… when the support also surprises the main act then it must have been a great show!

As i share my views on shows i attended i never shy away from pointing out items i liked and items i did not like. And there is no preference nor bitterness. What i do like is to get surprises, share surprises and praise surprises.

And this hot Tuesday was to be a show of surprises. The least surprise was that the Avengers used the Blackpool weekend as a lift off for a round of shows in Germany, it was actually expected and much welcome. Also a lesser surprise was to meet Biber, former Knallschoten Bass Player, as he usually attends Avengers shows at the Hafenklang.

A slightly bigger surprise was to meet an old school fellow long out of country, who actually was Punk #4 at my school in early 1979 when i was just about to venture into that mu-sick-al direction. I think he is to blame for my love for Sham 69!

The biggest surprise though was the support act. I never took note of them prior and only got word from friends after the show that they had seen an incarnation earlier (and had been equally surprised back then).

And what did surprise me? It was Reverend Beat-Man & The Underground from sunny Switzerland.

Reverend Beat-Man & The Underground (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 09.08.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

It has been quite some time that i saw such an enigmatic front man who is able to not only command his troops but also literally confronting the audience in a way that glues eyes towards him. He is quite unique and acts like a real actor in the best positive sense of the word.

And how does their self proclaimed Doom Blues Nasty No-Future-Wave Synth Folk Trash sound? The Doom Blues element of it sounded like this:

Every song sounded different and on every song the Reverend assumed a different persona. I guess his fellow musicians (i understand stolen from other bands. eg. Milan Slick from the Synth-Punk-Duo Entartete Musik on Keyboards, Beatrice Graf from Ester Poly on Drums and Benjamin Glaus from Skinny Jim Tennessee on Guitar) and their respective abilities and background make that possible.

Reverend Beat-Man & The Underground (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 09.08.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

They not only got plenty of applause from the audience ( i guess almost 200) but also had Penelope Houston glued to the side of the stage and taking videos. I guess they surprised her as much as they surprised me.

The are unique, driven by a singular cause (and personality, i take) and they bring back a variation that frankly i sometimes lack on eg. H/C shows. Somehow it felt like being back at the very early 80s when Punk branched out way beyond the original rock rooted Punk Rock.

If you dare, try them out. I won’t dare to buy a record (as i am unsure if the music works for me at home or on the move) but if you dare on that front too than please rely on Sounds Of Subterrania to get their stuff. The owner loves them.

The Reverend and his disciples already made the evening a good one, as such i was in no eagerness for the Avengers actually. A rare feel in the context of support and headliner but to a certain extend if was here exactly for them in the first place.

The Avengers (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 09.08.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

It feels really good to see Penelope and Greg still at it, supported by young guns on Bass and Drums. At the start the drums felt a wee bit loud, as the drummer had a high intensity, and Gregs guitar was way to low on volume. Down the road that got better and we got to enjoy not a 1:1 copy of the 1978 Avengers but got their classic hits (and they only ever produced hits) in a real 20th century fashion.

Here is Corpus Christi and a song that is covered in 2020 by a rock star is testament to that simple fact: Only ever hits!

And yes, Penelope is still a great voice and has aged well. Would she know that some of her 1978 pictures made an everlasting impression on me? I bet she does, as she has been a hell of a good looking punkette back then. And she does well in keeping the Avengers alive and kicking.

The Avengers (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 09.08.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

They played for about an hour i guess but game back for some extras, including the all time sing-a-long and mantra: I Believe In Me!

I believe in me
I make my dreams real
I believe in me
I said I believe in me

If there is one 7″ you should get from 1977 US of A then it is the Avengers debut one on Dangerhouse.

To quote an infamous person:

These three songs are the Avengers recording debut. My all time favorite female punk singer, Penelope Houston, fronts the band and is just too great. What a voice filled with feeling she has! You just automatically believe everything she says.

True, so true. The Avengers left behind many happy people, the Reverend left behind many happy people – i can tell you i left happy too. I got what i love most: Live musik i can sing to and live music that surprises me. Paired with meeting people that share an equal vision. Just puuuurfect!

PS: The story of The Avengers is not without tears and one of the sadder element is the story of the original bass player James Clavin Wilsey, who went to fame and from there down to drugs, homelessness and … death. There is a book on this story but to get my hand on it i would have to spend 25$ on postage. Too expensive. Anyone with an idea to get it in Europe cheaper?

