… a crisp Punk set paired with a Power Pop set porting the sun into Hamburg – a perfect Sunday package!

A wee bit more than two year ago the same package graced the Hafenklang and toyGuitar surprised me big time, be it their distinct pop sound or be it their unique drumming. So when that package returned to the Monkeys on a rather awful Sunday it was a sure must do for me and some connoisseur friends.

First on toyGuitar, entering the stage in front of a maybe half full club. Bad choice for those who should have filled the void, as they kicked off like this:

They have perfected their blend of pop, surf and punk – let’s call it Power Pop for now – even further and they are putting it out with a rigour (or drive, or force or .. joy) that feels unequalled. Sturdy drumming with a broad smile (a very broad smile indeed) , sturdy and hook line driven bass play, surf style licks on the left guitar and broad twangs and singing from the right guitar. Just perfect!

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toyGuitar (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg) (c) gehkacken.de)

I have to admit i am sold on them, big time. The only pity was the missing merchandise (despite a lone T-Shirt), i think i would have bought anything off them. If i’d get a wish they should come back as a headliner for a Get Lost! Fest in the future, they would be able to send a packed Hafenklang dancing all night!

On the fun side they had quite some in-jokes of needing to speed up and not loosing time tuning instruments or replacing broken gear as that would make them Utters late, something that should not happen. Great band, great sound and a set that did make the audience smile and feel the sun on the skin (in desperate Hamburg April weather).

With some rearranging on stage, them toyGuitar members Miles and Jack where moved to left, Swingin‘ Utters took the stage and blasted into their set like this:

Something felt different from the start and throughout the set to me and me mates, we all had the feeling of this being a much tighter and efficient set than many of the Utters shows in earlier years. That feeling was also supported by the selection of songs – bang bang bang came songs with less than two minutes duration.

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Swingin' Utters (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg) (c) gehkacken.de)

Show wise it was typical: Johnny being Johnny and raging it out, Darius being Darius and playing it out (and providing vocals to some songs) whilst the rest provided a perfect backdrop and as said a very very tight sound.

Yes, the even played one of me favourite songs! Sing a long:

What if I just sent away
Everyone and everything
And that alone was what I'd bring
My one and only offering

To all the tables in all of
Your open houses
To the parties with all of
the smiling spouses
The kindness of friends
Made a distortion
A personal apathetic erosion

Average
Agonist
Avarice
Catalyst

What if I was without pleasantries
And bounded across your balconies
Voided all your boundaries
Exposed you all to my disease

What if I spoke
What I sometimes think
Out of boredom, anger, mutiny
Felt no remorse
Or loss or pity
Came at you
Like a fucking banshee 

Yep, that is the style that is them Utters and that is perfect (incl. the lyrics).

As the show started early to give people a chance to not be home too late and catch an easy start into the workweek they decided to give the audience something extra – they did two encores!

And with that they where done, thanked the audience and … returned to the stage to pack up their gear and prepare for moving it out and on … to further tour dates. Don’t miss the package – it is a perfect package!

Was the audience happy? Yes the audience was happy – actually even prior to the show even starting, as you can see from the these smiling lads. Well done mates, you made the right choice!

Happy customers (Monkeys Music Club, 23.04.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)
Happy customers (Monkeys Music Club, 23.04.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)

And as ever thanks to the Monkeys for setting it up as an early Sunday show, we all gotta go to work on Monday!

… when you get surprised twice then it was a good show indeed: Pre-Easter Oi! for the bunnies!

Thanks good it is Easter break! My next break away from work is only end of May, so the 4 days off feel like short holiday. As such the Monkeys was the perfect place for sliding into these days with a great package of bands.

First on the Arch Rivals from sunny Plymouth (that one on the south coast of that island that soon seems to drift off that continent of ours) and they took me by surprise. Not so much from a musical perspective, as they are a package with an „to be expected“ sound.

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Arch Rivals (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg) (c) gehkacken.de)

What took me almost left field was their shouter, boy what a great shouter (despite having worn out his vocal cords during the week already) – he was not only providing some choice words between songs (that actually had a meaning) but also their songs where with great lyrics. I’d say great band and i am looking forward to see  them again – i am now on me toes for it!

