… 40 years of Teenage Kicks: The Undertones!

Two years ago The Undertones surprised the lot at the Markthalle big time – an endless barrage of 2 minute party hits delivered in a maximum joy setting. As such the return to Hamburg as part of the „40 Years of Teenage Kicks“ Tour was a fixture that even lured people from far, even a mate of mine from Rotterdamn came over after being blown away by them during their September show at the Paradiso in Amsterdamned.

It was an early night as they even sported a support band, but me and me mates happily let go that opportunity. And once it was 21:00 it was time for The Undertones, kickin‘ it in for i guess 850 odd people:

And from the first chord something was missing. On the one hand the „Undertones“ logo on the backdrop (has it gone AWOL?), on the other hand something with the sound was not 100% to my liking.

Nonetheless the only valid start if your tour is „40 years of Teenage Kicks“, as this was the A1 from their 1979 debut album. Most likely that record everybody has in his cupboard though it lacks said „Teenage Kicks“ (as it came out a year ahead).

The Undertones (Markthalle, Hamburg, 30.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

What i did like was the humble setting on the big stage: Two Marshalls, one AMPEG and drums on the riser. Three mikes. And loads of free space that was rarely used, as they tend not to roam around that much. That „tend“ does not account for Paul McLoone who sometimes likes his Morrissey poses way too much (for my and some of me friends liking).

Did the rest of the audience like it? Yes they did!

Cheering for encore (Markthalle, Hamburg, 30.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
Cheering for encore (Markthalle, Hamburg, 30.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

For me it was slightly less enjoyable than in 2016 as they played less songs and did threw in a wee bit more that came out later. Sure thing that is my very personal problem and they have all the right to give the audience a full view of their 40 years – it is just that i have a wee bit a narrower view on them.

The Undertones (Markthalle, Hamburg, 30.11.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

Still, it was lot’s of fun and we even got Teenage Kicks twice in the set as a customer in front of the stage complained to the band that he was delayed into the show and missed the first instance. Sure aiming to meet customer demand they did threw it in again – nice trick.

If they come back every other year and if they but a different spin every time then i will still be loyal and go and see them – they deserve it, as they continue to be humble and friendly  musicians from Northern Ireland.

And they played my loveliest song too … here it is straight from a January 1979 Peel Show with an intro by the honest John Peel himself:

And now sing-along:

If you say no 
It would break my heart in two
But don't you realize
There's too many watching you

We're making too many problems
Making matters worse
Maybe its a curse
But oh baby its hurts
oh baby its hurts

If you say no 
It would break my heart in two
But don't you realize
There's too many watching you

We're making too many problems
Making matters worse
Maybe its a curse
But oh baby its hurts
oh baby its hurts

If you say no 
If you say no 
We're making too many problems
Making matters worse
Maybe its a curse
But oh baby its hurts
oh baby its hurts

Songwriters: William Edward Martin Doherty
Billy’s Third lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

And for me and me mate the night ended in way too much beer, and then some more. And then being thrown out of the venue (due to closing). But there are more humble and friendly Nothern Irish lads in Hamburg – one manages a watering hole not too far away and we even got a free pint there to top the night.

I can assure you i had a decent hangover going to the St. Pauli game on Saturday and that little snippet tells you actually how great The Undertones have been, are and will be.

Thanks Lads!

… a smile, a warm laughter and heartbreaking songs: Thanks Descendents!

It has been 21 years. Twentyone fucking years. A painful long period without my loveliest band gracing home shores. Damn. Others where lucky and caught them abroad but i am a homie and specifically i’d love to see them at a place like the Markthalle.

It was a great show back then and all of Hamburg seemed to be eager to make it a great show again. And thus it was sold out in record time. When FLAG played the Knust two years ago we chatted with Mr. Egerton and he confirmed they were keen to get back to the Markthalle and sell it out – which indeed they did. He noted that for them it is a cozy club show they love compared to the bigger places they play in the US.

With two support bands it was an early start and Spider from Long Beach had the unfortunate task to play the rather empty hall.

Spider (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)
Spider (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken.de)

They did not play long and they did not get a lot of applause. For me they were just not to the point – they had elements old LA punk, elements of H/C and then some more. But all crushed into a rather long song. I guess i would need to see them in a smaller setting to make an accurate judgement. I gave them some of my time but then resorted back out for more chats with the endless number of mates around. Check them out for yerself over here.