… world tourage anyone?

Last time World Tourage (a neat euphemism) stopped in Hannover (2019, actually) there where plenty of folks from Hamburg who took the trip down south to Hannover. This year many where already en-route to Blackpool for Rebellion on the weekend, so the Hamburg contingent was rather small, though i met some surprise connoisseurs.

We took sail rather early from Hamburg on a hot & sweaty day and managed to get down to Hannover without a single traffic issue, on top we found a parking spot just next to the Faust – perfect. We knew that MakeWar would take the stage very early and we also realized once there that due to Holidays, still raging Covid and maybe a zillion other individual issues the show would be far from being sold out.

MakeWar we dropped, we rather had a beer, a bite and a chat in the lovely beer garden of the Faust.

When we decided to head into the Faust i was surprised how empty it felt, my guess would be that roughly 450 people attended (and i guess the Faust can hold ~700). A bit of a let down for the Descendents. Putting it into perspective i would also guess that in Hamburg, if they would have played the Markthalle again, it would have been similarly a feeling of emptyness.

A Wilhelm Scream i only ever saw in context of the Descendents, be it support in Hamburg or a the Open Air Festival in Barcelona, both in 2018. Both times they did not appeal to me at all, thus i decided to give them a full 3rd chance now.

A Wilhelm Scream (Faust, Hannover, 03.08.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

Unfortunately they still do not resonate with me, too much of their sound is up an alley that i just do not savour. Their biggest asset to me is that everyone to the front is actually singing, so they got some nice multi-vocal songs and choruses. Also, after the show, they turned out generally friendly, interested and humble people. But for me it did not help, it is not my mu-sick.

Thanks to the Rock Star setting their equipment was moved off stage quickly and we had an unobstructed view towards Stephens twin Blackstar Amp & Speakers, Bills massive Drums and Karls twin Ampeg Amp & Speakers. If you bring me blindfolded into a club and just show me that setting – i would instantaneously know the Descendents are on.

And what where the on for tonight?

Descendents – Set List (Faust, Hannover, 03.08.2022)

Comparing to the last EU Shows a bit of a mix, a couple of standards where dropped in favor of some new stuff and the whole thing took an upside down makeover. I was eager by now and sharp at 21:20 (+/-) Stephen, Karl, Bill and Milo took the stage.

For the first couple of songs the sound on our end of the stage, just in front of Stephen, was terrible – the guitar almost non-existent. Luckily this was fixed and further down the set it was audible in the right way but by and large i was not happy with the sound. Maybe the lack of audience shifted resonances or whatever, i have seen and heard much better sound in the past.

Descendents (Faust, Hannover, 03.08.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

Still, the lot had fun and also the band was smiling down from the stage. More to the center of the stage, fronting Milo, was actually a large female contingent having extra fun and being protected from the pit by that one pole – a lucky spot indeed.

How did it sound? As i was not happy with the sound i did not bother to take a video but me mate Beno did, so here is the ode to that little girl in pursuit of partying, using sex to get her drugs and alcohol. As she becomes the village bike, everyone gets a ride…

They played a hot SO36 the night before and i had the feeling that they where a bit exhausted. Somehow it came across as rushing through the set though it could also be down to the simple fact that i did sing-a-long to almost all songs and it went by like a fly.

Perfect away game though we came home feeling like having seen a good draw rather than a mighty away win. But as it was over early it meant we could all be in bed like 01:00 and get up at 06:00 for work, which we did.

… the proud, the few aka the crew!

Whilst some in Blackpool did hope that the Descendents would jump in to fill the Bad Religion vacancy short notice it was clear from their rooster that this won’t happen. But good to see them spending more than two weeks in Europe, lets hope that this will be the regular pattern for the future (and lets also hope they continue to alternate between Hannover and home sweet home).

PS: I have smart friends. Some just ask to hand a thanks to the band (which i did to Bill), some bring on some nice gifts. If you want to taste it, get your Descendents coffee brew down below (Click!Bait!).

Thanks Pery, much appreciated!

… downstrokes ad infinitum!

Despite all the recent setbacks and sad loses life is good. And for some it was extra good on this hot Wednesday as them Clowns (from sunny Australia) finally came back to Hamburg. Life though was not good for my mate Frank as he finally caught Covid and had to stay home. And pass on this ticket. Where is sun, there also is shadow.