Next Legion 76 from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the US of A. Their name sure is a nod to the Philly history and the fact that in 1776 the declaration of independence for the US of A splitting away from that island now drifting away from … never mind – they come from a town actually smaller than Hamburg (ok, about the size off by inhabitants) and also neat on the banks of a river (Delware River instead of River Elbe) and they look like this…

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Legion 76 (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg) (c) gehkacken.de)

Where Arch Rivals had the word, Legion 76 had the (wall of sound) music. They caught my eye with their 2014 demo (later released as an EP) but have improved their sound considerably. Less guitar leads but really driving wall of sound, pushing the songs forward and paired with raw vocals (and harmonic background vocals). See yerself with „Into Darkness“:

And the word to it go like this:

It’s all across the their minds,
you know they’ve seen it on TV 
Blinds pulled across their eyes, 
they can’t decipher what they see 
Sense made from laying down 
with thoughts they can’t dispel 
Bought into hate again, 
I can’t believe the shit they sell 
Sold out, cashed in, 
chalk it up to apathy 
Time to find a higher ground, 
a place for you and me 

Into darkness we fall, watch the world go up in flames 
Into darkness we live, we can’t see the light of day 
Into darkness we watch cultures fall in despair 
Into darkness we breathe, waiting for a cleaner air 

It’s got the best of them, 
diseased views are all I see 
Suffering from helplessness 
and a mind that can’t be free 
What stops the rest of us 
from being one drop in the well 
Shadows reveal themselves, 
we know time will always tell 
Stand up, 
strike down anything that you can see 
Drive the demons out, 
cast them to obscurity

That is actually pretty good stuff and i did like them live as much as i savoured their records. On the fun side (greedy me) they where all also sizeable and that felt so american somehow (foregive me lads). Great band, great music.

And that gave way for Booze & Glory from London, who sure where the reason why the Monkeys put up a „SOLD OUT“ sign weeks ahead of the show. They are reasonable big nowadays and have played everywhere in the world with great success.

It took them some time to set up and get the music man to tune the monitors to their liking, sometimes their requests to change the vocals or the volume in the monitors felt like a running gag, at least off stage (maybe it was quite odd on stage).

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Booze & Glory (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg) (c) gehkacken.de)

Their sound is polished by now and they have developed since their early days in 2009 into loads of melody and technical capabilities paired with great sing-a-long stuff. But within that, they also have almost mellow gems like „Simple“ from their newest record:

Great stuff. What i did like too was the Hardcore Help T-Shirt their singer did wear, as this is also a charity i support on a regular basis with some of me dough. And they made their stance clear, even for the dumbest: „Booze & Glory was, is and always will be an Anti-Fascist band“. Well said lads, well said. In the wake of that only few noticed that a member of the audience was evicted from the premises as he sported a shirt from a more than dubious band.

And that got us to the end, more sing-a-long hits and an encore to the encore, thanking Arch Rivals, Legion 76, Sam and … FCSP. Cheap trick to lure the already completely enthusiastic audience into more sing-a-long:

Where the Arch Rivals had the words, Legion 76 had the music it was sure Booze & Glory who had the audience – singing, dancing and packing the space in front of the stage. That was just sheer good fun in a great club (and loads of booze, ok, i give you that).

Booze & Glory - Audience (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 13.04.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)
Booze & Glory – Audience (Monkeys Music Club, Hamburg, 13.04.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)

And what did it proof? It did proof that music is to be listened too – both on record but also you need to ensure that you verify that the band actually works on a stage too – all three of them too, specifically in a great club like the Monkeys.

And the best? No alarm clock on Friday! Happy Easter bunnies!

… a Northern Irish rock band packs the Markthalle – yet again after 37 years!

It was 1980 and all of the punks in Hamburg had been blown away by Stiff Little Fingers debut album „Inflammable Material“ that came out in 1979 that – according to some – made Punk worthwhile again.

For me in Hamburg it was me 16th Birthday and SLF played only for me. At least i’d like to think so.

Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 22.04.1980 - from the vault of the Archive)
Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 22.04.1980 – from the vault of the Archive)

I do not really remember the detailed sound but recollection of many was that it was shite. A rather poor tape bootleg exists that seems to confirms it. And on top they have been referred to „cool stars“ rather than approachable punks. It may or may not have added to the shit storm The Clash got a month later, same stage. My regular Fanzine back then (regular as published by school mates) did report it as such:

Willkürakt No. 4 (Fanzine from Hamburg, 1980)
Willkürakt No. 4 (Fanzine from Hamburg, 1980)

Now fast forward to 2017 and 37 years later me is still there and an incarnation of SLF is also still there. The punk SLF existed from 1977 to 1983 and their first four LP’s (Inflammable Material, Nobody’s Heroes, Hanx! and Got for It) are just killer material. When they released „Now then“ in 1983 they folded and only ever came back … different.

Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)
Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)

What was not different was the packed Markthalle – back then and now. Which came much as a surprise, the last few times they played at the Knust, which is only 1/3 of the capacity. But next to their punk roots they are nowadays a bit of an Irish Rock legend and well known beyond punk nostalgia. And, fun fact, plenty of Northern Irish fans took cheap flights from Manchester to be in Hamburg.

Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)
Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)

They kicked off with a variety of songs and made it known upfront that they where to play a wee bit longer than normal, given it was their 40th anniversary tour. What was clear from the start was the simple fact that whatever sound they play (and the sure leaned more to the rock side) it was carried by the excellent and unique voice of Jake Burns. And i’ll guess he has worked a lot on his voice – it is perfect singing by now (back then it was harsher and sure fitting the time, the anger and the songs).

In the later part of the set they also delivered to their punk roots and more people got dancing on the dance floor. Less people compared to the Undertones last year but them Undertones are sure the better party band (period). SLF delivered their message loud and clear up to and including nods like this one – to the one and only Mr. Strummer:

By now we were clearly over the 1h30m mark and they kept going. And thus it was time to give the crowd what the crowd wanted (at least those aged greedy bastards like my humble self). So here is my loveliest Stiff Little Fingers song in the 2017 live edition:

Yep, that one was ok. Actually it was to my liking. And the message that is carried is not lost these days, let’s be frank – it is a message oh so true nowadays too.

And like every SLF show the final bit was their plea for an Alternative Ulster, something they may or may no have today (some things are better up there, some things appear to be the same old shit) and that might be at risk from that thingy called Brexit. And frank – i can make out that riff amongst anything and would be able to identify the song, it is a killer one!

So as a fond memory and a loud message from the past remaining not only valid but also relevant here is … Alternative Ulster 2017:

And that was almost 2 hours of SLF, on a perfect spring Friday, delivered as a rock show. And there ain’t nothing bad with that at all – if you want to see something fresher, wilder and … whatever then you gotta go somewhere else. If you are happy to see a Northern Irish rock band that has messages and developed to something that covers much broader territory – then SLF is for you.

And the sold out house did applaud them and gave them a big HANX!

Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)
Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017 (c) gehkacken.de)

Some people complained about the ticket price, i think the 12 DM from 1980 (unbelievable 6€ if just to the simple currency math – in reality it compares to 37€ if you take inflation, buying power and and and into it) was cheap by the sound but not really for me as a young school boy trying to see as many shows as possible (and boy had we shows back then).

Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017 - nuthin for the vault))
Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017 – nuthin for the vault)

I was relieved from these cost and could spend the money rather on fuel aka booze, both because of that little Top Trump business called Keressinho and of SLF, as they got me in for free thanks to my translation job in the most recent UK Punk edition.

KRRSNH (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017)
KRRSNH (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017)

And booze was needed too because we did watch the painful loss of St. Pauli away at Aue at the Dschungel prior to the show – something so painful (and pulling us back down) that it needed counter beer (or harder stuff).

Happy and done! (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017)
Happy and done! (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017)

Where people happy? Yes, until after midnight people stayed at the Markthalle, listened to DJ Tiki Boy playing old punk singles and talked – many faces that where young and fresh in 1980 where there in 2017 too and it was literally the equivalent of an old school class meeting.

And, full disclosure, i was a VIP for that show. I guess that was thanks to my 16th birthday back then.

Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017)
Stiff Little Fingers (Markthalle, Hamburg, 31.03.2017)

NB: I used the term rock band a lot, eh? It ain’t bad mouthing or else it just ensures that you get the setting right. And the setting includes that Jack is a very very gifted musician.

Just look at this effort from 1994, also released as Stiff Little Fingers. It is not only a great song but also carries lyrics that yet again are still relevant today. And is where you have to accept that style and looks might change but what someone is never changes. And for that due respect Jake!

Just to make sure you get it though Jake sings it pretty clear- here are the lyrics:

Don't pity this poor immigrant
My eyes were open when I caught the boat
All I wanted was your shelter
And maybe just a little hope
But you turned your anger on me
For the courage that you lack
I don't want your half assed freedom
You can have the whole deal back
So now I'll tell you something
Let's get this straight from the start
Don't call me Harp
Don't call me Harp

You said: "Bring me your poor and destitute
And I can kick them when they're down"
Cause there's always enough misery
And we'll be sure to share it round
Now I'll turn my anger on you
For the decency you lack
For the morals you fail to uphold
Your cocaine, crack and smack
To the land that wears it's heart up front
I'm screaming from the back
Don't call me Harp
Don't call me Harp

And the ghettos almost full now
It's time for trash to move uptown
And the sight of all those beggars
On the streets must really get you down
Soon they'll turn their anger on you
For the promises you broke
For all the lies you told them
As their dreams went up in smoke
And I feel I stand among them
As I shout this from the heart
Don't call me Harp
Don't call me Harp

You built your land on principles
Decent, brave and true
I find it hard to understand
Just what went wrong with you
Don't call me Harp
Don't call me Harp

(c) 1994 SLF (Jake Burns)