Next on and competing with France vs. Belgium where A Wilhelm Scream and neither myself nor most of my friends where anywhere near being fond of them.

A Wilhelm Scream (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken,de)
A Wilhelm Scream (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018 (c) gehkacken,de)

They had the space in front of the stage pretty full and they had a number of fans apparently. And they had a mu-sick-al style that i just do not like. Period. Form your own view but i will forever avoid these soundscapes.

Frank, if i’d have a say (and the money) i would have paired the Descendents with Daikaiju as the sole support band. They would have blasted the room to the max (and their speedy and heavy surf would have been a perfect match).

And once the support was done all of the 1000+ folks attending moved into the main hall, filling it up like it was filled up in the hey-days of Punk (79-83) in good old Hamburg. But before they took the stage they did have a date with my football team in the afternoon and joined the cast of US bands that do cross promotion with the FCSP. I am not necessarily a fan of it but hey – if the band wants it, why not.

Milo and Karl at Millerntor Stadium
Milo and Karl at Millerntor Stadium

The one thing though that i do accept is that is carries a cause and the cause is a shared good one. And the Descendents went quite some length with Who we are (and got some flak in the US of A for it) and they got a message across that also the FCSP and the majority of it’s fans dare to carry – loud and proud. The only item of concern is actually the lackluster artwork on the front, sorry that can’t be the work of Chris Shary (else i need to divorce with him!).

And then they took the stage and they took it with grace, a broad smile and pretty relaxed. And off then went into „Suburban Home“ and the Markthalle went apeshit. Lots of dancing, lots of fists and some singing. Yep, the Descendents. Yippie!

Descendents (Markthalle, Hamburg, 10.07.2018) (c) gehkacken.de)

And what did they do? By and large they played songs from all periods and records. They also played one song that i still believe is a hidden gem (and for me has an annotation to a long lost girl that did not turn out to be me love) – here is Clean Sheets (and listen up youth, keep yer sheets clean!):

What did strike me yet again was the broad smiles all four carried on stage with Bill up there behind his drums sporting the biggest one. They are up there, very self aware and self confident and they do know what it take to deliver some of that joy, love and energy back to an eager audience.

Another example is Good Good Things, a song that many passed by on „I don’t want to grow up“ and that i believe ranks in the top 10 of the perfect pop songs (next to stuff like Sunstroke from Guns’n’Wankers). And yet again it carries a message for the youth:

So come on down and walk with me, and tell me I'm your man
Let's see if I can get it right with you this time around
I'm not afraid of losing you my little girl
But do you still believe in me like I believe

I taped this song for me love ages ago with a singular intent (and me love later said YES, lucky me). Here it is youth:

Fun fact: At 00:55 on the lower right corner you can see a very famous person entering the picture and singing along. Little did i know that i was actually standing next to a Punk Rock legend from sunny Brasil. As i was tipped of the day after by Paulihno (from Flanders 72) it was their executive producer Davi, who is the capable guy behind recording, mixing and producing every single Flanders 72 record. It is a small town world on the punk rock circuit!

I think the Descendents gave the lot something like 90 minutes, they took on a couple of encores before hitting home with an on stage improvisation that had elements of Catalina and other songs. A really cool jam but most likely way too heavy food for most of the audience.

Just a perfect set in most likely a perfect setting (venue, date etc) for Hamburg. But this time round that ain’t the limit for me. With a gentle push by some of the Punk Rock Hamburg Descendents connoisseurs i took on to see them again, together with SOIA and some others, in sunny Barcelona.

In hindsight i should have just taken the week off, travel to Berlin and Munich and then Barcelona. Or i should have just abandoned all of these plans and travel south for some Ramonescore and Surf at the Punk Rock Raduno in Bergamo (something that some others of the Hamburg lot will do).

But hindsight is a silly thing (not a silly girl) and thus i just stick to what makes my heart warm and me feel good: The Descendents and their œuvre!

And for those who ignored it so far: It is you sole duty to get this movie into your household – you will be proud of the tears you will shed.

… 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. It 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 you just do 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)