folk music for good measure in tribute to their hometown. A good solid showing then from this quartet and the perfect way to lead into the third band of the night, who it seemed most people in the venue had come to see.
When The Filaments split in 2005, they were well established as one of the best and hardest touring bands on the British punk scene. Their brass-fuelled ska/street punk earned them a dedicated legion of fans, many of whom were packed into the Garage tonight to witness this special one-off reunion gig – the band’s first performance since two reunion shows three years ago. As soon as they stormed into opening number Oi! The Filaments, it was easy to see why they were, and indeed still are, so loved. You could be forgiven for thinking that this was a band still constantly on the road and playing every night, such was the tightness of their entire set.
All of the fan-pleasers, such as Sick Joke, Punk Unity, BPC and Bastard Coppers, were played with full venom, along with an excellent cover of The Clash’s timeless classic (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais, which was particularly well received by the vivacious crowd. The Chelmsford septet (they were joined by their original trombone player, taking their headcount up to seven) were clearly enjoying every second spent on stage and with good reason too. The good feeling rubbed off on the audience with everyone feeling like they had been taken back in time several years to those wonderful days before that old adversary the “glass ceiling” forced so many great home-grown ska-punk bands to call it a day (e.g. Lightyear, Farse, Adequate Seven and so on). Finishing with sing-along friendly Trevor, the band left the crowd in the highest of spirits following a practically faultless set. The only negative was that this was just a one-off and not a permanent re-union. We can only hope that there will be more “one off” reunions in years to come as on tonight’s evidence, there was no reason to suggest why the band would not be up for doing this again some time.
Most of The Filaments entourage stayed on stage for the final act of the night to form part of Suicide Bid, the punk/dub collective also featuring members of Sonic Boom Six, The King Blues, Inner Terrestials, Ex-Cathedra, P.A.I.N., Deathskulls and King Prawn (although Mr Babar Luck was unfortunately absent tonight). This was the first time the band had played since taking to the stage almost exactly a year ago at the Islington Academy. For some reason though, there wasn’t quite the same level of energy present tonight. This was most probably due to the fact that on this occasion they were following such a magnificent and highly-anticipated display from The Filaments, which would always take a lot to beat (although half of Suicide Bid are Filaments, which makes this all a bit confusing, so bear with me).
That being said though, the ‘Bid were still well worth the money and got the crowd skanking away to top quality tunes like Demonized, When The Morning Comes and Like A Lion. Jonny One Lung from The Filaments and Itch from The King Blues interacted well with the crowd as usual, making sure that their vibrant political message got through in equal measure to the fine ska, punk and dub being played. This was quite apt as the gig was organised by No Sweat, a campaign group that fights sweatshop exploitation.
Sadly, the gig was all over before it was even 10 o’clock, thanks to some club night having to take place after (which no doubt played music nowhere near the fine quality that was performed live beforehand). This meant that Suicide Bid’s set was quite rushed and, despite the chants from the audience, they were unable to come out and do an encore, which would have topped the night off perfectly. Nevertheless though, it was still a strong set, but it goes without saying that the night belonged to The Filaments who probably should have headlined in hindsight. Here’s to the hope of another re-union in the not too distant future…