Good news, punk still isn't dead. It is a bit older, a lot wider around the middle, and quite possibly has to go home early so it can get the kids to school, but it continues to be loud, heartfelt, and quite angry.
First up was The Destructors, a Peterbrough band who were active in the 80's and then split until recently reforming. They did a half-hour of high energy "Oi" whilst looking very much like they had walked on-stage from the audience (40+, balding, tubby, up-for-it) and decided to give it their all. Nothing that will change your musical world but plenty to bring a warm glow to your heart.
The UK Subs followed up and were given the kind of welcome a band that has been constantly active for 30+ years should expect, which they replied to with a set the kind of set 30+ year active band can provide. A nice range of punk rock and hardcore, spanning the range of their albums, along with a bit of blues. The classics ("Warhead", "Riot", "Down On The Farm") were all present, along with new ones that got a great reception from the slowly growing crowd. Charlie Harper was magnificent as the 69 year old godfather of Punk that he is, softly spoken & warm whilst talking to the audience but energised & powerful when singing. Few dramatics but great stage presence from all the band, so if you get a chance give them a look as there is still plenty left in them.
And then my rock-star moment: Charlie Harper came out into the audience to grab a beer and listen to the music. I respectfully walked over, thanked him for the music, and shock him by the hand. He smiled, said thanks in return, and appeared to just enjoy being their. A great moment. About 30 minutes later he then stood on my foot whilst making his way to the bar, at which it all got just too surreal as this is a guy that I've read about in books & seen in documenteries.
Then it was the main act: The Anti-Nowhere League, and they got fucked over by their sound guy as from the off their usually thunderous guitar sound just came across as tinny & distant, whislt their drums were all over the place. Really, really, annoying as their actual set was brilliant. Not sure if it's punk or heavy metal (lots of facial hair in the band so its a tougher call than you would think) but it was all energy, aggression, and lots & lots of swearing. Animal continues to be an amazing frontman, leaning into the crowd and holding court with ease, and the current lineup have a great connection going. Song wise it was a bit heavy on the older stuff, but then with a back catalogue including "I Hate People", "So What" and "For You" who can blame them. Overall: a brilliant noise that managed to sound fresh & evocative.
The only downside to the night (other than the sodding awful sound during the headline band) was the lack of younger audience members. Whilst the bands on stage were all from the 80's I had thought that there would be more people from the 20-30 age group than their were (myself and Laura were well below the median age there, and we're hardly spring-chickens), especially considering the stature of the bands involved and the 'all ages' attitude that punk professes to maintain. I didn't expect the place to be flooded with youth, I just didn't expect the disparity to be so big. Still, chances are that the kids who 'should of been there' were all off listening to someone just as good but closer to their age.