The DeathSet, who provided support, where completely unknown to me. Maybe due to stickers on them that read “Art Punk” or, a more sizable sticker, “Experimental Music“. They seem to be half Australian half American (i think that is what i heard from the stage) and they sport Drums and twice Guitar. And they add soundscapes, film snippets and background noise from tape respective computer.

How does it sound? Surprising!

It was a bit of everything in a surprise box. A lost luggage auction where you buy a large travel bag without knowing the contents. You may hit gold, you may hit 6 weeks of dirty underwear from a disillusioned “i take a break and trip the world” person.

The DeathSet (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 20.07.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

I was just about to leave for some outside chats when something made click. I can not pinpoint what it was but somehow it glued me to the stage. And from song to song the show got more entertaining and more diverse.

And then i knew that i was double lucky: Not only them Clowns (where i knew what i would get, downstrokes galore) but also a surprise with something very unique on both sound and presentation. And more structured songs and longer snippets actually where way outside the bad annotation of “Art Punk” or “Experimental Music“.

I chatted a bit with someone in the know on them and understand they got quite some length under their belt as a band, including a sad loss with one of the founding member passing away in 2009 and driving an extend hiatus.

My verdict: Check them out. It is worth it. You might be fended off initially but listen in and get into the groove. I will definitely check out their recorded output.

Changeover was easy, as The DeathSet placed their minature amps in front of the Clowns gear. Though size does not mater really (thanks to a PA) the kit of them Clowns gave away what was next. Big heavy riffs and downstrokes.

And this how them Clowns, all the way from somewhere in Europe, came down on Hamburg:

Back with a bang. And the new guitar player adding a slightly more metalic scent. Eager fan boy that i am i took note of the setlist and was well prepared for the entertainment to come.

Clowns - Setlist (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 20.07.2022)
Clowns – Setlist (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 20.07.2022)

That is about half/half old and new stuff, with actually one very old one in it (fan boy me). As always Stevie (singing) and Hanny (shredding the bass) took stage center and the action but the hidden gem of the Clowns is the twin guitars and the near-perfect drumming. Boy, they push a great sound forward in front of them.

Clowns (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 20.07.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

Stevie took frequent leave crowd surfing and also Hanny (who sat lonely at the merch when i entered the largely empty Hafenklang but still managed to throw a smile when i said “Hi there” in passing) took a dive into the pit.

From start to finish you realize that they are stage and tour hardened, fully in sync with what they do and they are very self aware on how to throw a perfect set under any condition. And on top those in the know assured me that they are non-nonsense, professional, always friendly, grateful and always delivering 150%.

Clowns (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 20.07.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

And they leave behind each and everyone of the participants satisfied and happy. For me little fan boy that was being served my fave song.

Here is “Pickle” in just another live version:

As always, sing-a-long:

i’ve woken up in gutter
turning shades
of yellow, black and blue
the only thing keeping myself alive
is a memory of you

take this iou
promise that i’ll do
a little better 
next time

i’ve got my self in a downward 
spiral
and there’s nothing you can do
the only substance in your life
is a bit 
of substance abuse

take this iou
promise that i’ll do
a little better 
next time

self diagnosing
self prescripting
self destructing

pickle

I guess it is the third time now that i got to report that it is a perfect song, with brilliant guitar work, perfect breaks and build up and words that make absolute sense to me. Kudos Clowns, Kudos.

The audience was fully engaged, loads of sing-a-long and many able to complete verses when Stevie was lending the mike down the to fist wielding front line. It was also great to see quite a number of female fans in the pit enjoying it.

Clowns (Hafenklang, Hamburg, 20.07.2022 (c) gehkacken.de 2022)

Puuuurfect though after 15 songs with no encore a wee bit of an aborted ending after i guess about an hour of stage time. But it was a damn hot day in Hamburg, though cooled down a bit in the evening, and them Clowns had been on a very long run in Europe. Forgiven, without a doubt.

And me sad mate Frank? He got some live pics from me, was phoned by another friend and could listen to s song via phone and another Good Samaritan took home a setlist (hopefully signed) for him. Does it feel better now, Frank?

Them Clowns though are expected back at the Hafenklang next year. This is non-negotiable. Everything else would result in a trade war vs. Australia. Brace yourself Melbourne!

And if you can not wait you get a chance on a slightly bigger stage with better sound at the Knust, 06.12.2022 that is, in support of some Nathan Gray. But it’ll be a bit pricey.